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Author: Emma Blaustein

In our age of technology, many people associate the word subscribe to signing up for something in order to receive notifications or alerts. However, the term “subscribe” used within Love’s Labour’s Lost is used in a different way. The more traditional meaning of subscribe would be to sign one’s name, consenting or agreeing to something (OED). This fits in the context of the line in Love’s Labour’s Lost where the men are writing, or subscribing, their names to agree to the contract. The way the term subscribe is used today is a more modernized, adapted version of how it was used in Love’s Labour’s Lost. 

In both cases, the term is being used to sign up to something. However, in the modern times, most people identify this as a technological subscription whereas in the past the term would be viewed as a literal signature agreeing upon the given terms. Subscribe is also viewed upon as a more formalized way of agreeing to something where you would typically provide a signature. Within the play, the scene in which subscribe is used is during a formal agreement by the men to abide by the contract they were presented with. The play’s setting is during a time period in which society was much more formalized than it is nowadays. The term subscribe emphasized the formality of the men signing the contract. 

The word subscribe, along with many other words within Love’s Labour’s Lost, have developed and changed in meaning over the years. Where subscribe was used as a more formal term implying an actual signature on a document back when Love’s Labour’s Lost was written has now adapted to a more informal, way of “signing up” for something.