SKIP TO CONTENT

The Tragedy of Hamlet, Prince of Denmark: Act 4

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 1, Act 2, Act 3, Act 4, Act 5
35 words 8,727 learners

Learn words with Flashcards and other activities

Full list of words from this list:

  1. contend
    be engaged in a fight
    KING: What, Gertrude? How does Hamlet?
    QUEEN: Mad as the sea and wind when both contend
    Which is the mightier.
  2. providence
    prudence and care exercised in the management of resources
    Alas, how shall this bloody deed be answered?
    It will be laid to us, whose providence
    Should have kept short, restrained, and out of haunt
    This mad young man.
  3. divulge
    make known to the public information previously kept secret
    But so much was our love,
    We would not understand what was most fit,
    But, like the owner of a foul disease,
    To keep it from divulging, let it feed
    Even on the pith of life.
  4. discord
    lack of agreement or harmony
    My soul is full of discord and dismay.
  5. convocation
    a group gathered in response to a summons
    Not where he eats, but where he is eaten. A certain convocation of politic worms are e’en at him. Your worm is your only emperor for diet.
  6. conveyance
    the act of moving something from one location to another
    Tell him that by his license Fortinbras
    Craves the conveyance of a promised march
    Over his kingdom.
  7. craven
    lacking even the rudiments of courage; abjectly fearful
    Now whether it be
    Bestial oblivion or some craven scruple
    Of thinking too precisely on th’ event
    (A thought which, quartered, hath but one part wisdom
    And ever three parts coward), I do not know
    Why yet I live to say “This thing’s to do,”
    Sith I have cause, and will, and strength, and means
    To do ’t.
  8. scruple
    an ethical or moral principle that inhibits action
    Now whether it be
    Bestial oblivion or some craven scruple
    Of thinking too precisely on th’ event
    (A thought which, quartered, hath but one part wisdom
    And ever three parts coward), I do not know
    Why yet I live to say “This thing’s to do,”
    Sith I have cause, and will, and strength, and means
    To do ’t.
  9. exhort
    urge or force in an indicated direction
    Examples gross as earth exhort me:
    Witness this army of such mass and charge
    Led by a delicate and tender prince,
    Whose spirit with divine ambition puffed
    Makes mouths at the invisible event
  10. importunate
    making persistent or urgent requests
    She is importunate,
    Indeed distract; her mood will needs be pitied.
  11. conjecture
    a message expressing an opinion based on incomplete evidence
    'Twere good she were spoken with, for she may strew
    Dangerous conjectures in ill-breeding minds.
  12. artless
    characterized by an inability to mask your feelings
    So full of artless jealousy is guilt,
    It spills itself in fearing to be spilt.
  13. inter
    place in a grave or tomb
    When sorrows come, they come not single spies,
    But in battalions: first, her father slain;
    Next, your son gone, and he most violent author
    Of his own just remove; the people muddied,
    Thick, and unwholesome in their thoughts and whispers
    For good Polonius’ death, and we have done but greenly
    In hugger-mugger to inter him
  14. arraign
    accuse of a wrong or an inadequacy
    Her brother is in secret come from France,
    Feeds on his wonder, keeps himself in clouds,
    And wants not buzzers to infect his ear
    With pestilent speeches of his father’s death,
    Wherein necessity, of matter beggared,
    Will nothing stick our person to arraign
    In ear and ear.
  15. superfluous
    more than is needed, desired, or required
    O, my dear Gertrude, this,
    Like to a murd’ring piece, in many places
    Gives me superfluous death.
  16. impetuous
    marked by violent force
    The ocean, overpeering of his list,
    Eats not the flats with more impiteous haste
    Than young Laertes, in a riotous head,
    O’erbears your officers.
  17. riotous
    characterized by unrest or disorder or insubordination
    The ocean, overpeering of his list,
    Eats not the flats with more impiteous haste
    Than young Laertes, in a riotous head,
    O’erbears your officers.
  18. rabble
    the common people or lower classes
    The rabble call him “lord,”
    And, as the world were now but to begin,
    Antiquity forgot, custom not known,
