Cover image for Shakespeare's words : a glossary and language companion
Shakespeare's words : a glossary and language companion
Crystal, David, 1941-
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
London ; New York : Penguin Books, [2002]

Physical Description:
xxviii, 650 pages : illustrations ; 23 cm
General Note:
Includes: Shakespearian circles, synopses, and dramatis personae; List of characters' names; and 16 appendices.
Added Author:
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
PR2892 .C78 2002 Adult Non-Fiction Open Shelf
PR2892 .C78 2002 Adult Non-Fiction Central Closed Stacks-Non circulating
PR2892 .C78 2002 Adult Non-Fiction Non-Fiction Area
PR2892 .C78 2002 Adult Non-Fiction Open Shelf

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Shakespeare's Words is for people who love Shakespeare, or who love language, or both. David Crystal, one of the world's leading experts on the English language, and his actor son, Ben, have created an immensely practical and enlightening guide to understanding Shakespeare's language for readers, audiences, students, directors and actors.They have collected over 14,000 words that can cause difficulty or be ambiguous to the modern reader. Each word is glossed and illustrated by at least on quotation. There are succinct pricis of the plays, lists of dramatis personae and a unique diagrammatic circle for each play demonstrating the interaction of characters and their allegiances. With special panels on intriguing areas such as archaisms, greetings, farewells and swear words, as well as dialects, Greek mythology, weapons and money, Shakespeare's Words will greatly enrich every reader's understanding and appreciating of the plays, and will encourage a new generation to treasure them.

Author Notes

David Crystal was born in 1941 and spent the early years of his life in Holyhead, North Wales. He went to St Mary's College, Liverpool, and University College London, where he read English and obtained his Ph.D. in 1966. He became lecturer in linguistics at University College, Bangor, and from 1965 to 1985 was at the University of Reading, where he was Professor of Linguistic Science for several years. His research interests are mainly in English language studies and the applications of linguistics, and in the development of book and electronic reference materials. He is honorary professor of linguistics at the University of Wales, Bangor, and a past president of the Society of Indexers. David Crystal has published over 50 books, including Linguistics (Penguin 1971, second edition 1985), A Dictionary of Linguistics and Phonetics , Clinical Linguistics , Who Cares About English Usage? (Penguin 1984; new edition 2000), The English Language (Penguin 1988), The Cambridge Encyclopedia of Language , The Cambridge Encyclopedia of the English Language , The Penguin Dictionary of Language (Penguin 1999), Language Death, Words on Words, a collection of quotations on language and languages, written in collaboration with Hilary Crystal and Shakespeare's Words, written in collaboration with Ben Crystal. He is also the editor of the Cambrid

Reviews 1

Booklist Review

The main lexical references for Shakespeare scholars in the twentieth century were first Alexander Schmidt's two-volume Shakespeare Lexicon (1874) and later C. T. Onions' Shakespeare Glossary, which appeared in 1911 and was revised by Onions in 1919. A further revision in 1986, by Robert D. Eagleson, kept Onions in print but failed, to some extent, to satisfy scholars. The new Shakespeare's Words seems likely to fill the void created by the superannuated Onions. Using the New Penguin Shakespeare as their text, the editors, linguist David Crystal and his actor son Ben Crystal, first collected all of the "problem" words flagged by the Penguin editors and then scoured the plays and sonnets for additional "difficult" words--especially words that are no longer current or that have developed a different sense since Shakespeare's time. After a few further additions, their entries totaled 21,263 under 13,626 headwords. Rather than defining a word by listing a single near synonym, the Crystals decided that a system called lexical triangulation would better reflect the complexity of Shakespeare's language. Most entries have three glosses, each providing a slightly different slant. For example, englut is glossed as "swallow up, gulp down, devour." Each entry includes part of speech, an illustrative quotation (with text and context identified), and selected references to other occurrences. Sidebars contain brief tutorials on address forms, money, weapons, and more. Readers newly acquainted with Shakespeare will benefit greatly by browsing through the Crystals' list of 100 frequently encountered words, which are accompanied by more illustrative quotations than are provided elsewhere. Other useful features are a chronology, plot synopses, diagrams illustrating interactions of characters, and 16 appendixes providing brief definitions for historical people, places, foreign terms, and other vocabulary not found in the A-Z section. This is a most ambitious work that will be of immense value to student and scholar alike, a worthy successor to the landmark volumes that preceded it. Recommended for large public and academic libraries. -- RBB Copyright 2003 Booklist

Table of Contents

Prefacep. X
Introductionp. XI
Abbreviations, Symbols, and Conventionsp. XVII
Text Abbreviationsp. XIX
List of Glossary Panelsp. XX
Frequently Encountered Words (FEW)p. XXI
A-Z Glossaryp. 1
Shakespearian Circles, Synopses, and Dramatis Personaep. 511
Text Chronologyp. 592
List of Characters' Namesp. 593
List of Appendicesp. 612
I-VI Beingsp. 613
VII Timesp. 630
VIII-X Placesp. 631
XI-XVI Languages and Dialectsp. 638