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Barron's Booknotes-Julius Caesar by William Shakespeare
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CHANGES IN WORD MEANING

The meanings of words undergo changes, a process that can be illustrated by the fact that 'chip' extended its meaning from a small piece of wood to a small piece of silicon. Many of the words in Shakespeare still exist today but their meanings have changed. The change may be small, as in the case of 'modestly' meaning 'without exaggeration' in:

I your glass Will modestly discover to yourself... (I, ii, 68-69)

or more fundamental, so that 'naughty' meant 'worthless' (I, i, 15), 'tributaries' meant 'conquered rulers who paid tribute' (I, i, 35), 'shadow' meant 'reflection' (I, ii, 58), 'speed' meant 'prosper' (I, ii, 88), 'temper' meant 'constitution' (I, ii, 129) and 'sad' meant 'serious':

...Casca, tell us what hath chanced today That Caesar looks so sad. (I, ii, 217)



VOCABULARY LOSS

Words not only change their meanings, but are frequently discarded from the language. In the past, 'leman' meant 'sweetheart', 'regiment' meant 'government', and 'fond' meant 'foolish'. The following words used in Julius Caesar are no longer current in English but their meanings can usually be gauged from the contexts in which they occur.

FAIN (I, ii, 239) - willingly, gladly
AN (I, ii, 262) - if
RIVED (I, iii, 6) - split
THUNDERSTONE (I, iii, 49) - thunderbolt
ORDINANCE (I, iii, 66) - natural order
FACTIOUS (I, iii, 118) - active
SPURN (II, i, 11) - strike, hit
EXHALATIONS (II, i, 44) - meteors
PHANTASMA (II, i, 65) - nightmare
MOE (II, i, 72) - more
PALTER (II, i, 126) - deceive
CHARACTERY (II, i, 308) - the things that are written
MORTIFIED (II, i, 324) - dead
AGUE (II, ii, 113) - severe fever
SCHEDULE (III, i, 3) - scroll
BAYED (III, i, 204) - hunted until caught
MARRED (III, ii, 194) - mutilated
BELIKE (III, ii, 268) - perhaps, it seems like
MART (IV, iii, 11) - market, bargain
VAUNTING (IV, iii, 52) - boasting
INDIRECTION (IV, iii, 75) - crooked deals
BETIMES (IV, iii, 308) - from time to time
PROPER (V, iii, 96) - own
IS CHANCED (V, iv, 32) - turns out, happens
SMATCH (V, v, 46) - touch, small amount

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Barron's Booknotes-Julius Caesar by William Shakespeare
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