And Other Old or Unfamiliar Words and Phrases That Occur in Shakespeare
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maggot-pie (noun): Magpie, a bird with black and white feathers. Example:
Stones have been known to move and trees to speak;magnifico (noun): High-ranking person; nobleman; important person. Example: "The magnifico is much belov'd" (Othello, 1.2.15).
Augurs and understood relations have
By maggot-pies . . . brought forth
The secret’st man of blood. (Macbeth, 3.4.148-151)
main (noun): Sea; ocean. Example: "Into the tumbling billows of the main" (Richard III, 1.4.22)
malapert (adjective): Impudent, saucy. Example: "Peace, Master Marquess, you are malapert" (Richard III, 1.3.263).
malkin (noun): Slut. Example: "The kitchen malkin pins / Her richest lockram [linen collar] 'bout her . . . neck . . . (Coriolanus, 2.1.119-120).
malmsey (noun, MAWM ze): Fortified sweet wine from Greece that became popular in southern Europe. "That arrant malmsey-nose knave, Bardolph, [is] with him" (Henry IV Part II, 2.1.16).
malt worm (noun): Tippler, drunkard. Example: "I am joined with . . . none of these . . . malt worms" (Henry IV Part I, 2.1.31)
mammer (verb): Hesitate. Example:
Tell me, Othello: I wonder in my soul,mammet (noun): Doll; toy in the form of a human. Example: "This is no world / To play with mammets" (Henry IV Part I, 2.3.68-69).
mammock (verb): Tear to shreds; rip into pieces. Example: "I saw him run after a gilded butterfly; and when he caught it . . . he did so set his teeth and tear it; O! I warrant, how he mammocked it! (Coriolanus, 1.3.34).
mandragora (noun, man DRAG uh ruh): Poisonous plant used to make a sleep-inducing drug. Example:
Not poppy, nor mandragora,manikin or manakin (noun): (1) Helper; supporter. (2) Dummy; mannequin; model of the human body. Example: "This is a dear manikin to you, Sir Toby" (Twelfth Night, 3.2.21).
Nor all the drowsy syrups of the world,
Shall ever medicine thee to that sweet sleep. (Othello, 3.3.375-377)
Manningtree (noun): Small community in eastern England that was known for its cattle market. (Henry IV Part I, 2.4.173).
marl (noun): Mixture of fine-grained clay, sand, silt, and calcium that is used as a fertilizer. Example: "Would it not grieve a woman . . . to make an account of her life to a clod of wayward marl?" (Much Ado About Nothing, 2.1.22).
Marry (adverb): By the Virgin Mary (I swear by the Virgin Mary). Marry is used to introduce a sentence or to provide transition. Example:
ANTIPHOLUS OF EPHESUS I think thou are an ass.mart (1) (noun): Market; trading center. Example: "My job was but to fetch you from the mart" (The Comedy of Errors, 1.2.77).
DROMIO OF EPHESUS Marry, so it doth appear . . . . (The Comedy of Errors, 3.1.17-18)
mart (2) (verb): Buy, sell, bargain. Example: "To mart / As in a [brothel]" (Cymbeline, 1.6.175-176).
Mary-buds (noun): Flowers with yellow or orange petals. Marigolds. Example: "Winking Mary-buds begin / To ope their eyes (song in Cymbeline, 2.3.11).
martlemas or martinmas (noun): Roman Catholic feast day, November 11, observing the death and burial of the French saint Martin of Tours (316-397). Example: "And how doth the martlemas, your master?" (Henry IV Part II, 2.2.39). Here, martlemas refers to favorable weather on or near the date of the feast day. This period of fair weather is known as St. Martin's summer.
martlet (noun). Martin, a type of swallow with a square or forked tail. "The martlet . . . / Builds in the weather on the outward wall" (The Merchant of Venice, 2.9.31-32).
masque (noun): Form of entertainment in which masked players performed scenes with music, dialogue, pantomime, and dancing. Example: "What masques, what dances shall we have / To wear away this long age of three hours?" (A Midsummer Night's Dream, 5.1.36-37).
matin (noun, MAT in): Morning; dawn. Example: "The glow-worm shows the matin to be near" (Hamlet, 1.5.97).
maugre (preposition, MAW ger): In spite of (from the French word malgré). Example: "I love thee so, that, maugre all thy pride, nor wit nor reason can my passion hide" (Twelfth Night, 3.2.117-118).
maw (noun): Mouth, jaws, and/or stomach. Example:
Thou detestable maw, thou womb of death,In this passage, Romeo is using maw as a metaphor for a tomb.
mazzard (noun, MAZ erd): Sweet cherry. Example: "My lady [is] knocked about the mazzard with a sexton's spade" (Hamlet, 5.1.38).
meacock (noun and adjective): Meek, timid person. Example: "A meacock wretch can make the curstest shrew" (The Taming of the Shrew, 2.1.315).
measles (noun): Lepers. In Coriolanus, the title character uses this word as a term of contempt for the common people: "My lungs / Shall coin words till they decay against those measles" (3.1.100-101).
meal (verb): Grind grain into a coarse powder; sprinkle or mix the powder with something else. Example: "Were he meal'd with that / Which he corrects, then were he tyrranous" (Measure for Measure, 4.2.57-58).
