Questions tagged [archaic-language]

For questions about old words and phrases which are usually no longer used in spoken or written language. They are still found sometimes in English which is supposed to sound old-fashioned. This includes both archaic vocabulary (damsel and yon) and archaic grammar (Be not afraid!).

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42 views

Meaning of a 16th century verse [closed]

What does this verse mean? Do fain and use have archaic meanings here? When first Amyntas su'd for a Kiss, My innocent Heart was tender; That tho‘ I push'd him away from the bliss, My Eyes declar'd ...
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21 views

What were modal verbs in third person singular in archaic English?

I know that modal verbs back in time were always the same (not changeable) with some exeptions - e.g.: thou shalt, thou hast, thou dost, thou canst. Hence my question is: how to transform modal verbs ...
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1answer
51 views

what is the meaning of “improve away”?

what is the meaning of "improve away"? It is the presentation of a principle inherent in man's nature, a principle which his wisdom has improved away until it is wellnigh eliminated altogether, but ...
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29 views

does “public intelligence” means “intelligence service”?

does "public intelligence" means "intelligence service"? If anything could annihilate Spiritualism, its present estimation by the English public, its treatment by the Press and the courts of law, its ...
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1answer
85 views

Is “thenfore” a real word?

In this lecture (15. Petri nets, Basis of The Flow of Tokens), around 5:25, the lecturer uses the word thenfore, I am guessing he is meaning to say therefore but misspeaks. However, he is a native ...
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28 views

what is the meaning of “assert their claims to be considered sane” and “reduced to the limits of ruin”?

what is the meaning of "assert their claims to be considered sane" and "reduced to the limits of ruin"? This has been a long but necessary digression from the account of the early days of ...
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1answer
39 views

What is the grammaticality of “not” in “I hope not” and “I know not”?

This question stemmed from the lyrics of the song Vague Utopia by Tia Gostelow. One of the lines from the chorus is as following: I just want you to know, And i know not what the younger dreams,...
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46 views

Archaic word for snooping or going through someone’s medicine cabinet without permission

My grandmother, born in 1914, used a word that sounds like "prefinelle" to describe snooping or going through someone’s medicine cabinet or drawers without permission. Does anyone know the proper ...
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83 views

Take heed ere it BE / IS too late

Can generalised form of is that is be be used everywhere? Are the following two sentences different? Take heed ere it be too late. Take heed ere it is too late.
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2answers
32 views

What is the meaning of “lay it on” in this sentence?

I read a sentence in "The Tempest" which was: Lead, monster; we’ll follow. I would I could see this taborer. He lays it on. And it is translated to: Lead on, monster. We’ll follow. I wish I ...
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21 views

What does after the wisest mean in this context

This is a quote from "The Tempest" by Stephano: He's in his fit now and does not talk after the wisest. What does "after the wisest" mean in this context? According to most of the sources of ...
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Thee Thou Thine Thy

Do all native speakers know the words Thee Thou Thine Thy ? And all other forms of creating the sentences in the archaic manner? I mean all these phrases and grammar aren't used by anyone now but ...
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1answer
49 views

Meaning of the word can in this sentence

I am reading Clarissa by Samuel Richardson and I am not sure that I have understood a sentence correctly. Thank you very much in advance for your help. Lovelace tells Clarissa that in the midst of his ...
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1answer
46 views

Is using “would” instead of “want” grammatical? “I would we leave here…”

I have been seeing this use of would in a book I am reading. Although I understand the meaning I don't understand the grammar. Is it the correct use of would? Here is an example of it: "I would we ...
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1answer
497 views

Does “not a few” always mean “a lot of”?

This excerpt come from Landmarks of English Literature by H. J. Nicoll: It is not to the credit of England that the only full survey of its literature possessing any high merit from a purely ...
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1answer
269 views

in which (year) and in which (city)

Are "year" and "city" optional in the following? John returned to London in 2010, in which (year) he married Joanne. John returned to London, in which (city) he married Joanne. I'd ...
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4answers
102 views

What does “thee thine” mean?

