A growing assortment of words and definitions used in the Early Modern era. See the Guide for more information.
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A variant form of burning. John Skelton (WORKES; 1529; cp. shyderyd) declared: Oure days be datyd To be chek matyd With drauttys [moves] of deth Stopping cure breth, Oure eyen synkyng, Oure bodys stynkyng, Oure gummys grynnyng, Our soulys brynnyng.


A meeting, encounter. Hence, an assembly, especially one that forms a legislative or judicial court. In Anglo-Saxon and early English days there were the gemot, witenagemot, burg-mote, hall-mote, hundred-mote, and more. Hence moot, an action at law, a plea; an argument, disputation. At Gray's Inn (and the English Inns of Court since the 16th century), the discussion of a hypothetical case, by students, for practice; a case for such discussion. Hence, as an adjective, a moot case, a moot problem, debatable, doubtful, not decided. This was a very common word from the 9th to the 17th century; related to meet. The verb to moot meant to converse, then to argue, especially, to argue a doubtful case, or an imaginary case for practice. A mooter was a speaker, especially one who argued in court or in a moot hall in the Inns of Court. Earlier, a moot hall was a place where the moot (council of court) meetings were held; also in the moot-house or on the moot-hill, mote hill. The moot cases and mooters were often satirized; thus John Skelton in COLYN CLOUTE (1529) : Stand sure, and take good fotyng, And let be all your motyng, Your gasyng and your totyng; and James Gilcrist in THE INTELLECTUAL PATRIMONY (1817) : Probably neither the one nor the other understands what he is writing about more than a big school-boy or mooting babbler.


A wanton girl. Originally a variant diminutive of nice. John Skelton in the interlude MAGNYFYCENCE (1520) has: Where I spy a nysot gay, That wyll syt ydyll all the day.


A variant form of shivered, shattered. John Skelton, when a gentlewoman sent him a skull (WORKES; 1529; cp. brynnyng) pictured the corpse With sinnews wyderyd, With bonys shyderyd, With his worme etyn maw, And his gastly jaw Gasping asyde, Nakyd of hyde.


Originally, a servant of superior rank, in a royal or noble household. Also yeman, ymman, probably related to youngman, the youth of a noble house trained as a page or a yeoman. Hence, to do yeoman service, to do excellent and faithful work (often with implication that the assignment was onerous) . The body-guard of the ruler of England (first archers, appointed when Henry VII was crowned; 1485) consists of The Yeomen of the Guard; these survived in London and the title of a Gilbert and Sullivan play (1888). By extension (15th to 17th century), a landholder under the rank of a gentleman; hence, in general, a sturdy and respected commoner. John Skelton in MAGNYFYCENCE (1520) pictured life's vicissitudes: To day hote, to morowe outrageous colde; to day a yoman, to morowe made a page.
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