We follow our themes of “fossil words” with a theme of archaic words. Perhaps you’ll recall them from reading Shakespeare. Since we missed yesterday due to computer glitch, we’ll make it up with an extra word today.
lief – willingly; readily [akin to love]
– New York Times, Nov. 5, 1995
[originated as a variant off errant, and sometimes is used where "errant" is intended. Complicating this, errant had two meanings, from two different roots: errant – 1. straying from the accepted course or standards (akin to err and error) 2. travelling in search of adventure (akin to iter "journey, way”)]
The word is still commonly seen in one phrase, “arrrant nonsense” – so it fits last week’s theme too. Here’s another example:
– The Independent, Aug. 23, 2001
The old poem "The Three Ravens" ends:
"God send every gentleman
Such haukes, such hounds, and such a leman"
Leman = liefman = beloved one.
eftsoons – soon afterward; presently
“Neither know I, nor care."
"Belike thou'lt change thy note eftsoons.”
– Mark Twain, The Prince and the Pauper
thorp; thorpe – a village or hamlet
You’ll see this as a suffix in place names or surnames: -thorp; -thrup. (The German equivalent is dorf. As in the city of Düsseldorf, on the Düssel river?)
Danger and shame and death betide me!
For Olaf the King is hunting me down
Through field and forest, through thorp and town!"
Thus cried Jarl Hakon
To Thora, the fairest of women.
– Henry Wadsworth Longfellow; Tales of a Wayside Inn
betide – to happen to (transitive); to take place; to befall (intransitive)
whoreson – a low, scurvy fellow (also adj.)
This luscious word is almost never used (see second quote as a very-rare exception), except as historical curiousity. Pity. The first quote is long because … well, because I like it!
. . . Nye's counterfeit turns out to be exactly what it should be: grossly indelicate, boozily funny, unstoppable as a belch or a rush of sack to the kidneys.
– Time Magazine, Nov. 8, 1976, reviewing Falstaff by Robert Nye
This week marks Alex Ferguson's 15th year in charge of Manchester United. But the mighty team he has built appears to be cracking. … Times newspaper columnist Simon Barnes … described a frustrated Ferguson watching Sunday's game with an "unhinged, death-ray stare aimed in the general direction of the football pitch. A whoreson mad fellow -- I tell you, if he sat next to you at Leicester Square, you'd be off the tube at Covent Garden."
– CBC Sports, Nov. 5, 2001
rumbustious – uncontrollably exuberant; unruly
Keep today’s word in mind when you look at tomorrow’s. They have the same dictionary definition, but the quotes suggest to me slightly different meanings.
hight – named; called
[from Old English “to summon”. Related to behest, incite and kinetic.]
The first, hight Chamberlino, who will see
Our beds prepared, and bring us snowy sheets,
Where never footman stretched his buttered hams;
The second, hight Tapstero, who will see
Our pots full filled, and no froth therein;
The third, a gentle squire, Ostlero hight,
Who will our palfreys slick with wisps of straw,
And in the manger put them oats enough,
And never grease their teeth with candle-snuff.
– Beaumont and Fletcher, Knight of the Burning Pestle (1607; this play, a satire on chivalric romances, is the first parody play in English)
Bonus archaic words:
hostler; ostler – one who tends horses, especially at an inn
[related to host, hotel, hospital and hospitality]
palfrey – a docile horse ridden especially by women
clepe – to call; to name [yclept is the past participle]
This is the same definition as hight, but based on the usages, my sense is that hight means to call by name (“Call me Ishmael”), and clepe means “call” as in “they call him a fool”.
Hamlet notes that other nations think ill of his countrymen's fondness for strong drink:
This heavy-headed revel east and west
Makes us traduc'd and tax'd of other nations:
They clepe us drunkards …
eftsoons. Exquisite. I think I'll be using that one for some time, now.