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Posted by Smokey Stover on March 19, 2004

In Reply to: Forsooth posted by Smokey Stover on March 18, 2004

: : I understand that the word forsooth dates back to times even before Shakespeare, and is now rarely used with the exception of legal documents that still may find space for it. If it were used today, how would one use it in a sentence or two? Could you please illustrate the usage with an example sentence or two? I understand it is used as an intensifier for the words "indeed" or "in truth" or "actually" or "in reality".

: Forsooth means what you think it means, that is, truly, and belongs to a class of words used generally as a sort of clearing of the throat, at the start of an utterance. The words have real meaning, and can be used in other places than the start, often as parenthetical interjections. Forsooth is not an intensifier of the other words that you mention, they are all of a piece. Imagine someone saying, "Honestly, I can't stand her." Or perhaps, "You know, I'd swear I've seen him before." Or "Actually, no." These words don't add much if anything to the meaning of the sentence, but they give the speaker a sort of breathing room, or an introduction, a rhythm and form to the utterance. Forsooth, I woke up today with a toothache. And one more thing, in what kind of legal document would anyone use "forsooth" these days? SS

On looking at your list of words again, I realize that "forsooth" is now and always was the least likely to appear in a printed text as anything other than part of a dialogue or a deliberate emulation of conversation or speech. The other four expressions, except for "indeed," have alternate modern conversational counterparts, such as, "To tell the truth ...," for "in truth", "akshally" for "actually," and "really" for "in reality." OK, so this is a very lame post. SS