medlar (noun): Fruit resembling a crabapple. Example: "Now will he sit under a medlar tree" (Romeo and Juliet, 2.1.39).
meed (1) (noun): Merit, worth, excellence. Example:
We, the sons of brave Plantagenet,meed (2) (noun): Reward; recompense. Example: "Great treasure is the meed proposed" (The Rape of Lucrece, line 183)
Each one already blazing by our meeds,
Should notwithstanding join our lights together
And over-shine the earth." (Henry VI, Part III, 2.1.37-40)
meetest (adjective): Most advantageous; most suitable; most appropriate. Example: "At your meetest vantage of the time, / Infer the bastardy of Edward's children" (Richard III, 3.5.78-79).
meetness (noun): Satisfaction; suitableness. Example: "[I] found a kind of meetness / To be diseased" (Sonnet 118, lines 7-8).
mehercle (interjection): By Hercules! Certainly! Most Assuredly! Without a doubt! The second and third syllables (hercle) refer to Heracles (Hercules). Example: "Mehercle, if their sons be ingenuous, they shall want no instruction" (Love's Labour's Lost, 4.2.43).
meiny (noun MINE e): Retinue; attendants; household. Example: "They summoned up their meiny, straight took horse" (King Lear, 2.4.39).
mercatante (noun, mer Ka tahn tay): Foreign merchant or trader. Example: "[He is] a mercatante or a pedant / I know not what" (The Taming of the Shrew, 4.2.70-71).
mete-yard (noun): Pole, staff, or rod used to make measurements. Example: "I am for thee straight; take thou the bill, give me thy mete-yard" (The Taming of the Shrew, 4.3.148).
methinks (verb): I think; it seems to me; it appears as if. Example: "You are hold enough now, and yet, methinks you lose (Henry VI Part III, 1.1.117).
mew (noun): Place of confinement; prison. Example: "For his meed, poor lord, he is mewed up" (Richard III, 1.3.144)
milch (adjective): Yielding milk; kept to give milk. Example:
She wildly breaketh from their strict embrace,mickle (adjective, adverb, noun): Much. Example: O! mickle is the powerful grace that lies / In herbs, plants, stones" (Romeo and Juliet, 2.3.17-18).
milkpaps (noun): Breasts; nipples. Example: "Those milkpaps / . . . bore at men's eyes" (Timon of Athens, 4.3.124-125)..
minikin (noun, adjective): (1) Small creature; (2) dainty; delicate; refined. Example: "For one blast of thy minikin mouth, / Thy sheep shall take no harm" (King Lear, 3.6.29).
misconster (verb): Misconstrue; misinterpret. Example: "The citizens . . . may / misconster us [misconstrue our purpose or meaning]" (Richard III, 3.5.64-65).
miscarry (1) (verb): Fail to get attention; be left standing. Example: "Let some of my people have a special care of him: I would not have him miscarry for the half of my dowry" (Twelfth Night, 3.4.48).
miscarry (2) (verb) Go astray. Example: "If a son that is by his father sent about merchandise do sinfully miscarry upon the sea, the imputation of his wickedness . . . should be imposed upon his father" (Henry V, 4.1.95).
miscarry (3) (verb): Example "I pray God the fruit of her womb miscarry" (Henry IV Part II, 5.4.6).
misprise (verb, Misprize in Modern American English): Undervalue; underestimate; belittle; disparage. Example:
This is not well: rash and unbridled boy,mobled (adjective, MO bld): Hooded. Example: "But who, O who, had seen the mobled queen--" (Hamlet, 2.2.353).
moiety (noun, MOY eh te): Half. Example: "I dare . . . pawn the moiety of my estate" (Cymbeline, 1.4.37).
moldwarp (noun): Mole. Example: "Sometimes he angers me / With telling me of the moldwarp and the ant" (Henry IV Part I, 3.1.152-153).
moe (adjective and pronoun): More. Example: (1) "If I court moe women, you'll couch with moe men" (Othello, 4.3.50).
mome (noun): Fool, moron, blockhead. Example: "Mome, malt-horse, capon, coxcomb, idiot, patch!" (The Comedy of Errors, 3.1.35).
mooncalf (noun): (1) Stupid person; (2) malformed person. Example: "How cam’st thou to be the siege of this mooncalf?" (The Tempest, 2.2.43) Mooncalf here refers to Caliban, a character who is half-man and half-beast.
