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A growing assortment of words and definitions used in the Early Modern era. See the Guide for more information.
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WordDefinition

Allision

The action of dashing against or striking upon. Latin al, ad, to + laedere, laesum, to dash, strike violently, whence the frequent collision. Thus also, to allide. John Donne, in a sermon of 1631, held the old view that the allision of those clouds have brought forth a thunder.

Grassator

A rioter, bully, footpad. Latin grassator, from grassari, grassatus, to riot, to lie in wait, to attack. Hence grassation, assault; John Donne (1610) speaks of violent grassations. The verb grassate, to rage, and the adjective grassant, raging, were used mainly of disease, though North spoke in 1734 of thieves,malefactors, and cheats, everywhere grassant.

Hickock

An early variant of hiccough, hiccup. Also hicket, hitchcock, and more. John Donne in POLYDORON (1631) said; Laughter is the hichock of a foolish spleen, but he notes himselfe judicious, or stupid, that changeth not his countenance upon his owne talke.

Lancinate

To pierce, thrust through. Latin lancinare, lancinatus, to tear to pieces, was changed in meaning (in Cooper's THESAURUS, 1565) by association with lance. In the Near East, lancinated chunks of meat are cooked before an open fire. John Donne, in a Sermon of I630, declared that Every sin is an incision of the soul, a landnation. An acute, piercing pain Is a lancinating pain.

Vermiculation

Being eaten by, or infested with, worms; changing into little worms. Latin vermiculus, diminutive of vermis, verminis, worm, whence vermin and the vermiform appendix. Hence vermiculate, to become worm-eaten; vermiculated may mean worm-eaten, or so marked as to seem nibbled or crawled over by worms. Also vermified, infested with worms. John Donne, in one of his LAST SERMONS (1630) , fitly spoke of putrefaction and vermiculation and incineration and dispersion in . . . the grave.

Washway

A part of a road over which a shallow stream flows. Hence, a road deeper in the middle than at the sides. Also washum (Bailey, 1751). To make washway of (with), to make light of. John Donne in a sermon of 1631 declared: He that hath not been accustomed to a sin, but exercised in resisting it, will finde many tentations, but as a washway that he can trot through, and go forward religiously in his calling for all them.
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