A growing assortment of words and definitions used in the Early Modern era. See the Guide for more information.
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A form of the French a la mort, to the death; mortally sick, dispirited. Common from 1550 to 1800. Also all amort, amort. Thus Shakespeare in THE TAMING OF THE SHREW (1596): What sweeting, all-amort?; John Dryden in THE WIFE OF BATH'S TALE (1700): Mirth there was none, the man was a-la-mort; John Keats in. THE EVE OF ST. AGNES (1820): She sighs . . . all amort.


Skilful, inventive. From Daedalus, the legendary inventor and architect, who built the Labyrinth for the Minotaur in Crete. When King Minos imprisoned Daedalus and his son Icarus (they first devised the Labyrinth, then showed Ariadne how Theseus could escape from it) , Daedalus fashioned wings on which they flew away. Despite his father's warning, the presumptuous Icarus flew too near the sun; his wings melted off, and he fell into what was thereafter known as the Icarian Sea. Daedalus landed safely in Sicily. The word daedal was also applied to the earth, as inventive of many forms; variously adorned, as in Edmund Spenser's THE FAERIE QUEENE (1596): Then doth the daedale earth throw -forth to thee Out of her fruitful lap abundant flowers. Hence also daedalian, skilful, ingenious. Both these forms are also occasionally used in the sense of labyrinthine, mazy -- as daedalian arguments; or as in John Keats' ENDYMION: By truth's own tongue, I have no daedal heart! Hence daedalize, to make intricate.


Favorable, propitious, gentle. Latin Favonius, the west wind. From 1650. John Keats (1821) : Softly tell her not to fear Such calm favonian burial.


The fountain of inspiration; the draught that poets drink. Hippocrene (Greek, fountain of the horse; it lowed from a rock on Mt. Helicon where the hoof of Pegasus struck) was the name of a fountain sacred to the Muses. O for a beaker, cried John Keats in the ODE TO A NIGHTINGALE (1820), Full of the true, the blushful hippocrene.


As a verb: (I) To bend, stoop; make obeisance; to bow, submit. Used from the 9th into the 19th century. In MERLIN (1450), we read: The archebisshop lowted to the sword, and sawgh letters of golde in the steel; In Conan Doyle's THE WHITE COMPANY (1891): I uncovered and loutcd as I passed. Also luten, lowte. (2) To lurk, lie hid; sneak. Used 9th to 16th century; Gower in CONFESSIO AMANTIS (1390) said that love luteth in a mannes herte. (3) To mock, treat with contempt; also, to lout someone out of something. Udall In RALPH ROYSTER DOYSTER (1553): He is louted and laughed to skorne, For the veriest dolt that ever was borne; Shakespeare In HENRY VI, PART ONE (1591): I am lowted by a traitor villaine, And cannot helpe the noble chevalier. Hence louter, a worshipper; louting, bowing, cringing; John Keats in a letter to J. Taylor (23 August, 1819) : Is this worth louting or playing the hypocrite for?


Full of light, shining; brilliant; lucid. Thus Thomson in THE SEASONS: WINTER (1746) : Luculent along the purer rivers flow. Ben Jonson in EVERY MAN OUT OF HIS HUMOUR (1599) speaks of a most debonaire, most luculent ladie. Also lucid; lucent, shining, luminous, but also translucent, dear, as in John Keats' EVE OF ST. AGNES (1820): lucent syrops, tinct with cinnamon. Latin lux, lucem, light. Cp. crepuscular. Lucific, producing light; lucifugous (accent on the sif), shunning the light; lucigenous, begotten or born in the daytime.


Emptiness, desolateness; later (17th century) vastness, immensity. Hence vastitude, laying waste; later, immensity. Also vastation, very common from 1600 to 1660, then supplanted by devastation. To vast (15th century) , to lay waste, to destroy; vastator, destroyer. In all these forms waste, to lay waste, was the earlier meaning. Latin vastus, empty, void; hence the void of space, the vast reaches, therefore immense. Frequently vast was used as a noun, meaning space; Shakespeare in THE TEMPEST (1610) and in PERICLES: Thou god of this great vast, rebuke these surges; John Milton, Blake, John Keats, Tennyson. Shakespeare also uses vastidity (MEASURE FOR MEASURE), immensity. A use of vast that shows the shift in meaning, or rather a combining of immensity and waste, is in Shakespeare's HAMLET: In the dead vast and middle of the night.
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