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May 21, 2014
This week's theme
Words coined after Shakespearean characters

This week's words
ophelian
benedict
hamlet
bardolphian
polonian

Hamlet
Hamlet's Vision
Art: Pedro Américo, 1893

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A.Word.A.Day
with Anu Garg

Hamlet

PRONUNCIATION:
(HAM-lit)

MEANING:
noun:
1. An apprehensive, indecisive person.
2. A small village.

ETYMOLOGY:
For 1: After Hamlet, the prince of Denmark in Shakespeare's play Hamlet. The opening of Hamlet's soliloquy "To be, or not to be" is among the best-known lines in literature. Earliest documented use: 1903.
For 2: From Old French hamelet, diminutive of hamel (village), which itself is a diminutive of ham (village). Ultimately from the Indo-European root tkei- (to settle or dwell), which also gave us home, haunt, hangar, and site. Earliest documented use: 1330.

NOTES:
The idiom "Hamlet without the Prince" is used to refer to an event or a performance taking place without its main character.

USAGE:
"With some he is a Hamlet, a divided man who is always questioning himself."
John S. Dunne; Time And Myth; University of Notre Dame Press; 2012.

"The Baroness was right on one point: he was a Hamlet; his soliloquy might have run, 'To be married or not to be married / That is the question.'"
Herbert Leibowitz; "Something Urgent I Have to Say to You": The Life and Works of William Carlos Williams; Farrar, Straus, and Giroux; 2011.

See more usage examples of hamlet in Vocabulary.com's dictionary.

A THOUGHT FOR TODAY:
A man should never be ashamed to own he has been in the wrong, which is but saying, in other words, that he is wiser today than he was yesterday. -Alexander Pope, poet (1688-1744)

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