Funny English: Benedict

I have been having fun learning or rather rediscovering words as Jeffrey Kacirk delivers a new word every day.  Words like “drury,” “graveyard issues,” and “carfuddle.” But there was a  word this last week that I thought I knew: benedict.  I immediately thought of Benedict Arnold, the infamous American traitor from the Revolutionary War.  I have heard of someone being referred to as a benedict, that is to say a traitor.

However, benedict is a much older word than the American Revolution. So though I am certain the reference in the American context is correct, it is not the definition of benedict.

The English, or rather British, definition of benedict is “a married man.”

You may be wondering where this came from.  Some of you may have already made the leap to the most infamous of bachelors, Benedict from Shakespeare’s Much Ado About Nothing. For those of you who are thinking, ” if he hath caught the Benedict it will cost him a hundred pound ere he be cured,” you are thinking correctly. A benedict is indeed a reference to that professing bachelor who despite his claims of bachelorhood till death found himself irreconcilably in love with Beatrice.

This can be no trick. The conference was sadly borne;

they have the truth of this from Hero; they

seem to pity the lady. It seems her affections have their full

bent. Love me? Why, it must be requited! I hear how I am

censured. They sy I will bear myself proudly if I perceive

the love come from her. They say, too, that she will rather

die than give any sign of affection. I did never think to

marry. I must not seem proud. Happy are they that hear

their detractions and can put them to mending. They say

the lady is fair; ’tis a truth, I can bear them witness. And

virtuous; ’tis so, I cannot reprove it. And wise, but for

loving me; by my troth, it is no addition to her wit, nor no

great argument of her folly, for I will be horribly in love

with her! I may chance have some odd quirks and remnantsof wit broken on me because I have railed so long against

marriage, but doth not the appetite alter? A man loves the

meat in his youth that he cannot endure in his age. Shall

quips and sentences and these paper bullets of the

brain awe a man from the career of his humor?

No! The world must be peopled. When I said I would die a

bachelor, I did not think I should live till I were married.

Here comes Beatrice. By this day, she’s a fair lady. I do spy

some marks of love in her.

-Benedict, Much Ado About Nothing, 2.3

Advertisements

About LizzyBeth

There is a Story inside of me that I must give a voice. I write so that imagination can take me to Faerie and I can catch a glimpse of the Otherworld and hopefully so will you.

Posted on January 20, 2012, in Humor, Lantern Hollow Press Authors, Rachel Burkholder, Words and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 3 Comments.

  1. Brilliant! And, earlier than that, it meant “blessed” (fr. Lat. “benedictus”). Thinking of the British meaning in the light of the current pope creates some interesting ironies if you don’t realize this!

  2. When I read that passage, I can hear Kenneth Branaugh’s voice…. Best. Shakespeare. Play. Ever.

    Also best Shakespeare-turned-film ever.

    Much Ado deserves superlatives.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: