Word of the day: Amain

Amain, a plain, a canail… wait a minute. That’s not how it goes.

amain adv. IPA Pronunciation: amain
at full force or speed

His soldiers spying his undaunted spirit
A Talbot! a Talbot! cried out amain
And rush’d into the bowels of the battle.
- Henry VI, Part 1 (I.i)

There’s a certain economy about this word. I can easily hear it in a command, which it is used as most often. You’ll mostly find this in the Henry VI series. 8 out of 13 times it is used by Shakespeare are in one of the Henry VI plays. Wowzers.

Word Of The Day: Whiffler

Whiffler, famous for painting a portrait of his mother. Whiffler’s Mother. Wow… that was a lame joke.

whiffler (n.) IPA Pronunciation: Whiffler
armed processional attendant

Behold, the English beach
Pales in the flood with men, with wives and boys,
Whose shouts and claps out-voice the deep mouth’d sea,
Which like a mighty whiffler ‘fore the king
Seems to prepare his way: so let him land,
And solemnly see him set on to London.
- Henry V (V.prologue)

To me, this word sound like it should be the name of a racket used to hit a Wiffle Ball. It doesn’t sound like what it is to me, but I suppose I’m not using my imagination to make it work. Either way this is a word that most readers and audiences are not likely to know so lets hope that the Chorus does his/her best to make sense of it for us, that a Whiffler clears the way for a procession.

Note that whiffler does have a different modern definition, in case you look it up in a modern dictionary. Today it can mean a person who frequently shifts opinions, attitudes, interests, etc. I don’t know if the definitions are at all related, but don’t get them confused!

WOTD: Puissance

This is one of those words that some readers/listeners will come across and think “WTF mate?” I shall expound all for you now!

puissance (n.) IPA Pronunciation: Puissance
power, might, force

That he should draw his several strengths together
And come against us in full puissance,
Need not be dreaded.
- Henry IV, Part 2 (I.iii)

This word is most commonly used in reference to military power, but it can be applied elsewhere as well. The pronunciation depends on the line of text. The word can be two syllables by, or can be three if the line of verse doesn’t scan out to 10 syllables without it. Some pronounce the first syllable “pyoo” some “pwee,” I’ve seen it both ways in dictionaries – sometimes both ways in the same dictionary. It sounds funny no matter how you say it so pick one.

WOTD: Runagate

This one’s fun to use. It rolls off the tongue easily in order to use this word to badmouth someone.

runagate (n.) IPA Pronunciation: runagate
fugitive, runaway, vagabond

I cannot find those runagates; that villain
Hath mock’d me. I am faint.
- Cymbeline (IV.ii)

Feel free to use this word as an insult. You’ll look mean and smart.*

*Use this word at your own risk. The Bard Blog claims no responsibility for any injuries for misuse of this word. Not recommended for use with any amount of alcohol. Please be safe.

WOTD: Cogitation

Here’s a word not quite unique to Shakespeare, but you won’t find it in use too often.

cogitation (n.) IPA Pronunciation: cogitation
thought, contemplation

Then, Brutus, I have much mistook your passion;
By means whereof this breast of mine hath buried
Thoughts of great value, worthy cogitations.
- Julius Caesar (I.ii)

This word takes some cogitation at first, but it does sort of sound like what it is right? The wheels in your head are turning – cogitation. Perfectly logical, right? If nothing else it will make you sound smarter when you use it.

WOTD: Askance

You can’t look askance from this word. You’ll come across it sooner or later!

askance (adv., v.) IPA Pronunciation: askance
(v.) to turn aside, to divert
(adv.) sideways, surreptitiously OR with disdain, maliciously, scornfully

Thou canst not frown, thou canst not look askance,
Nor bite the lip, as angry wenches will,
- The Taming of the Shrew (II.i)

The word is used in the works only as an adverb as far as I can tell, except for in The Rape of Lucrece, though you probably won’t read that. But you should!

WOTD: Diadem

I don’t know exactly what it is about this word, but it’s one of my favorites.

diadem (n.) IPA Pronunciation: Diadem

A cutpurse of the empire and the rule,
That from a shelf the precious diadem stole,
And put it in his pocket!
- Hamlet (III.iv)

The word just has such a regal sound about it. Crown sounds authoritative, but diadem is royal.

WOTD: Hoise

Bring in da hoise, brink in da funk. Wait, you can’t bring in a verb. That makes no grammatical sense but it sounds cool, right? Shakespeare could probably pull it off. I’m no Shakespeare.
hoise (v.) IPA Pronunciation: hoise
hoist, remove

And all together, with the Duke of Suffolk,
We’ll quickly hoise Duke Humphrey from his seat.
- Henry VI, Part 2 (I.i)

When this word is used in the above context it’s fun to say. Think about the seriousness of the action and what the sound of the word does to its meaning instead of saying “remove Duke Humphrey from his seat.” Hoise has more poise. Maybe. I just wanted to make that rhyme. You decide for yourself.