"King Lear," Vocabulary from Act 1 25 words

While you are reading Shakespeare's tragedy "King Lear" (etext found here), learn this word list that focuses on Lear's personality, actions, and state. Here are links to all of our lists for “King Lear”: Act 1, Act 2, Act 3, Act 4, and Act 5.
  1. constant
    steadfast in purpose or devotion or affection
    As king, Lear can proclaim that his will is constant, but once he steps down, this constancy will be constantly tested.
    We have this hour a constant will to publish
  2. opulent
    rich and superior in quality
    The adjectives "more" (in example sentence) and "superior" (in definition) emphasize the public competition Lear is creating among his daughters.
    What can you say to draw
    A third more opulent than your sisters?
  3. propinquity
    the property of being close together
    Note how "propinquity" and "property" are included in the same breath as "paternal care".
    Here I disclaim all my paternal care,
    Propinquity and property of blood,
    And as a stranger to my heart and me
    Hold thee from this forever.
  4. wrath
    intense anger (usually on an epic scale)
    Come not between the dragon and his wrath.
  5. folly
    foolish or senseless behavior
    To plainness honor's bound
    When majesty falls to folly.
  6. dominion
    a region marked off for administrative or other purposes
    If on the tenth day following
    Thy banish'd trunk be found in our dominions,
    The moment is thy death.
  7. infirmity
    the state of being weak in health or body (especially from old age)
    'Tis the infirmity of his age: yet he hath ever
    but slenderly known himself.
  8. beseech
    ask for or request earnestly
    Note the missing "I" before "beseech", which makes Lear's use of the word seem more like a command than a request.
    Therefore beseech you
    T'avert your liking a more worthier way
  9. benison
    a spoken blessing
    Therefore begone
    Without our grace, our love, our benison.
  10. rash
    marked by defiant disregard for danger or consequences
    Although "rash" here doesn't mean the red eruption of the skin, picturing Lear with a physical rash could help you remember the rashness of his nature.
    The best and soundest of his time hath been but
    rash.
  11. unruly
    unwilling to submit to authority
    The prefix "un" here emphasizes what is happening to Lear's rule as well as his nature.
    then must we look to receive from his age,
    not alone the imperfections of long-engraffed
    condition, but therewithal the unruly waywardness
    that infirm and choleric years bring with them.
  12. choleric
    easily moved to anger
    then must we look to receive from his age,
    not alone the imperfections of long-engraffed
    condition, but therewithal the unruly waywardness
    that infirm and choleric years bring with them.
  13. discord
    strife resulting from a lack of agreement
    Possible pun alert: "discord" could refer to Lear breaking his bond with Cordelia--a move that leads to a lot of the discord in the play.
    love cools, friendship falls off, brothers divide: in
    cities, mutinies; in countries, discord; in
    palaces, treason; and the bond cracked 'twixt son
    and father.
  14. malediction
    the act of calling down a curse that invokes evil (and usually serves as an insult)
    Although the example sentence was from Edmund repeating a general prediction of the state of the world, it can be seen as an overview of all the conflicts in the play. The word "malediction" is buried in the sentence but it is a good word to know because in this act, Lear both withholds a benison from Cordelia and gives a malediction to Goneril. Note the difference in Lear's power in the scenes.
    as of unnaturalness between the child
    and the parent; death, dearth, dissolutions of
    ancient amities; divisions in state, menaces and
    maledictions against king and nobles; needless
    diffidences, banishment of friends, dissipation
    of cohorts, nuptial breaches, and I know not what.
  15. dissipation
    breaking up and scattering by dispersion
    Another definition of "dissipation" is "dissolute indulgence in sexual pleasure"--this could also fit because it could lead to "nuptial breaches" but the rest of the sentence lists other examples of breaking up and scattering.
    as of unnaturalness between the child
    and the parent; death, dearth, dissolutions of
    ancient amities; divisions in state, menaces and
    maledictions against king and nobles; needless
    diffidences, banishment of friends, dissipation
    of cohorts, nuptial breaches, and I know not what.
  16. breach
    a failure to perform some promised act or obligation
    as of unnaturalness between the child
    and the parent; death, dearth, dissolutions of
    ancient amities; divisions in state, menaces and
    maledictions against king and nobles; needless
    diffidences, banishment of friends, dissipation
    of cohorts, nuptial breaches, and I know not what.
  17. upbraid
    express criticism towards
    His knights grow riotous, and himself upbraids us
    on every trifle.
  18. ceremonious
    characterized by pomp and ceremony and stately display
    My lord, I know not what the matter is; but, to my
    judgment, your highness is not entertained with that
    ceremonious affection as you were wont;
  19. wont
    an established custom
    In the example sentence, "wont" is used as an adjective to refer to how Lear is used to being treated. Don't stick an apostrophe in the word because then it becomes a matter of what Lear will or won't do.
    My lord, I know not what the matter is; but, to my
    judgment, your highness is not entertained with that
    ceremonious affection as you were wont;
  20. abatement
    an interruption in the intensity or amount of something
    there's a great abatement of kindness appears as well in the
    general dependants as in the duke himself also and
    your daughter.
  21. bandy
    exchange blows
    A look is not a physical blow, but because Lear is not used to receiving insulting looks, he feels as if he had been hit. So Lear hits Oswald in return, but as a servant, Oswald can't actually bandy with Lear.
    Do you bandy looks with me, you rascal?
  22. gall
    a feeling of deep and bitter anger and ill-will
    A pestilent gall to me!
  23. kin
    group of people related by blood or marriage
    How kind can the kin of a king be?
    I marvel what kin thou and thy daughters are:
  24. sovereignty
    royal authority; the dominion of a monarch
    I would learn that, for, by the
    marks of sovereignty, knowledge, and reason, I should be false persuaded
    I had daughters.
  25. dotage
    mental infirmity as a consequence of old age; sometimes shown by foolish infatuations
    He may enguard his dotage with their powers,