Analysis Pages

Vocabulary in Sir Gawain and the Green Knight

Vocabulary Examples in Sir Gawain and the Green Knight:

Fytte the First

🔒 61

"blench..."   (Fytte the First)

“Blench” means to draw back or turn aside for lack of courage.

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"minstrelsy..."   (Fytte the First)

In context, “minstrelsy” refers to a body of songs performed by a minstrel, a medieval musician who sang verses while accompanied by the playing of a harp.

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"the board..."   (Fytte the First)

The “board” is the dining table covered with food at the feast.

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"avouch..."   (Fytte the First)

To “avouch” means to affirm, assert, or state.

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"semblance..."   (Fytte the First)

“Semblance” refers to the outward appearance of something, especially if the reality of it is different.

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"wist..."   (Fytte the First)

As “wist” is used here, it means knew or had some knowledge of.

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"recreant..."   (Fytte the First)

“Recreant” means cowardly.

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"light smartly..."   (Fytte the First)

The phrase “light smartly” means to land in a quick manner.

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"crown..."   (Fytte the First)

His “crown” is the top of his head.

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"by thy troth..."   (Fytte the First)

“Troth” refer to a pledge or vow; "by thy troth" means "by your word" or "by your promise."

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"the covenant..."   (Fytte the First)

A covenant is an agreement or a pact between two parties.

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"thrive..."   (Fytte the First)

In this instance, “thrive” means to advance toward a goal.

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"buffet..."   (Fytte the First)

In context, “buffet” means a forceful blow.

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"shrinking never a whit..."   (Fytte the First)

In context, “shrinking” means recoiling or backing away from something terrible or fearful. A “whit” is the smallest possible amount of something.

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"cousin..."   (Fytte the First)

Gawain is Arthur’s nephew. The word “cousin” is used here to mean a relative.

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"I beseech now with all courtesy that this affair might be mine...."   (Fytte the First)

“Beseech” means to beg; “courtesy” as it is used here means respect. Gawain is essentially asking, as politely as he can, that Arthur allow him to accept the Green Knight's challenge.

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"countenance..."   (Fytte the First)

“Countenance” refers to an expression on the face that indicates mood, emotion, or character.

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"behooves..."   (Fytte the First)

As “behooves” is used here, it means obligates.

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"hie..."   (Fytte the First)

“Hie” means to hurry or act at once.

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"the boon..."   (Fytte the First)

A “boon” is a benefit given in answer to a request.

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"gisarm..."   (Fytte the First)

“Gisarm” is the type of axe the Green Knight carries, a scythe-shaped blade mounted on a long staff or handle.

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"gallants..."   (Fytte the First)

“Gallants” refers to Arthur and his knights, who are “gallant,” meaning brave and daring.

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"cravest..."   (Fytte the First)

“Cravest” means “to crave.” The word “crave” means to desire; as an archaic word, “crave” means to seek or call for.

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"weeds..."   (Fytte the First)

In context, “weeds” refers to the Green Knight’s clothing or garments.

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"ween..."   (Fytte the First)

“Ween” is an archaic word that means to suppose.

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"the wightest and the worthiest of the world’s kind..."   (Fytte the First)

In context, “wightest” can be inferred to mean the strongest and most active or engaged. Note too the alliteration in “wightest,” “worthiest,” and “world’s,” with the repeated “W” sound. The Green Knight’s use of alliteration draws attention to his words, emphasizing his presence in Arthur’s court.

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"hostel..."   (Fytte the First)

As an archaic word, a “hostel” is an inn that provides accommodations for travelers. Arthur uses the word to indicate that the Green Knight is welcome to stay and that his needs or desires will be met.

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"the wight. ..."   (Fytte the First)

In context, “wight” means a phantom or other supernatural being.

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"renowned..."   (Fytte the First)

“Renowned” means famous, distinguished, or acclaimed. The Green Knight is looking for someone worthy.

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"gan ponder..."   (Fytte the First)

The phrase “gan ponder” can be read as “began to ponder”; “ponder” means to think carefully about something before reaching a decision.

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"the helve..."   (Fytte the First)

“Helve” refers to the handle of a weapon, in this case the handle of the Green Knight’s axe.

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"engraven..."   (Fytte the First)

“Engraven” means engraved, cut or carved on a hard surface.

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"the bit..."   (Fytte the First)

A bit is the cutting edge of an axe head.

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"an ellyard..."   (Fytte the First)

An ellyard is about 3.75 feet in length.

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"prodigious..."   (Fytte the First)

“Prodigious” means enormous or remarkably large.

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"He had neither helm nor hauberk, nor gorget, armour nor breastplate, nor shaft nor shield to guard or to smite..."   (Fytte the First)

“Helm” refers to a helmet. A “hauberk” is a piece of armor covering the neck and shoulders; a “gorget” is a piece of armor covering the throat. In context, “armour,” a variant spelling of “armor,” is a full-length coat of armor that covers the body, whereas while a breastplate specifically covers the chest. “Shaft” refers to the lance a knight would carry into battle, and to “smite” means to strike with a strong blow. Without a lance or a shield, the Green Knight is not prepared to strike his enemies or protect himself from their blows. The passage establishes that the Green Knight has not come to Arthur’s court to fight.

