Questions tagged [seventeenth-century-english]

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"Will speak more in a minute than he will stand to in a month" - what does this "stand to" mean?

In Romeo and Juliet Act 2 Scene 4, Mercutio departs with Benvolio, leaving Romeo to speak with Juliet's nurse, whom Mercutio has mocked and insulted. Nurse asks Romeo who this rude and raucous fellow ...
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Reading of Swift's On Poetry correctly

Jonathan Swift wrote once that So, naturalists observe, a flea Hath smaller fleas that on him prey; And these have smaller still to bite 'em; And so proceed ad infinitum. You can see that to bite '...
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Meaning of "sick-fit"

I recently came across with a religious text of the english Puritan theologian Edward Polhill (1622-1694). Here is a passage from it: "Satan may hold up his pardoned sins, as it were in their ...
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Was it common in Shakespeare's time for adverbial phrases and objects to precede the verb in spoken English?

I'm trying to come up with a list of differences between Shakespeare's manner of writing and modern English, and one of the big differences I've noticed is that Shakespeare often seems to put ...
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"An" in Shakespeare's Taming of the Shrew

In Act 1, Scene 1, Katherine says to Bianca, A pretty peat! It is best / Put finger in the eye, an she knew why". I understand "Put finger in the eye" means she is fake crying for ...
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Defining lapidarical

In this study of The Great Chain of Being, Diamonds among other various gems are classified as a lapidarical primate. The Oxford Dictionary does not include lapidarical or even it's root word, lapid. ...
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Shakespeare's dubious rhymes [duplicate]

Background I'm reading A Midsummer Night's Dream, and a lot of the dialogues and monologues are rhymes. But some times, these rhymes aren't rhymes at all. For instance So should the murder'd look, ...
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Meaning of "Friday face" in 1592

I was reading a pamphlet from the year 1592, published in London, and came across a rather obsolete and bewitching phrase: "The Foxe on a time came to visit the Gray, partly for kindered cheefly ...
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What is the most vulgar word one could use when describing "LIFE" and a phrase for an "ALL-HATING GOD"

I am writing a play and have reached the conclusion where the main character utters a soliloquy of just how "despicably stupid" the concept of "living" and reaching the heights of &...
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'MURDER" or "MURTHER" ? -- Question on when distinct (archaic) spellings for words were used and when not

Salutations, I am currently writing a play that is being regulated to the very distinct notions of authentically replicating the English language and its archaic spellings during its usage in London, ...
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2 votes
3 answers
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Why are some of the words capitalized even though they do not refer to God or something Godly?

I am fairly new to poetry and I understand from the Bible that something related to God/God is usually capitalized. Why is it that in the Milton's poem, When I consider how my light is spent, the ...
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Why is ‘Earth’ often spelt with a lowercase e, even when referring to the planet?

The word earth has several meanings; the most central one is ‘soil, dirt’, that thing we walk on when we’re outside. It’s also used as a name for the planet we live on. The Lexico definition for this ...
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Why do some early modern English writers use an apostrophe in art (ar't)?

For example, in Verses upon the duke of Buckinghams returne from the Ile of Rees (https://www.english.cam.ac.uk/ceres/ehoc/lessons/lesson1/index.html) the poet spells "art" as "ar't" in the phrase "...
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What is an "asse" in Elizabethan English?

In the "New Yer's Guiftes giuen to The Quene's Maiestie" we find two handkerchives of Hollande, wroughte with blacke worke, and edged with a smale bone lace of golde and siluer; and an asse of ...
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Meaning of "In an ill hour"

To all these words which Don Quixote said, a certain Biscaine squire, that accompanied the coach, gave ear; who, seeing that Don Quixote suffered not the coach to pass onward, but said that it must ...
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The meaning of the dance title "All In a Garden Green"

There is a 17th century English dance/tune named "All in a Garden Green" (first published in John Playford's The English Dancing Master in 1651). What is the most probable exact meaning of the title? ...
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How do you parse 'by this which is said'? (1654 UK)

Preface: I first encountered the following on p 83, Philosophy: A Complete Introduction (2012) by Prof Sharon Kaye (MA PhD in Philosophy, U. Toronto). I already tried, but do not see a modern ...
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4 votes
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What does 'measuring cast' mean? (1660, UK)

Source: 'Things Necessary to be Continually had in Remembrance', by Sir Matthew Hale (1609-1676) If in criminals it be a measuring cast, to incline to mercy and acquittal. How do you decide ...
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3 votes
1 answer
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"For who so firm that cannot be seduced?" Where is the verb in this Shakespeare quotation?

He says: ... Therefore it is meet That noble minds keep ever with their likes, For who so firm that cannot be seduced? (Julius Caesar, Act 1, Scene 2) Roughly means that you shouldn't pal ...
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'agree a number ... to one mischief' (1655 UK) [closed]

Source: Paragraph 2, Chapter XX, De Corpore Politico, 1655, by Thomas Hobbes For multitude, though in their persons they run together, yet they concur not always in their designs. For even at that ...
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Does 'whose workmanship they are' violate parallelism? (1690 UK)

Source: Sec 6, The Second Treatise of Civil Government, 1690, by John Locke ...for men being all the workmanship of one omnipotent, and infinitely wise maker; all the servants of one sovereign master, ...
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3 votes
5 answers
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No direct object in 'give thee faithfully to follow' ? (1670 UK, Isaac Penington)

Source: Para 5, Isaac Penington to Widow Hemmings (1670), by Isaac Penington If the Lord would show thee but this one thing, -- that to use "thee" and "thou" to a particular person is proper ...
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2 votes
2 answers
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What's the subject of 'mind not so much to know' ? (1670 UK, Isaac Penington) [duplicate]

Source: Para 5, Isaac Penington to Widow Hemmings (1670), by Isaac Penington The Lord so guide thee, manifest himself to thee, help thee, and lead thee by his Holy Spirit and power, as that thou ...
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9 votes
1 answer
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What is a 17th-century affectionate term for "Mother"?

I'm writing a ghost story, and (in an admittedly well-worn trope) a child ghost is looking for its mother; however, how would a 17th-century child affectionately refer to its mother? In short, what ...
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14 votes
4 answers
1k views

Are English language books translated to contemporary English? [closed]

Were Shakespeare books translated to contemporary English? Which version is more common? Is there a rule to choose which books will have its language updated? Are poems updated too? From which year I ...
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57 votes
6 answers
56k views

What were the rules for capitalising nouns in the 17th and 18th centuries?

It seems to have been common practice in the 17th and 18th centuries in English-language sources to capitalise the first letters of nouns, as in At which Time he prov'd himself the Noah's Dove, that ...
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