Morisco (noun): Spanish Moor. Example: I have seen / Him caper like a wild Morisco" (Henry VI Part II, 3.1.369-370).
morris (noun): Dance in which costumed performers act out a story. Example: "That fore thy dignity will dance a morris" (The Two Noble Kinsmen, by John Fletcher and Shakespeare, line 1711).
morrow (noun, MAR oh): Morning. Example: "Good morrow, to thee; welcome" (Antony and Cleopatra, 4.4.29)
mote (noun): Dust particle; speck. Example: "Through crystal walls each little mote will peep. . . . (The Rape of Lucrece, 1251).
mow (verb): Grimace; frown. Example: "Apes . . . mow and chatter at me" (The Tempest, 2.2.12).
mummy (noun): Dark brown substance used in dyeing. Example: "[This handkerchief] was dy'd in mummy" (Othello, 3.4.77).
murther (noun): Murder. Murther appears often in Shakespeare's plays as an earlier spelling of murder. Modern editors of the plays generally change the old spelling to the new. Examples of the use of murther.
musk rose or musk-rose (noun): Musk-scented rose with white petals and prickly stems. Example: "[I] stick musk-roses in thy sleek smooth head" (A Midsummer Night's Dream, 4.1.5).
mutine (noun, MEW tine, MEW tin): Mutineer; rebel. Example 1: "Methought I lay worse than the mutines in the bilboes [iron bars used in shackling the feet of prisoners]" (Hamlet, 5.2.7-8). Example 2: "Do like the mutines of Jerusalem" (King John, 2.1.393).
neat (noun): Bovine, such as a cow, a bull, or an ox. Example:
I saw him in the battle range about,neeld (noun): Needle. Example: "Their neelds [change] to lances" (King John, 5.2.162).
And watch’d him how he singled Clifford forth.
Methought he bore him in the thickest troop
As doth a lion in a herd of neat. (Henry VI Part III, 2.1.13-16)
neif or neaf (noun): Fist. Example: "Sweet knight, I kiss thy neif" (Henry IV Part II, 2.4.76).
nether-stocks or netherstocks (noun): Stockings made by sewing rather than knitting. Example: "Ere I lead this life long, I’ll sew nether-stocks and mend them and foot them too" (Henry IV Part I, 2.4.50).
noddle (noun): Head. Example: "Doubt not her care should be / To comb your noddle with a three-legg’d stool" (The Taming of the Shrew, 1.1.66-67).
nonce (noun): Occasion. Example: "And that he calls for drink, I'll have prepared for him / A chalice for the nonce" (Hamlet, 126.96.36.199).
nose (verb): Smell. In Hamlet, several characters ask where a dead body is. Hamlet tells them, "You shall nose him as you go up the stairs into the lobby" (4.3.32).
not'st (verb): Notest--that is, note, observe, take notice. Example: "Tell me what thou not'st about the field" (Julius Caesar, 5.3.26).
nousle (verb): Nuzzle; cuddle; fondle; hug; nestle. Example:
Those mothers who, to nousle up their babesnowl (noun): Another word for noll, the head or the crown of the head. Example: An ass's nowl I fixed on his head" (A Midsummer Night's Dream, 3.2.21).
. . . are ready now
to eat those little darlings whom they loved. (Pericles, Prince of Tyre, 1.4.44-46)
novum (noun): Novem, (with an e in place of the u), a shortened name for an old dice game. The complete name was novem quinque (nine five in Latin ), in which the most important throws were a nine and a five. Shakespeare used the phrase a "throw at novum" in Love's Labour's Lost (5.2.563).
noyance (noun): Annoyance. Example:
The single and peculiar life is boundnuncle (noun): Archaism for uncle. Nuncle was often used to address any elderly man. The fool, or jester, uses nuncle throughout King Lear to refer to his master. Example: "Nuncle, give me an egg, and I'll give thee two crowns" (King Lear, 1.4.99).
With all the strength and armour of the mind
To keep itself from noyance. (Hamlet, 3.3.14-16)
nuthook (noun): (1) Pole with a hook on the end that is used to pull down branches in order to harvest nuts. (2) Thief who uses a hook to snatch various items; policeman who uses a hook to round up lawbreakers. Shakespeare uses this term in The Merry Wives of Windsor (1.1.83).
obsequies (noun): Funeral rites. Example: "The obsequies that I for you will keep" (Romeo and Juliet, 5.3.18).
oeilliade or oeilliade, noun (pronounce the first syllable like the oo in wood; pronounce the second syllable yahd: OO yahd): Amorous look, loving glance. Example: "She gave strange oeilliades and most speaking looks / To noble Edmund" (King Lear, 4.5.31-32).
oneyer (noun): Accountant for the British treasury; banker. Example: "I am joined with . . . great oneyers" (Henry IV Part 1, 2.1.31).
ope (verb): Open. Example: "The gates are ope" (Coriolanus, 1.4.54).
oppugnancy (noun, op PUG nan se): Resistance; opposition. Example:
Untune that string,ordinant (adjective): Approving; giving authorization; ordaining as right. Example: "Heaven [was] ordinant" (Hamlet, 5.2.54).