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"a thong..."   (Fytte the First)

A thong is a narrow strip of leather or some other material used as a fastening device.

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"the dock..."   (Fytte the First)

The horse’s “dock” is the bony, fleshy part of his tail, excluding the hair.

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"crupper..."   (Fytte the First)

A “crupper” is a strap buckled to the back of a saddle and looped under the horse's tail to prevent the saddle from slipping forward.

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"the pendants of the poitrel..."   (Fytte the First)

A “poitrel” is a medieval often richly decorated piece of armor used to protect the breast of a horse. The poitrel on the Green Knight’s horse is decorated with “pendants,” pieces of jewelry that hang from a chain.

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"gay gauds of green..."   (Fytte the First)

“Gauds” are things that are showy and merely ornamental. The alliteration of the "G" sound is also present in this clause to emphasize how extravagantly green the knight is.

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"the trifles..."   (Fytte the First)

“Trifles” refers to many small, showy decorations.

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"vesture verily was clean verdure..."   (Fytte the First)

“Vesture” is clothing. “Verdure” is the fresh green color of vegetation; “clean verdure” implies that his clothing was only green, absent any other color. Note too the alliteration of the repeated "V" sound, which emphasizes this phrase.

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"a fair mantle..."   (Fytte the First)

In context, “fair” is an archaic word meaning beautiful or attractive. A mantle is a cloak or cape, often with an attached hood. The green knight is wearing a good-looking outfit, suggesting a higher level of status.

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"foison of fresh viands..."   (Fytte the First)

“Foison” is an archaic word that means an abundance; “viands” are articles of food, usually the best food.

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"undaunted..."   (Fytte the First)

In context, “undaunted” means determined in pursuing a purpose or objective.

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"uncouth..."   (Fytte the First)

In context, “uncouth” means strange or unusual.

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"chivalry..."   (Fytte the First)

“Chivalry” refers to the customs and code of conduct observed by knights in the Middle Ages. Developed during the 1100s and 1200s, chivalry includes the ideals of valor, generosity, courtesy, loyalty, humility, faith in Christianity, and skill in battle.

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"tapestries of Tars..."   (Fytte the First)

A tapestry is a work of art, a thick fabric woven or embroidered to create pictures or designs. The tapestries of Tars refers to particular tapestries from the Central and Eastern Asia noted for their beauty.

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"the best man ever above, as it best behoved..."   (Fytte the First)

“The best man” refers to Arthur, who sits “ever above,” meaning that he always sits on the dais, a raised platform. “Behoved” is a variant spelling of “behooved”; the phrase “as it best behoved” means that it was most fitting and appropriate for Arthur to sit on the dais above others in the hall.

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"trow..."   (Fytte the First)

“Trow” is an archaic word meaning to think, believe, or understand.

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"wroth..."   (Fytte the First)

“Wroth” is an archaic word meaning angry or irate.

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"handsel..."   (Fytte the First)

“Handsel” is a New Year’s gift given for good luck.

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"the court was served double on the dais..."   (Fytte the First)

The “dais” is a somewhat elevated platform in the hall; seats on the dais are places of honor. Being “served double” means that two diners shared a platter and cup, rather than eating from communal dishes. Being “served double” suggests that there was a great deal of food at the feast.

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"comeliest..."   (Fytte the First)

“Comeliest” means most attractive or most handsome; it also means most suitable, which would also be an appropriate description of Arthur as a king.

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"the weal..."   (Fytte the First)

In context, “weal” means wealth and well-being. It is derived from the Old English word “wela.”

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"merry tumult, glorious to hear; joyful din..."   (Fytte the First)

“Tumult” and “din” are synonyms meaning noisy confusion, commotion, or disorder. Their being “merry” and “joyful” further emphasizes the happy, celebratory mood in Arthur’s court.

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"to make carols..."   (Fytte the First)

The phrase “to make carols” refers to singing Christmas carols or songs.

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"tourneyed betimes, jousted full gaily..."   (Fytte the First)

Jousting tournaments or contests were popular entertainment in the Middle Ages. Mounted on horses and armed with blunted lances, two contestants would ride directly at each another; each would attempt to unseat his opponent by using his lance to push the other off his horse. In context, the word “betimes” means early in the day. Arthur’s knights jousting “full gaily” implies that they jousted in the spirit of fun and comradeship.

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"lay..."   (Fytte the First)

A lay is a simple narrative poem or ballad.

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"Arthur was ever the most courteous..."   (Fytte the First)

In context, “courteous” means more than polite and well mannered; it also means chivalrous, gallant, and gracious.

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"jest..."   (Fytte the Second)

“Jest” can be interpreted as a game or a form of entertainment; it also can be interpreted as a joke or deceit, which seems to foreshadow subsequent events in the story.

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"hest..."   (Fytte the Second)

“Hest” is an archaic form of “behest”; in context, it means a request or desire.

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"it behooves me to wend..."   (Fytte the Second)

“Behooves” is used here to mean obligates.

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"statute..."   (Fytte the Second)

In context, “statute” refers to a demand that is part of an agreement.

