Will's word

9th May 2003 at 01:00
Wonderful (adjective) "arousing a mood of great happiness, satisfaction, or admiration"

The earliest sense of the word, c1100, was the literal one, "full of wonder"; but it soon extended its meanings to include a wide range of positive feelings. Today, these feelings are all to do with delight - as we often see in Shakespeare, but notably in Celia's repeated use in As You Like It (III.ii.185), "Oh wonderful, wonderful, and most wonderful wonderful". But there are a number of occasions where a sense of delight has to be ruled out. Audley describes the approaching French army to Prince Edward: "This sudden, mighty, and expedient head That they have made ...

is wonderful" (Edward III, IV.iv.11). He can hardly be delighted, seeing as they are facing death. Here the sense is "amazing, astonishing, extraordinary". And so it is when Cicero says to Casca, of a storm: "Why, saw you anything more wonderful?" (Julius Caesar, I.iii.14).

David Crystal is author, with Ben Crystal, of Shakespeare's Words, published by Penguin

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