Elizabethan Vocabulary

It helps to be familiar with several vocabulary words when reading or listening to Shakespeare. The following is a list of some of the more common Elizabethan words and their definitions.

Anon

until later

Arise (as a pun)

stand up or to get an erection

Aroint

away

Aside

a short speech revealing the character's innermost thought, spoken directly to the audience

Aye/yea

yes

Banns

notice of intent to marry

Beef

meat or prostitute

Broadside

a sheet of paper printed on one side often used for proclamations and ballads

Certes!

certainly!

Cousin

friend

Dear

significant or expensive

E'en

evening

Enow

enough

Fare-thee-well

goodbye

Fie

a curse

Fond

foolish

Get

to create or bring into existence

Grammarcy

thank you

Green

inexperienced or a color or virility

Head

army or source

Hello!

not a greeting, but an exclamation of surprise

Jade

jewel or prostitute

Marry

a mild curse contracted from “by the Virgin Mary”

Mayhap/perchance/belike

maybe

Morrow

day

Nay

no

Ne'er

never

Nice

trifling or silly

Oft

often

Poppet

a doll or child

Prithee/pray

please

Privy, jakes, or ajax

bathroom or john

Rub

to strike against something or an obstacle

Sad

serious

Sonnet

a fourteen-line poem with an iambic pentameter

Stay

to wait

Still

always

Sweeting

a term of endearment

Ta'en

short form of taken or mistaken for

Tell

to count

Thane

a Scottish earl

Verily

very or truly

Wherefore

why

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