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64 votes
Accepted

Has the verb "to import me" ever been commonly used in English the way "to concern me" is in the phrase "It does not concern me"?

Yes. The Oxford English Dictionary has this definition (and some other similar ones) for ɪᴍᴘᴏʀᴛ v. 6a in their section II of that verb: II. To be of importance or consequence. transitive. ...
Laurel's user avatar
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49 votes

Why the "wedded" in "wedded wife"?

As far as I can tell, it's one of two reasons: According to the The History of the English Language, "wedded" in vows originally meant something more along the lines of "pledged". ...
Laurel's user avatar
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38 votes
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Deciphering two words from their Archaic spellings

These texts are from Middle English and most of the letters are composed of ııııııııııs. In Middle English, several letters such as u ~ v, i, w, m, n etc., were written using a sequence of a ...
Decapitated Soul's user avatar
36 votes

What is Middle English for 'Hello'?

The Middle English equivalent for 'hello' was hail. Origin of hail: Middle English from the obsolete adjective hail ‘healthy’ (occurring in greetings and toasts, such as wæs hæil see wassail), from ...
Decapitated Soul's user avatar
27 votes

The meaning of the Middle English word “king”

It's the second half of the word "thinking", (or "thenking") with the first half being at the end of the previous line. A modern rendition of the Wycliffe translation has But there were some of ...
DJClayworth's user avatar
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27 votes

Why the "wedded" in "wedded wife"?

Historically and etymologically, "wife" meant "woman" (and "husband" meant "householder"). The word was used for both "female spouse" and "adult ...
Tim Pederick's user avatar
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27 votes
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Is the use of "an" to mean "if" an invention of fantasy writers?

An with the meaning of “If” is rather like Schrödinger’s cat – it both exists and does not exist at the same time. OED Etymology: Variant of and conj.1 with loss of final d An apparently isolated ...
Greybeard's user avatar
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25 votes
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Why was 'Jesus' spelt 'Jhesus' in Wycliffe's Bible?

This is part of the alteration of the pronunciation of the "consonantal I" from /j/¹ to /dʒ/. OED has (under John): Middle English spellings of the forename with initial Jh probably show a ...
Andrew Leach's user avatar
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21 votes
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What language is this OED entry in?

It's Law French, the normal language of law in England until well after 1464. The words Rawe, Skawe, cokell [and] fagge are evidently English words, not French ones, presumably either because there ...
Colin Fine's user avatar
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21 votes

Is the use of "an" to mean "if" an invention of fantasy writers?

No, they didn't invent it; Shakespeare used it, which is undoubtedly where the fantasy writers got it: Nay, an you be so tardy, come no more in my sight. I had as lief be woo'd of a snail. — As You ...
Peter Shor 's user avatar
20 votes
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What is this word in a sample of blackletter script?

This is Matthew 13:31 ... put before them, and said: “The kingdom of heaven is like a mustard seed that a man took and sowed in his field. Which is the least of all seeds but when it is grown...” ...
Andrew Leach's user avatar
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18 votes

Was “lukewarm” a way of saying “warm warm”?

"Lukewarm" isn't really much different than saying "tepidly warm", which is something that people definitely say. And it makes sense in the same way that "yellow orange" makes sense: "luke" was ...
Laurel's user avatar
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18 votes
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How does the "reverse syntax" in Middle English work?

First, a point of clarification. The "Therefore did Tristan claim justice..." passage that you quote seems to be from a translation made sometime around 1900 by Hilaire Belloc of an ...
herisson's user avatar
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17 votes
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What was a century called before it was called "century"?

A century is equivalent to hundred years and the origin of hundred dates back to Old English hundred From Old English hundred, from Proto-Germanic * hundaradą, from * hundą (from Proto-Indo-...
Mari-Lou A's user avatar
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17 votes
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What was Ꝧ (thorn with stroke through descender) used for in middle/old english?

the upper and lower case versions of this glyph A thorn with an extra stroke through its descender was sometimes used as a scribal abbreviation for various words we now start with th-. One such ...
tchrist's user avatar
  • 136k
17 votes
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What does the phrase "or euer" mean in Middle English from the 1500s?

