A Glossary To Speaking Forsooth Part 1

*** This is Part 1 of a multi-part series. Download a free version of this article in PDF format from the Freebies page at Raymond Towers Dot Com. ***

A Glossary To Speaking Forsooth

Compiled By Raymond Towers

Every so often, especially when writing humorous or witty short stories, I will have my characters banter back and forth in colloquial dialects or specialized slang, such as that used by the military. Speaking Forsooth falls into this category. After browsing the Internet, and more specifically Youtube, for a quick and easy intermediate level glossary, and after failing to find one that was longer than the ten or fifteen most popular words, I have decided to create a glossary of my own. The result is this fairly comprehensive compilation, put together from various informed sources and sites that offered PDF copies I could download and browse through at my leisure. Sources are credited at the end.

(This article first appeared in the June 2019 issue of Verum Et Inventa magazine.)

Table Of Contents

In General






In General

Speaking Forsooth is also known as speaking Post-Chaucerian, Elizabethan or Shakespearian English. The best example of Forsooth can be found by reading through the King James Version of the Bible. This dialect of English was spoken between 1558 and 1603 CE in England, during a time when people stretched out their sentences and said more words to color their speech than what we use in today’s shorter, more practical conversations. In other words, the English language was more artistic then, especially in plays and poetry.

Pronunciation was different as well, as shown in the following examples:

Head – spoken as Haid

Bread – Braid

Dead – Daid

Mercy – Maircy

In poetry, a lot of contractions were used to maintain iambic parameter:

Even – E’en

Ever – E’er

Never – Ne’er

It Was – Twas

For the purposes of this guide, however, I will stick to the most widely used words and terms. That should be enough to give your story characters something to chew on, if used sporadically. Be careful not to include too much vernacular as to overwhelm the casual reader.



Words In Forsooth – are followed by their modern equivalents.


A-pieces – in pieces, to make into pieces, such as tearing an overdue bill

Acatharsy – pus filled bandage, can be used as an insult

Ado – commotion, trouble

Adieu – farewell

Afore – before, in front of

Agone – ago

Ague – cold or fever

Ajax – privy, outhouse, can be used as insult against smelly person

Alack! Alas! Down Upon It! – Darn! (can also express sorrow)

Alarum – a call to arms for an attack, similar to alarm

Ale-knight – habitual drunkard

Allottery – a share or potion granted, inheritance

Amain – with full force toward, or full spread toward

Amorous – pertaining to love, fond of, in love

An – if

Anon – soon, at once, immediately, also ‘I’m coming!’

Annoyous – annoying, irritating, vexing

Antic, Antick – bizarre, crazy, odd, fantastic

Anywhen – at any time

Apace – quickly

Aroint – stand off, begone, away (an order)

Arras – a tapestry

Art – skill, such as in medicine, painting, design, etc.

Artificial – pertaining to artistic skills, cunning and skillful in deceit

Astonied – astonished

Astrologaster – false or fake astrologer

Aught – anything

Avaunt – exclamation of contempt or abhorrence, meant to drive one away

Axwaddle – lazy person

Ay, Aye – yes (pronounced ‘eye’)

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