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Hie

Definition and usage

The verb hie, meaning to hasten, speed, or go in haste, has been obsolete for centuries. It comes from the Old English higian, meaning to strive, and its equivalents in other Germanic languages have to do with breathing, panting, and gasping. Inflected, hie makes hiedhies, and hieing.

In modern English, hie is almost exclusively an archaic affectation, usually used humorously to create an old-fashioned tone. It’s difficult to say when hie was last widely used in earnest. It appears often in the works of Shakespeare and other  poets of the 15th, 16th, and 17th centuries, but it rarely appears in prose works from the same era. This suggests that hie may already have been a poetic archaism 500 years ago.

Examples

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Historical

Then hie you hence to Friar Laurence’ cell; / There stays a husband to make you a wife. [Romeo and Juliet, William Shakespeare (1597)]

Sirrah, go hie you home, and bid your fellows  /  Get all their flails ready again I come. [Every Man Out of His Humour, Ben Jonson (1599)]

Away, then my dearest, / O!  hie thee away / To springs that lie clearest / Beneath the moon-ray [“Al Aaraaf,” Edgar Allan Poe (1829)]

Recent

If you like cheap burgers sold for cheaper than usual, you may want to hie thee to your nearest (participating) Burger King. [LAist]

Hie me to the vomitorium, it’s a fantastically smug and boring movie about food and romance, pumped with artificial sweeteners. [Independent]

If so, hie thee to Software Update for the latest version — 9.1.5. [TUAW]

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Comments

  1. Could there be any connexion betwixt the word “Hie” (hasten) and the Disney song “Heigh-ho”? I know that the song was made up by Churchill and Morey, but I wondered if they wrote it as a way to say “to and from we go hastily” in a concise manner.

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