And, hark, what discord follows! each thing meets
In mere oppugnancy. (Troilus and Cressida, 1.3.112-114)
orgulous (adjective): Proud, haughty. Example: "The princes orgulous, their high blood chaf’d, / Have to the port of Athens sent their ships" (Troilus and Cressida, Prologue, 2-3).
orison (noun, OR ih zun): Prayer. Example: "The fair Ophelia! Nymph, in thy orisons / Be all my sins remember'd" (Hamlet, 3.1.99-100).
orthographer (noun): Scholar who studies spelling and the arrangement of letters in words. Example: "Now he is turned orthographer; his words are a very fantastical banquet" (Much Ado About Nothing, 2.3.8).
ostler: (noun): Stableman; person who takes care of horses at a stable. Example: "Bid the ostler bring my gelding out of the stable" (Henry IV Part I, 2.1.37).
ouph or ouphe (noun, ou as in loud): Goblin; elf. Example: "Three or four more [children] we'll dress like urchins, ouphs, and fairies" (The Merry Wives of Windsor, 188.8.131.52).
ousel-cock (noun): Male blackbird or thrush. Example: "The ousel-cock so black of hue" (A Midsummer Night's Dream, 3.1.65).
outface (verb): Defy; boldly confront; stare down. Example: "We'll outface them, and outswear them too" (The Merchant of Venice, 4.2.22).
outsport (verb): Outdo; overdo. Example: "Let's teach ourselves . . . / Not to outsport discretion" (Othello, 2.3.4-5). Here, Othello cautions one of his men to keep drinking merrymakers from celebrating beyond the bounds of good taste.
outwall or out-wall (noun): Outer appearance. Example: "I am much more / Than my out-wall" (King Lear, 3.1.49-50).
overborne (verb): Overcome; overpowered; conquered. Example: "Weak shoulders, overborne . . . with grief" (Henry VI Part I, 2.5.12).
overglance (verb): Look over; examine; glance over. Example: "I will overglance the superscript [characters written above a line]" (Love's Labour's Lost, 4.2.59).
overleather (noun): Upper layer of leather on a shoe. Example: "My toes look through the overleather" (The Taming of the Shrew, Induction, scene 2, line 7).
overcrow or o'ercrow (verb): Overpower; overcome. Example: "The potent poison quite o'ercrows my spirit" (Hamlet, 5.2.298).
overleaven, o'erleaven, or o'er-leaven (verb): Add too much yeast to a bread recipe; spoil; ruin. Example: "Some habit . . . too much o'erleavens / The form of plausive [acceptable, praiseworthy] manners" (Hamlet, 1.4.33-34).
o'erskip or overskip (verb): Leap over; skip over; ignore. "The mind much sufferance doth o'erskip" (King Lear, 3.6.84).
o'ertrip or overtrip (verb): Tread or walk over lightly. Example: "In such a night / Did Thisbe fearfully o'ertrip the dew" (The Merchant of Venice, 5.1.9-10).
o'er-raught or over-raught (verb): Caught up with; reached; overtook. Example: "It so fell out that certain players (actors) / We o'er-raught on the way" (Hamlet, 3.1.20-21).
o'er-read, over-read, or overread (verb): Read over; peruse; examine. Example: "Bid them o'er-read these letters" (Henry IV Part II, 3.1.3).
paction (noun): Agreement; compact; covenant. Example: "Between the paction of these kingdoms" (Henry V, 5.2.190).
paddock (noun): Toad or frog. Example: "Paddock calls" (Macbeth, 1.1.12). The second witch is speaking.
palabra (noun, puh LAHB ruh): Word in Spanish. (For a complete dictionary entry for palabra, click here). "Comparisons are odorous [malapropism for odious]; palabras, neighbour Verges" (Much Ado About Nothing, 3.5.11).
pale (noun): Fence or another boundary surrounding a tract of land, a building, etc.; that which is enclosed by a fence or boundary. Example (used figuratively): "Oft breaking down the pales and forts of reason" (Hamlet, 1.4.32).
pajock (noun, PAH jock): Peacock. Example: "Now reigns here / A very, very--pajock" (Hamlet, 3.2.215-216).
pale (verb): Enclose, surround. Example: "Whate'er the ocean pales, or sky inclips [encompasses, encloses], / Is thine, if thou wilt have it" (Antony and Cleopatra, 2.7.60-61).
pall (verb): Fail; die. Example: "Our indiscretion sometimes serves us well / When our deep plots do pall" (Hamlet, 5.2.10-11).
palmy (adjective): (1) Having to do with palm trees; abounding with palm trees; (2) prosperous; faring well; flourishing. In the following passage, palmy fits both definitions.
In the most high and palmy state of Rome,palter (verb): Talk insincerely; mislead; equivocate; leave the meaning open to interpretation. Example: After Macbeth realizes he was misled by an apparition that told him "none born of woman shall harm" him, he says, "And be these juggling fiends no more believed, / that palter with us in a double sense" (Macbeth, 5.8.65-66).
A little ere the mightiest Julius fell,
The graves stood tenantless. (Hamlet, 130-132)
paly (adjective): Pale. Example: "The roses in thy lips and cheeks shall fade / To paly ashes" (Romeo and Juliet, 4.1.103-104).
pantler (noun): One who works in a pantry. Example: "Not to dispraise me, and call me pantler and bread-chipper and I know not what?" (Henry IV Part II, 2.4.141).
pap (noun): Nipple. Exampe: "Out, sword, and wound / The pap of Pyramus" (A Midsummer Night's Dream, 5.1.274-275).S
parcel (adjective): Partly. Example: "Thou didst swear to me on a parcel-gilt goblet" (Henry IV Part II, 2.1.39).
