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I have now finished The Story of King Arthur and His Knights, by Howard Pyle. Whilst I read, I met with the many archaisms that one often encounters in Pyle. Some of these words are more-or-less understandable from their context, but some are not and I have had the greatest pleasure compounding a glossary to help both you and me on our way.
Forsooth / in sooth / soothly
Verily, indeed, in truth. From Old English forsoð: for “for” and soð “truth”
“For, in sooth, no man may win yonder sword unless he be without fear and without reproach.”1
From Old French grant-mercy “great thanks.” Sometimes used as an exclamation.
“I give thee gramercy for thy courtesy, Sir Knight.”2
Verily, in truth, certainly. From Old French certes.
“Certes he hath some intent in this which we know naught.”3
Why, for what reason. Learn more about wherefore (and why it does not mean where) in this article.
“He wist not what to think or what to say, wherefore he stood for a while, like one turned to stone.”4
Glad, cheerful. From Old English fægen “glad, cheerful, happy, rejoycing.” Etymonline says, “Often it means ‘glad’ in a relative sense, ‘content to accept when something better is unobtainable.”5
“I would fain become your companion in the adventures ye are to undertake.”6
Namely, that is to say. Used to expand upon something already mentioned. Wit comes from the Old English word witan “to know, be aware of, understand.”
“[He] erected his banner enblazoned with the device of his house; to wit, a gryphon, black, upon a field of green.”7
Attempt, try, strive, endeavor, test the quality of. From Anglo-French assai “trial.”
“He bade the Archbishop to command that every man should make assay to draw out the sword.”8
By God. From Anglo-Norman par “by” and Deu “God.” Or used as an exclamation: obviously, with no doubt, certainly, indeed.
“Pardee!” quoth the young King to himself, “here, certes, is one in sure need of succor.”9
“Pardee, Sir Knight,” said the Lady, “what thou desirest of me thou shalt assuredly have.”10
What is the meaning of this?
“Ha! how now, Sir Knights? Have ye no words of greeting for to pay to me?”11
Are there other archaic words in Howard Pyle’s writings that you wish to know more about? List them in the comments and I will compile another glossary at some point.
1Howard Pyle, The Story of King Arthur and His Knights, “The Book of King Arthur,” Part 2, Chapter 3
2Ibid., “The Book of Three Worthies,” Part 2, Chapter 4
3Ibid., “The Book of King Arthur,” Part 1, Chapter 3
4Ibid., “The Book of King Arthur,” Part 1, Chapter 1
6Howard Pyle, The Story of King Arthur and His Knights, “The Book of Three Worthies,” Part 2, Chapter 4
7Ibid., “The Book of King Arthur,” Part 1, Chapter 1
8Ibid., “The Book of King Arthur,” Prologue
9Ibid., “The Book of King Arthur,” Part 2, Chapter 1
10Ibid., “The Book of King Arthur,” Part 3, Chapter 2
11Ibid., “The Book of King Arthur,” Part 3, Chapter 4