Catherine Stine's IDEA CITY

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Monday, April 30, 2012

Z is for Zounds! An Elizabethan Curse Word

It's always cool to learn archaic words. One word game we play at a writing retreat I attend involves finding flowery and bizarro words out of a Victorian era dictionary. So, I was delighted to run across a few Elizabethan curse words during my teaching of Dr. Faustus by Marlowe, a play I've taught now for a good seven years. I tell my students that they can safely curse away, without offending anyone, because no one will know what the heck they are saying!

Zounds is one such curse. It's an abbreviation of By God's Wounds:
Benvolio: "Zounds, Doctor, is this your villainy?"

Another rich curse is 'Sblood! It's short for By God's Blood:
Benvolio: "'Sblood, I am never able to endure these torments!"

And a third curse is 'Snails! This means By God's Nails:
Clown:"'Snails, what hast thou got there, a book? Why, thou canst not tell ne'er a word on't."

For your entertainment, here are more cool late Medieval words:
Pickadevant= a pointy beard
Costermonger= fruitseller
Profess= teach
lollard= heretic
Compass= embrace
Welkin= sky
I've enjoyed this A to Z Challenge, and meeting so many great bloggers. You are all fabulous! Here is a tiny sampling of some blogs I've learned a lot from:
Jaycee DeLorenzo's idioms theme here.
Caitlin's Logically blog where she informed us about important people and points in history here.
Stephen Tremp's blog theme on the habitable zone in space here.
I welcome my new followers and I'm excited to follow many new bloggers myself. As Faust would say, we have certainly not yet "canvassed every quiddity" (discussed every detail), so I look forward to many more discussions and posts! On Monday, May 7th I will be helping M. Pax celebrate her Backworld's book launch, and on May 23rd, the launch of Susan Kaye Quinn's Closed Hearts. Plus, stay tuned for more posts on the writing world and how to keep the creative juices flowing.
One exciting note, the eBook version of my YA thriller, Fireseed One just went on spring sale at $0.99 so if you're looking for a good nail-biter check it out here. Thanks!
How was your experience of A to Z? 

32 comments:

  1. Love these words, will share them with my teenage grandsons. And. . .enjoy your summer. "Summer's lease hath all too short a date."

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  2. great ending words, at least for the challenge--congrats!

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  3. Boy, don't I know it! I've just finished the spring semester of part-time teaching and I know how fast the summer flies by!

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  4. What a fun word. I'll be using it. Lol

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  5. Love this post! I have a favorite book called The Word Museum by Jeffery Kacirk.
    Thank you!

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  6. I had a great time, met lots of new bloggers - like you - and am generally exhausted. Now it's back to real writer time for a bit.

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  7. Yay, thanks so much for the shoutout! I've really enjoyed your posts and getting to know a bit about you! :D

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  8. Snails! I can't believe it's over already. Good work!

    Lucy

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  9. Thanks Catherine for the shout otu! I've totally enjoyed your posts as well. Congrat! on finishing the Challenge.

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  10. Cynthia, I will check out the Word Museum. I love learning about archaic words. We're more than costermongers here!

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  11. These words are just delightful, Catherine! Brings back many memories of my Siegfried and Isolde days studying for my German Lit BA. What fun! Thanks for the links to the other sites, too. So nice to learn about new fascinating blogs. I've lost track of some of my blog subscriptions, and am just organizing them now, so if I've joined twice, or more, please just take that for my enthusiasm for your excellent blog! Cheers! Jo

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  12. I think we need to bring some of those words back. I'm dying to use Zounds in a teen book.

    Congratulations on coming across the finish line. It's been fun running alongside you.

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  13. I like the word zounds.

    And thanks for the shout-out!

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  14. Thanks, all. C Lee, I think there are some hilarious twenties curses too. And I do know some smutty Medieval words, but this blog is PG-13 rated, so not here. Jo, I'm happy you are following. I love your books and their covers too.

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  15. What an interesting post! Your book looks most intriguing too.

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  16. This is wonderful! I am going to call someone a Costermonger!

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  17. Don't you just love that word? It sounds completely foul, yet is is actually pretty tame.

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  18. I love those words! They simply roll off the tongue.

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  19. Zounds is such a cool word. Maybe we can bring it back into popularity ;)

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  20. Wonderful. I need to work Zounds and Snails into my everyday vocabulary.

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  21. Zounds is a great words. I'd never guess it and snails were curse words. Next time I'm looking for a way for my aliens to swear, well, there it is.

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  22. I'm gona start using zounds, see if will catch on, it's too good a word to keep hidden! :)

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  23. That is an awesome curse. I love reading about curses, swear words and other insults. It's interesting what people found offensive and to express their anger, etc. Thanks for the lovely comment on my blog.

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  24. I have heard zounds in melodramas from a while ago. What a great word. When people start talking about how much more innocent the Victorians were I think about the madrigals, nursery rhymes and now I can add curses to the list of things they don't understand.

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  25. Good one, Yvonne! You know, the more old texts and plays I read, the more that I realize people were raunchy and sexy and currsed up a blue streak even in 450 BC and before!

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  26. YOU ROCK!

    best,
    MOV
    http://mothersofbrothersblog.blogspot.com

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