Do You Know The Meaning Of These 21 English Words From Centuries Past?


Quit twattling and take the quiz – these were words spoken in England from the Middle Ages and Early Modern eras…

The earliest use of the F-word discovered

Cheshire County Court Rolls - TNA CHES 29/23 - photo by Paul Booth

An English historian has come across the word ‘fuck’ in a court case dating to year 1310, making it the earliest known reference to the swear word.

10 Phrases that Originated in the Middle Ages

medieval phrases

Some of our most popular phrases have a long history, including some that go back to the Middle Ages.

The Origins of Cistercian Sign Language

monastic sign language

The present study begins with a discussion of the different forms of non-verbal communication used in early medieval monastic communities, with an emphasis on the sources for the use of sign language among Cluniac monks.

How to Speak Middle English

Speaking medieval - photo by Kit / Flickr

This four-part series of videos created by Youtuber Thatoneguyinlitclass gives a quick guide to speaking in Middle English.

Book Review: Drout’s Quick and Easy Old English

drout Quick and Easy Old English

It may seem a little incredible that anyone would need a textbook to learn an older version of his or her mother tongue, but learning Old English (Anglo-Saxon) takes some time and effort – and a good textbook.

How Do You Say ‘Bastard’ in Medieval Latin?

william the conqueror

As I am finding, analysis of the language of illegitimate birth reveals a rich, complex vocabulary used to indicate something less than fully legitimate birth.

The Medieval Alphabet

Medieval Alphabet

Take a look at the letters of the alphabet, as illustrated in medieval manuscripts

The Old English Translation of Bede’s Historia Ecclesiastica Gentis Anglorum in its Historical and Cultural Context

Bede - from BL Arundel 74   f. 2v

Bede’s Historia Ecclesiastica Gentis Anglorum (HE), written c. 731, enjoyed a great popularity among the Anglo-Saxons and Carolingians and was one of the most popular texts in medieval Europe.

Cryptographic Systems Used in the Romanian Countries between the 15th – 19th Centuries

old map romania

Situated in the southeast of Europe, Romanian Countries had an intense diplomatic activity, even if this was not recorded accordingly in documents of the day.

Metaphor in the Medieval Middle East

medieval arabic scholars

Through a study of metaphor in medieval Arabic literature, Stanford comparative literature professor Alexander Key finds that the Arab world had a head start on the West when it comes to understanding how language works.

Changing from OV to VO: More evidence from Old French

Medieval Latin and Old French - French with Latin headings

One of the more obvious syntactic changes in the development of the Romance languages involved a switch in basic word order from the Latin SOV to the Romance SVO, a change still underway in early Old Romance. I

Domiciling the Evangelists in Anglo-Saxon England: a Fresh Reading of Aldred’s colophon in the Lindisfarne Gospels

Aldred's colophon

What is actually reliable about this highly literary colophon is Aldred’s purpose in writing the gloss: to give the Evangelists a voice to address ‘all the brothers’− particularly the Latinless.

Norse loanwords in Old and Middle Irish

old irish

It is my objective to detect what the semantic development of Norse loanwords in Old and Middle Irish can tell us about the language and social contact situation of the Irish and the Norse raiders and settlers during the Viking Age.

‘Falseness Reigns in Every Flock’: Literacy and Eschatological Discourse in the Peasants’ Revolt of 1381

Peasant's Revolt 1381

The literature of the Peasants’ Revolt of 1381, a miscellany of fourteenth-century poetry and prose penned before, during, and after the insurrection, often stresses the importance of literacy to the nonaristocratic population of England.

The Viking Language of the Highlands and Islands: Reconstructing the Norn Language from Old Norse

Viking carving

The Orkney and Shetland islands of Scotland were at one time colonized by Vikings and belonged firmly within the field of Scandinavian cultural influence. During this time the people of these archipelagos spoke a unique language known as Norn which evolved from the Old Norse language.

Pedlars and Alchemists in Friuli History of itinerant sellers in an alpine reality

Medieval shops

This short review discusses about itinerant sellers in Friuli, who are Cramaro called (XI-XIX centuries). Attention is focused, in particular, on the question if some of theme were alchemists.

‘That melodious linguist’: Birds in Medieval Christian and Islamic Cosmography

Medieval Birds

“Birds,” writes Albertus Magnus, “generally call more than other animals. This is due to the lightness of their spirits.”

How well do you know the origins of English words? – Part 2


Can you tell which English words come from Anglo-Saxon or Old Norse?

(Re)casting the Past: The Cloisters and Medievalism

The Cloisters - NYC.

In this essay, I focus on a variety of texts printed using Anglo-Saxon type between 1566 and 1623 in an effort to explore the use of Anglo-Saxon typeface in the early modern period as the use of the Old English language progressed from polemical truncheon to historiographical instrument.

How well do you know the origins of English words?


Can you tell which word derives from the English of Anglo-Saxon times, and which word came from French?

From Old Norse to Modern Icelandic

old norse

Thus the language spoken and written in Iceland today is quite close to what has been called Old Norse, such as it appears in the medieval texts.

Old English Words for Relics of the Saints

Text page with Latin and Old English glosses.

This study begins with a review of some Latin terms and of certain material traits common to early medieval relic-cults, since these profoundly shaped the Old English vocabulary surveyed in the second part of the paper.

The original Frenglish

original frenglish

When France was speaking English without the prompting of a war or was it England who was speaking French….

Signed, Sealed, Delivered: How Messages were sent in the Middle Ages

medieval letters

Let’s imagine, for five minutes, what it must have been like to try and communicate across long distance in the Middle Ages.

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