"The Tragedy of Hamlet, Prince of Denmark" by William Shakespeare, Act II

Shakespeare's famous tragedy tells the story of a Danish prince who must decide whether or not to avenge his father's death. Read the full text here.

Here are links to our lists for the play: Act I, Act II, Act III, Act IV, Act V
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definitions & notes only words
  1. wanton
    unprovoked or without motive or justification
    But, sir, such wanton, wild and usual slips
    As are companions noted and most known
    To youth and liberty.
  2. assay
    an appraisal of the state of affairs
    Your bait of falsehood takes this carp of truth:
    And thus do we of wisdom and of reach,
    With windlasses and with assays of bias,
    By indirections find directions out
  3. purport
    the pervading meaning or tenor
    Lord Hamlet, with his doublet all unbraced,
    No hat upon his head, his stockings foul'd,
    Ungarter'd and down-gyved to his ankle;
    Pale as his shirt, his knees knocking each other,
    And with a look so piteous in purport
    As if he had been loosed out of hell
    To speak of horrors, he comes before me.
  4. profound
    coming from deep within one
    At last, a little shaking of mine arm
    And thrice his head thus waving up and down,
    He raised a sigh so piteous and profound
    As it did seem to shatter all his bulk
    And end his being
  5. vouchsafe
    grant in a condescending manner
    I entreat you both,
    That, being of so young days brought up with him,
    And sith so neighbour'd to his youth and 'havior,
    That you vouchsafe your rest here in our court
  6. glean
    gather, as of natural products
    ...so by your companies
    To draw him on to pleasures, and to gather
    So much as from occasion you may glean,
    Whether aught to us unknown afflicts him thus,
    That open'd lies within our remedy.
  7. liege
    a feudal lord entitled to allegiance and service
    I assure my good liege,
    I hold my duty, as I hold my soul,
    Both to my God and to my gracious king
  8. rebuke
    an act or expression of criticism and censure
    But better look'd into, he truly found
    It was against your highness: whereat grieved,
    That so his sickness, age and impotence
    Was falsely borne in hand, sends out arrests
    On Fortinbras; which he, in brief, obeys;
    Receives rebuke from Norway, and in fine
    Makes vow before his uncle never more
    To give the assay of arms against your majesty.
  9. expostulate
    reason with for the purpose of dissuasion
    My liege, and madam, to expostulate
    What majesty should be, what duty is,
    Why day is day, night night, and time is time,
    Were nothing but to waste night, day and time.
  10. brevity
    the use of concise expressions
    Therefore, since brevity is the soul of wit,
    And tediousness the limbs and outward flourishes,
    I will be brief.
  11. solicit
    make amorous advances towards
    This in obedience hath my daughter shown me,
    And more above, hath his solicitings,
    As they fell out by time, by means and place,
    All given to mine ear.
  12. fain
    in a willing manner
    Hath there been such a time—I'd fain know that—
    That I have positively said 'Tis so,'
    When it proved otherwise?
  13. arras
    a wall hanging of handwoven fabric with pictorial designs
    At such a time I'll loose my daughter to him:
    Be you and I behind an arras then;
    Mark the encounter
  14. carrion
    the dead and rotting body of an animal; unfit for human food
    For if the sun breed maggots in a dead dog, being a god kissing carrion,—Have you a daughter?
  15. extremity
    a condition or state beyond the norm
    Still harping on my daughter: yet he knew me not at first; he said I was a fishmonger: he is far gone, far gone: and truly in my youth I suffered much extremity for love; very near this. I'll speak to him again.
  16. satirical
    exposing human folly to ridicule
    Slanders, sir: for the satirical rogue says here that old men have grey beards, that their faces are wrinkled, their eyes purging thick amber and
    plum-tree gum and that they have a plentiful lack of wit, together with most weak hams...
  17. tedious
    so lacking in interest as to cause mental weariness
    These tedious old fools!
  18. promontory
    a natural elevation
    I have of late—but wherefore I know not—lost all my mirth, forgone all custom of exercises; and indeed it goes so heavily with my disposition that this goodly frame, the earth, seems to me a sterile promontory...
  19. firmament
    the sphere on which celestial bodies appear to be projected
    ...this most excellent canopy, the air, look you, this brave o'erhanging firmament, this majestical roof fretted with golden fire, why, it appears no other thing to me than a foul and pestilent congregation of vapours.
  20. pestilent
    exceedingly harmful
    ...this most excellent canopy, the air, look you, this brave o'erhanging firmament, this majestical roof fretted with golden fire, why, it appears no other thing to me than a foul and pestilent congregation of vapours.
  21. paragon
    model of excellence or perfection of a kind
    What a piece of work is a man! how noble in reason! how infinite in faculty! in form and moving how express and admirable! in action how like an angel! in apprehension how like a god! the beauty of the world! the paragon of animals!
  22. quintessence
    the purest and most concentrated aspect of something
    And yet, to me,
    what is this quintessence of dust? man delights not
    me: no, nor woman neither, though by your smiling
    you seem to say so.
  23. foil
