Thy name is

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"______, thy name is ______" is a snowclone used to indicate the completeness with which something or somebody (indicated by the second part) embodies a particular quality (indicated by the first part), usually a negative one.

History[edit]

In most instances, the usage is an allusion to the Shakespearean play Hamlet (I, ii, 146). In this work, the title character is chastised by his uncle (and new stepfather), Claudius, for grieving his father so much, calling it unmanly. In his resultant soliloquy, Hamlet denounces his mother's swift remarriage with the statement, "Frailty, thy name is woman."[1] He thus describes all of womankind as frail and weak in character.[2] The phrase is recognized as one of the "memorable expressions" from the play to become "proverbial".[3]

In the book Idiom Structure in English by Adam Makkai, the author asserts that the phrase is included among English idioms that are expressed in a "standard format" and whose usage "signals to the hearer that he is using an authority in underscoring his own opinion."[4] Researchers Andrew Littlejohn and Sandhya Rao Mehta, acknowledged that the famous quote rendered not only a discursive use, but a constructional one as well,[5] noting that "the structure itself can be used a salient, but neutral equation formula...'noun thy name is noun.'"[5]

Examples[edit]

Law[edit]

  • Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia, dissenting from the Court's decision in King v. Burwell, upholding the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, repeatedly (and awkwardly) used the construction to criticize the Court's majority opinion, stating: "Understatement, thy name is an opinion on the Affordable Care Act!"; "Impossible possibility, thy name is an opinion on the Affordable Care Act!"; and "Contrivance, thy name is an opinion on the Affordable Care Act!"

Quoted[edit]

Literature[edit]

  • The poet Anne Sexton has a poem called "Divorce, Thy Name Is Woman".
  • Borrowing directly from Hamlet, Edmond Dantès (disguised as Abbé Busoni) utters the phrase "Frailty, thy name is woman!" in The Count of Monte Cristo after learning that his fiancee, Mercédès, has married his rival Fernand.
  • In the James Joyce novel Ulysses, Leopold Bloom utters the phrase, "Fraility, thy name is marriage," in response to a quip.

Music[edit]

  • The Half Man Half Biscuit song "Whiteness, Thy Name Is Meltonian," from the album This Leaden Pall, refers to a brand of None-More-White shoe polish.
  • The lyrics "Frailty, thy name is weakness. Vengeance, thy name is pain" appear in the Dark Tranquillity song "...Of Melancholy Burning".

Television[edit]

References[edit]

Footnotes[edit]

  1. ^ (2006). "Frailty, thy name is woman!" ENotes.com (accessed October 13, 2006)
  2. ^ Martin, Gary (2006). "Frailty, thy name is woman" Phrases.org.uk (accessed October 13, 2006)
  3. ^ Lederer 2010, p. 89
  4. ^ Makkai 1972, p. 177
  5. ^ a b Littlejohn et. al. 2012, pp. 167-168

Bibliography[edit]

  • Makkai, Adam (Jan 1, 1972). Walter de Gruyter, ed. Idiom Structure in English. The Hague, The Netherlands: Mouton & Co. N.V. 
  • Lederer, Richard (May 11, 2010). The Miracle of Language. New York, New York: Simon and Schuster. ISBN 0671028111. 
  • Littlejohn, Andrew; Rao Mehta, Sandhya (December 4, 2012). Language Studies: Stretching the Boundaries. Newcastle upon Tyne, United Kingdom: Cambridge Scholars Publishing. ISBN 1443839728. 

External links[edit]