Vaughan’s Vocabulary

Don Vaughan provides infrequently used words to strengthen your vocabulary

This fall my students will address topics about Shakespeare’s play Macbeth. I plan to have a list of approximately 30 topics. The one that I will address is “Give an overview of Shakespeare’s early 17th century work to help your audience have a clearer understanding of what is happening in the story.”

I am involving Vaughan’s Vocabulary readers in the Macbeth project. Please think of a topical question about any aspect from the play and e-mail it to me. You will get a note of thanks, and on the list I will include your name and hometown to indicate that the question came from you.

1. Which word least applies to the play Macbeth?

A. hubris or hubristic

B. gory

C. somnambulism or somnambulant

D. ambition

E. serenity

2. “Hurly burly” is

A. an uproar.

B. a bad hair day.

C. something hideous.

D. a type of lipstick worn by Lady Macbeth.

Hubris means exaggerated pride or self-confidence, which was characteristic of Macbeth. Gory aspects are featured throughout the play. Lady Macbeth starts to sleepwalk (somnambulate). Macbeth and his wife are filled with ambition. A, B, C, and D apply. Serenity is the word that applies the least. “Hurly burly” is in the second line of the play. Aside from A, hurly burly means tumult. The second witch declares, “When the hurly burly’s done, when the battle’s lost and won.”

3. thane (THEYN)

A. a Scottish title of nobility

B. a witch

C. a river

D. the study of the phenomena of death

The following is from Dictionary.com: Early English

History: a member of any of several aristocratic classes of men ranking between earls and ordinary freemen, and granted lands by the king or by lords for military service. Scottish History: a person, ranking with an earl’s son, holding lands of the king; the chief of a clan, who became one of the king’s barons.” Macbeth was Thane of Cawdor. (A)

4. Macbeth’s castle was called

A. Elsinore.

B. Floors.

C. Alnwick.

D. Inverness.

E. Eilean Donan.

Elsinore was the castle in Hamlet. Floors is a castle in England, and although Alnwick and Eilean Donan are castles in Scotland, the country of Macbeth, neither of them was his. D is the answer. The last syllable in Inverness gets the accent, just like “finesse.”

Last week’s mystery word is ab ovo.

This week’s mystery word is used by Macbeth in Act II, scene 1. This adjective, a good advanced word, means capable of being perceived, especially capable of being touched or felt.