But we awaited thee every morning, took from thee thine overflow and blessed thee for it. Found this in Thomas Common's 1909 translation of Friedrich Nietzche's Thus Spoke Zarathustra and I was ...
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1answer
134 views

Meaning of “a Richard Snary” / “a Given Name” [closed]

An old joke I found in Mark Forsyth's "The Etymologicon", originally mentioned in the OED A country lad, having been reproved for calling persons by their Christian names, being sent by his master ...
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1answer
46 views

Meaning of 'survey' in this context?

Can the word view be a good synonym for survey in the following context? A man does right, as a rule, to have his thoughts more occupied with the interests of his own nation than with those of ...
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2answers
725 views

Dialogue consisting of questions and answers?

Is there a specific word for a dialogue between two characters in a play or novel, where that dialogue only consists of questions and answers?
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1answer
86 views

Meaning of the phrase “please someone unto something”?

I have come across it in Crash Course World History. It is at 5 minute and 39 second. Here it goes: The thinking was that if humans did their jobs, then the pantheon of gods would maintain cosmic ...
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1answer
237 views

Can native English people comprehend “A Tale of Two Cities” without much effort?

I am not a native English speaker. Recently I tried to read "A Tale of Two Cities" by Charles Dickens. I gave up soon because I was not able to comprehend that book! I even tried to read the summary ...
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105 views

What is “They Are Wont To Ascribe To Each”?

Whenever men notice some similarity between two things, they are wont to ascribe to each, even in those respects in which the two differ, what they have found to be true of the other. My Attempt ...
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1answer
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Was there a specific way to ask the time in the era of the Grandfather Clock , the late 1900's [closed]

My husband says he remembers hearing the phrase "I heard the time drop" in relation to a Grandfather Clock so this would have been used some time around the end of the 1900's I think. Please help me ...
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3answers
1k views

What does “never” mean here?

From Genesis 34:12 - Ask me never so much dowry and gift, and I will give according as ye shall say unto me: but give me the damsel to wife. (KJV) Make the price for the bride and the gift ...
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“I immediately got her with child”?

In th English translation of The Kindly Ones, a 2006 novel by Jonathan Littell set during World War II and its aftermath, the narrator states: the source I picked a woman from a good family; she ...
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2answers
778 views

What does “it” refer to in this excerpt of an old English text?

I am really getting a hard time in understanding the nuances of this text. I am not able to understand what is being referred to in the 'it' parts of this excerpt. It goes like this 'I propose to ...
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4answers
4k views

What does the author mean by “What did he there?”

I'm reading Mary Shelley's Frankenstein written in 19th century. I'm not sure whether the sentence I just encountered (bold text below) is a misprint or an example of archaic English and I'm trying to ...
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2answers
133 views

“Duress” in the (archaic) sense of “Forcible restraint or imprisonment.”

I'm currently trying to figure out the exact meaning of the word duress in the sense forcible restraint or imprisonment. The Oxford Dictionary tells me that this meaning of the word is archaic. I've ...
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2answers
297 views

What's the meaning of “what a deal of money it brought in change”?

Dick had heard that the streets in London were all paved with gold. So Dick got safe to London, and was in such a hurry to see the fine street paved all over with gold that he did not even stay ...
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1answer
297 views

Does “Believest thou this?” mean “Do you believe this?”?

Does "Believest Thou This?" mean "Do you (singular) believe this?" ? I want to know whether a native English speaker, when he sees a title like "Believest Thou This?", immediately realizes it means "...
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1answer
56 views

All disease begins in the gut

A quote attributed to Hippocrates himself, and translated into English many years ago. However, is this correct English? "all" seems to be referring to a plural, "disease" however is singular. Is ...
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373 views

Verb form of “must needs”

Then touching the shoulder of a townsman who stood near to him, he addressed him in a formal and courteous manner: "I pray you, good Sir," said he, "who is this woman? -- and wherefore is she ...
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441 views

What's the point in using “me thinks” and other like phrases in writing and speech? (SOLVED!)