pardonnez-moi: French for "pardon me." In Romeo and Juliet, Mercutio uses this phrase as a noun to deride conceited persons who try to impress people by wearing the latest fashions and by speaking foreign phrases. Example: “These pardonnez-mois . . . stand so much on the new form that they cannot sit at ease on the old bench (2.4.18). Some editions of Shakespeare use the Italian phrase for "pardon me," perdona-mi.
parle (noun): Parley; conversation between battlefield enemies over terms for ending a conflict. In Henry V, the title character--a warrior king--stands before the walls of a French city and shouts out that he would like to talk terms of a truce in order to avoid slaughtering the city's residents. He says, "This is the latest parle (that I will allow)" (3.3.4).
parmaceti: Spermaceti, a waxlike solid extracted from the oil in the head of a sperm whale, dolphin, or porpoise. Spermaceti was an ingredient used in making ointments, smokeless candles, and cosmetics. Example: "The sovereign’st thing on earth / Was parmaceti for an inward bruise" (Henry IV Part I, 1.3.60-61).
'paritor (noun): Apparitor, an official who carried out the orders of an ecclesiastical or civil court. Example: "Sole imperator and great general / Of trotting 'paritors" (Love's Labour's Lost, 3.1.129-130).
Parthia (noun): Ancient country that occupied what is now northeastern Iran. Example: "In Parthia did I take thee prisoner" (Julius Caesar, 5.3.42).
partisan or partizan (noun): Weapon with a broad blade and a long shaft. Example: "I had as lief have a reed that will do me no service as a partisan I could not heave" (Antony and Cleopatra, 2.7.8).
pash (noun): Blow; punch. Example: "If I go to him, with my armed fist / I'll pash him o'er the face" (Troilus and Cressida, 2.3.142-143).
passado (noun): In fencing, a thrust with one foot forward. Example: In Romeo and Juliet, Tybalt draws his sword and Mercutio says to him, "Come, sir, your passado" (3.1.54).
passy measure or passymeasure (noun): Paspy, a dance resembling a minuet. It was popular during the reign of Queen Elizabeth I. Example: "Then he's a rogue, and a passy measures pavin; I hate a drunken rogue" (Twelfth Night, 5.1.179).
pastern (noun): Part of a horse's leg between the fetlock (a joint below the knee) and the hoof. Example: "I will not change my horse with any that treads on four pasterns" (Henry V, 3.7.9).
patch (noun): Dolt; fool; clown, moron. Example: "What patch is made our porter?" (The Comedy of Errors, 3.1.39).
patine (noun, puh TEEN): (1) Paten (or patin), a metal plate on which a wafer of bread is placed and offered to God during the Roman Catholic mass. After the priest consecrates the wafer as the Holy Eucharist, it is again placed on the paten. (2) Patina, a sheen on the surface of an object. Shakespeare uses patine figuratively in the following example: "Look, how the floor of heaven / Is thick inlaid with patines of bright gold" (The Merchant of Venice, 5.1.67-68).
pauca (adjective): Latin for few, not many, and small number of. Example: "Pauca verba [few words], Sir John" (The Merry Wives of Windsor, 1.1.59). Pauca is the feminine form in the nominative case. Paucus is the masculine form, and paucum is the neuter form.
pax (noun): Small metal or ivory plate with the image of the crucifixion of Christ. In earlier times, Roman Catholics kissed the image during mass. Example: "Fortune is Bardolph's foe, and frowns on him; / For he hath stol'n a pax, and hanged must a' be" (Henry V, 3.6.21-22)
peat (noun): Derogatory term for a woman. Example: "A pretty peat!" (The Taming of the Shrew, 1.1.81)
pedascule (noun): Pedant; know-it-all; schoolteacher. Example:
How fiery and forward our pedant is!
Now, for my life, the knave doth court my love.peise (verb, PIZE): Weigh down; burden. Example: "I'll strive, with troubled thoughts, to take a nap / Lest leaden slumber peise me down to-morrow" (Richard III, 5.3.115-116).
Pedascule, I'll watch you better yet. (Taming of the Shrew, 184.108.40.206)
pell-mell (adverb): Frantically; hastily; in a disorderly manner. Example: "Why then defy each other and pell-mell / Make work upon ourselves" (King John, 2.1.421-422). Pell-mell is not to be confused with Pall Mall, a London street where the wealthy and noble lived.
penny (noun): See "From the Penny to the Pound."
pennyworth or penny-worth (noun): Small amount; modicum. Example 1: "Ned . . . I give thee this pennyworth of sugar" (Henry IV Part I, 2.4.5). Example 2: "One poor penny-worth of candy" (Henry IV Part I, 3.3.63).
peradventure (adverb): Perhaps; maybe. Example: "Peradventure this is not Fortune's work" (As You Like It, 1.2.18).
perdy or perdie (adverb): Certainly; in truth; by God; verily. Example: "My lady is unkind, perdy" (Twelfth Night, 4.2.35).
perdona-mi: See pardonnez-moi.
perdu (noun, PAIR do): Soldier carrying out a dangerous task. Example: “Poor perdu!” (King Lear, 4.7.43). Here Lear's loyal daughter, Cordelia, compares her father's ordeals to those of a soldier on perilous mission.
perdurable (adjective): Permanent; enduring; everlasting. Example: "O perdurable shame! Let's stab ourselves" (Henry V, 4.5.10).
