Old English

You can't really say you love Renaissance unless you can toss around a few Old English words as if you've used them all your life...of course, you should only do this in the company of fellow Rennies -
less brilliant people might merely think you mad!

So, let's have some fun and see how many weird and wonderful words we can come up with! They can be anything from the 18th century on back to...who knows? (Don't worry, I'm not planning on checking the accuracy of your time period. I trust you all get the idea - just make it good and old!)

Before long, we will have our own self-created, barely-edited, working dictionary of the Old English Language!

If you like Shakespeare (or if you spent much time in Sunday School hearing from a King James Bible) this should be simple enough for you!

Just use the form to send your word and it's definition, and I'll add it to our list, along with credit to you, the contributer, if you wish! Sounds like fun, eh?!

Please do try to be accurate in your definition, and most of all, make it fun!!
Okay? Ready?

Go to! Let us begin!

(give or take a century)

art - are

bequeath (one of my personal favorites) - To give or leave by will; to hand down.

beseech - request, ask.

besought – asked, made request. (past tense of beseech)

betwixt – between.

canst - can.

cometh – comes, or coming.
Submitted by Queen of Terabithia

dearth - (durth) scarcity or scant supply of anything; want or lack.

dost - do, does.

draught or draft – Can mean the act of pulling or drawing loads; a pull or haul; a team of animals for pulling a load; the drawing in of a fish net; the bunch of fish that were drawn in by the net; but… your typical Rennie will prefer one of these usages: the act of inhaling; that which is inhaled; or, the number one definition for common folk everywhere: the drawing of a liquid from its receptacle, as of ale from a cask!!!!

durst – Dare; to have the necessary boldness or courage for something.

fere - friend, companion.

fullsome - rich, plentiful.

hath - equivalent of modern has.
Submitted by M.G. of Oneida, Wisconsin

henceforth - from now on.
Submitted by L. Strass

hither - here.

huzzah - Huzza or huzzah is first recorded in 1573. According to a number of writers in the 17th and 18th centuries, it was originally a sailor's cheer or salute.(Old French, huzzer, “to shout aloud;” German, hussah!)Submitted by John Of www.renaissancefestival.com

mere - An expanse of water; lake; pool.
Submitted by The Lady Mellisa of Pt. Charlotte

midst – Middle, or among. e.g., "in the midst of the storm…

nary - None; absolutely nothing; not even close to anything.
Submitted by Jester Bumbledumb of Drunkonia

The good Jester also included an example of the word's usage:
"Thou dost hast nary an inkling on coveting thine lady."

And for the fullness of your understanding, this modern translation of the above phrase:
"You wouldn't know how to please a babe if you spent 10 years on the set of Oprah!"

naught – Nothing. (Did you know our modern word “not” is actually an abbreviated form of this Olde-English word, which was itself a shortened form of “no whit” or “not a whit”?)

onuppan - above.
Submitted by Callum Ellis Mennie

overmany - a lot.
Submitted by Kaylia White

pece - silverware, fork.
Submitted by Kylaa

prithee - contracted form of "I pray thee", i.e., I ask of you, I beseech thee, etc.

proby - apprentice.
Submitted by Sire Kyle

pudh - horrible.

Rennies - Renaissance fanatics; also people who are addicted to Renaissance Faires, costume, and anything else reminiscent of that era.Alright, this isn’t really an O.E. word at all – it’s a catchy name, though!

shall or shalt - will

seek - (O.E. secan, to seek) To go in search or quest of; to look or search for.

syllan - sell.

tallt - to stand above others in a snobby way.

tarry - to linger, deliberate, wait, stay, or pause.

thou - you

thee - you

thine - your

thither - there.

thy - your

trow – To think or suppose.e.g., "Wilt thou labor for naught? I trow not!"

whence - From where, e.g., "Whence, comest thou?" would translate to the modern "Where do you come from?"

wax - to grow, to become.

whither - To where, e.g., "Whither thou goest, I shall go." translates in modern English as "Where you go, I will go."

wilt – This one is tricky. It can mean very simply, will; but then it could also mean what a flower does without water, or what I do when asked to cook - it all depends on the context…

wist - knew; past tense of wit, e.g. He wist that his love was coming...

wit – To know, e.g., Canst thou wit what the day shall bring?

wrought - done, made, created; e.g. "...see what God hath wrought..."
Submitted by M.G. of Oneida, Wisconsin

ye - polite form of thou.
Submitted by Laura

yore - years ago.

Alright, I'm waiting for more Old English words...so send them in!
Then come back to see your own favorite word (or words) become part of our online dictionary!

Click here to add to the dictionary

I found some very basic but helpful info regarding the Old English language at this university website. This link will take you to the Main Table of Contents.
For the list of letters, go to the bottom and find "Phonetic Symbols and Terms".
If you really would like to educate yourself, you may wish to explore more pages - it is a really fascinating study!(I do hope you will come back and use your new knowledge to add to the dictionary here!)


Now that you have some basic Old English to mix into your banter,
here are a few links that you may like to explore!

Ren Dress

Pondering what to wear to your next Ren outing?
Visit The Tudor Shoppe for a huge selection of Renaissance costumes and related accessories.

Or consider adding a pretty crocheted choker for an old-world feel with whatever you wear! These add a nice touch whether it be with your jeans, or a velvet Juliet gown.


The Society for Creative Anachronism is an organized group of people of all ages who meet on a regular basis and whose chief interest is to promote authentic re-enactments of life in the Middle Ages. It is a real change of pace from your typical Ren Faire, but the perfect place to really hone your Old English speaking skills! And certainly worth checking out if you truly love the era! Use the link above to find out if there is a group in your area, and to learn more about the Society.

If you enjoyed the selection of harp music on my homepage, then hasten to the website of Celtic harpist Sarah Marie Mullen!
She has two wonderful recordings out to date,
and another soon to be released.
We have had the pleasure of seeing her perform at our local Renaisssance Fair, and I will make a point of saying, she is not only a talented lass -
but a true and fine lady as well!


ATF Renaissance Banner Network

Thank you for visiting the Old English page at I Bequeath Thee!

Fair Thee Well!

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