The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 17.0571 Monday, 19 June 2006
Date: Friday, 16 Jun 2006 17:13:13 -0700 (PDT)
Subject: 17.0558 Roast or Roost?
Comment: Re: SHK 17.0558 Roast or Roost?
>This quote doesn't prove that the word in question is "roast". The
>sentence would make just as much (and the same) sense if the word were
This "rule the roast" vs. "rule the roost" question is perplexing, so
I've rooted around a bit more.
Evidence is circumstantial, but in five of six occurrences where "rost"
appears in F1, it is clearly "roast" in the cooking/meat sense:
(1) 2Henry6 (p.m3) - "the new made Duke that rules the rost"
(2) 1Henry4 (p.e5) - "that stuft Cloakebagge of Guts, that rosted
Manning Tree Oxe with the Pudding in his Belly"
(3) 2Henry4 (p.g5v) -"his Face is Lucifers Privy-Kitchin, where hee doth
nothing but rost Mault-Wormes"
(4) Taming of the Shrew (p.t3v) - "And better 'twere that both of us
did fast, Since of our selves, our selves are chollericke, Then feede it
with such over-rosted flesh"
(5) Macbeth (p.mm3) - "Come in Taylor, here you may rost your Goose"
(6) Antony and Cleopatra (p.xx4) - "Eight Wilde-Boares rosted whole at a
"Roast" likewise appears six times in F1 (again in the cooking/meat
sense); "roost" does not occur at all.
A quick search of LION yields twenty-two Renaissance era hits for "rule
the rost" or "rule the roste". Likewise, there are four for "rule the
roast". Most have no useful context, but three reference the kitchen,
"dyet", or meat:
(1) "Microcosmus", Thomas Nabbes:"I am my Ladies Cooke, and King of the
Kitchin: where I rule the roast".
(2) "Gwydonius", Robert Greene: "But like craftie Calipsos they thinke
by these unequall matches to rule the roste after their owne dyet"
(3) "Blurt master-constable", Anonymous:
...a wife wise, no matter: apt wit; no matter: complaining, no matter:
kept under, no great matter: but to rule the roast, is the matter.
That ruling of the roast goes with me.
And me, Ile have a cut of that roast."
"Rule the roost" does not appear until Thomas Craddock's eighteenth
century "Maryland Eclogues", where, it should be noted, it rhymes with
"lost": "And must a Stranger--- Parson rule the roost, / And Glean the
Harvest I so stupid lost?"
For what it's worth, my money's still on "roast".
- Stephie Kydd
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