A growing assortment of words and definitions used in the Early Modern era. See the Guide for more information.
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Blessing. A shortening of the Latin benediction, which is now the usual English word. Shakespeare, in KING LEAR (1605), refers to the bountie and the benizon of heaven. Scott in THE FAIR MAID OF PERTH (1828) : I have slept sound under such a benison. Back in 1755 Samuel Johnson in his DICTIONARY said of benison: "not now used, unless luricrously," but the word still survives in historical fiction and in poetry. Cp. malison.


A pendant; anything short and pointed, as the straight horn of a young stag. Diminutive of dagger, from French dague, dagger. Hence (1) the points of a cloak or dress slashed at the bottom as an ornament (Chaucer and the 15th century) . (2) The top of a shoelace (I5th to 18th century). (3) A lock of wool about the hinder parts of a sheep, dirty and draggling. (4) A hand-gun or heavy pistol (of the 16th to the 18th century). In the 16th and 17th century dag and dagger was a frequent phrase; Samuel Johnson (1751) hence mistakenly defined dag as dagger. For an instance of its use, see slop. Note, however, French dague, dagger; and to dag meant to stab (14th century) before it meant to shoot. There is also a word dag of Norse origin, used from the 17th century (and in dialects) to mean dew, or a gentle rain or mist.
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