Literary Shakespeare

By the Same Token

Shakespeare, Troilus and Cressida.

Pandarus says he will return with ‘a token from Troilus.’

Cressida replies, ‘By the same token, you are a bawd.’

Life Oddities


Though we use ‘amok’ mostly as an adverb, it first entered English in the mid-1600s as a noun meaning ‘a murderous frenzy.’ Since the 16th century, visitors to Southeast Asia have reported on a psychiatric disorder known in Malay as ‘amok.’ Typically, the afflicted person (usually a Malay man) attacks bystanders in a blind frenzy, killing everyone in sight until he collapses in exhaustion or is himself killed. The term ‘amok’ (and the murderous spree it names) made an impression on English speakers. By the 17th century, both the noun and adverb forms of ‘amok,’ as well as the phrase ‘run amok’ (a translation of the Malay verb ‘mengamok’), were present in English. Time has mitigated the bloody nature of ‘amok,’ and nowadays it usually describes the unruly and not the murderous.