A growing assortment of words and definitions used in the Early Modern era. See the Guide for more information.
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Frivolous, jesting. Via French badine, silly, from Late Latin badare, to gape. Its only literary use is in Ferrand Spence's translation (1685) of THE SECRET HISTORY OF THE HOUSE OF MEDICIS: a dialog completely bouffon, waggish, and badeen, between the head and the cap. The noun from the same source remains in use, as in Benjamin Disraeli's ENDYMION (1880), which warns: Men destined to the highest places should beware of badinage. We have used other forms: the verb to badiner -- a character in John Vanbrugh's THE RELAPSE (1697) wishes that Loveless were here to badiner a little; badinerie -- William Shenstone, in his WORKS AND LETTERS (1712) laments that the fund of sensible discourse is limited; that of jest and badinerie is infinite; badineur -- Alexander Pope wrote to Swift, on December 19, 1734: Rebuke him for it ... as a badineur, if you think that more effectual. Many a badeen badger (q.v.) has built a reputation on a caustic tongue, as in the play THE MAN WHO CAME TO DINNER; the more insulting he is, the more his sycophants -- and the audience -- laugh.

Forcible feeble

A weak person who makes great show of strength (physical or moral). William Shakespeare first used the expression as a play on a name, in HENRY IV, PART TWO (1597) ; Shallow calls: Francis Feeble! but Falstaff rejects him as a recruit: Let that suffice, most forcible Feeble. The term came into wider use in the 19th century, as in Benjamin Disraeli's CONINGSBY (1844) : Italics, that last resort of the forcible feebles.


A fetter, a shackle for the leg. Usually in the plural: gives, guives, guyves; the word was probably once pronounced with the g hard, as in give; now the g is soft, as in gem. A common word (and instrument) since the 13th century. The word was often used figuratively. William Shakespeare in THE LOVER'S COMPLAINT (1597) speaks of Playing patient sports in unconstrained gives; Benjamin Disraeli, in CONINGSBY (1844), of the gyves and trammels of office. Gyve was also used as a verb, to fetter; as by Shakespeare in OTHELLO: I will give thee in thine own courtship. CIRCUMCISION (15th century) declared: My wittis be so dull with rudenes, And in the cheynes of ignoraunce gyved.


(I) Over-ambitious or presumptuous; leaping high to one's own ruin. From Icarus, son of Daedalus (cp. daedal), who in escaping from Crete, despite his father's warning flew so high that the sun melted the wax that held his wings, and he fell into the Aegean (Icarian) Sea. Thus Benjamin Disraeli has, in CONINGSBY (1844): Your Icarian flight melts into a very grovelling existence. (2) Relating to an ideal republic, as described in Voyage en Icarie (1840) by Etienne Cabet, who later founded (and named Icaria) several communistic settlements In the United States. Nordhoff, in his history of COMMUNISTIC SOCIETIES IN THE U.S. (1875) used the word of persons: The Icarians reject Christianity (which had its communism before them).


Relating to or used for sport or as a pastime. Of speech or writing; in a playful style. Also lusory; Latin lusorius, belonging to a player; lusor, player; ludere, lusus, to play; whence also ludicrous, delusive, allude, and all the illusions that play upon us. In the 17th century, lusory was also used for delusory, illusory., deceptive. Shaftesbury In CHARACTERISTICS (1711) said that God, as a kind tutor, was pleased to . . . bear with his anger, and in a lusory manner expose his childish frowardness. Benjamin Disraeli In CURIOSITIES OF LITERATURE (1823) observed: There is a refined species of comic poetry, lusory yet elegant.


A dish, originally Spanish and Portuguese, made with pieces of meat and fowl, bacon, pumpkin, cabbage, turnips and what more you will, stewed or boiled and highly spiced. Spanish olla, Portuguese olha (both pronounced olya) , Latin olla, pot. By extension, any dish of many ingredients; see hodgepot. Thence applied to any heterogeneous mixture; Benjamin Disraeli in TANCRED (1847) spoke of an olio of all ages and all countries. Especially, a mixture or collection of various artistic or literary pieces; a musical medley. The Duchess of Newcastle in 1655 wrote a book entitled: The Worlds Olio: Nature's Pictures drawn by Fancie's Pencil to the Life. THE SATURDAY REVIEW of 7 June, 1884, explained a new form: The second part of a minstrel show is the 'olio' -- and this is only a variety entertainment, of banjo-playing, clogdancing, and the like.


Trite, commonplace.Hence also triticism, a trite utterance or writing. Jonathan Swift in 1709 wrote: A Tritical Essay upon the Faculties of the Mind. Benjamin Disraeli in THE AMENITIES OF LITERATURE (1841) has: To sermonise with a tedious homily or a tritical declamation. Hence also triticalness, triticality.
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