A-Z of Shakespeare – P

 

Today’s Shakespearean word of the day is… passado

P - passado

A movement used in fencing, a passado is a forward thrust with the foil with the rear foot moving forward at the same time (see illustration below).

When you had a sword fight, you hoped to fight someone who had learned the same fighting style as you had, so you would know how they were going to attack you or defend themselves. The more flamboyant French and Italian sword-fighting styles were becoming popular while Shakespeare was writing, and the ways of describing some of the moves came from those languages too.

Listen to the pronunciation of passado here

 

Shakespeare Dictionary _130This definition is taken from the Oxford Illustrated Shakespeare Dictionary, a unique dictionary to unlock the mysteries of Shakespeare’s world, words and language, compiled by renowned English language expert David Crystal and Shakespearean actor and producer Ben Crystal.

A-Z of Shakespeare – O

 

Today’s Shakespearean word of the day is… oeillade

O - oeillade

Pronounced ‘ill-yad’, an oeillade is an amorous glance.

In King Lear, Regan says Goneril ‘gave strange oeilliads’ to Edmund (King Lear, 4.5.25).

Listen to the pronunciation of oeillade here

 

Shakespeare Dictionary _130This definition is taken from the Oxford Illustrated Shakespeare Dictionary, a unique dictionary to unlock the mysteries of Shakespeare’s world, words and language, compiled by renowned English language expert David Crystal and Shakespearean actor and producer Ben Crystal.

A-Z of Shakespeare – N

 

Today’s Shakespearean word of the day is… nook-shotten

N - nook-shotten

Nook-shotten means crookedly shaped.

In Henry V, Bourbon describes Britain as ‘that nook-shotten isle of Albion’ (Henry V, 3.6.14).

 

Shakespeare Dictionary _130This definition is taken from the Oxford Illustrated Shakespeare Dictionary, a unique dictionary to unlock the mysteries of Shakespeare’s world, words and language, compiled by renowned English language expert David Crystal and Shakespearean actor and producer Ben Crystal.

A-Z of Shakespeare – M

 

Today’s Shakespearean word of the day is… madonna

M - madonnaWarning! Don’t read in the title of the Virgin Mary (or the stage name of a famous pop singer!)

Madonna is a noun meaning ‘my lady’, used in Shakespeare as an affectionate, jocular term of endearment.

In Twelfth Night, Feste calls Olivia ‘good madonna’ (Twelfth Night, 1.5.54).

 

Shakespeare Dictionary _130This definition is taken from the Oxford Illustrated Shakespeare Dictionary, a unique dictionary to unlock the mysteries of Shakespeare’s world, words and language, compiled by renowned English language expert David Crystal and Shakespearean actor and producer Ben Crystal.

 

A-Z of Shakespeare – L

 

Today’s Shakespearean word of the day is… loggets

L - loggets

Loggets is a game in which sticks are thrown at a stake, with the one closest to the stake the winner – the same principle as in modern bowls.

Hamlet sees the gravedigger throwing human bones around and asks Horatio ‘Did these bones cost no more the breeding but to play at loggets with’em?’- is that all they were brought up to be? (Hamlet, 5.1.91)

Listen to the pronunciation of loggets here

 

Shakespeare Dictionary _130This definition is taken from the Oxford Illustrated Shakespeare Dictionary, a unique dictionary to unlock the mysteries of Shakespeare’s world, words and language, compiled by renowned English language expert David Crystal and Shakespearean actor and producer Ben Crystal.

A-Z of Shakespeare – K

 

Today’s Shakespearean word of the day is… kerchief

K - kerchief

kerchief is a cloth head-covering or scarf (similar to the illustration below).

kerchief1-neat

In Julius Caesar, when sick Ligarius meets Brutus, he is wearing one to keep his head warm, but ‘He pulls off his kerchief’ to become part of the plot to kill Caesar (Julius Caesar, 2.1.321).

The word comes from ‘coverchief’, originally a French word meaning ‘cover for the head’.

Listen to the pronunciation of kerchief here

 

Shakespeare Dictionary _130This definition is taken from the Oxford Illustrated Shakespeare Dictionary, a unique dictionary to unlock the mysteries of Shakespeare’s world, words and language, compiled by renowned English language expert David Crystal and Shakespearean actor and producer Ben Crystal.

A-Z of Shakespeare – J

Today’s Shakespearean word of the day is… Jove

J- Jove

In Roman mythology, Jove (or Jupiter) is the king of the gods, associated with thunder and lightning.

In Shakespeare’s time, swearing by the ancient gods was common practice and the Roman god Jove or Jupiter would often be mentioned in this way. In Henry V, King Henry swears ‘By Jove’ and Lear in King Lear swears ‘By Jupiter’, both using the ancient Roman god to swear in the strongest way.

Listen to the pronunciation of Jove here

 

Shakespeare Dictionary _130This definition is taken from the Oxford Illustrated Shakespeare Dictionary, a unique dictionary to unlock the mysteries of Shakespeare’s world, words and language, compiled by renowned English language expert David Crystal and Shakespearean actor and producer Ben Crystal.

A-Z of Shakespeare – I

 

Today’s Shakespearean word of the day is… illness

I- illness

Warning! Don’t read in the modern meaning of ‘sickness.’

In Shakespeare, illness means wickedness.

Lady Macbeth thinks Macbeth wants to be great ‘but without/ The illness should attend it’– without the wickedness that often lies behind ambition (Macbeth, 1.5.19).

Listen to the pronunciation of illness here

 

Shakespeare Dictionary _130This definition is taken from the Oxford Illustrated Shakespeare Dictionary, a unique dictionary to unlock the mysteries of Shakespeare’s world, words and language, compiled by renowned English language expert David Crystal and Shakespearean actor and producer Ben Crystal.

 

 

A-Z of Shakespeare – H

 

Today’s Shakespearean word of the day is… hautboy

H - hautboy

Pronounced hoh-boy, a hautboy is a wind instrument, later called an oboe.

Hautboys are usually sounded when someone important is coming on stage or something important is about to happen. In Macbeth a scene opens with the stage direction ‘Hautboys and torchers. Enter King Duncan’ (Macbeth, 1.6.1).

Listen to the pronunciation of hautboy here

 

Shakespeare Dictionary _130This definition is taken from the Oxford Illustrated Shakespeare Dictionary, a unique dictionary to unlock the mysteries of Shakespeare’s world, words and language, compiled by renowned English language expert David Crystal and Shakespearean actor and producer Ben Crystal.

 

A-Z of Shakespeare – G

 

Today’s Shakespearean word of the day is… gib

G- gib

Pronounced gib not jib, a gib is a tom-cat.

Hamlet tells Gertrude that she must hide her knowledge of Hamlet’s true behaviour from Claudius, just as she would hide it ‘from a paddock, from a bat, a gib’ (Hamlet, 3.4.192).

These animals were all thought to act as a witch’s familiar—an attendant spirit, usually in the form of an animal, that was a powerful source of magic and capable of reading minds.

gib-neat

Listen to the pronunciation of gib here

 

Shakespeare Dictionary _130This definition is taken from the Oxford Illustrated Shakespeare Dictionary, a unique dictionary to unlock the mysteries of Shakespeare’s world, words and language, compiled by renowned English language expert David Crystal and Shakespearean actor and producer Ben Crystal.

 

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