'Macbeth' Vocabulary

Understanding the vocabulary of Macbeth is essential to understanding the play as a whole. This Macbeth vocabulary guide includes a diverse array of words that connect to the play's narrative, with definitions and examples from the text provided.

01
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Beldam

Definition: an old woman, a hag

Example: "Have I not reason, beldams as you are?"

02
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Compunctious

Definition: showing remorse

Example: "Make thick my blood, / Stop up th’access and passage to remorse, / That no compunctious visitings of nature / Shake my fell purpose, nor keep peace between / Th’ effect and it."

03
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Dolor

Definition: sorrow, sadness

Example: "Each new morn / New widows howl, new orphans cry, new sorrows / Strike heaven on the face, that it resounds / As if it felt with Scotland and yelled out / Like syllable of dolor."

04
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Equivocator

Definition: someone who speaks ambiguously and without answering one way or another, often in order to avoid commitment

Example: "Faith, here’s an equivocator / that could swear in both the scales against either / scale, who committed treason enough for God’s / sake yet could not equivocate to heaven."

05
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Ecstasy

Definition: a frenzy, an out-of-control state; or an overwhelming sense of happiness

Example: "Better be with the dead, / Whom we, to gain our peace, have sent to peace, / Than on the torture of the mind to lie / In restless ecstasy."

06
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Harbinger

Definition: someone who announces or precedes something else

Example: "I'll be myself the harbinger and make joyful / The hearing of my wife with your approach. / So humbly take my leave."

07
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Hurly-Burly

Definition: an active, busy, noisy activity

Example: "When the hurly-burly's done, / When the battle's lost and won."

08
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Incarnadine

Definition: crimson-colored; or, to make something crimson-colored

Example: "Will all great Neptune’s ocean wash this blood / Clean from my hand?No, this my hand will rather / The multitudinous seas incarnadine, / Making the green one red."

09
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Interim

Definition: the time between one event and another

Example: "Think upon what hath chanced, / and at more time, / The interim having weighed it, let us speak / Our free hearts each to other."

10
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Nonpareil

Definition: unmatched, without equal

Example: "Thou art the best o’ th’ cutthroats, / Yet he’s good that did the like for Fleance. / If thou didst it, thou art the nonpareil."

11
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Knell

Definition: the sound of a bell, typically solemn and marking a death

Example: "I go, and it is done. The bell invites me. / Hear it not, Duncan, for it is a knell / That summons thee to heaven or to hell."

12
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Warder

Definition: a guard

Example: "...his two chamberlains / Will I with wine and wassail so convince / That memory, the warder of the brain, / Shall be a fume, and the receipt of reason / A limbeck only."

13
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Rouse

Definition: to awaken, to stir (as in becoming conscious after sleep)

Example: "The time has been my senses would have cooled / To hear a night-shriek, and my fell of hair / Would at a dismal treatise rouse and stir / As life were in ’t."

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Accursed

Definition: doomed, under a curse

Example: "Some holy angel / Fly to the court of England and unfold / His message ere he come, that a swift blessing / May soon return to this our suffering country / Under a hand accursed."

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Pernicious

Definition: causing harm in a gradual, slow-building way

Example: "This avarice / Sticks deeper, grows with more pernicious root / Than summer-seeming lust..."