Mac Flecknoe

Mac Flecknoe Glossary


Satire is a poem or (in later use) a novel, film, or other work of art which uses humor, irony, exaggeration, or ridicule to expose and criticize prevailing immorality or foolishness, especially as a form of social or political commentary.


Pentameter is a line consisting of five metrical feet.

Heroic Couplet

A heroic couplet is a rhyming couplet in iambic pentameter - by the middle of the seventeenth century, it was regarded as the proper form for dealing with "heroic" subjects (e.g., deeds of high accomplishment and matters of public interest and admiration).


A simile is a comparison of one thing with another, especially as an ornament in poetry or rhetoric.

Epic Simile

An epic simile, also called Homeric simile, is an extended simile often running to several lines and typically used in epic poetry to intensify the heroic stature of the subject and to serve as decoration.

Epic Poetry

Epic poetry is a genre of poetry characterized by a long, narrative poem that typically tells of heroic deeds and events that are significant to the culture of the poet.

Clinch (l.#)

A clinch is "a word used in a double meaning; a pun; an ambiguity; a duplicity of meaning, with an identity of expression" (Johnson).

Augusta (l. #)

"Augusta" is another term for “London,” the origins of which lie in Roman times. The Romans built the city where London now stands, bridging the Thames and constructing the roads that connected Londinium with the rest of the country. In the 4th century, London (which was called “Londonium”) received the title “Augusta.” The term is the female version of “Augustus,” which is Latin for "majestic," "the increaser," or "venerable." “Augusta” was an ancient Roman title given as both name and title to Roman empresses and other females of the imperial family.

Barbican (it hight) (l. #)

The Barbican, a fortified wall, stood in Aldersgate Street in London. Hight is an archaic word for "was called."

Pile (l. #)

A pile is "an edifice; a building" (Johnson).

Punk (l. #)

A punk is "a whore; a common prostitute; a strumpet" (Johnson).

Simkin (l. #)

A simkin is a stock character in plays for a simpleton.

Misers (l. #)

The Miser, The Humorists, and The Hypocrite were plays by Shadwell. Raymond and Bruce are characters from them.

Bilk't Stationers (l. #)

Bilk't Stationers are cheated booksellers.

Hoary (l. #)

Hoary refers to "white" as if with hoarfrost (a grayish-white crystalline deposit of frozen water vapor formed in clear, still weather on vegetation, fences, etc.) and metaphorically to "old" (with white hair).

Rail (l. #)

Rail is "to use insolent and reproachful language; to speak to, or to mention in opprobrious terms" (Johnson).

Bargains, Whip-Stitch, Kiss My Arse

These are lines from some of Shadwell's plays.


Tympany is a "tumor" or "swelling."


A tun is a large barrel or cask for wine.


A kilderkin is a quarter of a tun.


According to Johnson, humors are "the different kind of moisture in man's body, reckoned by the old physicians to be phlegm, blood, choler, and melancholy, which, as they predominated, were supposed to determine the temper of mind" and "general turn or temper of mind."

Ben Jonson was famous for his "comedies of humors," in which each character's "temper of mind" was exaggerated. Shadwell admired Johnson and attempted to imitate his style.

Unction (l. #)

Unction is the application of sacramental oil at a coronation.

Love's Kingdom

This is the title of a play by Shadwell.

Northern Dedications

Shadwell dedicated some of his plays to the Duke and Duchess of Newcastle, in the north of England.

Sir Formal

Sir Formal Trifle is a character in Shadwell's Virtuoso.


A want is a lack.