Oxford Illustrated Shakespeare Dictionary by David Crystal, Ben Crystal

Oxford Illustrated Shakespeare Dictionary

Written by David Crystal, Ben Crystal

13+ readers   11+ readers   YA readers   

The Lovereading4Kids comment

The Oxford Illustrated Shakespeare Dictionary is a brand new, unique, alphabetical colour dictionary of Shakespearean words and meanings, targeted to help students of 11-16 years get a better understanding of Shakespeare anywhere in the world. Ideal for GCSE and for all who love reading, studying, watching, or performing Shakespeare.

Vineeta Gupta, Head of Children’s Dictionaries at OUP, said: “This new dictionary is the perfect resource for anyone studying or reading Shakespeare, as it can be used alongside the text of the play to provide instant clarity and visual inspiration. The rich detail of this book breathes life back into Shakespeare’s words, and we hope that current and future generations will use this dictionary to harness the power of those words and discover just how relevant and exciting Shakespeare is.”

This dictionary helps students to use Shakespeare’s language to unlock the world in which his plays were written by demonstrating both the similarities and differences between then and now. “We have a lot more in common with the Elizabethans than many would realise,’ says co-author Ben, “Victorian prudery saw much of the earthiness and bawdy humour of Shakespeare sanitized for the social customs of the time. These days we are much more open about such matters.”

And David added, “The type of words we use tell other people about the world we live in, and about the thoughts, beliefs, and feelings that we have. Exploring Shakespeare’s vocabulary gives us an insight into the ways Elizabethan people thought, but in some cases the meanings of the words have changed so much, things can get lost in translation.”

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Oxford Illustrated Shakespeare Dictionary by David Crystal, Ben Crystal

The Oxford Illustrated Shakespeare Dictionary is the first of its kind, a brand new illustrated alphabetical dictionary of all the words and meanings students of Shakespeare need to know. Every word has an example sentence selected from the twelve most studied plays, including Macbeth, Hamlet, Romeo and Juliet, A Midsummer Night's Dream, and Henry V. Usage notes and theatre notes provide additional background to Shakespearean times and the performance of his plays.

Further support is provided by language panels on select topics like the humours, swearing, and stage directions, and full-colour illustrated thematic spreads on special feature topics from clothes and armour to music and recreation.

The dictionary is easy to use with its clear signposting, accessible design, and expertly levelled contemporary look and feel. It is the perfect support for a full understanding of Shakespeare, created by renowned authors Professor David Crystal and actor Ben Crystal, a father and son team who combine for the first time the academic and the theatre, bringing together language, literature, and lexicography in this unique Shakespeare dictionary of global appeal.

Some funny Shakespearean Expressions!
• fie disgust and contempt
• a fig said of anything that is small and has no value
• fig’s end even smaller than a fig!
• pish strong anger and disgust
• tilly-vally impatient denial, similar to modern ‘fiddlesticks’ or ‘nonsense’


From the Guardian: "Stunningly useful book...From tripe-visaged rascal to ass-head… William Shakespeare...knew how to put someone down in style. David and Ben Crystal, authors of the Oxford Illustrated Shakespeare Dictionary, help you work out which insults to use and when!

1.Hermia calls Helena a “painted maypole” - presumably because she is tall, thin, and wears a lot of makeup in A Midsummer Night’s Dream.

2. Maria calls Malvolio “a time-pleaser, an affectioned ass” - a follower of fashion and a pretentious idiot in Twelfth Night.

3. The Welsh Captain describes Pistol as a “rascally, scald [scabby], beggarly, lousy, pragging [show-off] knave” in Henry 5.

4. Sebastian calls the Boatswain a “bawling, blasphemous, incharitable dog” in The Tempest.

5. Kent says Oswald is a “knave, beggar, coward, pander [pimp], and the son and heir of a mongrel bitch” in King Lear.

6. Antonio describes Claudio and Don Pedro as “scambling, outfacing, fashion-monging boys” - quarrelsome, bluffing, and dandified in Much Ado About Nothing.

7. Sir Toby calls Sir Andrew “an ass-head, and a coxcomb, and a knave, a thin-faced knave, a gull!” - a simpleton in Twelfth Night.

8. Kent describes Oswald as a “base foot-ball player” - a game of the gutter that nobles would never dream of playing in King Lear.

9. Prince Hal calls Falstaff a “whoreson impudent embossed rascal” - literally, the son of a prostitute, and moreover one who’s swollen or bulging out, like a boil in Henry IV Part 1.

10. Doll harangues the Beadle who is about to arrest her: “thou damned tripe-visaged rascal … thou paper-faced villain” in Henry IV Part 2.Many thanks"

About the Author

David Crystal is known throughout the world as a writer, editor, lecturer and broadcaster on language. He has published extensively on the history and development of English, including The Stories of English (2004), Evolving English (2010), Begat: The King James Bible and the English Language (2010), The Story of English in 100 Words (2011), Spell It Out: The Singular Story of English Spelling (2012), and Wordsmiths and Warriors: The English-Language Tourist's Guide to Britain (with Hilary Crystal, 2013). Ben Crystal is an actor, writer, and producer. Along with books co-written with his father, he wrote a series of introductions to Shakespeare's plays for Arden called Springboard Shakespeare and his Shakespeare on Toast was shortlisted for the Educational Writer of the Year Award. He and his ensemble perform Shakespeare in original pronunciation (OP) and give workshops around the world.

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Book Info


352 pages


David Crystal, Ben Crystal
More books by David Crystal, Ben Crystal


Oxford University Press

Publication date

17th April 2015




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