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Home :: Archive :: 2006 :: June ::
Roast or Roost?
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 17.0553  Monday, 12 June 2006

From: 		Stephanie Kydd <
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Date: 		Friday, 9 Jun 2006 06:26:38 -0700 (PDT)
Subject: 17.0544 Roast or Roost?
Comment: 	Re: SHK 17.0544 Roast or Roost?

 >I have been trying to learn how editors know Shakespeare
 >(and Hall, for that matter) meant "roast" instead of "roost?"

As the OED gives "rost" as a spelling variant of both "roost" and 
"roast", it is impossible to know for certain which Shakespeare 
intended.  But as the OED cites "rule the roost" as a later variant of 
"rule the roast" (OED 1b.: to rule the roost, now the more usual form of 
to rule the roast, s.v. ROAST n. 1b.) with the first quotation dating 
from 1769, it would seem "rule the roast" is the form contemporary to 
Shakespeare.

Randle Cotgrave's 1611 dictionary also provides evidence that "rule the 
roast" was the contemporary form: "To thinke well, or be  well 
conceited, of himselfe; to take too much, or very much, upon him; hence, 
to presume on, or make himselfe sure of, a matter; to over-rule it, 
dispose of it, prevaile in it, make it go on his side, or be for his 
purpose; to commaund absolutely, or (as we say) to rule the roast; also, 
to spread far in reputation; increase mightily in credit; get or grow 
into great authoritie, by a thing" (Randle Cotgrave, "A dictionarie of 
the French and English tongues", q.v. "S'en faire accroire").

- Stephanie Kydd

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