Lavinia’s Medieval Word of the Week

This week’s word is: Clepen.

What does it mean?

According to the Middle English Dictionary, it means:

clepen(a) To speak; call, shout; ~ out; ~ of, talk about (sth.); of birds: to sing; (b) to speak (to sb.); — with to, upon phr.; (c) to say (sth.); utter (words, blasphemy, etc.); call (a name); also, announce (sth.).

(a) To apply (a name, epithet, title, expression, or designation to sb. or sth.), name (sb. so-and-so), call (sb. king, foolish, etc.); — (a) with obj. & noun compl.; (b) with obj. & adj. compl.; (c) with obj. & prep. phrase; ~ bi, under name; (d) clepen after, to name (sth.) for (sb.); (e) clepen name, to name (sb. so-and-so).

So, if you are ycleped (to make things past tense in the medieval period, sometimes you add a ‘y’ on the beginning as well as the ‘ed’ on the end) you are called, but it’s also a speaking and talking verb, just as we use ‘call’ now.

Use it in a sentence:

1) He wouldn’t stop talking about his artisanal cheeses, so I ycleped him a jerk.
2) I applied to clepen on The X Factor, but I don’t think they’ll take me.

About the Author:

Nick is a freelance proofreader and copy-editor who has worked for Chapterhouse for about as long as he can remember. He is the co-founder of Court Oak Tutors, and is very fond of Percy Pigs.


  1. Gail January 7, 2017 at 5:30 pm


  2. Suzi Chaperlin January 24, 2017 at 11:51 am

    and hilarious! One little request, what is the pronunciation?

    • Nick January 24, 2017 at 3:47 pm

      I would guess ‘clepp-uh’, rather like a French person saying ‘clap’, and then pausing for thought. I may be wrong, though. I’ll check, and get back to you.

      • Nick January 30, 2017 at 2:54 pm

        Confirmed. That is how you say it!

Comments are closed.