Archaic Words


Senior Member
Is it OK to depend on the archaic sense of a word in understanding literary works? I mean, Is it possible that the writer may intend this kind of meaning?

For example, in Chesterton's 'The Hammer of God', I read this ((The Reverend Wilfred, who had been waiting for him, pale and impatient, as if this little delay were the last straw for his nerves, led him immediately to his favourite corner of the church, that part of the gallery closest to the carved roof and lit by the wonderful window with the angel. The little Latin priest explored and admired everything exhaustively, talking cheerfully but in a low voice all the time.)) And I guess that this archaic sense of the word (admire) may be acceptable here. The American Heritage Dictionary says:
Admire 4. Archaic To marvel or wonder at.
  • Linguisticks

    Senior Member
    English - Australia
    I don't think this is archaic - "admire" is still in common use and appears to carry the same meaning in that passage as it does now.


    Senior Member
    British English (Sussex)
    It means here that he liked what he saw, and probably also that he told the clergyman how much he liked what he saw. I agree with Linguisticks that there's nothing archaic about the usage here.

    Uncle Jack

    Senior Member
    British English
    Definition 1 from that dictionary is a better fit (The American Heritage Dictionary entry: admire):
    1. To regard with pleasure, wonder, and approval: admired the sculptures at the art museum.

    If the dictionary you used contained example sentences, you would see that this meaning of "admire" refers to situations, not things. For example:
    1847 C. Dickens Dombey & Son (1848) 316 Mrs. Chick admires that Edith should be, by nature, such a perfect Dombey.​
    OED lists most constructions with this meaning of "admire" as "now rare", rather than archaic, although using a that-clause as the object, as in the sentence above, is marked "archaic".
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