Monthly Archives: August 2016

“Now, in a new tune, new gesture, but old language”

I had occasion to perform in Ben Jonson’s 1610 play The Alchemist at Pennsic this year. In going over the script I found a number of words and phrases that Jonson used that I thought I’d share with the group. You can add these to those you put in your language worksheet in the Impression Workbook. Or just save them up for use whenever.

I’ve divided them up into single words (including insults) and phrases. I’ve also added some commentary.

WORDS

gallants (rich or well-to-do men)

heart (used like “darling”)

pox (we know this one, but Jonson uses it a lot)

treat (verb, used as “deal” I’ll not treat with you)

gull (verb and noun referring to cheating or the cheat-ee)

spittal (short for “hospital”)

how (multi-purpose word, meaning “What?”, “No!”, “Are you f**king kidding me?”, etc.)

Insults

rogue (used a lot)

bawd (sexual insult)

cow-herd

baboon

puck-fist (a miser, or one who boasts)

polecat (not the skunk, but a kind of mink)

rascal

scurvy (adjective, often used with “yellow”)

One of my favorite lines from the play, “my scurvy, yellow, baboon don”.

PHRASES

hang me, yourself

day owls (I got nothing)

fine, young quodling (probably from “codling”, and likely refers to a young or immature man)

brain of a tailor (my fav, used as “holy shit” or the like)

sooty, smoky-bearded (nice alliteration)

hence, away &

flee, mischief (either one is a rude send off)

I fart at thee (my opening line)