Archives For Language


Almsman means a person who is living through charitable offerings.It was sited in Shakespeare’s King Richard II (R2 III.iii.149 [King Richard says to Aumerle] I’ll give my gay apparel for an almsman’s gown.

From Left, Bagot (Allan Kleban), John O’Gaunt (Dan Tucker), Bolingbroke (David Hastings), Aumerle (Sean McGuire), King Richard (Greg Faber), Queen (Melissa Kearney), Mowbray (Lee Hamilton), Earl of Salisbury (Tom Wheeler) in Arden Shakespeare Gild’s RICHARD THE SECOND in Delaware until June 28.


Quousque (Latin) means: “how much longer”. It was sited in Shakespeare’s The Two Noble Kinsman (TNK III.v.38 [The Schoolteacher asks, then says:] Quousque tandem? Here is a woman waiting.

The Schoolmaster. Ostade. Art Gallery of Greater Victoria.

Dancing-Rapier (n.)

Dancing-rapier is an ornament sword worn in dancing. It was sited in Shakespeare’s Titus Andronicus (Tit II.i.39 [Demetrius says to Chiron] Our mother gave you a dancing-rapier by your side.

Illustration of the death of Chiron and Demetrius from Act 5, Scene 2;

from The Works of Mr. William Shakespeare, edited by Nicholas Rowe (1709)

Earth-vexing (adj.)

Earth-vexing means that something is tormenting earthly life, its life-afflicting. It was sited in Shakespeare’s Cymbeline (Cym V.iv.42 [Sicilius says to music, as if to love] Thou shouldst have shielded him from this earth-vexing smart.

An unconscious Posthumus (Richard Johnson) lying before Sicilius Leonatus (Toby Robertson), and his wife (Molly Taper) – Act V scene 5 Cymbeline

Yoke-Devil (n.)

York-Devil is a companion-devil, associate in evil. It was sited in Shakespeare’s Henry V (H5 II.ii.106 [King Henry says to everyone] Treason and murder ever kept together. As two yoke-devils sworn to either;s purpose.)

King Henry V at the Battle of Agincourt, 1415, by Sir John Gilbert.

Wagtail (n.)

Wagtail is a contemptuous form of address, a tail-wagger, or a bower and scraper. It was sited in Shakespeare’s King Lear (KL II.ii.65 [Kent is wearing a disguise, he turns and says to Oswald] you wagtail!)

Tainture (n.)

Tainture means tainting, staining, and defilement. It was sited in Shakespeare’s Henry VI Part 2 (2HG II.i.183 [The Queen says to Gloucester of the Dutchess's Plotting] See there the tainture of thy nest.)