18th November 2005 at 00:00
Addition. (noun) combining entities in order to increase

The modern sense, applying chiefly to numbers and physical extensions, dates from the 14th century, and this will be found in Shakespeare. But there are other nuances which are nothing to do with "adding up" at all.

When Hamlet complains about the way the Danes "with swinish phrase Soil our addition" (Hamlet, I.iv.20), he doesn't mean they were criticising their arithmetic. Here, addition means simply "title, name". The usage is closely related to one in heraldry, where an addition is a mark of honour, often added to a coat of arms. When Ajax tells Hector, after fighting with him, "I came to ... bear hence A great addition earned in thy death"

(Troilus and Cressida, IV.v.141), he means no more than "distinction". And it is this concept of "something extra" which can be detected in several other uses. It means "external honours" when Lear, after dividing his kingdom among his daughters, wants still to "retain The name and all th'addition to a king" (King Lear, I.i.136). And it means "exaggeration"

when the Captain tells Hamlet "Truly to speak, and with no addition"

(Hamlet, IV.iv.17).

Subscribe to get access to the content on this page.

If you are already a Tes/ Tes Scotland subscriber please log in with your username or email address to get full access to our back issues, CPD library and membership plus page.

Not a subscriber? Find out more about our subscription offers.
Subscribe now
Existing subscriber?
Enter subscription number


The guide by your side – ensuring you are always up to date with the latest in education.

Get Tes magazine online and delivered to your door. Stay up to date with the latest research, teacher innovation and insight, plus classroom tips and techniques with a Tes magazine subscription.
With a Tes magazine subscription you get exclusive access to our CPD library. Including our New Teachers’ special for NQTS, Ed Tech, How to Get a Job, Trip Planner, Ed Biz Special and all Tes back issues.

Subscribe now