    The ratifiers and props of every word,
    They cry “Choose we, Laertes shall be king!”
  19. cuckold
    a man whose wife committed adultery
    That drop of blood that’s calm proclaims me bastard,
    Cries “ cuckold” to my father, brands the harlot
    Even here between the chaste unsmirchèd brow
    Of my true mother.
  20. incensed
    angered at something unjust or wrong
    Tell me, Laertes,
    Why thou art thus incensed.
  21. repast
    the food served and eaten at one time
    To his good friends thus wide I’ll ope my arms
    And, like the kind life-rend’ring pelican,
    Repast them with my blood.
  22. bier
    a stand to support a corpse or a coffin prior to burial
    They bore him barefaced on the bier,
    Hey non nonny, nonny, hey nonny,
    And in his grave rained many a tear.
    Fare you well, my dove.
  23. rue
    strong-scented herb with grey-green bitter-tasting leaves
    There’s rue for you, and here’s some for me; we may call it herb of grace o’ Sundays.
  24. flaxen
    pale yellowish to yellowish brown
    His beard was as white as snow,
    All flaxen was his poll.
  25. collateral
    serving to support or corroborate
    If by direct or by collateral hand
    They find us touched, we will our kingdom give,
    Our crown, our life, and all that we call ours,
    To you in satisfaction
  26. ostentation
    a gaudy outward display
    His means of death, his obscure funeral
    (No trophy, sword, nor hatchment o’er his bones,
    No noble rite nor formal ostentation)
    Cry to be heard, as ’twere from heaven to earth,
    That I must call ’t in question.
  27. exploit
    a notable achievement
    If he be now returned,
    As checking at his voyage, and that he means
    No more to undertake it, I will work him
    To an exploit, now ripe in my device,
    Under the which he shall not choose but fall
  28. abatement
    the act of making less active or intense
    That we would do
    We should do when we would; for this “would” changes
    And hath abatements and delays as many
    As there are tongues, are hands, are accidents;
    And then this “should” is like a spendthrift sigh,
    That hurts by easing.
  29. spendthrift
    recklessly wasteful
    That we would do
    We should do when we would; for this “would” changes
    And hath abatements and delays as many
    As there are tongues, are hands, are accidents;
    And then this “should” is like a spendthrift sigh,
    That hurts by easing.
  30. remiss
    failing in what duty requires
    He, being remiss,
    Most generous, and free from all contriving,
    Will not peruse the foils, so that with ease,
    Or with a little shuffling, you may choose
    A sword unbated, and in a pass of practice
    Requite him for your father.
  31. peruse
    examine or consider with attention and in detail
    He, being remiss,
    Most generous, and free from all contriving,
    Will not peruse the foils, so that with ease,
    Or with a little shuffling, you may choose
    A sword unbated, and in a pass of practice
    Requite him for your father.
  32. requite
    make repayment for or return something
    He, being remiss,
    Most generous, and free from all contriving,
    Will not peruse the foils, so that with ease,
    Or with a little shuffling, you may choose
    A sword unbated, and in a pass of practice
    Requite him for your father.
  33. mountebank
    a flamboyant deceiver
    I bought an unction of a mountebank
    So mortal that, but dip a knife in it,
    Where it draws blood no cataplasm so rare,
    Collected from all simples that have virtue
    Under the moon, can save the thing from death
    That is but scratched withal.
  34. chalice
    a bowl-shaped drinking vessel
    When in your motion you are hot and dry
    (As make your bouts more violent to that end)
    And that he calls for drink, I’ll have prepared him
    A chalice for the nonce, whereon but sipping,
    If he by chance escape your venomed stuck,
    Our purpose may hold there.
  35. endue
    give qualities or abilities to
    Her clothes spread wide,
    And mermaid-like awhile they bore her up,
    Which time she chanted snatches of old lauds,
    As one incapable of her own distress
    Or like a creature native and endued
    Unto that element.
Created on April 12, 2013 (updated August 2, 2021)

Sign up now (it’s free!)

Whether you’re a teacher or a learner, Vocabulary.com can put you or your class on the path to systematic vocabulary improvement.