…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

History of Neither Nor – Negative Meaning with Negative Verb Structure

I know that neither–nor yields a negative meaning if used in a sentence that has a positive verb structure. That is, when we say: Neither George nor James goes to school. we mean: George does not go to school and James does not go to school. By positive verb structure, I mean the usage of … Read more

“in like manner” v. “in the like manner”

1.”in like manner” or 2.”in the like manner” I thought that the latter is correct, but more digging points to the former. In Leviathan,of Hobbes, in like manner is used twenty five times, whereas in the like manner appears only four times, e.g. And these are Pleasures Of The Mind of him that draweth those … Read more

What was the pronunciation of the a in “trap” in early to mid Modern English in the UK?

I have often read that in Old and Middle English the “a” sound in words like “trap” was pronouned /a/. When it comes to modern English, Wikipedia suggests that this was raised to /æ/ in early Modern English and later lowered to /a/ again. See here: Wikipedia – Pronunciation of English – Changes in realization … Read more

Devil take the hindmost!

I came across the following old proverb in which I noticed that a bare infinitive verb is used after a singular subject. Devil take the hindmost. My question is: was it normal at that time to use a bare infinitive verb in such constructions? Answer ‘The Devil take the hindmost’ in the early sixteenth century … Read more

Origin of “rank hath its privileges”

It’s often seen with “has,” but the frequent appearance of “hath” suggests the saying may be much, much older. Early Modern English always suggests Shakespeare to me, but my Google-fu hath failed me in this instance. Perhaps someone here can shed some light. Answer The oldest instance that I could find in a series of … 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