periapt (noun, PAIR e apt): Amulet; good-luck charm. Example "The regent conquers, and the Frenchmen fly. / Now help, ye charming spells and periapts" (Henry VI Part I, 5.3.3-4).
perpend (verb): Consider, think about, ponder. Example: "Learn of the wise, and perpend" (As You Like It, 3.2.31).
persever (verb, PER suh ver): Persevere. Example: "My love as it begins shall so persever" (All's Well That Ends Well, 4.2.46).
perspective (noun): Reflecting glass that divides one image into several, distorts an image, or blurs it. Example:
Sorrow's eye, glazed with blinding tears,pestiferous (adjective): Pernicious, damaging, harmful, fatal. Example: "You, that have . . . made such pestiferous reports of men very nobly held, can serve the
Divides one thing entire to many objects
Like perspectives. (Richard II, 2.2.18-20)
world for no honest use" (All's Well That Ends Well, 4.3.126).
petar or petard (noun): Explosive used to break through a wall. Example: " 'Tis the sport to have the engineer / Hoist with own petar" (Hamlet, 3.4.228-229).
pettish (adjective): Bad-tempered; peevish; pouty. Example: "Watch / His pettish lunes [bouts of madness]" (Troilus and Cressida, 2.3.76-77).
pew-fellow (noun): Neighbor; comrade; partner. Example:
This carnal curpheeze (verb): Faze; embarrass; beat down. Example: "An 'a [he] be proud with me, I'll pheeze his pride" (Troilus and Cressida, 2.3.145).
Preys on the issue of his mother's body,
And makes her pew-fellow with others' moan. (Richard III, 4.4.59-61)
physic (noun): Remedy for an illness. Example: "Sweet practiser, thy physic I will try" (All's Well That Ends Well, 2.1.189).
Picht-hatch or Pickt-hatch (noun): Section of a town noted for its houses of prostitution, or brothels. Example: "To your manor of Picht-hatch! Go" (The Merry Wives of Windsor, 2.2.9).
pickthank or pick-thank (noun): Person who seeks approval by telling stories. Example:
As, in reproof of many tales devis’d,pight (noun, adjective): Determined; resolved; fixed at a particular level or point. Example:
Which oft the ear of greatness needs must hear,
By smiling pick-thanks and base newsmongers,
I may . . . find pardon on my true submission. (Henry IV Part I, 3.2.25-30)
When I dissuaded him from his intent,pilchard (noun): Pilcher, which is a scabbard or sheath. Example: "Fools are as like husbands as pilchards are to herrings" (Twelfth Night, 3.1.18).
And found him pight to do it, with curst speech
I threaten’d to discover him. (King Lear, 2.1.67-69)
pill (verb): Pillage, plunder; skin or peel something; subject someone to extortion. Example: "The commons hath he pill'd with grievous taxes" (Richard II, 2.1.253).
pinfold (noun): Place of confinement for stray animals; animal enclosure; pen for cattle or sheep. Example: "If I had thee in Lipsbury Pinfold, I would make thee care for me" (King Lear, 2.2.10).
pin's fee (noun): Trivial amount; very small amount. Example: "I do not set my life at a pin's fee" (Hamlet, 1.4.74). Hamlet is the speaker. He says that he does not value his life even as much as a pin's fee.
pioned (adjective, PY und): Lined with flowers, perhaps marigolds. Example: "Thy banks with pioned . . . brims" (The Tempest, 4.1.75).
pioner (noun, PI uh ner): Pioneer; digger. Example: "There might you see the labouring pioner" (The Rape of Lucrece, line 1432).
pinnace (noun, PIN ihs): Small, swift sailing ship often used to carry messages. Example: "Sail like my pinnace to these golden shores" (The Merry Wives of Windsor, 1.3.39).
pippin (noun): Apple. Example: "You shall see mine orchard, where, in an arbour, we will eat a last year’s pippin" (Henry IV Part II, 5.3.3).
pish (interjection): Exclamation of disgust, discontent, or impatience. Example:
BARDOLPH Good lieutenant! good corporal! offer nothing here.pismire (noun): Ant. Example: "Why, look you, I am whipp’d and scourg’d with rods, / Nettled, and stung with pismires" (Henry IV Part I, 1.3.250-251).
pittikin (noun): Pity. Example: "Pray, how thither? / 'Ods [God's] pittikins! can it be six mile yet?" (Cymbeline, 4.2.364-365)
placket (noun) Pocket; slit in a garment for a pocket. Example: "Keep thy foot out of brothel, thy hand out of placket, thy pen from lender's book, and defy the foul
fiend" (King Lear, 3.4.72).
plain or plaining (noun): Complaint. Example from Shakespeare "Piteous plainings of pretty babes . . ." (The Comedy of Errors, 1.1.74).
planched (adjective): Made of boards or planks. Example "[In] that vineyard is a planched gate" (Measure for Measure, 4.1.22).
plats: Plaits; braids. Example: That is the very Mab that plats the manes of horses in the night” (Romeo and Juliet, 1.4.96).
plausive (adjective): Plausible; believable; acceptable. Example: "It must be a very plausive invention" (All's Well That Ends Well, 1.2.11). In modern English, plausive means worthy of praise or worthy of applause.
