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Hamlet
William Shakespeare

THE PLAY

ELIZABETHAN ENGLISH - WORD MEANINGS

Words not only change their meanings, they are often discarded from the language altogether. The following words used in Hamlet are no longer current in English, but you can usually figure out their meaning from the context in which they occur (and in any case, most editions of the play contain a glossary of unfamiliar words):

PARLE (Act I, Scene i, line 62):
conference

IMPRESS (I, i, 75):
forced labor

PRECURSE (I, i, 121):
omen

SUPPLIANCE (I, iii, 9):
pastime

CLEPE (I, iv, 19):
call, name

CEREMENTS (I, iv, 48):
clothes for the grave, shrouds

SOFT (I, v, 58):
wait

PIONER (I, v, 163):
miner

BESPEAK (II, ii, 140):
speak to

FAY (II, ii, 265):
faith

COTED (II, ii, 317):
overtook

ESCOTED (II, ii, 345):
paid for

TARRE (II, ii, 353):
provoke

GOD WOT (II, ii, 416):
God knows

QUIETUS (III, i, 74):
release from life

FARDELS (III, i, 75):
heavy burdens

ORISONS (III, i, 88):
prayers

HAPLY (III, i, 171):
perhaps

BELIKE (III, ii, 137):
it seems, perhaps

VENTAGES (III, ii, 357):
finger-holes in a musical instrument

REECHY (III, iv, 184):
dirty

ORE (IV, i, 25):
gold

LARDED (IV, v, 38):
highly decorated

SITH (IV, vii, 3):
since

SIMPLES (IV, vii, 144):
medicinal herbs, herbal remedies

KIBE (V, i, 141):
sore

SPLENITIVE (V, i, 261):
hot-headed

PONIARDS (V, ii, 149):
daggers

 

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