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"wend..."   (Fytte the Second)

“Wend” means to go in a specified direction.

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"belike..."   (Fytte the Second)

“Belike” is an archaic word for probably or perhaps.

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"arduous..."   (Fytte the Second)

“Arduous” means laborious and tiring.

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"to glad Sir Gawain with games in the hall that night. When it came time the king commanded lights; Sir Gawain took his leave and went to his bed...."   (Fytte the Second)

In context, “to glad Sir Gawain” means to entertain him so that he will enjoy himself. The phrase “the king commanded lights” indicates that the lord, here referred to as “the king,” called for torches to light the way for those assembled to go to their beds.

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"mien..."   (Fytte the Second)

“Mien” refers to a person’s look or facial expression.

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"the parlour..."   (Fytte the Second)

A “parlour,” the English spelling of “parlor,” is a sitting room where guests are received.

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"forsooth!..."   (Fytte the Second)

“Forsooth” means “indeed.” It is sometimes used to imply contempt or doubt. The exclamation point following “forsooth” suggests that here it is used humorously or ironically.

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"tricked..."   (Fytte the Second)

“Tricked” may be used here to mean “tricked out,” referring to dressing or decorating something in an elaborate or extravagant way. The term is known to date to 1576, but its earliest entry into English vernacular is not known.

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"a gorget..."   (Fytte the Second)

A gorget is an article of clothing that covers the throat.

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"The kerchiefs of the one broidered with many clear pearls..."   (Fytte the Second)

“Broidered” means “embroidered,” indicating that the kerchiefs were decorated with thread sewn in patterns on the face of the fabric; in this case, the embroidery secured pearls to the fabric, making it especially beautiful.

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"the chancel..."   (Fytte the Second)

A chancel is the part of a church near the altar, reserved for the clergy and choir; it is usually separated from the main body of the sanctuary by steps or a rail.

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"demeanour..."   (Fytte the Second)

“Demeanour” is an English spelling for “demeanor,” a person’s outward behavior or bearing; it can also refer to someone’s manner or appearance.

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"wight..."   (Fytte the Second)

“Wight” is an archaic word for a specified person.

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"The Lord turns thither..."   (Fytte the Second)

“Thither” means to go toward a place. Going toward the chapel, the lady of the castle, presumably the lord’s wife, goes into her room, while Gawain and the lord proceed to the chapel.

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"evensong..."   (Fytte the Second)

“Evensong” refers to a church service of evening prayers, psalms, scripture readings, and hymns of praise.

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"discourse..."   (Fytte the Second)

“Discourse” means discussion or conversation.

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"—double fold as was proper—with pottages..."   (Fytte the Second)

Gawain’s being served “double fold” suggests that he was given large portions of food. “Pottages” refers to thick soups or stews made with vegetables and grains.

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"mantle..."   (Fytte the Second)

A mantle is a cloak.

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"counterpanes..."   (Fytte the Second)

A counterpane is a comforter or throw, such as a quilt.

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"chimney..."   (Fytte the Second)

“Chimney” refers here to an open fireplace where wood or charcoal is burned.

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"the hero was despoiled of his burnie and of his bright weeds...."   (Fytte the Second)

As “despoiled” is used here, it means stripped; Gawain was undressed by the attendants, who removed his armor and clothing.

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"a bright bower where the bedding was curtains of pure silk with clear gold hems, and covertures right curious with comely borders, adorned above with bright fur...."   (Fytte the Second)

In context, a “bower” is a private bedroom in the castle. The passage describes the bed, which is enclosed with silk curtains that hang from a canopy or frame above it. “Covertures” are coverings, referring to the covers on the bed.

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"a retinue to serve him in lowly wise..."   (Fytte the Second)

“Retinue” refers to a group of attendants; “in lowly wise” means in every way.

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"Firm-gaited was he on his stalwart limbs..."   (Fytte the Second)

“Gait” refers to a manner of walking or moving on foot; “stalwart” means possessing great strength, and “limbs” refers to a person’s legs. The description of the lord indicates that he had not been physically diminished by old age.

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"a huge warrior for the nonce, and of great age...."   (Fytte the Second)

“Nonce” means on one occasion or for the time being; “of great age” can be interpreted to mean that the lord was an old man.

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"Gramercy..."   (Fytte the Second)

“Gramercy” is an archaic word used as an interjection to express surprise or strong emotion. Gawain is no doubt surprised and deeply appreciative of the lord’s generosity.

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"draw..."   (Fytte the Second)

“Draw” refers to the drawbridge over the moat.

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"trow..."   (Fytte the Second)

“Trow” means to think or believe.

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"the crenellations..."   (Fytte the Second)

“Crenellations” is another word for the battlements of a castle.

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"barbican..."   (Fytte the Second)

“Barbican” refers to the outer defenses of a castle, especially a tower that guards a gate or bridge over a moat.

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"corbelled under the battlement..."   (Fytte the Second)

A battlement is a low protective wall at the edge of a castle’s roof; it is designed with openings through which weapons can be fired at enemies below. A battlement extends over the edge of the roof and is supported with “corbels,” heavy stone structures that steep upward and outward from the castle’s vertical wall.

