Category Archives: Words Worth

Getting your Words Worth

No, this post is not about the poet, William Wordsworth.

As I wrote Lady Anne and the Howl in the Dark, I became fascinated by how many words were either much more modern than I had suspected, or which modern-sounding words have old origins. So I decided I would document my word searches, and talk about the origins of the words that I either found I could use, or was forced to discard.

For instance… would you, in a historical novel that takes place in 1786, use the phrase ‘tongue tied’? I had severe doubts about this, and not because it is a cliche. I suppose it could be damned as that, but I was curious, how old is the phrase?

This is what I found out: Shakespeare used it in Sonnet LXXXV

It must have been current to him, and likely older, so I used it! Hey, if it’s good enough for Willy, it’s good enough for me. No jokes, folks!

So here it is, in its proper usage:

Sonnet LXXXV

William Shakespeare

My tongue-tied Muse in manners holds her still,
While comments of your praise, richly compiled,
Reserve their character with golden quill
And precious phrase by all the Muses filed.
I think good thoughts whilst others write good words,
And like unletter’d clerk still cry ‘Amen’
To every hymn that able spirit affords
In polish’d form of well-refined pen.
Hearing you praised, I say ”Tis so, ’tis true,’
And to the most of praise add something more;
But that is in my thought, whose love to you,
Though words come hindmost, holds his rank before.
Then others for the breath of words respect,
Me for my dumb thoughts, speaking in effect.

I’ll have lots more to add to my Words Worth feature, so if you’re interested in words through time, stay tuned! I, too, ‘think good thoughts whilst others write good words’.

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