Faire Speak

Elizabeth " Bess " Throckmorton
25 Sep 2013 06:19:43AM

Basic Elizabethan Terms


At first Elizabethan speech may seem daunting and very unfamiliar. To tell the truth, it can be. The most important part of learning BFA is perhaps patience - don't try to cram it all in in one afternoon. Learn the basics first, try using them in conversation. At faire listen to others and how they speak. Get comfortable with the idea that Elizabethan English, in some cases, is as close to our modern day English as French.

"Hello" is an exclamation of surprise, not greeting. You might try "Good Morrow", "God ye good den.", "How now?", "God save you", or "Good Day" Instead of "Good Bye" try "Anon", "Fare thee well" or "God save thee!"

It's "Aye" or "Yay" not "Yes."
Try "Nay" or "Indeed Not" for "No".

"You" can be either "thee/thou" or even "you/ye"
"You would" or "You should" best heard as "Thou would'st" or "Thou should'st".

I would "beg your pardon" instead of excusing myself.
In order to get your attention I wouldn't cry: "Listen", but I would say "Hark!"
Say "prithee" or "if it please thee" instead of "please".
A wandering babe would be told to "come hither" not "here."

Some general words to know:

  • Anon - Later
  • As you will - Okay, or whatever.
  • By your leave - Excuse me or please, when in the company of another.
  • Carouse- Party!
  • Chide - Scold or nag
  • Cutpurse- Thief
  • E'en - Evening or even
  • E'er - Ever or before
  • Fie - A curse.
  • Grammercy - Thank you
  • Maid or Maiden - A young woman of upstanding virtue
  • Marry! - An exclaimation of shock
  • Mayhap - Perhaps. Do not mistakenly say "Mayhaps" - there is no plural form
  • Morrow - Days or tomorrow.
  • N'er - Never.
  • Nonpariel - A beauty
  • Oft - Often
  • In Faith - In truth, sometimes just "faith". A mild exclaimation.
  • Perchance - Maybe or Possibly.
  • Poppet - A doll or a young child
  • Pray pardon me - Excuse me
  • Pray tell - Please tell me
  • Prithee - Please, literally "I pray thee"
  • Privy - Bathroom, or more literally, outhouse
  • Stay - Stop or wait.
  • S'wounds! - An exclaimation, like wow. A shortened from "gods wounds".
  • Tosspot- Drunkard
  • Verily - Very, Truly or Truthfully.
  • Wench - A young woman
  • Wherefore - Why
  • Yonder - Over there.