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"bon hostel..."   (Fytte the Second)

Translated from French, “bon” means good; in Middle English, “hostel” meant a lodging or dwelling place.

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"doffed his helm..."   (Fytte the Second)

“Doff” means to take off a piece of clothing, especially a hat. Gawain took off his helmet as a sign of respect.

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"pinnacled..."   (Fytte the Second)

“Pinnacled” refers to high, pointed pieces of rock set upon the tops of the castle’s walls.

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"the ditches..."   (Fytte the Second)

“Ditches” refers to moats surrounding the castle, ditches deep and wide filled with water that help defend the castle from attack.

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"Oft-times he blessed himself,..."   (Fytte the Second)

Gawain’s blessing himself refers to his making the sign of the cross upon his chest, a ritual blessing in the Catholic church.

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"lamented..."   (Fytte the Second)

“Lamented” means expressed grief or sorrow.

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"I pray my pater and ave and creed..."   (Fytte the Second)

“I pray my pater and ave and creed” refers to prayers Gawain says as he rides. “Pater” is Latin for father; “my pater” refers to the Lord’s prayer that begins, “Our father who art in heaven.” “Ave,” which means “hail” in Latin, refers to the Ave Maria prayer, which begins, “Hail Mary, full of grace.” “Creed” refers to the Apostles Creed, a statement of Christian faith that begins, “I believe in God, the Father Almighty.”

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"matins..."   (Fytte the Second)

Matins are morning prayers.

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"that Sire who on that very night was born of a lady to quell our pain..."   (Fytte the Second)

“Sire” is an allusion to Jesus Christ, and “born of a lady” refers to his mother, the Virgin Mary. “Quell” means to quiet or to stop. The passage depicts Jesus as having been born to save and comfort humankind.

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"mire..."   (Fytte the Second)

“Mire” is wet spongy earth, such as in a bog or marsh.

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"unblithe..."   (Fytte the Second)

“Unblithe” means dispirited and gloomy.

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"hazel and the hawthorn..."   (Fytte the Second)

“Hazel” refers to shrubs or small trees in the birch family; “hawthorn” refers to shrubs or small trees in the rose family.

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"hoar..."   (Fytte the Second)

In context, “hoar,” or “hoary,” means very old or ancient.

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"At that tide to Mary he made his moan..."   (Fytte the Second)

In context, “tide” refers to an anniversary or festival that is observed in Christianity, in this case Christmas. The phrase “to Mary he made his moan” means that Gawain prayed to the Virgin Mary.

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"doughty and stern..."   (Fytte the Second)

“Doughty” means brave and persistent; “stern” as it is used here means serious, unrelenting, and disciplined.

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"Wirrel..."   (Fytte the Second)

“Wirrel” refers to the Wirral, a peninsula in northwest England that forms a boundary with Wales.

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"the isles of Anglesey..."   (Fytte the Second)

Anglesey is an island and a collection of islets off the northwestern coast of Wales.

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"friths and downs..."   (Fytte the Second)

“Frith” is an archaic spelling of “firth,” which is an inlet from the sea; “downs” refers to rounded, grass-covered hills found in the south of England.

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"wightly..."   (Fytte the Second)

“Wightly” means swiftly.

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"gay..."   (Fytte the Second)

Though less commonly used in this way today, “gay” means bright, colorful, and attractive, a fitting description of Gawain’s apparel and armor.

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"sundered..."   (Fytte the Second)

“Sundered” means split up or disjoined.

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"abated..."   (Fytte the Second)

“Abated” means decreased or weakened.

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"affiance..."   (Fytte the Second)

In context, “affiance” is an archaic word meaning trust or confidence.

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"the baldric..."   (Fytte the Second)

“Baldric” refers to a belt or strap connected to Gawain’s shield that allowed him to carry it on his body.

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"sheer gules, with the pentangle..."   (Fytte the Second)

In context, “sheer” means vertical, and gules is the color red used in painting or engraving a coat of arms; the field of red on Gawain’s shield is created with closely drawn vertical lines of red that are parallel. A pentangle is a five-pointed star drawn in a continuous line of five straight segments; the pentangle on Gawain’s shield is a central symbol in the story.

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"The circlet that surrounded his crown..."   (Fytte the Second)

As “crown” is used here, it refers to the top of Gawain’s head, and the “circlet” is a coronet or a decorated circular band of metal he wears on his head.

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"true-loves..."   (Fytte the Second)

“True-loves” refers to “true lover’s” knots,” knots tied in two separate cords and constructed so that the two knots intertwine; since antiquity, true lover’s knots have symbolized love, friendship, loyalty, and affection.

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"turtle-doves..."   (Fytte the Second)

Turtle doves are small gray birds with beautiful plumage, including gold-laced feathers on their wings. They coo to their mates and stay with them for life; for centuries, turtle doves have symbolized love and devotion.

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"popinjays..."   (Fytte the Second)

“Popinjay” is an archaic word for a parrot.

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"a light urison7 over the ventail..."   (Fytte the Second)

A urison is a decorative scarf; the ventail is the visor on Gawain’s helmet.

