Shakespeare Dictionary - O

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Generate random Shakespearean insults

Shakespeare's word

Meaning (in the sample usage)



Sample usage

obscured course

disguised way of life


Lear 2.2



diligent, attentive
attendant, servant


Ham 1.1

Lear 2.2
same strict and most observant watch
Than twenty silly ducking observants


customary duty, function, responsibility, charge or trust


Lear 2.4;

Lear 2.1

thou better know'st The offices of nature,

Done thy father a child-like office

old trot

hag, old woman


Shrew 1.2

an old trot with ne'er a tooth in her head

or ... or ...

either ... or ...


Lear 3.6

Lear 4.7

Be thy mouth or black or white.

Or well or ill, as this day's battle's fought.

Olivier as LearWhen I was in college, struggling through my Signet volume of Shakespeare, I didn't have the time, money, or inclination to buy audio tapes of the plays. I've done so recently, and what a difference.

In part, because Shakespeare was meant to be heard (and seen), and in part, because the English language has changed, listening to King Lear, or any of the plays, while reading the text, adds a whole new dimension.

The humor becomes clearer; anger is better conveyed; the reader/listener at once can absorb so much more of the play. For King Lear this version with Sir Laurence Olivier, is excellent.

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