I do beseech you.

Origins of “beseech”?
This is one of those phrases that has, after so many years with Shakespeare, become to familiar to me, I barely notice it when it turns up in a play. I forget, sometimes, that its meaning might not be immediately obvious to a new Shakespeare reader. It’s one of those that most people can work out from context, with a little time and attention, but it can slow down some readers.

Sometimes in reading something with fresh readers, I’m called upon to explain things like this that have become so familiar to me, I ‘ve forgotten details I once knew about them.

This happened with the word “Marry” the other day – as in, “Marry, sir” as in. . .a word that doesn’t mean what we THINK it means in that context. I found myself struggling to find an appropriate paraphrase. I went with “By gum” and “By George” but after sleeping on it, I realized, “You see” would be a better equivalency.

In this case – beseech has a nice direct corollary in Beg or Implore – but it does make me curious about where it comes from.


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