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"caparison..."   (Fytte the Second)

A caparison is an ornamental covering spread over a horse’s saddle for decoration.

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"hasped in arms his harness was rich..."   (Fytte the Second)

In context, “hasped” means locked or cinched into his armor, and “harness” refers to Gawain’s armor and other gear, all of the finest quality.

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"a sure brand girt about his side by a silken sash..."   (Fytte the Second)

In Old English, “brand” is a poetic name for a sword; Gawain’s sword is “sure,” suggesting that it is strong and reliable; it is “girt” or tied by his side with a sash made of silk, in keeping with Gawain’s high position in Arthur’s court and the splendid nature of his attire as he sets out on his quest for the Green Knight.

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"burnie..."   (Fytte the Second)

“Burnie” or “byrnie” is flexible body armor made of interlinked metal rings.

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"cuisses..."   (Fytte the Second)

A cuisse is a piece of plate armor that protects the front of the thigh.

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"poleynes..."   (Fytte the Second)

Poleynes are pieces of armor that protect the knees.

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"greaves..."   (Fytte the Second)

Greaves are pieces of armor that cover the shin.

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"sabatons..."   (Fytte the Second)

A sabaton is a piece of armor designed to cover the foot and features a blunt toe.

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"a well wrought hood..."   (Fytte the Second)

“Well wrought” means well-made or well-constructed. A hood is worn under a knight’s helmet.

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"Allhallows day..."   (Fytte the Second)

“Allhallows day” refers to All Hallows Day, a feast day on November 1 in the Christian calendar that honors all the saints in Catholic church.

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"Michelmas..."   (Fytte the Second)

“Michelmas” is a variant spelling of “Michaelmas” and alludes to the feast of St. Michael, a Christian celebration observed on September 29.

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"that erst was green. Then all ripes..."   (Fytte the Second)

“Erst” is an archaic word that means formerly or previously; “ripes” is used here to mean ripens, to grow to maturity.

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"The wild wind of the welkin wrestles with the sun...."   (Fytte the Second)

“Welkin” refers to the sky or the heavens, and the alliteration in this line—the repeated “W” sound—emphasizes the changes that the turning of the seasons brings.

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"copiously..."   (Fytte the Second)

“Copiously” means in large quantities and here details the abundance of rain.

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"the crabbed Lent, that tries the flesh with fish..."   (Fytte the Second)

In the Christian faith, Lent is a period of personal sacrifice in preparation for the observance of Easter, which celebrates the resurrection of Jesus Christ after his death by crucifixion. In context, “crabbed” describes Lent as a miserable time. In the Roman Catholic church, the predominant religion in England at the time, eating meat during Lent was forbidden; the faithful ate fish instead.

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"Although there was little news when they went to their seats, now they are provided with stern work,..."   (Fytte the Second)

As “stern” is used here, it means putting someone under extreme pressure. After the Green Knight’s sudden appearance at Arthur’s feast, Arthur and his knights could not ignore his subsequent insults; the Green Knight’s challenge to their courage and reputation had to be accepted.

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"This hansel of adventures had Arthur at the beginning, in the young year,..."   (Fytte the Second)

The second part of the story begins by recalling the setting of the first part when Arthur gathered his court for the holiday feast. In context, “hansel” means a gift to mark the start of an undertaking, in this case the beginning of a new year. “This hansel of adventures” is an implied metaphor, a figure of speech that describes one thing by implying that it is something else; Arthur’s “adventures” are described by implying that they are a gift to him.

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"sojourn..."   (Fytte the Third)

A “sojourn” is a temporary stay.

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"by the rood...."   (Fytte the Third)

A “rood” is a cross or a crucifix; unlike a cross, a crucifix depicts the crucifixion of Jesus with his body nailed to a cross. “By the rood” is an expression used here for emphasis.

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"foul fox-fell; the fiend have the good ones!..."   (Fytte the Third)

In context, “foul” means offensive and disgusting, especially in regard to smell. “Fox-fell” refers to the pelt or coat cut off the fox. The passage, “the fiend have the good one,” is a jest, with “fiend” referring to the devil.

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"surcoat..."   (Fytte the Third)

A “surcoat” is a fine garment worn over other clothes, often indoors.

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"bare..."   (Fytte the Third)

“Bare” is used here to mean “bore” or carried.

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"forthwith..."   (Fytte the Third)

“Forthwith” means immediately or at once.

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"The man was ware of the game, and warily abode;..."   (Fytte the Third)

“Ware of” is an archaic expression meaning “aware of.” The word “game” refers to animals or birds hunted for food or sport, in this case the fox. In context, “warily” means cautiously, alertly, or watchfully, and “abode” means waited or stayed.

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"assoils..."   (Fytte the Third)

“Assoils” is an archaic word for absolves or pardons.

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"Then he shrives him cleanly and shows his misdeeds, both the more and the less, beseeches mercy, and begs for absolution...."   (Fytte the Third)

The passage relates to the sacrament of confession in the Catholic church through which sinners are reconciled with God by confessing their sins to a priest and receiving absolution or forgiveness. In context, “shrives” means that Gawain presents himself to the priest for confession.

