…down the primrose path

What is the origin of primrose used in the idiom primrose path, as defined by the Oxford Online Dictionary? primrose path The pursuit of pleasure, especially when it is seen to bring disastrous consequences. [Lexico] Merriam-Webster‘s entry has sexual allusions a path of ease or pleasure and especially sensual pleasure The phrase is credited to … Read more

Why, in A Midsummer Night’s Dream, does “square” mean “quarrel”?

When referring to dictionaries, there seems to be no such meaning as “quarrel” under the word “square”, only “in agreement”. But in II 1 of A Midsummer Night’s Dream, “square” in the following text means “quarrel”: And now they never meet in grove, or green, By fountain clear, or spangled starlight sheen, But they do … Read more

What does “thrice-blessed” mean in “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” Act 1 Scene 1?

There was a line in "A Midsummer Night’s Dream" Act 1 Scene 1 that says: "… Thrice-blessèd they that master so their blood To undergo such maiden pilgrimage." (Theseus) So, could anyone tell me the meaning of "Thrice-blessed"? Because I can’t find it on the web. The meaning of blessed three times sounds strange, but … Read more

How should I understand these lines from As You Like It?

I am currently on my second reading of As You Like It. I am having a really hard time comprehending lines 22-25 in Act 1, scene 2. Here are those lines as they appear in the version I am reading (The Norton Shakespeare, 3rd edition): “Marry, I prithee do–to make sport withal. But love no … Read more

Shakespeare’s “say sooth” vs. “tell truth”

The noun sooth, pronounced /suːθ/, is now archaic and means ‘fact’,‘reality’ and ‘truth’. Its legacy persists in the words soothe /suːð/, and soothsayer meaning someone who sees the truth, a synonym of fortune teller and the French loanword clairvoyant. In Shakespeare’s plays, sooth is often used with the verb say and in the expression in … Read more

What is the meaning of, “Women thinking themselves as double-cherry”?

My question is about a sentence that I read in one of criticism of William Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream, it reads as follows: The relationship between Helena and Hermia is characterised by sisterhood, to the extent that they see themselves as a “double-cherry.” A similar relationship existed between Titania and the mother of the … Read more

Shakespeare’s omission of ‘as’ before ‘single’ in ‘When sorrows come, they come not single spies…’

When Shakespeare wrote: “When sorrows come, they come not single spies, but in battalions”, why didn’t he put an “as” before “single spies”? Answer In this sort of context, where the nominal is a secondary subject complement, EME did not require as with nominals, just as we still don’t require it with adjectivals: He came … Read more

Shakespeare’s Macbeth “Conduct me to (mine) host” Mine host vs My Host

The first time I heard “mine host” in Shakespeare’s Macbeth, I went to Wiktionary to see if it once was used instead of “my,” however, I ended up with that it should not be followed by a noun but rather use “my” instead and I can’t find further references referring to Shakespeare’s usage. My question … Read more