Still often used today, German schoolmaster and philologist ALEXANDER SCHMIDT's (1816-1887) Shakespeare Lexicon is the source for elucidating the sometimes cryptic language of Shakespeare and tracking down quotations. Volume 2 covers M through Z, from "Mab: the queen of the fairies" to "Zounds: an oath contracted from God's wounds," and features numerous appendices and supplements on grammar and usage. Every word from every play and poem is cataloged, referenced, and defined in this exhaustive two-volume work, the result of arduous research and stalwart dedication. Serious scholars and zealous fans will find the Lexicon the ultimate guide to reading and decoding the Bard.
In more than 300 years of Shakespearean scholarship, only one book, the famous Shakespeare Lexicon and Quotation Dictionary, has investigated the meaning of every word that Shakespeare wrote. The lifetime work of Professor Alexander Schmidt of Königsberg, this book has long been the indispensable companion for every person seriously interested in Shakespeare, Renaissance poetry and prose of any sort, or English literature. It is really two important books in one.
Schmidt’s set contains every single word that Shakespeare used, not simply words that have changed their meaning since the seventeenth century, but every word in all the accepted plays and the poems. Covering both quartos and folios, it carefully distinguishes between shades of meaning for each word and provides exact definitions, plus governing phrases and locations, down to the numbered line of the Cambridge edition of Shakespeare. There is no other word dictionary comparable to this work.
Even more useful to the general reader, however, is the incredible wealth of exact quotations. Arranged under the words of the quotation itself (hence no need to consult confusing subject classifications) are more than 50,000 exact quotations. Each is precisely located, so that you can easily refer back to the plays or poems themselves, if you wish context.
Other features helpful to the scholar are appendixes on basic grammatical observations, a glossary of provincialisms, a list of words and sentences taken from foreign languages, a list of words that form the latter part of word-combinations. This third edition features a supplement with new findings.
And hey, it's not called the "Shakespeare Lexicon and Quotation Dictionary (Vol. 1 A-M)" for nothing, people. You're going to have to get the other one, but there's no real problem, because this is simply just the greatest lexicon ever for Shakespeare. Your search ends here if you ever need to understand the Bard words.
Berg goes to his copy of the First Folio often when he begins to tackle text, he says. He also uses his “Shakespeare Lexicon,” two volumes that offer definitions of nearly every word and how it’s used in each play.