Shakespeare Dictionary - N

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Generate random Shakespearean insults

Shakespeare's word

Meaning (in the sample usage)



Sample usage


1) naturally loyal, and 2) illegitimate; pun on Latin for male member


Lear 2.1

Loyal and natural boy,


Physical constitution or existence; the vital powers; the natural life
creative world force


Lear 3.4;

Lear 3.6

Rich III 1.1
The tyranny of the open night's too rough For nature to endure.

Oppressed nature sleeps

Cheated of feature by dissembling nature,
"Nature" is one of those words in Shakespeare that one could write a whole dictionary about. The two different meanings shown here just scratch the surface of Shakespeare's use of the word.




Shrew 1.1

comb your noddle with a three-legg'd stool


musical element

notice (usual modern sense)

bill, invoice; list


Lear 3.1
2 HVI 4.6
2 HVI 3.1
2 HIV 5.1
upon the warrant of my note
by notes of household harmony
First note that he is near you ...
... the smith's note for shoeing




TN 1.4

She will attend it better in thy youth / Than in a nuncio's of more grave aspect.

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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