Elizabethan Words in English

The charm in the words used in the Elizabethan era still remains and is still remembered. When you consider how the Elizabethans spoke to one another, the uniqueness in their literature can be seen. For example, you can really feel the emotion and feelings about how they loved how their English sounded.

Even the early plays were packed with rhythms and alliterations. As well, you can see that Shakespeare himself during the Elizabethan time adopted several unusual words. Unlike today where sentences have to be well structured from a grammar perspective, this was not the case during Elizabethan times. It was much more important to have a nice sounding sentence.

Elizabethan Words in English

Elizabethan Words in English

Therefore, you will see many sentences with repeated words to give emphasis. A few words that were most commonly used are following.

Adieu: farewell, An, And: if, Anon: soon, attend: listen to, Aye: yes, but soft: wait a minute. But: only, except for, counsel: advice, decree: order, discourses: speaks, dispatch: kill, doth: does, e’en: even, e’er: ever, foe: enemy, haply: perhaps, happy: fortunate, heavy: sad, suppressed, hence: away from here, hie: go: go, hurry, hither: here, mark: pay attention marry: indeed, methinks: I think, nay: no, nought: nothing, plague: curse, pray: beg, privy: allowed, resolve: plan, sir rah: used to address people of an rant, thee, thou: you, thither: there, thou art: you are, thy: your, tidings: news, whence: where, wherefore: why, will: sesire, wilt: will, will you, withal: in addition, woe: misery, woo: chase, as in a boy/girl chase, would: wish.

Shakespeare is a classic example of how the English language was since the Elizabethan times. Throughout most of the literature he produced, you will find that he used the word “most” instead of the word “very”. So for example, if I were to say, “He is very high.” Shakespeare would have wrote, “He is most high”. This is confusing but just a slight change in the way the words were used.

As mentioned above, we can observe that several repeated words are there to give emphasis. Such as in Hamlet you will see sayings such as, “Excellent, Excellent well”. While this is confusing, this is also how they would speak to one another. It has a very distinguished sound to it that even those who speak English may find difficult to understand by today’s standards.

Elizabethan Words in English

Elizabethan Language

A classic example of how the Elizabethans likely talked can be seen in the King James Version of the Holy Bible. The number of words used in the Elizabethan Language was constantly developing during Elizabethan times – their vocabulary was expanding. The average number of words used in a ‘commoners’ vocabulary during Elizabethan times was less than 500, compared with at least 7,500 words that are used in modern day English.

Elizabethan writers and playwrights invented new words. William Shakespeare invented many of the words that he used in his plays. Shakespeare is credited with contributing more new words to the English language than any other single person – approximately 2,000.

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