Archaic words

These words are no longer in everyday use or have lost a particular meaning in current usage but are sometimes used to impart an old-fashioned flavour to historical novels, for example, or in standard conversation or writing just for a humorous effect. Some, such as hotchpotch, reveal the origin of their current meaning, while others reveal the origin of a different modern word, as with gentle, the sense of which is preserved in gentleman. Some, such as learn and let, now mean the opposite of their former use.

abroadout of doors
advertisementa notice to readers in a book
aguemalaria or a similar illness
alimentfood; nourishment
animalculea microscopic animal
apothecarya person who prepared and sold medicine
asunderapart
auditionthe power of hearing
aughtanything at all
avauntgo away
banepoison
bedlaman asylum
beholdsee or observe
behoofbenefit or advantage
beldaman old woman
betimesin good time; early
bibliopolea dealer in books
billowa large sea wave
blowproduce flowers or be in flower
bodkina dagger
bootless(of a task) ineffectual; useless
breecha person's buttocks
bridewella prison or reform school for petty offenders
brimstonesulphur
bruita report or rumour
bucka fashionable and daring young man
bumpera generous glass of an alcoholic drink
burgessa full citizen of a town or borough
bussa kiss
caboosea kitchen on a ship's deck
cadeta younger son or daughter
caducitythe infirmity of old age; senility
cameloparda giraffe
carla man of low birth
ceilline or plaster the roof of (a building)
champaignopen level countryside
chapmana pedlar
circumjacentsurrounding
cicisbeoa married woman's male companion or lover
cispontineon the north side of the Thames in London
clerka literate or scholarly person
clewa ball of thread
clouta piece of cloth or clothing
commendentrust someone or something to
commonsprovisions shared in common; rations
communicanta person who imparts information
compassencircle or surround
constudy attentively or learn by heart (a piece of writing)
conditionsocial position
conjureimplore (someone)to do something
contemntreat or regard with contempt
contumelyinsolent or insulting language or treatment
cordwainera shoemaker (still used in the names of guilds)
corruptrotten or putrid
cottiera rural labourer living in a cottage
coxcomba vain and conceited man; a dandy
cozcousin
crinkum-elaborate
crankumdecoration or detail
crookbacka person with a hunchback
crumpeta person's head
crusean earthenware pot or jar
cullya friendly form of address for a man
cutpursea pickpocket
damean elderly or mature woman
damsela young unmarried woman
dandiprata young or insignificant person
darbieshandcuffs
darkignorant
degradereduce to a lower rank, especially as a punishment
degreesocial or official rank
delatereport (an offence)
demoralizecorrupt the morals of
dightclothed or equipped
discoverdivulge (a secret)
dispraisecensure or criticize
diversof varying types; several
doita very small amount of money
dota dowry from which only the interest or annual income was available to the husband
doxya lover or mistress
draba slovenly woman
droughtthirst
egadexclamation of surprise, anger, or affirmation
embarrasshamper or impede
embouchurethe mouth of a river
erebefore (in time)
espousala marriage or engagement
estatea particular state, period, or condition in life
expectationsone's prospects of inheritance
expirydeath
fainpleased or willing under the circumstances
fainéantan idle or ineffective person
fairbeautiful
fandanglea useless or purely ornamental thing
faretravel
ferventhot or glowing
fieexclamation used to express disgust or outrage
filibega kilt
fishwifea woman who sells fish
fizgiga silly or flirtatious young woman
fluxdiarrhoea or dysentery
forfendavert or prevent (something evil or unpleasant)
forsoothindeed
fourscoreeighty
freaka whim
frorefrozen or frosty
froward(of a person) difficult to deal with; contrary
fruitoffspring
fudgenonsense
furbishpolish (a weapon)
gadzooksan expression of surprise or annoyance
gagea valued object deposited as a guarantee
gallanta dashing gentleman
gammeran old woman
garlanda literary anthology
gartha yard or garden
gentlenoble or courteous
go-carta baby walker
God's acrea churchyard
goodlyattractive, excellent, or virtuous
goody(with a name) an elderly woman of humble position
gratefulreceived with gratitude
grimalkina cat
gudgeona credulous person
gyvea fetter or shackle
habilimentclothing
haltlame
handmaida female servant
hearkenlisten
hencefrom here
herbarya herb garden
hereatas a result of this
hereuntoto this document
hereuponafter or as a result of this
hiego quickly
hightnamed
hitherto or towards this place
horse-copera person who deals in horses
horseless carriagea car
hostan army
hotchpotcha mutton stew with mixed vegetables
howbeitnevertheless
husbandmana farmer
imminentoverhanging
inditewrite; compose
inscribeenter the name of (someone) on a list
intelligencenews
intelligencera person who gathers intelligence
investsurround (a place) in order to besiege or blockade it
iron horsea steam railway locomotive
izzardthe letter Z
jadea bad-tempered or disreputable woman
jakesan outdoor toilet
jobturn a public office or a position of trust to private advantage
kickshawa fancy but insubstantial cooked dish
kinecows collectively
king's shilling, take theenlist in the army
knavea dishonest or unscrupulous man
larcenerthief
latcheta narrow thong or lace for fastening a shoe or sandal
laudpraise
lavera basin or similar container used for washing oneself
learnteach
leecha doctor or healer
lemana lover or sweetheart
lethinder
levantabscond leaving unpaid debts
Levantthe eastern part of the Mediterranean
levya body of enlisted troops
liefas happily; as gladly
lordlinga minor lord
love applea tomato
Lucifera match
lurdanan idle or incompetent person
lying-inseclusion before and after childbirth
magdalena reformed prostitute
magea magician or learned person
maida girl or young woman
malapertpresumptuous and impudent
malisona curse
