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Evolving English: Othello

The English language is in constant change. Just as today we use words such as “cool” and “hot” in ways that were never considered just fifty years ago, so too are the meanings of words from Shakespeare’s time unfamiliar to us. Here are some examples of how we might phrase some of Shakespeare’s words today:

“I never knew / A Florentine more kind and honest.” — Cassio (3.1.28)

“I never met anyone so nice, even if he is a New Yorker.”

“I am about it; but indeed my invention / Comes from my pate as birdlime does from frize.” — Iago (2.1.125–27)

“I’m trying to think, but my ideas come slowly, like bird crap on a statue.”

“You have known him long, and be you well assured / He shall in strangeness stand no farther off / Than in a polite distance.” — Desdemona (3.3.11–13)

“You two are such old friends that I’m sure he will only keep his distance as long as he has to.”

Scion: An offshoot.
“Call love to be a sect or scion.”
        — Iago (1.3.332)

Se’nnight’s: Seven nights, one week.
“Anticipates our thoughts A se’nnight’s speed.”
        — Cassio (2.1.77)

Sibyl: A prophetess or witch.
“A sibyl . . . sewed the work.”
        — Othello (3.4.70)

Toged: Toga wearing.
“The toged consuls can propose.”
        — Iago (1.1.25)

Yerk’d: Strike, whip, or kick.
“I had thought to have yerk’d him.”
        — Iago (1.2.5)

Zounds: Exclamation, God’s wounds!
 “Zounds, sir, you’re robb’d.”
        — Iago (1.1.86)


Utah Shakespeare Festival
Welcome to the Utah Shakespeare Festival. We hope this Study Guide is helpful. As a note, it is for general knowledge and may not be specifically in reference to our production(s). While you’re here you may want to explore the Festival a bit further. You can learn about this Tony Award-winning theatre company, our plays, and so much more by visiting our home page.

What's On

Henry VIII

June 17 - September 5, 2024

Engelstad Shakespeare Theatre

RADA 2024 Production

July 30-August 3, 2024

Eileen and Allen Anes Studio Theatre

The 39 Steps

June 22 - October 5, 2024

Randall L. Jones Theatre

The Taming of the Shrew

June 19 - September 7, 2024

Engelstad Shakespeare Theatre

Silent Sky

July 12 - October 5, 2024

Eileen and Allen Anes Studio Theatre

Much Ado About Nothing

June 21 - October 5, 2024

Randall L. Jones Theatre

The Mountaintop

July 13 - October 5, 2024

Eileen and Allen Anes Studio Theatre

The Winter's Tale

June 18 - September 6, 2024

Engelstad Shakespeare Theatre

© Utah Shakespeare Festival 2024 www.bard.org Cedar City, Utah