Vaughan’s Vocabulary

Don Vaughan provides infrequently used words to strengthen your vocabulary.

Next semester my students will be watching Shakespeare’s “The Merchant of Venice,” choosing a topic about this play, and addressing the topic at the lectern. I have started thinking about topics for the list. Please send me topic suggestions.

The character whom Shakespeare referred to as the “merchant of Venice” has borrowed money from a shylock (the name of the play’s antagonist became a verb meaning to lend money at high interest rates, especially unscrupulously). In Act I, scene 3, he says, “If you repay me not on such a day, in such a place, such sum or sums as are expressed in the condition, let the forfeit be nominated for an equal pound of your fair flesh, to be cut off and taken in what part of your body pleaseth me.”

1. Which one is the “merchant of Venice”?

A. Portia

B. Lorenzo

C. Jessica

D. Antonio

2. broth (BRAHTH)

A. liquid in which meat, fish, cereal grains or vegetables have been cooked

B. worthless fellow

C. fight

D. None of the above

One of this play’s most memorable lines for me is where Salarino says, “My wind cooling my broth would blow me to an ague, when I thought what harm a wind too great at sea might do.” No. 2 is A. No. 1 is D.

3. ague (EY-gyoo)

A. acute fever

B. quick argument

C. faraway place

D. None of the above

Antonio owns ships that are always going on the high seas for business ventures. His friend was telling him that every time he (Salerio) blew on his broth to cool it, he would become chilled to think about how risky it was for a strong wind to destroy a ship! No. 3 is A.

4. From TMOV, a word for merchant ships is

A. gravitas.

B. ducats.

C. argosies.

D. casements.

Last week’s mystery word is surreal.

This week’s mystery word to solve is used twice in TMOV’s scene 6 of Act II. I found it to be an interesting way to describe wind.

Don R. Vaughan, Ph.D., of Eupora is a speech and theater professor at East Mississippi Community College, Golden Triangle. Contact him at