Will's word

18th February 2005 at 00:00
When the word came into English from French in the 15th century, it seems to have been in the modern sense - an occasion of sumptuous feasting. A century later, a slighter sense emerged - the one usually found in Shakespeare, where a banquet (often spelled banket) is a light meal - what we would today describe as "refreshments", or even just one part of such a meal - appetisers or dessert.

The slighter sense is shown by the adjectives when Capulet talks of "a trifling foolish banquet" (Romeo and Juliet, I.v.122) or Timon talks of "an idle banquet" (Timon of Athens, I.ii.152). The concept of a huge feast would make no sense when Sly is said to have "a most delicious banquet by his bed" (The Taming of the Shrew, Induction 1.37). A banquet, moreover, can be prepared in a rush: Enobarbus tells the servants to "bring in the banquet quickly" (Antony and Cleopatra, I.ii.12). And the sense of a light meal taken hurriedly is captured in Henry VIII, where there are two references (I.iv.12, V.iv.64) to a "running banquet".

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