In Hamlet Act 1, Scene 2, Polonius said:

He hath, my lord, wrung from me my slow leave
By laborsome petition, and at last
Upon his will I sealed my hard consent.

What does it mean by slow?

1 Answer 1


The confusing word here is "leave", because it's used in an old-fashioned sense of "to give permission". As the Cambridge Dictionary has it:

leave noun (PERMISSION)
[ U ] formal
permission or agreement:
He did it without (my) leave.
Did you get leave to do that?

So "wrung my slow leave" means that Laertes (he) has gradually persuaded Polonius to give permission, by repeatedly asking and stating arguments (laboursome petition) in favour of Laertes going to France.

  • Thanks it helps a lot. Now I get it.
    – MT MTESK
    Commented Jun 29, 2023 at 9:41
  • 2
    Note that "slow" is a transferred epithet: the leave is not slow, but rather Polonius has been slow to grant it. Commented Jun 29, 2023 at 10:09

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.