pleached (adjective): Interwoven; interlaced; braided. Example: "Woulds't thou be window'd in great Rome and see / Thy master thus with pleach'd arms, bending down" (Antony and Cleopatra, 4.12.88-89).
pleb (noun): Commoner of ancient Rome (Plebeian). Example: "I am going . . . to the tribunal plebs" (Titus Andronicus, 4.3.88).
plurisy (noun): Excess; overabundance. (Not to be confused with pleurisy, a disease.) Example: "Goodness, growing to a plurisy / Dies in his own too-much" (Hamlet, 4.7,129-130).
poesy (noun, POH ih ze): Poetry; the art of writing poems. Example: "[The] golden cadence of poesy" (Love's Labour's Lost, 4.2.58).
point-device (adjective): Neat; precise; correct; perfect; meticulous. Example: "You are rather point-device in your accoutrements [accessories that complement a person's apparel; clothing]" (As You Like It, 3.2.147).
poise (noun): Balance; equilibrium. Example: "Equal poise of sin and charity" (Measure for Measure, 2.4.79).
poke (noun): Bag; sack; pocket. Example: "He drew a dial from his poke" (As You Like It, 2.7.23).
politic (adjective, PAWL ih tik): Shrewd; crafty. Example: " 'Tis politic and safe to let him keep / At point a hundred knights" (King Lear, 1.4.241-242).
politicly (adverb, PAWL ih tik le): Shrewdly; craftily. (Not to be confused with politically.) Example: "Thus have I politicly begun my reign" (The Taming of the Shrew, 4.1.126).
pomewater (noun): A sweet apple. Example: "Ripe as the pomewater" (Love's Labour's Lost, 4.2.4).
poniard (noun, PAHN yerd): Slender dagger. Example: "She speaks poniards, and every word stabs" (Much Ado About Nothing, 2.1.111).
pontifical (adjective): Having to do with the pope. Example: "My presence, like a robe pontifical, / Ne'er seen but wonder'd at" (Henry IV Part I, 3.2.58-59).
poor John: Cheap salted fish. Example: " 'Tis well thou art not fish; if thou hadst, thou hadst been poor John" (Romeo and Juliet, 1.1.20).
poperin (noun that is also used as an adjective, POP er in): A type of pear; a metaphor or euphemism for the penis. Example: "O! that . . . / . . . thou [were] a poperin pear" (Romeo and Juliet, 2.1.42-43).
popinjay (noun): Vain, foppish, talkative person. Example: "Pestered with a popinjay" (Henry IV Part I, 1.3.53).
porpentine (noun, POR pen tyne): Porcupine. Example:
In Ireland have I seen this stubborn Cadeporringer (noun, POR in jer): Porridge bowl. Example: "Why, this [cap] was moulded on a porringer" (The Taming of the Shrew, 4.3.72).
Oppose himself against a troop of kerns [foot soldiers],
And fought so long, till that his thighs with darts
Were almost like a sharp-quill'd porpentine. (Henry VI Part II, 3.1.365-368)
portance (noun): Demeanor; bearing; carriage; attitude. Example:
His present portance,posset (noun): Hot drink made of curdled milk and spices. Example: "We'll have a posset" (The Merry Wives of Windsor, 1.4.7).
. . . he did fashion
After the inveterate hate he bears you. (Coriolanus, 2.3.188-190)
postern (noun): Back door; rear gate. Example: "That spirit’s possess’d with haste / That wounds [knocks on] the . . . postern with these strokes" (Measure for Measure, 4.2.63-64).
post-horse or post horse (noun): Horse for hire kept mainly for delivering mail (post) or bearing a traveler. Example: "Hire post-horses; I will hence tonight" (Romeo and Juliet, 5.1.29).
potation (noun): Alcoholic beverage. Example: "Forswear thin potations" (Henry IV Part II, 4.3.47).
potting (noun): Drinking an alcoholic beverage. Example: "In England . . .they are most potent in potting" (Othello, 2.3.55).
pottle (noun): Drinking vessel that holds two quarts. Example: "Go brew me a pottle of sack [a type of wine]" (The Merry Wives of Windsor, 3.5.12).
potch (verb): Push; poke; thrust. Example: "I thought to crush him in an equal force-- / True sword to sword--I'll potch at him some way" (Coriolanus, 1.10.16-17).
poulter (noun): Poulterer, a businessman who buys and sells poultry and the dressed carcasses of other small animals; chicken farmer. Example: "Hang me up by the heels for a . . . poulter's hare" (Henry IV Part I, 2.4. 166).
pouncet box or pouncet-box (noun): Container with a perforated lid for perfumed substances; perforated hollow ball for such substances. Some people carried a pouncet box in the belief that it helped prevent infections. Example:
He was perfumed like a milliner,pound (noun): See "From the Penny to the Pound."