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"a jewel..."   (Fytte the Third)

As “jewel” is used here, it means a very valuable thing.

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"peradventure..."   (Fytte the Third)

“Peradventure” is used here to mean “perhaps.”

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"kirtle..."   (Fytte the Third)

A “kirtle” is a woman’s gown.

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"girdle..."   (Fytte the Third)

“Girdle” refers to a belt or sash worn about the waist.

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"severed..."   (Fytte the Third)

In context, “severed” means separated.

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"tressour..."   (Fytte the Third)

A “tressour” is a head covering placed on a woman’s hair and worn indoors.

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"meetly..."   (Fytte the Third)

“Meetly” means suitably or properly.

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"and oft he reeled in again, so wily was Reynard...."   (Fytte the Third)

The fox cleverly zigzagged through the terrain making it harder to catch him. “Wily” means skilled at gaining an advantage, especially by being devious.

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"the ticklers were at his tail so that he could not tarry...."   (Fytte the Third)

“Ticklers” refers to the hunters and the dogs who pursue the fox very closely, making it impossible for him to “tarry,” meaning to linger or stay in one place.

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"blenched..."   (Fytte the Third)

“Blenched” means flinched or recoiled suddenly out of fear or pain.

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"spinny..."   (Fytte the Third)

A “spinny” is a thicket or grove of trees with undergrowth.

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"trants..."   (Fytte the Third)

“Trants” means twists or turns.

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"a rabble on Reynard’s..."   (Fytte the Third)

In context, “rabble” means a group or a pack. “Reynard” is a literary name for a fox.

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"kennet..."   (Fytte the Third)

A “kennet” is a small hunting dog used in medieval England.

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"obliquely..."   (Fytte the Third)

“Obliquely” means indirectly or not in a straight line.

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"a holt side..."   (Fytte the Third)

“Holt side” means beside a “holt,” an animal’s den. In this case, it is a fox’s den.

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"Wondrous fair was the field, for the frost still lingered. The sun rose in a rack of ruddy red, and drove all the clouds from the welkin..."   (Fytte the Third)

“Rack” is an archaic word that describes clouds driven by the wind. The passage creates a visual image of the countryside on a frosty winter morning as the sun rises in a cloudless sky.

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"dight..."   (Fytte the Third)

In this case, “dight” is used to mean clothed or equipped.

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"in various wise..."   (Fytte the Third)

The phrase means “in various ways.”

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"chaffer..."   (Fytte the Third)

The archaic word “chaffer” is used here to mean a hard bargain.

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"the tale of the girth37 and the length of the wild swine..."   (Fytte the Third)

In the context of the passage, which describes the size of the boar, “girth” seems to refer to the width or bulk of the swine, as opposed to the length of his body.

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"the brawn in fine broad shields, and has out the hastlets..."   (Fytte the Third)

“Brawn” is a British word for the flesh of a boar. “Shields” are most likely slabs of meat, while “hastlets” are particular cuts of meat, possibly those that are especially desirable.

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"courser..."   (Fytte the Third)

A courser is a swift, spirited horse.

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"whet..."   (Fytte the Third)

As “whet” is used here, it means to sharpen or grind.

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"burn..."   (Fytte the Third)

In context, “burn” refers to a small stream or brook.

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"maugre..."   (Fytte the Third)

“Maugre” means despite or in spite of.

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"dight..."   (Fytte the Third)

“Dight” is an archaic word used here to mean prepared.

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"nought..."   (Fytte the Third)

“Nought” is a variant spelling of “naught,” which means “nothing.”

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"a manifold folly..."   (Fytte the Third)

In context, “manifold” means so-called for many good reasons. In relation to the beginning of the sentence, Gawain is saying that for him to try to explain “true love” would rightfully be called “folly,” a foolish act, for many reasons.

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"wot..."   (Fytte the Third)

Wot” is an archaic British word for “know.”

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"dalliance..."   (Fytte the Third)

As “dalliance” is used here, it means amorous play or playfulness motivated by love.

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"bower..."   (Fytte the Third)

In context, “bower” refers to a lady’s private apartment within a medieval hall or castle.

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"doleful..."   (Fytte the Third)

“Doleful” means sad, cheerless, or full of grief.

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"vexes..."   (Fytte the Third)

“Vexes” means agitates, irritates, or annoys.

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"peerless..."   (Fytte the Third)

“Peerless” means without equal, matchless, or incomparable.

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"proffering..."   (Fytte the Third)

“Proffering” means holding out something to someone for acceptance.

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"a light horse..."   (Fytte the Third)

A “light horse” is one of several breeds of horses known for their speed and agility.

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"dints..."   (Fytte the Third)

“Dint” means force or power; as an archaic word, it refers to blows. Either definition seems appropriate in the passage.

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"Full oft he bides at bay, and maims the pack in the mêlée...."   (Fytte the Third)

When confronted with the baying hunting hounds, the boar “bides,” meaning that he stays or remains in place; he chooses to fight the hounds, rather than retreat. “Maims” refers to wounding or injuring so severely as to cause permanent damage; “mêlée” is the French translation of “melee,” meaning a confused, disordered fight.