In one of his comments, a reputable member of the ELL community, a native English speaker, finished his thought with a phrase "me dodges brickbat". This reminded me of the phrase "me thinks", which ...
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246 views

Meaning of “the bents were jealous else” in Browning's Childe Roland

From Browning's Childe Roland: If there push’d any ragged thistle-stalk Above its mates, the head was chopp’d; the bents Were jealous else. What made those holes and rents In the dock’s ...
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3answers
2k views

What is a meaning of this William Shakespeare's quote?

My problem is understanding of following quote: "There were no age between ten and three-and-twenty, or that youth would sleep out the rest; for there is nothing in the between but getting ...
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1answer
4k views

Hath or has? Which one is better to use

Here I am aware of it, but I am not getting it. The sea hath/has many thousand sands. Hath and has both seem to be same meaning. Which one is better to use? Shall I use hath or has?
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131 views

Why is 'were' used here instead of 'was'?

In Herodotus 3.81 : Megabyzus spoke next, and advised the setting up of an oligarchy:- "In all that Otanes has said to persuade you to put down monarchy," he observed, "I fully concur; but his ...
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1answer
2k views

'Something is arrived' - is this use of a participle as an adjective acceptable?

As I know, intransitive verb can't be used in passive voice. Arrive is an intransitive verb. I wonder if "be +arrived" is still understandable and available? Something will be arriving ...
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1answer
1k views

Meaning of “little more o’er the merry-o”

In the lyrics of a song, the text goes swing a little more, little more o’er the merry-o I know the proverb "the more the merrier", but o'er is apparently an archaic form of over, which confuses ...
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what does yonge mean?

"a proud and very profane yonge man." This quote is from here. What does yonge mean in this context? A search to the dictionary came up with: Charlotte M(ary). 1823–1901, British novelist, whose ...
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1answer
137 views

The meaning of “unweighty trifle” from “The Prince and the Pauper”

This is an extract taken from chapter VI, of Mark Twain's book "The Prince and the Pauper". I just can't understand the meaning of "unweighty trifle." "I am full loth to word the thing that is in ...
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1answer
760 views

What does it mean 'to have fame in' or 'to be famed in' God?

Source: Historia Anglorum [...], by Henry of Huntingdon, edited by Diana E. Greenway [p 496, online English translation:] Tell me, I pray, what gain has it been to us to have been great or famous? ...
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1answer
500 views

meaning of “That old Artaxerxes evening had never done ringing in my fancy”

The following is a part of the SAT sample questions (questions 5-8 of Passage-Based Reading section) After the intervention of six or seven years I again entered the doors of a theater. That old ...
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1answer
254 views

What is this grammar concept?

The time was the beginning of the morning, And up the sun was mounting with those stars That with him were, what time the Love Divine At first in motion set those beauteous things... Dante (...
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5answers
10k views

When can I use “thy” instead of “your”?

I have never heard anybody using it, I only came across the word in the title of the movie Honor Thy Mother
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3k views

Want to understand “the Duchess of Cambridge was safely delivered of a daughter” further

In a statement, Kensington Palace said: “Her royal highness the Duchess of Cambridge was safely delivered of a daughter at 8.34am. The baby weighs 8lbs 3oz. This usage is quite strange to me though ...
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3answers
169 views

Antecedent of 'whose' in 'to whose extent'? (1834 UK)

Source: p 377, A Treatise on Astronomy, by Sir John F. W. Herschel ... But between that remotest orb and the nearest star there is a gulf fixed, to whose extent no observations yet made have ...
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1answer
203 views

Informal spoken English: I shall wait you in the garden, five o'clock

Is the sentence in the title, "I shall wait you in the garden, five o'clock," grammatical, even though it might be archaic?
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2k views

How can I ask “What's up” in aristocratic style?

I need to write a letter in an old manner. I suppose like the beginning of the 19th century. So what was the regular phrase to get a news?