Shakespeare Dictionary - H

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Generate random Shakespearean insults

Shakespeare's word

Meaning (in the sample usage)



Sample usage




Lear 2.2

turn their halcyon beaks / With every gale . . .


haul, drag


TN 3.3

I think oxen and wain-ropes cannot hale them together




Rich III 1.1

dogs bark at me as I halt by them


a noose, a rope for hanging malefactors


Lear 3.4

TA 5.1

that hath laid knives under his pillow, and halters in his pew

A halter, soldiers! hang him on this tree.


sorrowful, (infrequently used in the sense of 'weight', and then usually with some pun on sorrow)


Rich III 1.3

1 HIV 1.1

1 HIV 5.3

Thou slander of thy mother's heavy womb!

A post from Wales loaden with heavy news

I am as hot as moulten lead, and as heavy too


furnished with a handle: thus, finished off, delicately formed


Lear 2.4

Regan ... thy tender-hefted nature shall not give thee over to harshness


market cross in the center of town


Shrew 1.1

whipped at the high cross every morning.

honest chaste, pure many Oth 3.3 I do not think but Desdemona's honest
"Honest" is another value-laden, complex word, especially as used in Othello, with its many references to "Honest Iago".


hussy, prostitute


Oth 4.1

Bianca, a housewife, that by selling her desires

Shakespeare Dictionary A-MThe most comprehensive work on this topic is Alexander Schmidt's Shakespeare Lexicon, a typical turn-of-the-century tome, carried out with Teutonic thoroughness. I wonder how the pre-computer-era scholars tackled projects like this; lots of index cards and infinite patience, I suppose.

Incredibly, the book provides EVERY instance of EVERY word, in context, used by Shakespeare. In any event, for anyone who really enjoys Shakespeare, it's fun to pore over this "volume of forgotten lore," read all the occurrences of "housewife", for example, and ponder the subtle differences of meaning from one usage to the next.

You can order the Shakespeare Lexicon and Quotation Dictionary by Alexander Schmidt (a Dover re-print, 1985) from

(Vol. 1 A-M)     (Vol. 2 N-Z)

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