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"hallooed..."   (Fytte the Third)

“Hallooed” means cried out or shouted.

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"grinders..."   (Fytte the Third)

“Grinders” refers to the boar’s tusks—long, pointed front teeth that protrude from each side of his closed mouth.

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"boars..."   (Fytte the Third)

“Boars” are mature male swine; wild or feral boars are quite dangerous.

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"swine..."   (Fytte the Third)

“Swine” refers to pigs.

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"athwart..."   (Fytte the Third)

In context, “athwart” means in opposition to.

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"crag..."   (Fytte the Third)

A “crag” is a steep, rugged cliff or bluff.

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"despatched..."   (Fytte the Third)

“Despatched” is a variant spelling of “dispatched,” which means finished or disposed of.

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"whatsoever chance betide..."   (Fytte the Third)

The phrase means “whatever might happen.” Also, “betide” has connotations of things happening as if by fate.

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"dainties..."   (Fytte the Third)

“Dainties” is used here to mean delicious-tasting foods.

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"plighted..."   (Fytte the Third)

“Plighted” means solemnly pledged or vowed.

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"the fairest store..."   (Fytte the Third)

In context, “fairest” means most ample or most adequate, and “store” refers to a supply of something that is kept for use as needed.

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"woodcraft..."   (Fytte the Third)

“Woodcraft” refers to the lord’s hunting skills.

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"the chine, and corbie’s fee..."   (Fytte the Third)

“Chine” refers to an animal’s backbone. A “corbie” is a bird—a raven, crow, or rook. “Corbie’s fee” refers to internal parts of the deer that humans won’t eat and give to the birds instead.

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"fillets..."   (Fytte the Third)

Fillets are fleshy boneless cuts of meat taken from near the loins or the ribs of an animal.

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"weasand..."   (Fytte the Third)

The use of the word “weasand” dates to some time before the 12th century in England. It refers to the gullet or esophagus through which food passes from the mouth to the stomach.

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"a quarry..."   (Fytte the Third)

As “quarry” is used here, it means a heap or pile of the game killed during the hunt.

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"holts and heath..."   (Fytte the Third)

“Holts” are animal dens; a “heath” is an area of open, uncultivated land where low shrubs and grasses grow.

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"his chamberlain..."   (Fytte the Third)

“His chamberlain” refers to the attendant who serves Gawain in his bedchamber.

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"amain..."   (Fytte the Third)

An archaic word, “amain” is used here to mean with great speed.

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"mused..."   (Fytte the Third)

“Mused” means said in a way that shows careful thought.

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"pretences..."   (Fytte the Third)

“Pretences” is a variant spelling of the word “pretenses,” referring to false or insincere expressions of one’s real intentions.

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"deserts..."   (Fytte the Third)

“Deserts” is used here to mean excellence or worth.

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"discreet..."   (Fytte the Third)

“Discreet” means showing good judgment in conduct and speech.

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"liefer..."   (Fytte the Third)

“Liefer” is an archaic word meaning readily or willingly.

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"discernment..."   (Fytte the Third)

“Discernment” is the ability to see and understand what is not obvious about people and situations.

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"perforce..."   (Fytte the Third)

“Perforce” is an old-fashioned formal word that means necessarily or inevitably.

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"ween..."   (Fytte the Third)

“Ween” is an archaic word that means to think or believe.

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"a blithe laugh..."   (Fytte the Third)

In context, “blithe” means lighthearted.

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"bothered in his conscience what this affair might mean or amount to. Marvellous it seemed to him...."   (Fytte the Third)

It bothers Gawain’s sense of honor and morality to be alone in his bedroom with the lord’s wife. “Marvellous” is used here to mean astonishing.

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"cunningly..."   (Fytte the Third)

“Cunningly” refers to doing something in a crafty or tricky way to achieve a desired result.

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"right slyly..."   (Fytte the Third)

“Right slyly” means done in a way that is very quiet and secretive to avoid notice.

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"din..."   (Fytte the Third)

“Din” is a loud continued noise.

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"the eaves of the linden wood..."   (Fytte the Third)

As “eaves” is used here, it means the projecting edge of a hill. “Linden wood” refers to a forested area made up of linden trees; the wood of linden trees is light and fine-grained.

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"shot and alighted full oft..."   (Fytte the Third)

In context, “alighted” means dismounted from a horse; “full oft” means very often. The lord’s hunting was very successful; often after shooting an arrow, he got off his horse to claim the deer he had killed.

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"pestered at the heights, and worried at the waters..."   (Fytte the Third)

In context, “pestered” means besieged and tormented, and “worried” means chased and frightened. The phrase indicates that the deer could not escape the hunters, who pursued them on the high ground and by the streams in the valley.

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"a resounding cry..."   (Fytte the Third)

In context, “resounding” means booming or reverberating loudly.

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"does..."   (Fytte the Third)

“Does,” the plural of “doe,” refers to female deer in general.

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"hinds..."   (Fytte the Third)

“Hinds” refers to female deer, especially female red deer over three years old.

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"the harts with the high head go their way, the wild bucks..."   (Fytte the Third)

Harts are adult male deer, especially red deer over five years old; having a “high head” most likely refers to having large antlers. “Wild bucks” refers to all male deer.

