Table

2nd July 2004 at 01:00
Table (noun) piece of furniture; arrangement of data

It is most famously found in Hamlet, where the prince employs it three times: "from the table of my memory I'll wipe away all trivial fond records" (I.v.98), "My tables - meet it is I set it down" (I.v.107), and (in the First Quarto only, talking about a type of clown) "gentlemen quote his jests down in their tables" (III.ii.46). The interference is from the furnishing sense, and it can puzzle the unwary student.

The Archbishop says to Mowbray, of the King: "therefore will he wipe his tables clean" (Henry IV Part 2, IV.i.199).

And in Sonnet 122 we find: "Thy gift, thy tables, are within my brain."

Neither sonneteer nor archbishop are thinking about the furniture.

David Crystal is author with Ben Crystal of Shakespeare's Words (Penguin_. A subscription website is at www.shakespeareswords.com

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