Shakespeare's Anniversary – free access until 04-24-2024

Entry conventions

When you read an entry, you'll see the headword, the quotation, and the speaker/listener, of course, but also a great deal of additional information about the way we've presented the quotation and how the words are used. These features are all explained on this page.

Within definitions


The preposition convention
Where the modern use of a word requires a different following preposition from the one given in the quotation, the modern preposition is given in parentheses.

adjunct  (adj.) attendant [upon], inevitable result [of] KJ III.iii.57 [Hubert to King John, of obeying him] Though that my death were adjunct to my act ... I would do it

In other words: the Shakespearian usage is ‘adjunct to’, but modern usage requires attendant upon rather than attendant to and inevitable result of rather than inevitable result to.

This convention is also used in cases where the selected quotation does not actually contain a preposition, but the definition requires one to make the gloss work.

reason (v.) 2 argue rationally [about], debate the pros and cons [of] KL II.iv.259 [Lear to Regan] reason not the need!; Cym IV.ii.14; Ham II.ii.264; JC V.i.95; KL I.ii.105

Here the parenthesis also signals that some of the other examples listed do not need the preposition to make the gloss work. The Hamlet quotation, for example, is:

Ham II.ii.264 [Hamlet to Rosencrantz and Guildenstern] I cannot reason.


Within contexts


The ‘alone’ convention
In specifying the context of a quotation, we need to indicate when a character is the only person on stage.

Tem V.i.51 [Prospero alone] this rough magic / I here abjure

The ‘himself/herself’ convention

In specifying the context of a quotation, we need to indicate when a character is speaking to himself/herself while not being the only person on stage.

Oth V.ii.101 [Othello to himself] th'affrighted globe / Should yawn at alteration


Within quotations


Capitalization convention
In quotations we retain the capital-letters and punctuation of the quotation as it appears in the selected text, including line-initial capitals in poetry, but we do not include sentence-ending marks unless they are crucial for meaning (as in the case of some question-marks and exclamation marks).

Omitted text conventions Ellipsis dots (...) show that text has been omitted; items in square brackets are grammatical words which clarify the sense and enable us to keep the quotation as short as possible.

catch (v.) 2 catch up with, overtake
Tem V.i.316 [Prospero to Alonso] [I'll] promise you ... sail so expeditious, that shall catch / Your royal fleet far off


After quotations


The additional reference convention
When a series of additional references follows the chief quotation, the text references are in alphabetical order, and we conflate scenes and lines from the same play.

fancy (n.) 1 love, amorousness, infatuation TNK V.iv.118 [Theseus to Palamon, of Emilia] you first saw her, and / Even then proclaimed your fancy; Luc 200; MA III.ii.35; MND I.i.155; TC IV.iv.24; TNK IV.ii.52

fardel (n.) burden, load, bundle WT IV.iv.750 [Autolycus to Shepherd] The fardel there, what's i'th' fardel?; Ham III.i.76; WT IV.iv.703, 713, V.ii.3, 114

In other words: in the second example, the Winter’s Tale references are to IV.iv.703, IV.iv.713, V.ii.3, and V.ii.114.

The F/Q convention
Reference to a word in the First Folio is indicated by the abbreviation F; to later Folios, by the use of an additional number: F2, F3, etc. Reference to unspecified Quarto texts is indicated by the abbreviation Q, or QQ if more than one; to a specific Quarto, by a numeral, Q1, Q2, etc. The variant form then follows.

denotement (n.) 1 indication, sign, clue Oth III.iii.122 [Othello to Iago, of Iago's pauses] in a man that's just, / They're close denotements ... / That passion cannot rule [Q1; F dilations] In other words: the item in the quotation is from the Q1 text of Othello; the First Folio equivalent is dilations.

The ‘first/second instance’ convention
When two uses of the same headword need to be distinguished in a single quotation, these are identifed using the convention ‘first instance’ ... ‘second instance’

fine (n.) 2 ending, termination KJ V.iv.38 [Melun to Pembroke, Salisbury, and Bigot, of their executions] Paying the fine of rated treachery / Even with a treacherous fine of all your lives [second instance; first instance, sense 3]

In other words: it is the second instance of fine in the quotation which has the meaning of ‘ending’; the first instance has a different sense, which can be found at sense 3.

The ‘pun’ convention
When a word motivates a pun in a later line, or a pun refers back to a word in a previous line, the reference is given in parentheses after the quotation.

sconce (n.) 2 shelter, screen, guard CE II.ii.37 [Dromio of Syracuse to Antipholus of Syracuse] An you use these blows long I must get a sconce for my head [pun: 34, sense 1]

In other words: in line 34, the word sconce is used in sense 1 {i.e. in the sense of ‘head’].

The ‘also’ convention
When a quotation is followed by also and another sense number, we mean that the sense referred to is definitely relevant in this context.

augury (n.) 2 discernment, prescience, prophetic skill TG IV.iv.65 [Proteus to disguised Julia] if my augury deceive me not [also: sense 1]

In other words: refer to augury sense 1, where the meaning of ‘omens, premonition, divining the future’ must also be noted for this quotation.

The ‘or’ convention
When a quotation is followed by or and another sense number, we mean that the sense referred to is an alternative reading for the word in this context.

tainted (adj.) 3 disgraced, discredited, dishonoured H8 IV.ii.14 [Griffith to Katherine, of Wolsey] a man sorely tainted [or: sense 2]

In other words: refer to tainted sense 2, where the sense given there (‘corrupted, dishonourable, depraved’) is preferred by some editors.

The ‘i.e.’ convention
When a quotation is followed by i.e., the following words act as a paraphrase of all or part of the quotation, or add some additional information to make sense of the quotation.

bedfellow (n.) intimate companion TNK V.iii.44 [Emilia to herself, of Arcite] mercy and manly courage / Are bedfellows in his visage [i.e. are seen together in his face]


bear (v.) 8 bring forth, produce, yield AC [Caesar to all] the three-nooked world / Shall bear the olive freely [i.e. the olive-branch of peace]


Jump directly to