A-Z of Shakespeare – B



Today’s Shakespearean word of the day is… basilisk


This is the name of a very large cannon that could fire a cannon-ball of around 200 lb/90 kg.

There was a fashion in Shakespeare’s time to name a piece of artillery after a venomous reptile. A ‘basilisk’ was a mythical serpent that killed just by looking at someone. Other types of cannon, such as a ‘culverin’ and a ‘serpentine’ were also named after snakes.

Listen to the definition of basilisk here

Shakespeare Dictionary _130

This definition is taken from the Oxford Illustrated Shakespeare Dictionary, a unique dictionary compiled by renowned English language expert David Crystal and Shakespearean actor and producer Ben Crystal to unlock the mysteries of Shakespeare’s world, words and language.