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Vaughan’s vocabulary

June 23, 2012

By Don Vaughan

In the opening scene of a Shakespeare play, Egeus enters with his daughter and the one she loves. With them is Demetrius, to whom Egeus intends for her to marry. Egeus has come to the Duke of Athens demanding his right to marry off his daughter to Demetrius.

Hermia has until the day of the duke’s wedding to decide to marry Demetrius or face dire consequences. In their tete-a-tete, Lysander suggests that they go to his aunt’s house where “the sharp Athenian law cannot pursue us.”

Love is out of balance. Lysander and Demetrius are in love with Hermia, but Hermia loves only Demetrius. Helena, the fourth of the Athenian youths, dotes on Demetrius and is ignored by him and the other two. The fairies’ king, Oberon, orders an elf to anoint a potion on the eyelids of Demetrius to make him love Helena, but it anoints Lysander’s eyes. Magical moments in a fairy-controlled forest ensue.
Developing a dynamic vocabulary in your writing, speaking, and thinking is like entering an enchanted forest. Learning new words and using them is a key to creativity and a new way of thinking. See how you do below.
1. To which play was I referring?
A. A Midsummer Night’s Dream
B. The Most Lamentable Comedy
C. The Most Cruel Death of Pyramus and Thisby
D. Hermia’s Eyne
You’re right, it’s A. The two parts that make up the title of the play within A Midsummer Night’s Dream are in B and C. I made up “Hermia’s Eyne,” although the word “eyne” is in the play.
2. nosegays (NOSE-gays)
A. snobs
B. a small bunch of flowers
C. scholars
D. youth
3. filch (FILCH)
A. to steal
B. to win
C. to deceive
D. to pollute
4. dote (DOTE)
A. to bestow or express love habitually
B. to brag
C. to cry
D. to loathe
5. Which two describe Helena? 
A. incredulous (in-CRED-you-lus)
B. querulous (QUARE-uh-lus)
C. malicious (muh-LISH-us)
D. reticent (RET-uh-sunt) 

Egeus claims that Lysander has used charms on his daughter to make her love him. “With bracelets of thy hair, rings, gauds, conceits, knacks, trifles, nosegays….With cunning has thou filched my daughter’s heart.” No. 2 is B. No. 3 and No. 4 are A.

Helena’s querulous tone is heard. She is incredulous when both men woo her.
Last week’s mystery word is bosh.

Don R. Vaughan, Ph.D. in Mass Communication, is a professor at East Miss. Community College. Contact him at

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