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Plague, subst. 1) vexation, torment, calamity: “why should the private pleasure of some one become the public p. of many moe?” Lucr. 1479. “drink up the monarchs' p., this flattery,” Sonn. 114, 2. “in things right true my heart and eyes have erred, and to this false p. are they now transferred,” 137, 14 (== this p. of falsity, of being false). “my p. thus far I count my gain,” 141, 13. “a most unholy match, which heaven and fortune still rewards with --s,” Gent. IV, 3, 31. “I had as life have heard the night-raven, come what p. could have come after it,” Ado II, 3, 85. “O p. right well prevented!” III, 2, 136. “'twas pretty, though a p., to see him every hour,” All's I, 1, 103. “too well I feel the different p. of each calamity,” John III, 4, 60. R2 V, 3, 3. H6C V, 5, 28. Troil. I, 3, 96. V, 10, 8. Tim. IV, 3, 357. V, 1, 56. V, 1, 56 Hml. III, 1, 140 (or == curse?). IV, 7, 13. Lr. I, 2, 3.* IV, 1, 48. IV, 1, 48 Oth. III, 3, 146. Oth. III, 3, 146 Oth. III, 3, 146 IV, 1, 97.
2) punishment: “it is a p. that Cupid will impose,” LLL III, 203. “light wenches may prove --s to men forsworn,” IV, 3, 385. “thus pour the stars down --s for perjury,” V, 2, 394. “God hath made her sin and her the p. on this removed issue,” John II, 185. John II, 185 “if heaven have any grievous p. in store,” R3 I, 3, 217. “the p. that needs must light on this ingratitude,” Caes. I, 1, 59. “all the --s of hell,” Cymb. I, 6, 111.
3) pestilence: “the p. is banished by thy breath,” Ven. 510. “of --s, of dearths,” Sonn. 14, 4. “they have the p.” LLL V, 2, 421. Tw. I, 5, 314. H5 IV, 3, 103. Tim. IV, 1, 21. IV, 3, 108. V, 1, 140. V, 1, 140 Oftenest used in cursing: “the red p. rid you!” Tp. I, 2, 364. “the p. of Greece upon thee!” Troil. II, 1, 13. “a p. break thy neck,” V, 4, 34. “biles and --s plaster you o'er,” Cor. I, 4, 31. “the hoarded p. o'the gods requite your love,” IV, 2, 11. “a p. consume you,” Tim. V, 4, 71. “all the --s . . . light on thy daughters,” Lr. III, 4, 69. “O p. and madness,” Troil. V, 2, 35. “the common file -- a p.!” Cor. I, 6, 43. “more man? p., p.!” Tim. IV, 3, 197. “vengeance! p.! death!” Lr. II, 4, 96. “p. on't!” Tw. III, 4, 311. Cor. II, 3, 56. “a p. upon this howling,” Tp. I, 1, 39. II, 2, 166. All's IV, 3, 134. John II, 190. H4A I, 3, 243. II, 1, 31. II, 2, 21. II, 2, 21 II, 2, 21 II, 4, 166. II, 4, 166 III, 1, 5. H6A IV, 3, 9. H6B III, 2, 309. R3 I, 3, 58. Troil. IV, 2, 78. Tim. II, 2, 50. IV, 3, 365. Lr. II, 2, 87. V, 3, 269. Per. II, 1, 28. “a p. of all drums,” All's IV, 3, 331. “a p. of all cowards,” H4A II, 4, 127. H4A II, 4, 127 H4A II, 4, 127 H4A II, 4, 127 H8 III, 2, 259. Troil. III, 3, 265. “a p. o' these pickle-herring,” Tw. I, 5, 128. “a p. a both your houses,” Rom. III, 1, 94. what a p. == what the devil: “what a p. means my niece,” Tw. I, 3, 1. “what a p. have I to do with a buff jerkin,” H4A I, 2, 51. II, 2, 39. II, 4, 373.
Hence it almost seems that, in some expressions, the word has quite passed into the sense of curse: “I'll give thee this p. for thy dowry,” Hml. III, 1, 140. “it is my nature's p. to spy into abuses,” Oth. III, 3, 146. Oth. III, 3, 146 Oth. III, 3, 146 “'tis the strumpets' p. to beguile many and be beguiled by one,” IV, 1, 97.
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