man-at-armsa soldier
marryan expression of surprise, indignation, or emphatic assertion
mayhapperhaps; possibly
measurea dance
meatfood of any kind
mechanicala manual worker
meetsuitable or proper
methinksit seems to me
mooncalfa foolish person
morrow, thethe following day
mummeran actor in the theatre
naturala person born with impaired intelligence
naughtnothing
nayno
neata bovine animal or animals
nicefastidious
nighnear
nithinga contemptible or despicable person talk about or make
noise (something) aboutknown publicly
nubbing-cheata gallows
numblesa deer's entrails as food
orisona prayer
ortsscraps; remains
otherwhereelsewhere
overleapjump over or across
palean area within determined bounds or subject to a particular jurisdiction
palfreya docile riding horse
patea person's head
peelera police officer
pelfmoney, especially when gained dishonestly
peradventureperhaps
perchanceby some chance
peregrinatetravel or wander from place to place
pestbubonic plague
pestilencea fatal epidemic disease, especially bubonic plague
petermana thief or safe-breaker
physicmedicinal drugs or medical treatment
piepowdera traveller or an itinerant merchant or trader
pismirean ant
pistoleera soldier armed with a pistol
plightsolemnly pledge or promise (faith or loyalty)
pollardan animal that has lost its horns or cast its antlers
poltroonan utter coward
popinjaya parrot
portagethe action of carrying or transporting
portiona dowry
portiona person's destiny or lot
posya short motto or line of verse inscribed inside a ring
pouncet-boxa small box with a perforated lid used for holding a substance impregnated with perfume
pritheeplease
professteach (a subject) as a professor
progressa state journey or official tour
purflean ornamental or embroidered edge of a garment
pythonessa woman believed to be possessed by a spirit and to be able to foresee the future
qualityhigh social standing
queanan impudent girl or woman
quick, thethe living
quidnuncan inquisitive, gossipy person
quizlook intently at (someone)
quothsaid (in I / he / she quoth)
rack(of a cloud) be driven by the wind
raimentclothing
rapscalliona mischievous person
rathe-ripe(of fruit) ripening early in the year; (of a person) precocious
receipta recipe
recipea medical prescription
recompensepunish or reward appropriately
recreantcowardly
redeadvice or counsel
reducebesiege and capture (a town or fortress)
relievemake (something) stand out
repairan abode or haunt
repulsivelacking friendliness or sympathy
ribanda ribbon
rovera pirate
rudeignorant and uneducated
rutha feeling of pity, distress, or grief
sacringthe consecration of a bishop, a sovereign, or the Eucharistic elements
saddle-bowthe pommel of a saddle
salamandera red-hot iron or poker
sanativehealing
sanguinaryinvolving or causing much bloodshed
sapmake (a building etc.) insecure by removing its foundations
saturnismlead poisoning
scantlinga specimen, sample, or small amount
scapegracea mischievous person; a rascal
scaramoucha boastful but cowardly person
scienceknowledge
sciolista person who pretends to be knowledgeable
scolda woman who nags or grumbles constantly
scota tax-like payment
scurvyworthless or contemptible
sea coalmineral coal
seizinga length of cord or rope on board a ship
sennighta week
shamblesa slaughterhouse
shrive(of a priest) absolve (a person making a confession)
sillyhelpless; defenceless
sippeta small piece of bread or toast for dipping into soup or sauce
skirtan edge, border, or extreme part
slaykill in a violent way
slipshod(of shoes) worn down at the heel
slugabeda lazy person who stays in bed late
small beerweak beer
smitedefeat or conquer
soakdrink heavily
soft tackbread, especially as rations for sailors or soldiers
soila stain
soothtruth
soreextremely; severely
speedsuccess; prosperity
spencea larder
statuarya sculptor
steeda horse
stripea blow with a lash
strumpeta female prostitute or a promiscuous woman
successa good or bad outcome
sugarpluma small round boiled sweet
surety, of / for afor certain
swaina country youth
swashflamboyantly swagger about or wield a sword
sweetingdarling
sweetmeatan item of confectionery or sweet food
tantivya rapid gallop or ride
tapstera person who serves at a bar
tentera person in charge of something, especially factory machinery
thenceforthfrom that time, place, or point onward
thereuntoto that
therewithwith or in the thing mentioned
thitherto or towards that place
thricethree times
tilt withengage in a contest with
timbrela tambourine or similar instrument
’tisit is
tithea tenth
tocsinan alarm bell or signal
topedrink to excess
top-sawyera distinguished person
trespassa sin or offence
trigneat and smart
trigona triangle
trothfaith or loyalty when pledged in a solemn undertaking
turnkeya jailer
'tweenbetween
tweenya maid who assisted both the cook and the housemaid
unclea pawnbroker
uncommonremarkably
unhandrelease from one's grasp
up to snuffup to the required standard
usheran assistant teacher
varletan unprincipled rogue
veneryhunting
verilytruly; certainly
versea line of poetry
veryreal; genuine
visionaryexisting only in the imagination
waina wagon or cart
wait on/uponpay a respectful visit to
waitsstreet singers of Christmas carols
wastsecond person singular past of be
watchremain awake as religious observance
watchfulwakeful
watchworda military password
weasandthe oesophagus or gullet
wencha girl or young woman
whencefrom what place or source
whereatat which
whereforefor what reason
wherewithwith or by which
whilomformerly
white goodsdomestic linen
whitherto what place or state
wifea woman, especially an old or uneducated one
wighta person of a specified kind
wisemanner, way, or extent
withalin addition
withoutoutside
wondrouswonderfully
wontaccustomed
wontedusual
wool-staplera dealer in wool
wrighta maker or builder
ycleptby the name of
yeyou
yeayes
yokethe amount of land that one pair of oxen could plough in a day
yonderover there
zoundsan expression of surprise or indignation

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