An online dramaturgical casebook.

Glossary

Act I, Scene 2

  • generally — Bottom is mixing up “severally,” which means “specifically,” and “generally,” which means “all together.”
  • scrip — a scrap of paper with a list or schedule written on it.
  • treats — regards; deals with.
  • Ercles — Hercules.
  • tear a cat — rant and rave.
  • condoling — expressing sympathy.
  • extempore — Latin for “out of the moment”; improvised.
  • aggravate — Bottom is mixing up “mitigate” or “moderate,” both of which mean “change” or “control,” with “aggravate,” or “make worse.”
  • sucking dove — the phrase ought to be either “the sucking (nursing) lamb” or “the sitting (on the nest) dove.”
  • con — learn.
  • dole — one’s allotted share or destiny.
  • thrum — the fringe of warp threads left on a loom after the cloth has been cut off.

Act I, Scene 1

  • gawds — showy knick-knacks.
  • abjure — solemnly renounce.
  • avouch — assert.
  • collied — darkened.
  • league — usually meant how far a person could walk in an hour; about three miles.
  • lode-stars — bright, easily found stars used for navigation, like the North Star.

Act II, Scene 1


The cowslips tall her pensioners be: In their gold coats spots you see

  • pale — a space or field having bounds; enclosure.
  • cowslips — see picture.
  • pensioners — bodyguards.
  • savors — scents.
  • lob — synonym for the lubber fiend.
  • square — square off; prepare to fight or settle an argument.
  • bootless — without gain.
  • quern — a hand-turned grain mill. (Robin Goodfellow could be helpful with household chores or mischievous, as the mood took him.)
  • barm — the yeasty foam that rises to the surface of fermenting malt liquors.
  • roasted crab — roasted crab-apple.
  • and “Tailor!” cries — “Tailor” might be slang for “thief;” it might be a dirty joke about the lasciviousness of tailors, and the aunt’s position on the floor with her legs in the air; it might be an off-color remark about her “tail” being broken by fallen.
  • quire — choir.
  • neeze — sneeze.
  • rash — ill-considered and hasty.
  • wanton — a promiscuous woman.
  • buskin’d — a “buskin” is a half-boot covering the foot and calf up to the knee, made of leather and laced.
  • glance — make reference to.
  • margent — margin, edge.
  • mazed — amazed.
  • votaress — faithful female follower.
  • promontory — high ridge of land or rock jutting out into the water.
  • vestal — virgin or nun.
  • love-in-idleness — pansy.
  • woo’d — insane, rabid. Possibly “wooed,” as in “courted” or “seduced.”
  • adamant — legendary stone of impenetrable hardness.
  • impeach — to call into question.
  • desert — deserted.
  • brakes — overgrown thicket.

Act II, Scene 2

  • roundel — round dance.
  • ounce — lynx.
  • pard — leopard.
  • darkling — in the dark.
  • fond — foolish.
  • eyne — eyes.
  • surfeit — excessive amount.

Act III, Scene 1


The ousel cock so black of hue / with orange-tawny bill

  • By’r lakin — “By our lady-kin,” or “by our little (dear) lady.”
  • parlous — perilous.
  • casement — window.
  • disfigure — Bottom is confusing “figure,” or “symbolize,” with “disfigure,” or “deface.”
  • loam — paste of clay and sand used for plastering walls.
  • rough-cast — a coarse plaster of lime, shells, and pebbles used for outside wall surfaces.
  • hempen home-spuns — a plain, coarse, usually woolen cloth made of homespun yarn; unsophisticated bumpkins.
  • auditor — a listener.
  • odious — foul-smelling.
  • odorous — sweet-smelling.
  • brisky juvenal — lively youth.
  • eke — also.
  • ousel cock — male thrush (see picture).
  • gambol — dance.
  • apricocks — apricots.
  • peascod — pea pod; also, a style of doublet

Act III, Scene 2

  • nole — head.
  • injurious — doing injury.
  • chid — scolded.
  • rent — tear.
  • persever — persevere; remain constant.
  • canker-blossom — decaying flower, or that which infects and decays a flower.
  • urged — advocated for.

Act IV, Scne 1

  • coy — caress.
  • neaf — hand.
  • bottle of hay — bundle of hay.
  • exposition of sleep — Bottom is confusing “disposition,” or “inclination,” with “exposition,” or “explanation.”

IVB

  • vanguard — leading position.

Act IV, Scene 2

  • transported — kidnapped.
  • discharge — perform the obligations or demands of an office, duty, or task.
  • paramour — a lover, especially one in an adulterous relationship.
  • paragon — a perfect, peerless example.
  • pare his nails — cut his nails.

Act V, Scene 1

  • antic — ludicrous; fantastical.
  • apprehend — perceive.
  • despite — contemptuous defiance.
  • sensible — feeling; sentient.
  • moused — shaken, like a cat shakes a mouse.
  • palpable-gross — obviously dense.
  • triple Hecate — the triple goddess of magic and crossroads.
  • prodigious — portentous.
  • patched — foolish.
  • “The eye of man hath not heard . . .” — See 1 Corinthians 2:9-10.
  • peradventure — perhaps

One response

  1. Cody Westgaard

    You should add Alack to your glossary. I was curious about it and looked it up in the OED.

    http://dictionary.oed.com/cgi/entry/50005083?query_type=word&queryword=alack&first=1&max_to_show=10&sort_type=alpha&search_id=N4af-6VOWpl-6575&result_place=1

    November 19, 2010 at 6:33 pm

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