We have tickets to see Macbeth in early March. I saw it in high school, but I can’t remember if we read it or not. I’m reading it now because I think I will enjoy the play more if I’m more familiar with it. Of course, Shakespeare is good for lots of new words to a modern American reader. Here are some of the ones I’ve learned. The definitions are from the foot notes by Burton Raffel in the edition of Macbeth that I’m reading, one in a series called The Annotated Shakespeare by Yale University Press, published 2005.
Act 1, Scene 1
Witch 2: When the hurlyburly’s done,
When the battle’s lost and won.
hurlyburly: turmoil, fighting, rebellion — the last being the occasion of the “battle” mentioned in the next line: witches thronged to battlefields, needing human body parts for their black magic (“hurlyburly” has become an essentially jocular word but in Shakespeare’s time was deadly serious)
Act 1, Scene 2
Ross: Till that Bellona’s bridegroom, lapped in proof
Bellona’s bridegroom = Macbeth (Bellona = warlike wife of the god of war, Mars)
lapped in proof = wrapped/clothed in impenetrable, well-tested armor
Act 1, Scene 3
Macbeth (aside): If good, why do I yield to that suggestion
Whose horrid image doth unfix my hair
unfix my hair = make my hair stand on end
Act 1, Scene 4
Duncan: I have begun to plant thee, and will labor
To make thee full of growing.
plant: establish, position, place (verb)
Act 1, Scene 5
Lady Macbeth: Come, thick night,
And pall thee in the dunnest smoke of hell
That my keen knife see not the wound it makes
pall: cover, drape
dunnest: darkest, murkiest, gloomiest
Act 1, Scene 7
Lady MacBeth: What beast was’t then,
That made you break this enterprise to me?
break: reveal, disclose
That last usage of break lives on in today’s phrase “breaking news.”