    a light slender flexible sword tipped by a button
    He that plays the king shall be welcome; his majesty shall have tribute of me; the adventurous knight shall use his foil and target...
  24. gratis
    without payment
    ...the lover shall not sigh gratis; the humourous man shall end his part in peace; the clown shall make those laugh whose lungs are tickle o' the sere; and the lady shall say her mind freely, or the blank verse shall halt for't.
  25. aerie
    the lofty nest of a bird of prey, such as a hawk or eagle
    Nay, their endeavour keeps in the wonted pace: but there is, sir, an aery of children, little eyases, that cry out on the top of question, and are most tyrannically clapped for't: these are now the fashion, and so berattle the common stages—so they call them—that many wearing rapiers are afraid of goose-quills and dare scarce come thither.
  26. eyas
    an unfledged or nestling hawk
    Nay, their endeavour keeps in the wonted pace: but there is, sir, an aery of children, little eyases, that cry out on the top of question, and are most tyrannically clapped for't: these are now the fashion, and so berattle the common stages—so they call them—that many wearing rapiers are afraid of goose-quills and dare scarce come thither.
  27. rapier
    a straight sword with a narrow blade and two edges
    Nay, their endeavour keeps in the wonted pace: but there is, sir, an aery of children, little eyases, that cry out on the top of question, and are most tyrannically clapped for't: these are now the fashion, and so berattle the common stages—so they call them—that many wearing rapiers are afraid of goose-quills and dare scarce come thither.
  28. ducat
    formerly a gold coin of various European countries
    It is not very strange; for mine uncle is king of Denmark, and those that would make mows at him while my father lived, give twenty, forty, fifty, a hundred ducats a-piece for his picture in little.
  29. appurtenance
    a supplementary component that improves capability
    Gentlemen, you are welcome to Elsinore. Your hands, come then: the appurtenance of welcome is fashion and ceremony: let me comply with you in this garb, lest my extent to the players, which, I tell you, must show fairly outward, should more appear like entertainment than yours.
  30. indict
    accuse formally of a crime
    I remember, one said there were no sallets in the lines to make the matter savoury, nor no matter in the phrase that might indict the author of affectation; but called it an honest method, as wholesome as sweet, and by very much more handsome than fine.
  31. coagulate
    transformed from a liquid into a soft semisolid mass
    Now is he total gules; horridly trick'd
    With blood of fathers, mothers, daughters, sons,
    Baked and impasted with the parching streets,
    That lend a tyrannous and a damned light
    To their lord's murder: roasted in wrath and fire,
    And thus o'er-sized with coagulate gore,
    With eyes like carbuncles, the hellish Pyrrhus
    Old grandsire Priam seeks.
  32. reverend
    worthy of adoration or reverence
    Then senseless Ilium,
    Seeming to feel this blow, with flaming top
    Stoops to his base, and with a hideous crash
    Takes prisoner Pyrrhus' ear: for, lo! his sword,
    Which was declining on the milky head
    Of reverend Priam, seem'd i' the air to stick
  33. rheum
    a watery discharge from the mucous membranes
    Run barefoot up and down, threatening the flames
    With bisson rheum; a clout upon that head
    Where late the diadem stood, and for a robe,
    About her lank and all o'er-teemed loins,
    A blanket, in the alarm of fear caught up
  34. diadem
    an ornamental jeweled headdress signifying sovereignty
    Run barefoot up and down, threatening the flames
    With bisson rheum; a clout upon that head
    Where late the diadem stood, and for a robe,
    About her lank and all o'er-teemed loins,
    A blanket, in the alarm of fear caught up
  35. epitaph
    an inscription in memory of a buried person
    Do you hear, let them be well used; for they are the abstract and brief chronicles of the time: after your death you were better have a bad epitaph than their ill report while you live.
  36. conceit
    an artistic device or effect
    Is it not monstrous that this player here,
    But in a fiction, in a dream of passion,
    Could force his soul so to his own conceit
    That from her working all his visage wann'd,
    Tears in his eyes, distraction in 's aspect,
    A broken voice, and his whole function suiting
    With forms to his conceit?
  37. cleave
    separate or cut with a tool, such as a sharp instrument
    He would drown the stage with tears
    And cleave the general ear with horrid speech,
    Make mad the guilty and appal the free,
    Confound the ignorant, and amaze indeed
    The very faculties of eyes and ears.
  38. offal
    viscera and trimmings of a butchered animal
    'Swounds, I should take it: for it cannot be
    But I am pigeon-liver'd and lack gall
    To make oppression bitter, or ere this
    I should have fatted all the region kites
    With this slave's offal: bloody, bawdy villain!
  39. melancholy
    a constitutional tendency to be gloomy and depressed
    The spirit that I have seen
    May be the devil: and the devil hath power
    To assume a pleasing shape; yea, and perhaps
    Out of my weakness and my melancholy,
    As he is very potent with such spirits,
    Abuses me to damn me.
  40. conscience
    a feeling of shame when you do something immoral
    I'll have grounds
    More relative than this: the play's the thing
    Wherein I'll catch the conscience of the king.

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