And ’twixt his finger and his thumb he held
A pouncet-box, which ever and anon
He gave his nose and took’t away again. (Henry IV Part I, 220.127.116.11)
practisant (noun, PRAK tih sant, PRAK tih zint): Partner in treachery. Example: "Here entered Pucelle [Joan of Arc] and her practisants" (Henry VI Part I, 3.2.23).
preceptial (adjective): Having to do with giving advice on a rule or principle (precept); instructive; Example: "[They would] give preceptial medicine to rage" (Much Ado About Nothing, 5.1.27).
prenominate (adjective, pre NOM in it): Spoken of previously. Example: "Prenominate crimes" (Hamlet, 2.1.50).
prentice or 'prentice (noun): Apprentice. Example: "From a prince to a prentice? A low transformation!" (Henry IV Part II, 2.2.71).
presentment (noun): Presentation. Example: A painter asks a poet when his book will be coming out. The poet replies, "Upon the heels of my presentment [presentation of a poem], sir" (Timon of Athens, 1.1.35)..
pricket (noun): Two-year-old male deer with unbranched antlers. Example: "Dull. I said the deer was . . . . a pricket" (Love's Labour's Lost, 4.2.9).
primy (adjective, PRY me): Young; Example: "A violet in the youth of primy nature" (Hamlet, 1.3.10).
princox (noun): Conceited, egotistical person. Example: "You are a saucy boy. . . . You are a princox" (Romeo and Juliet, 1.5.83 . . . 86).
prithee (interjection): Please; I pray three. Example: "I prithee, take thy fingers from my throat" (Hamlet, 5.1.144).
privily (adverb): Privately; secretly. Example: "I will seek [the king] and privily relieve him" (King Lear, 3.3.5).
procreant (noun): Husband or wife; spouse; one who produces children. Example: "Leave procreants alone and shut the door" (Othello, 4.2.36).
proditor (noun): Traitor. Example" "Thou most usurping proditor (Henry VI Part 1, 1.3.35).
prompture (noun): Inciting; arousal. Example: He hath fall'n by prompture of the blood . . . (Measure for Measure, 2.4.195).
prorogue (verb): Postpone. Example: Nothing may prorogue it (Romeo and Juliet, 4.1.52).
protectorship (noun): Office or duty of one who manages or oversees the government of a sovereign who is too young to make important decisions. Example: "Did he not, in his protectorship, / Levy great sums of money through the realm?" (Henry VI Part II, 3.1.60-61).
psaltery (noun): Medieval instrument with strings that can be plucked. Example:
The trumpets, sackbuts, psalteries, and fifes,publican (noun): Tax collector. Example: "How like a fawning publican he looks!" (The Merchant of Venice, 1.3.20).
Tabors, and cymbals, and the shouting Romans,
Make the sun dance. (Coriolanus, 5.4.32-34)
pudency (noun, PYOO den se): Modesty. Example:
Me of my lawful pleasure she restrain’dpudder (noun): Tumult; fuss; bother; din; disorder. Example:
And pray’d me oft forbearance; did it with
A pudency so rosy the sweet view on ’t
Might well have warm’d old Saturn; that I thought her. (Cymbeline, 2.5.11-14)
Let the great gods,pugging (adjective): Meaning uncertain. The word could refer figuratively to a tooth on the prowl for food. Example: "[It] doth set my pugging tooth on edge" (The Winter's Tale, 4.3.3).
That keep this dreadful pudder o'er hour heads,
Find out their enemies now. (King Lear, 3.2.39-41)
puissant (adjective, PYOO ih sint or PWIS sint): Powerful; strong; mighty. Example: "With your puissant arm renew their feats (Henry V, 1.2.121).
puisny or puisne (adjective, PYOO ne): Of inferior rank; youthful and untried; unskilled. Example: "[He is like] a puisny tilter [knight competing in a jousting tournament], that spurs his horse but on one side, breaks his staff like a noble goose (As You Like It, 3.4.22).
pule (verb): Whine, wimper, mewl; snivel. Example: "You have learned . . . to speak puling, like a beggar at Hallowmas" (The Two Gentlemen of Verona, 2.1.18-19 and 2.1.28-29).
pulsidge (noun): Pulse. Example: "Your pulsidge beats as extraordinarily as heart would desire" (Henry IV Part II, 2.4.10).
pumpion (noun): Pumpkin. Example: "We'll use this . . . gross watery pumpion (The Merry Wives of Windsor, 3.3.22). Pumpion here is an insult referring to Sir John Falstaff, the fat old rake and mischief-maker who woos two married women at the same time.
punk (noun): Prostitute. Example: "My lord, she may be a punk; for many of them are neither maid, widow, nor wife" (Measure for Measure, 5.1.201).
pursuivant (noun, PER swih vahnt): Follower; indicator; forerunner. Example: "These gray locks [are] the pursuivants of death" (Henry VI Part I, 2.5.7).
pursy (adjective): Swelled with pride. Example: "Pursy insolence" (Timon of Athens, 5.4.15).
purveyor (noun): One who rides ahead to prepare a castle or another place for royalty. Example:
We [rode after Macbeth] at the heels, and had a purposeputtock (noun): Predatory bird of the hawk family. Example: "I chose an eagle, / And did avoid a puttock. (Cymbeline, 1.1.168-169). .
To be his purveyor; but he rides well,
And his great love, sharp as his spur, hath [helped] him
To his home before us. (Macbeth, 1.6.28-31)