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"dale..."   (Fytte the Third)

A dale is a valley.

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"trackers..."   (Fytte the Third)

“Trackers,” also called “beaters,” were men who assisted the hunters by driving game into the open when the animals sought refuge in the woods or undergrowth.

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"chastised..."   (Fytte the Third)

“Chastised” means strongly scolded or reprimanded.

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"brachets..."   (Fytte the Third)

“Brachet” is an archaic word for a female hunting hound that hunts by scent.

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"coupled..."   (Fytte the Third)

In context, “coupled” means restrained with leashes or leads.

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"sop..."   (Fytte the Third)

In context, “sop” refers to a light breakfast of some kind.

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"truss their mails..."   (Fytte the Third)

“Truss” means to tie up or bind securely. “Mails” refers to tunics made of chain mail.

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"ruth..."   (Fytte the Fourth)

“Ruth” is an archaic word that means distress or sorrow.

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"a grindstone..."   (Fytte the Fourth)

A “grindstone” is a revolving stone shaped like a disk used to sharpen the edge of a metal tool or blade.

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"a scythe..."   (Fytte the Fourth)

“Scythe” refers to a tool with a sharp curved blade attached to a long pole with two handles.

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"marvellously..."   (Fytte the Fourth)

“Marvellously” is an alternative spelling for “marvelously”; as it is used here, its archaic meaning is “astonishingly.”

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"cursedest kirk..."   (Fytte the Fourth)

“Cursedest” translates as “most cursed,” with “cursed” meaning damnable, and a “kirk” is a church.

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"betide..."   (Fytte the Fourth)

“Betide” means happening to or overwhelming someone or something.

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"mischance..."   (Fytte the Fourth)

In context, “mischance” likely means misfortune or a disaster.

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"Now I feel in my five wits it is the fiend that has made this bargain with me, to destroy me here...."   (Fytte the Fourth)

“Fiend” is a common literary allusion to the devil. Gawain now suspects that the Green Knight is Satan himself. The passage illustrates the motifs of magic and supernatural events found in many Arthurian tales, motifs which are introduced in Fytte the First with the beheading of the Green Knight.

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"this oratory is ugly..."   (Fytte the Fourth)

As “oratory” is used here, it means a small chapel, especially for private worship.

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"nimbly..."   (Fytte the Fourth)

“Nimbly” means with agility, easily and gracefully.

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"The burn..."   (Fytte the Fourth)

In context, “burn” is a name for a watercourse, such as a large stream; the word is used primarily in Scotland and the North East region in England.

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"a ford of the flood..."   (Fytte the Fourth)

A “ford” is a shallow place in a stream or river where it can be crossed safely. “Flood” refers to the stream running past the mound or hill.

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"descried..."   (Fytte the Fourth)

“Descried” means caught sight of.

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"a hollow..."   (Fytte the Fourth)

In context, a “hollow” refers to low-lying land.

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"if it pleases thee to lose thy life, I shall not let nor hinder thee...."   (Fytte the Fourth)

In context, “let” means to give opportunity to. The servant is saying that he will not help Gawain in losing his life, nor will he obstruct Gawain in doing it.

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"the halidom..."   (Fytte the Fourth)

“Halidom” is an archaic word for a holy object or a sanctuary.

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"monk or mass-priest..."   (Fytte the Fourth)

A “monk” is a member of a religious order who takes a vow of poverty, chastity, and obedience and lives apart from society, dedicating themselves to prayer and contemplation. “Mass-priest” refers to a Catholic priest who celebrates mass for a congregation.

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"churl or chaplain..."   (Fytte the Fourth)

In context, “churl” refers to a peasant or a person of low birth, and “chaplain” refers generally to a member of the clergy.

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"The place that ye press to is held full perilous...."   (Fytte the Fourth)

“Perilous” means dangerous; the passage means that the green chapel, Gawain’s destination, is a most dangerous place.

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"the boards, praised the porter,..."   (Fytte the Fourth)

“Boards” refers to the gates of the castle. The “porter” is the gatekeeper.

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"his gilt heels..."   (Fytte the Fourth)

“Gilt” refers to gold leaf, gold beaten into a thin sheet used for ornamenting or “gilding” objects. Like the rest of Gawain’s armor, the pieces of armor on his feet are gilded.

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"cognisance..."   (Fytte the Fourth)

The British spelling of “cognizance,” the word is used here to mean great attention to detail.

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"rings of his rich burnie..."   (Fytte the Fourth)

“The rings of his rich burnie” are the interlocking rings that make up the chainmail.

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"his harness, that had been well kept, both mail and plate,..."   (Fytte the Fourth)

Gawain’s “harness” is his suit of armor; “mail” refers to chainmail, and “plate” refers to metal plates of armor worn under the chainmail that provided greater protection.

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"By each cock that crew he knew well the hour...."   (Fytte the Fourth)

“Crew” is the past tense of the verb “to crow.” This is another reference in the story to marking the time by the crowing of roosters in the hours just before dawn.

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"nighs..."   (Fytte the Fourth)

“Nighs” is a verb that means draws near.

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