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Vocabulary: Romeo and Juliet

Vocabulary/Glossary Of Terms:

Since Romeo and Juliet was written, many words in English have changed their meaning, and some are no longer used. If you remember the slang you used a few years ago, it seems dated. Who now uses the word “groovy”? Shakespeare used the rich vocabulary of his day within his plays. When reading Shakespeare read the line in context of the scene. Try translating the lines into your own words, use today’s vernacular.

Amerce: to punish with a fine.
“I’ll amerce you with so strong a fine / That you shall all repent the loss of mine.”
— Prince Escalus (3.1.152)

Aqua vitae: Latin, “water of life,” strong liquor, whiskey.
“Give me some aqua vitae.”
— Nurse (3.2.89)

Caitiff: miserable, despicable.
“Here lives a caitiff wretch.”
— Romeo (5.1.54)

Charnel: a vault for the dead, sepulcher.
“Hid me nightly in a charnel house.”
— Juliet (4.1.83)

Choler: wrath, anger.
“Patience perforce with willful choler meeting makes my flesh tremble.”
— Tybalt (1.5.88)

Cock-a-hoop: a state of boastful exultation.
“You will set cock-a-hoop!”
— Capulet (1.5.80)

Countervail: outweigh, offset.
“Sorrow . . . cannot countervail the exchange of joy.”
— Romeo (2.6.4)

Endart: to pierce, or shoot with a dart.
“No more deep will I endart mine eye.”
— Juliet (1.3.100)

Fettle: strengthen, prepare, make ready.
“Fettle your fine joints ’gainst Thursday next.”
— Capulet (3.5.153)

Gadding: rove, wandering.
“Where have you been gadding”
— Lord Capulet (4.2.13)

Gyves: shackles, bonds, fetters.
“Like a poor prisoner in his twisted gyves.”
— Juliet (2.2.182)

Hilding: worthless person, wretch.
“Out on her, hilding!”
— Capulet (3.5.68)

Jocund: cheerful, helpful.
“Jocund day stands on tiptoe on the misty mountain tops.”
— Romeo (3.5.9)

Mickle: great, much.
“O, mickle is the powerful grace that lies / In herbs.”
— Lawrence (2.3.15)

Physic: medicine, healing power.
“Both our remedies within thy help and holy physic lies.”
— Romeo (2.3.2)

Presage: forewarn, portend.
“My dreams presage some joyful news.”
— Romeo (5.1.2)

Proof: protected, impervious.
“Look thou but sweet / And I am proof against their enmity.”
— Romeo (2.2.73)

Prorogued: Postponed, deferred.
“My life were better ended by their hate / Than death prorogued.”
— Romeo (2.2.78)

Ropery: knavery, saucy tricks.
“[Who] was this that was so full of his ropery?”
— Nurse (2.4.74)

Trencher: Wooden dish or plate.
“He scrape a trencher?”
— Servingman (1.5.2)


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