Othello Act 2 Annotations
3. main: ocean.
7. ruffian'd: raged.
8. mountains: i.e., of water.
9. hold the mortise: hold their joints together. (A mortise is the socket hollowed out in fitting timbers).
10. segregation: dispersion.
14. burning bear: i.e., the constellation Ursa Major. "Ursa Major" is Latin for "Big Bear." Ursa Major circles closely about the north star (the pole star). Hence in the next line stars of the Ursa Major are referred to as "guards of th' ever-fixed pole."
64-65. in the essential vesture of creation / Does tire the ingener: in her native beauty defeats all attempts of the inventive poet to praise her adequately.
109. pictures out of doors: picture-perfect in public
110. Bells: (1) gracious ladies, belles; (2) pleasing conversationalists.
111. Saints in your injuries: (1) [hypocritically] saintly when you injure others; (2) [hypocritical] martyrs when you feel you have been injured.
112. Players: actors, fakers. huswifery: housekeeping. huswives: hussies. A moment later Iago sums up his opinion about the way housewives earn their living: "You rise to play and go to bed to work"; in other words, housewives are actually hussies.
151. Fled from her wish and yet said "Now I may": i.e., did not indulge herself even though she was free to do so.
153. Bade her wrong stay: commanded her justified anger to stop short.
155. change the cod's head for the salmon's tail: Obscure. Perhaps "give up something common but valuable in exchange for something showy but worthless," but more probably a sexual innuendo.
160. suckle fools and chronicle small beer: tend babies and keep petty household accounts.
240. salt: licentious, lewd.
304. stand the putting on: perform properly when the moment comes for me to set him on.
305. on the hip: at my mercy, in a position where I can throw him (wrestling term).
306. rank garb: coarse fashion.
307. with my night-cap: i.e., as a sexual rival. Iago apparently believes...