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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23
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3answers
8k views

“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 ...
20
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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 ...
14
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5answers
9k 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
14
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4answers
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 ...
12
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1answer
2k views

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 ...
12
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4answers
2k views

Why do some sentences have “thy” instead of “the”?

I saw many times thy used instead of the, so why is that? When should I use it? What is the pronunciation of thy? From the Bible (Christianity.SE) Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy ...
12
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2answers
8k views

Verbs ending in -th

Sometimes especially when I am reading books or quotes, I encounter verbs ending in -th. Is that an arcaic form? How should I properly translate them?
11
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1answer
1k views

Are archaic third person singular forms of verbs useful to English learners?

I just noticed a song of P.J.Harvey: "The Words That Maketh Murder". "Maketh" seemed very interesting; so I've searched for it, and found this Wikipedia entry. Maketh: (archaic) Third-person ...
7
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4answers
237 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 ...
6
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3answers
8k views

Why is there a hyphen in ‘to-night’?

How are you to-night, Helen? Have you coughed much to-day? —Jane Eyre Why does Jane Eyre have a hyphen in to-night? Does it signify that the pronunciation in Emily Brontë’s day was [tunáit], not [...
6
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3answers
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?
6
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2answers
320 views

Help parsing excerpt from Shakespeare's comedy “Love's Labour's Lost”

I have begun trying to read Shakespeare. My problem is I can't understand the writing at all. Why is Shakespeare so hard to understand? I hope that I am not the only one that finds it hard to read. ...
5
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3answers
535 views

Meaning of “rape” in “Rape of Nanking”

Someone used "the rape in Nanking" rather than "the rape of Nanking", and I want to explain why it's the latter, but I don't fully understand the phrase myself! What was the meaning of the word "rape"...
5
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1answer
9k views

What does “do't” mean?

I found this line in Hamlet by William Shakespeare. I'll do't. Dost thou come here to whine? What does "do't" mean? Google returneth only "don't". Is "do't" an alternative spelling of "don't"? ...
5
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1answer
735 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? ...
4
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2answers
3k views

How obscure is “yet” in place of “but”?

I've seen "yet" used in place of "but" like: He was bulky, yet devilishly quick. You buy yourself golden earrings, yet you cannot afford medicine for your mother! I'm fairly sure this usage ...
4
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2answers
580 views

What does “a thrum of my love” mean in this poem?

Dost thou me hate? Speak but so!/ Your sweet speech shall mine ears coax/ into a sweet slumber./Better to sleep than else in this plight./ At least as a thrum of thy love, I shall cling to thee./ (...
4
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2answers
5k views

He IS come - John 16:8

And when he is come, he will reprove the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment -John 16:8-18 (King James Version) I could not understand the use of is in this. Also, I have observed ...
4
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1answer
744 views

What does 'scape mean in this quote by Shakespeare?

I found this line in Hamlet by William Shakespeare. And 'scape detecting, I will pay the theft. What does "'scape" mean? Google says this. A long, leafless flower stalk coming directly from ...
4
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1answer
217 views

Is the clause “it's past doubt” archaic?

From another version of this book I know the clause in boldface can be reworded as "It's certain". I searched the phase "past doubt" in Google but few related results were returned. So I wonder if ...
4
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2answers
60 views

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 ...
4
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2answers
845 views

When once you have tasted flight

When once you have tasted flight, you will forever walk the earth with your eyes turned skyward, for there you have been, and there you will always long to return. (Leonardo da Vinci) Should "When" ...
4
votes
1answer
298 views

Is “Whore” archaic in Australian English?

Is the term "Whore", either to mean someone who is promiscuous, or someone who is a sex worker, archaic in Australian English? When I see the word "Whore", I tend to think of Shakespeare (along with ...
3
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1answer
185 views

'It were far worse' - why 'were' instead of 'was'?

"Thou must dwell no longer with this man," said Hester, slowly and firmly. "Thy heart must be no longer under his evil eye!" "It were far worse than death!" replied the minister. "But how to ...
3
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2answers
98 views

What have we done that you should be so angry with us? - “that” clause of result?

Can "that" introduce an adverbial clause of result? Do the following sentences sound natural to you? 1a: What have we done that you should be so angry with us? 1b: “Are you starving that you must ...
3
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2answers
125 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 ...
3
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2answers
360 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 ...
2
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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 ...
2
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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 ...
2
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1answer
1k 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 tomorrow. (...
2
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2answers
167 views

Is this combination “which nor” correct? [closed]

I found the following in a poem by Matthew Prior (1664-1721): In every act and turn of life he feels Public calamities, or household ills : The due reward to just desert refus'd : The trust ...
2
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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 ...
2
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1answer
457 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 ...
2
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1answer
95 views

Is this indirect object an archaic phrasing?

The housekeeper packed them up a provision of bread — From The Odyssey In modern English, I think it would be "packed up a provision of ....for them." Is this an archaism?
2
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1answer
120 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 ...
2
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2answers
295 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 ...
2
votes
1answer
229 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 (...
2
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1answer
27 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 ...
2
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1answer
71 views

What is this variant of remember doing?

I remember to have heard that your mother has many suitors Source "My friend," said Nestor, "now that you remind me, I remember to have heard that your mother has many suitors, who are ill ...
2
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1answer
41 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 ...
2
votes
1answer
83 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 ...
1
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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?
1
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1answer
108 views

Declines Vs Declineth

Declines Vs Declineth Somewhere I read that "decline" is just third person , but "declineth" is indicative . Could you help me explain the difference of indicative with some examples so that I ...
1
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2answers
97 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 ...
1
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2answers
777 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 ...
1
vote
1answer
139 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 ...
1
vote
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?
1
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1answer
96 views

“There need none. . .” in modern usage

There need none to be blamed. Source: A Midsummer Night's Dream (Act 5, Scene 1) Is this still possible in modern English? For example: “There dared none to protest against him.” Is this a version ...
1
vote
1answer
50 views

an eternal verity “which, attending,” has planted

Forth from the age-yellowed pages (of the book) there leapt an eternal verity; which, attending, has planted new seeds of wisdom in the soil of my mind. (an internal meditation on the Holy Bible 1890)
1
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1answer
44 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 ...