any substance that can be used as food
You had musty
victual, and he hath holp to eat it.
Earlier, Leonato declared that "a victory is twice itself when the achiever brings home full numbers." But Beatrice disagrees and insults the soldiers, especially Benedick, by comparing their easy military victory to eating musty (stale or moldy) victual.
having or showing heroism or courage
He is a very
valiant trencherman; he hath an excellent stomach.
The Latin "valere" means "be strong, have power" and in the face of danger, that means being brave. Beatrice uses both "valiant" and "excellent" to describe Benedick, so her speech sounds positive. But instead of praising his efforts in the trenches (ditches dug in the ground for protection during a war), she praises his efforts in front of a trencher (a wooden board or platter where food is served).
a minor short-term fight
They never meet but there's a
skirmish of wit between them.
limping; not able to walk steadily or properly
In our last conflict four of his five wits went
halting off, and now is the whole man govern'd with one; so that if he have wit enough to keep himself warm, let him bear it for a difference between himself and his horse; for it is all the wealth that he hath left to be known a reasonable creature.
The adjective also means "fragmentary or broken from emotional strain." This could describe Benedick's reaction to losing a battle of wits. But here, Beatrice compares Benedick's wits to an injured horse that limps away from its rider. For a soldier, a horse is a valuable weapon. Beatrice claims to have unhorsed Benedick, but she admits that he has one wit left, because otherwise, her victory would be musty victual too.
any epidemic disease with a high death rate
He is sooner caught than the
pestilence, and the taker runs presently mad.
contend against an opponent in a sport, game, or battle
Good Signior Leonato, are you come to meet your trouble? The fashion of the world is to avoid cost, and you
an emotion of great sadness associated with loss
Never came trouble to my house in the likeness of your Grace; for trouble being gone, comfort should remain; but when you depart from me,
sorrow abides and happiness takes his leave.
lack of respect accompanied by a feeling of intense dislike
Is it possible
Disdain should die while she hath such meet food to feed it as Signior Benedick? Courtesy itself must convert to
disdain if you come in her presence.
In the first example sentence, Beatrice personifies the attitude of disdain in order to respond to Benedick calling her "Lady Disdain." In the second, she personifies courtesy ("a respectful or considerate manner") to further disdain Benedick, but also to suggest that disdain is not her natural attitude but one brought on and fed by Benedick's presence.
They would else have been troubled with a
unalterably established or arranged in advance
So some gentleman or other shall scape a
predestinate scratch'd face.
bring into consonance or accord
reconciled to the Prince your brother, I owe you all duty.
The Latin "re" means "again" and "conciliare" means "to bring together, make friendly." The word suggests that a conflict has been resolved. But although Pedro has publicly forgiven John for standing against him, John has not reconciled with Pedro. As a bastard who does not have the same rights as the Prince, John does not take joy in Pedro's victories, yet he gladly accepts the invitation from his brother's friend.
any person who exercises power in a cruel way
Do you question me, as an honest man should do, for my simple true judgment? or would you have me speak after my custom, as being a professed
tyrant to their sex?
be superior or better than some standard
There's her cousin, an she were not possess'd with a fury,
exceeds her as much in beauty as the first of May doth the last of December.
I would scarce trust myself, though I had sworn the
contrary, if Hero would be my wife.
keep from happening or arising; make impossible
If my passion change not shortly, God
forbid it should be otherwise.
a person whose religious beliefs conflict with church dogma
Thou wast ever an obstinate
heretic in the despite of beauty.
Accused heretics were often given a chance to change their beliefs. But Benedick is obstinate ("unwilling to yield" or "resistant to guidance or discipline") and declares he'll rather burn at the stake than admit that Hero (or any woman) is beautiful and worthy of being loved.
treat with contemptuous disregard
flout old ends any further, examine your conscience.
press tightly together or cram
But now I am return'd and that war-thoughts
Have left their places vacant, in their rooms
thronging soft and delicate desires,
All prompting me how fair young Hero is,
Saying I lik'd her ere I went to wars.
patient endurance especially of pain or distress
If not a present remedy, at least a patient
a fungal disease of woody plants that damages the bark
I had rather be a
canker in a hedge than a rose in his grace, and it better fits my blood to be disdain'd of all than to fashion a carriage to rob love from any.
A canker is also "a pernicious and malign influence that is hard to get rid of." This definition literally describes John, but in the example sentence, he uses the word figuratively and extends the metaphor by contrasting it with the more pleasant and loving image of a rose.
grant freedom to, as from slavery or servitude
I am trusted with a muzzle and enfranchis'd with a clog; therefore I have decreed not to sing in my cage.
John uses the word "enfranchise" ironically here. Although Pedro has not thrown John into a dungeon for trying to overthrow him, he does not trust him. Thus, John describes his freedom with images of a muzzle (a leather or wire restraint put over an animal's mouth to silence or control) and a clog (any object that hinders movement, such as wooden shoes or chains).
cause to change; make different
If I had my mouth, I would bite; if I had my liberty, I would do my liking. In the meantime let me be that I am, and seek not to
a longing for something better than the present situation
Can you make no use of your
quieted and brought under control
Their cheer is the greater that I am