Canterbury Tales Vocabulary

118 terms by professormcelroy 

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"Five husbands . . . at the church door"

In Chaucer's time, a wedding was performed at the church door and not inside the church or chapel.

Abominable

hateful; horrid; awful

Acquiesce

to agree; to consent

Acquittal

the act of freeing from a charge or accusation

Amiss

wrong; awry

Arbitrate

to act as judge, to decide disputes

Argus . . . pull his beard

a mythological giant with a hundred eyes whose duty was to guard a mortal (Io) whom Zeus loved. By Chaucer's time the word referred to any observant, vigilant person or guardian.

Array

splendid attire; finery; dress

Arrears

an unpaid, overdue debt

Avail

usefulness

Avarice

greed; a passion for wealth

Avicenna

an Arabian physician (980-1037) who wrote a work on medicines that includes a chapter on poisons.

Avouches

to declare the provable truth or validity of; affirm

Benefice

a church office endowed with fixed capital assets that provide a living

Benign

of a kind and gentle disposition

Bequeath

to leave material goods in a will

Beseech

to make an earnest request

Blithely

lightheartedly; festively; merrily

Buffoon

a person given to clowning and joking

Burgess

a citizen of an Engligh borough (town)

Caprices

whims

Carouses

to behave riotously; to revel

Cheapside and Fish Streets

streets in London that were known for the sale of strong spirits.

Chide

to criticize for a fault or offense

Chivalry

the medieval system, principles, and customs of knighthood

Constancy

faithfulness; fidelity

Contrive

to plan

Conundrum

a mystery; a puzzle

Coy

reserved, shy or modest

Dais

a raised platform

Daunted

deprived of courage as a result of fear, anxiety, or disgust

Deferred

postponed; delayed

Demure

reserved in manner; shy; modest

Derision

mockery; ridicule

Diligence

steady attention and effort

Dirk

a dagger

Discreet

having or showing careful judgment in speech and action; prudent; tactful

Disdain

the act of treating with contempt or scorn

Dunmow Fliatcah

a prize awarded to the married couple in Essex who had no quarrels, no regrets, and, if the opportunity presented itself, would remarry each other. The Wife is still establishing the right of more than one marriage.

Duress

constraint by threat

Ecclesiasticus

Ecclesiaste,See xxv: 29.

Eminent

of high rank, distinguished

Engendering

the process of bringing into existence

Enthralled

enchanted; fascinated

Eschew

to stay away from

Estimable

deserving of esteem; admirable

Excommunication

the act of depriving one of the right of church membership by ecclesiastical authority

Exhortation

speech that incites

Extort

to obtain from another by intimidation or blackmail

Feigned

artificial; counterfeited; faked

Felicity

great happiness; bliss

Flinch

to betray pain with an involuntary gesture

Frugal

thrifty

Frugality

thriftiness (the act of being thrifty)

Glib

performed with a natural, offhand ease

Gluttony

the vice of continually overeating

Inciting

stirring to action

Insinuations

innuendoes; indirect hints; implications

Jousted

a combat between two mounted knights using lances

King Demetrius

The book that relates this and the previous incident is the Policraticus of twelfth-century writer John of Salisbury.

Languishing

lacking energy or strength

Lemuel

See Proverbs 31:4-7.

Lepe

a town in Spain noted for its strong wines.

Lot

Lot's daughters got their father drunk and then seduced him (from the Book of Genesis in the Bible); the Pardoner's point is that Lot never would have committed incest if he had not been drunk.

Malady

an illness; a trouble

Mantle

a loose, sleeveless coat worn over outer garments, a cloak

Mark can tell

The miracle of the loaves and fishes and the barley bread is actually John, not Mark (see John VI:9), but this is a slight error for a woman of the Middle Ages to make.

Mercenary

one who serves or works merely for money

Obscure

not readily noticed or seen; unknown

Obstinate

difficult to manage or control

Palfrey

a woman's saddle horse

Pallor

extreme paleness

Pelf

loot; goods seized unlawfully

Prating

chattering, jabbering

Predestination

belief that one's fate is already decided

Prelate

a high-ranking member of the clergy

Prevarication

the act of evading the truth; lying

Prodigious

of extraordinary size and/or power

Proffering

to put before another for acceptance

Ptolemy . . . almagest

Ptolemy was a second century A.D. astronomer whose chief work was the Almagest. The Wife of Bath's quote shows that she is familiar with such a famous person.

Quoniam

a vulgar designation for the female pudendum, or vulva.

Radix malorum est cupiditas

Greed is the root of evil

Redressed

to get revenge for

Relics

objects esteemed and venerated because of association with a saint or martyr; here, the Pardoner's relics are false.

Render

to give what is due or owed

Renown

widespread acclaim; fame

Repined

complained

Repletion

full to or beyond satisfaction

Reprehensible

deserving condemnation; despicable

Requite

to repay

Retinue

group of attendants or followers

Samson

the biblical "strong man." He revealed the secret of his strength to Solome, who then betrayed him to his enemies.

Sanguine

of a healthy, reddish color

Scurrility

vulgar or abusive language

Sedately

dignified in character or manner

Shrive

absolve from sins

Shriving

the act of obtaining absolution for sins

Solicitous

expressing care or concern

St. Helen

the mother of Constantine the Great, believed to have found the True Cross.

Subtle

not immediately obvious, operating in a hidden way

Sundry

various; miscellaneous

Superfluities

things that are not necessary

Supple

easily bent; pliant

Three Misfortunes

Thinges Three,reference to Proverbs xxx, 21-23.

Trenchant

sharp

Unanimously

being in complete harmony or accord

Usury

the act or practice of lending money and charging outrageously high interest

Valerie and Theofraste

a work attributed to Walter Map, a minor satirist who disparaged marriage. All the writers the Wife of Bath quotes have written something either antifeminist, satiric, or unpleasant about marriage.

Valerius

writers who espoused that gentility comes from within and not from outward appearances.

Valiantly

bravely

Venerien . . . Marcien

astrological terms.

Verily

even; indeed

Verity

the quality of being true, factual, or real

Victuals

food fit for human consumption

Wanton

unrestrainedly excessive; luxuriant; frolicsome; playful

Wimpled

wrinkled

Woe

a cause of suffering or harm

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