Or is not the "or" of Modern English, but Or = ere = before. OED: ere, adv.1, prep., conj., and adj. B. prep. 1. a. Before (in time). Forms: β. Middle English–1600s (1800s archaic) or, ...
Greybeard's user avatar
  • 42.6k
16 votes
Accepted

Why did the F of "sneeze" and "snore" change to an S in English history?

Edwin Ashworth's answer is basically right, but I'm going to shed some light on its linguistics. Every language has a unique set of rules that govern the permissible sequences of sounds (which sounds ...
Decapitated Soul's user avatar
16 votes

Why the "wedded" in "wedded wife"?

First, it is important to state that The Common Law of England did not, and does not, recognise "common law" marriages. The OED has another definition of Wife: 5. A woman who has a long-...
Greybeard's user avatar
  • 42.6k
15 votes

Why are there so many words of apparent (Middle) Dutch origin in English?

What about the Flemmings? They spoke Dutch and lived very close to England (see map). According to "Flemings in the Fens Research Association": Perhaps the most notable Flemish fact to that ...
Laurel's user avatar
  • 66.6k
15 votes

Why are there so many words of apparent (Middle) Dutch origin in English?

Nearly half of these words (not to mention others, like buoy) seem to be related to seafaring or fishing: block, deck, hoist, leak, plug, pump, smelt, stern, trigger. And one can imagine that many ...
Peter Shor 's user avatar
13 votes

What is Middle English for 'Hello'?

King Lear was written in about 1605. Chaucer wrote his Canterbury Tales some two hundred years before. Here are two greetings from that poem. In The Summoner’s Tale Thomas’s wife greets Friar John ...
Edwin Ashworth's user avatar
13 votes

Why was 'Jesus' spelt 'Jhesus' in Wycliffe's Bible?

I can't improve upon Andrew Leach's excellent answer but I'll still try my best. I may be right or wrong, take it with a pinch of salt. The name Jesus came into English from the Latin Iesus, a Roman ...
Decapitated Soul's user avatar
12 votes

What is the meaning of "rage," in this exchange

Online Etymology has some interesting background for rage; until the mid-13c., it meant "to play, romp," from rage (n.) [After that a new meaning was acquired:] Meanings "be furious; speak ...
anongoodnurse's user avatar
11 votes

Is "giddy" derived from "Gid" which was Middle English for "God"?

OED does place the etymology of "giddy" squarely as one possessed by a god. Old English gidig insane, is shown by its guttural initial to be a graphic variant of gydig < prehistoric gudīgo- , ...
RaceYouAnytime's user avatar
11 votes
Accepted

What does Middle English “cheping” mean?

A cheaping is a place where goods are bought and sold. Market is a direct translation. The Middle English Dictionary has it under "chepinge": 2 (a) A market or market place (in a city) And here's ...
TaliesinMerlin's user avatar
11 votes

The eerie origin of "eerie"

A Dictionary of the Older Scottish Tongue show usages of argh and its variants from the 15th century: Argh, Arch, a. Also: arche, arch(i)t; airch, airche. [Northern ME. argh, ONhb. arᵹ (WS. earᵹ, earh)...
user 66974's user avatar
  • 67.5k
11 votes
Accepted

Chaucerian idiom: "any stain from Portugal"/"greyn of Portyngale"

Portyngale refers to a colour in this case: Portingāl: Portugal; grain of ~, a scarlet dye made from the insect Kermes (Coccus ilicis). (Middle English dictionary) During the Middle Ages kermes was ...
user 66974's user avatar
  • 67.5k
10 votes

Pronunciation and syllables of pre-Modern English "belewe"?

According to the Oxford English Dictionary (OED), the word blue, a loanword from "Anglo-Norman blew, bliu, blu, blwe, bluw", had a number of spellings that were used during the Middle English period, ...
herisson's user avatar
  • 82.6k
10 votes
Accepted

In 1395, why was "her" used instead of "their"?

In Middle English, "her" means "their". The Modern English "their" actually comes from Old Norse, while the equivalent (and predecessor) of Modern English "her" is "hire".
eyeballfrog's user avatar
10 votes

Why was 'Jesus' spelt 'Jhesus' in Wycliffe's Bible?

It may be a latinisation of the Greek spelling (ΙΗΣΟΥΣ) - the half-Greek, half-Latin nomina sacra IHS (or IHC) and XPS (as well as inflected forms like IHU, XRI) were often used in manuscripts, ...
Hans Lub's user avatar
  • 201

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