Shakespearean English has some distinctive ways of expressing attitudes in short exclamatory sentences, and some (e.g. come, come, 1H4 IV.iii.16) are still used today. As with modern English, there are more expressing negative emotions (contempt, disdain, disgust, impatience, indignation, etc) than positive ones (cheerfulness, delight, assurance, etc). In some cases, words are used whose meaning is totally dependent on the context, as interpreted by the actor, sometimes permitting a wide range of possible tones of voice: these are a or ah (2H4 II.i.49), ha (MM II.ii.164), and hum (Ham II.ii.586). Sometimes a vocalization is associated with a particular character, such as Henry VIII’s use of ha (H8 III.ii.61). Expressions of regret are grouped separately. REGRETS

Negative attitudes

alas 3H6 V.i.109 Alas, I am not cooped here for defence! usually regret, but here more indignation
blessed fig's end Oth II.i.244 [Roderigo] she’s full of most blessed condition. [Iago] Blessed fig’s end! worthlessness - cf. modern ‘my foot!’
buzz Ham II.ii.392 [Polonius] The actors are come hither, my lord. [Hamlet] Buzz, buzz impatience or contempt, when being told something already known
fico for, a MW I.iii.27 ‘Steal’? Foh, / A fico for the phrase! contempt, often expressed in a gesture [using the thumb between the first and second fingers]
fie Ven 611 ‘Fie, fie,’ he says, ‘you crush me’ disgust, indignation, shame
fie on CE V.i.27 Fie on thee, wretch disgust, indignation, shame
fig for, a 2H6 II.iii.67 a fig for Peter! contempt, often expressed in a gesture [as for ‘fico’]
foh Ham II.ii.585 Fie upon’t, foh! disgust, abhorrence
go to Ham I.iii.112 Ay, ‘fashion’ you may call it. Go to, go to impatience - cf. modern ‘come, come’ [see also below]
hanged, be H8 V.iv.17 How got they in, and be hanged? impatience, irritation
heigh-ho, hey-ho TNK III.iii.42 There was a time... Heigh ho! exclamatory sigh expressing weariness, disappointment [distinguished from the positive one below by intonation
how KL I.i.94 How, how, Cordelia! Mend your speech a little surprise, irritation - cf. modern ‘what?’
how now LLL IV.iii.198 How now, what is in you? surprise, reproach
hoyday R3 IV.iv.459 Hoyday, a riddle! contemptuous surprise, impatience
marry come up RJ II.v.62 Are you so hot? Marry come up, I trow impatience, surprise, shock [real or affected]
marry trap with you MW I.i.155 I will say ‘Marry trap with you’ contempt, insult [unclear meaning]
me, O Cor II.iii.53 O me, the gods! / You must not speak of that shock, horrified surprise - cf. modern ‘goodness me’
much 2H4 II.iv.129 God’s light, with two points on your shoulder? Much! scornful disbelief, incredulity
out TS IV.i.133 Out, you rogue! You pluck my foot awry impatience, irritation
out, alas 3H6 I.iv.18 we charged again; but, out alas! / We budged again disgust, reproach, indignation, regret
out on CE II.i.68 I know not thy mistress. Out on thy mistress! indignation, reproach
out upon it TNK II.iii.5 To marry him is hopeless; / To be his whore is witless. Out upon’t! frustration, irritation
pah Ham V.i.197 And smelt so? Pah! disgust, abhorrence
peace AYL II.iv.62 Peace, fool, he’s not thy kinsman reproach, impatience
pish Oth IV.i.41 It is not words that shakes me thus! Pish! contempt, impatience, disgust [here, very strong]
pooh Ham I.iii.101 Affection? Pooh! scorn, contempt, impatience
pow waw Cor II.i.136 [Virgilia] The gods grant them true. [Volumnia] True? Pow waw! ridicule, scorn [cf. modern ‘bow wow’]
push Tim III.vi.108 Push! Did you see my cap? contempt, impatience [cf. pish]
rope, a 1H6 I.iii.53 Winchester goose! I cry a rope, a rope! derision, contempt, anger
tailor MND II.i.54 Down topples she, / And ‘Tailor’ cries [unclear meaning, said when falling] shock, surprise
tilly-vally TN II.iii.77 Am I not of her blood! Tilly-vally! impatience - cf. modern ‘nonsense!’
tush Ham I.i.30 Tush, tush, ’twill not appear disparagement, disbelief, contempt
tut RJ I.i.197 Tut, I have left myself impatience, dissatisfaction
when JC II.i.5 When, Lucius, when? Awake, I say! impatience
when, ay 1H4 II.i.40 [Gadshill] I pray thee lend me thine [lantern] [Second Carrier] Ay, when? Canst tell? derision
when, nay 3H6 V.i.49 Nay, when? Strike now, or else the iron cools impatience

Positive attitudes

cheer, good TNK I.i.233 Good cheer, ladies; / Now turn we towards your comfort reassurance, encouragement
cheerily, cheerly E3 IV.vii.44 Cheerily, bold man, thy soul is all too proud / To yield her city encouragement, support
content TS V.ii.70 [Hortensio responding to Petruchio’s proposal] Content. What’s the wager? agreement, satisfaction
fair befall R3 III.v.46 Now fair befall you! good wishes
good as the best Tim V.i.22 [Poet] I must ... tell him of an intent that’s coming toward him. [Painter] Good as the best strong affirmation - cf. modern ‘that’s splendid’
good now AC I.ii.27 Good now, some excellent fortune! entreaty, acquiescence, surprise
go to TS V.i.123 Fear not, Baptista, we will content you, go to reassurance - cf. modern ‘don’t worry’ [see also above]
heigh Tem I.i.5 Heigh, my hearts! encouragement
heigh-ho, hey-ho AYL II.vii.181 Hey-ho, sing hey-ho, unto the green holly joy, delight
said, well Tit IV.iii.64 [Titus to Lucius, of his archery] O, well said, Lucius! praise - cf. modern ‘well done’
summer’s day E3 I.ii.81 O summer’s day; see where my cousin comes relief, delight

Some of these items have other functions: ATTENTION SIGNALS; DISCOURSE MARKERS; POLITENESS.


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