A growing assortment of words and definitions used in the Early Modern era. See the Guide for more information.
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A toy, a rattle. Hence, an empty talker, one who rattles on. Latin crepundia, a rattle, from crepare, crepitum. to rattle, tinkle; whence crepitare, to crackle, etc. (see creve) and English crepitation, crackling; crepitate, to crackle, (17th and 18th centuries) to break wind. Although idle talk continues, crepundian was used mainly in the 16th and 17th centuries. Thomas Nashe (Greene's MENAPHON, 1589) speaks of our quadrant crepundios, that spit 'ergo' in the mouth of every one they meet.


To bend; to slope; to bow to, to submit; to sink, decline, fall; to bend one's course; to turn aside; also, to bend toward, to incline to, to favor. Used literally or figuratively, from the 9th to the 16th century. Also used transitively: to bend something; to pour out (by tilting the container) ; this too was used figuratively, as to hield his wrath. The word hield was likewise used as a noun, meaning a slope, an incline; on held, in a bent-over posture. Hence, figuratively, an inclination; also, a decline, as in Thomas Nashe's LENTEN STUFFE (1599) : His purse is on the heild. Among other spellings of this common word were heald, heeld, helde, hulde, heel (in nautical use, as when a ship inclines, heels over).


A swashbuckler, braggadocio; person (that thinks he is) of importance. From kill + cow, the cow being the most unwarlike of creatures. Richard Harvey in PLAINE PERCEVALL THE PEACE-MAKER OF ENGLAND (1590) exclaimed: What neede all this stir? this banding of kilcowes to fight with a shadow? Thomas Nashe in return (cp. bum; gallimaufry) calls Gabriel Harvey the kilcow champion.

Lac virginis

(1) A cosmetic; used in the 15th, 16th and 17th centuries. Literally (Latin), milk of the Virgin. Thomas Nashe in PIERCE PENNILESSE HIS SUPPLICATION TO THE DIVELL (1592) said: She should have noynted your face over night with lac virginis. (2) A wine; perhaps a translation of German Licbfraumilch. BLACKWOOD'S EDINBURGH MAGAZINE said, in a poem of 1820: The parsons should grow misty On good lac virginis or lachryma Christi.


A raspscallion (cp. scullion), a ruffian scoundrel. Perhaps related to ramp, q.v. Thomas Nashe in his STRANGE NEWES (1593) advised: Pocket not up this abuse at a rakehell rampalions hands. For an instance in Shakespeare, used of a woman, see catastrophe.


(1) Used figuratively of things resembling a pack of wool, as a spread of white water, a fleecy cloud. Thus in Thomas Nashe's LENTEN STUFFE (1599) we read that when Hero bent over to kiss the drowned Leander, boystrous woolpacks of ridged tides came rowling in and raught him from her. One is reminded of Hugo's line: The fleece of the sinister sheep of the sea. (2) Same as woolsack; especially as the seat, a bag of wool, of the Lord Chancellor in the House of Lords; hence, the woolsack, the Lord Chancellorship. Note that Shakespeare (HENRY IV, PART ONE; 1597) refers to fat Falstaff as a woolsack.
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