A growing assortment of words and definitions used in the Early Modern era. See the Guide for more information.
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Abounding in fodder or food. Also pabular, pabulary, relating to forage or food. Pabulum, directly from the Latin, is properly applied to food of plants and animals; its use for human food is pedantic or humorous. It is, however, applied figuratively, as when Laurence Sterne in TRISTRAM SHANDY (1765) declares: Such a story affords more pabulum to the brain than all the frusts, and crusts, and rusts of antiquity. The Latin root pa- is also the source of pasture, pastor, and pater (father, the feeder of the family) .


To make peaceful. As a verb, this is rare; in the 17th century pacate was used as an adjective meaning pacified, tranquil: a pacate, humble, self-denying mind. Latin pacare, pacatus, to pacify; pacem, peace. Hence also pacative, calming, sedative; pacation. Samuel Taylor Coleridge remarked, in his essay ON THE CONSTITUTION OF THE CHURCH AND STATE (1830) : Reasonable men are easily satisfied; would they were as numerous as they are pacable!


A magic horse, which can convey one instantly whithersoever one may desire. Also used of a very swift steed. In the 16th and 17th centuries, usually the phrase Pacolet's horse was used; later pacolet alone -- as now a frankenstein is often used for Frankenstein's monster. Pacolet was the name of a dwarf (in the romance of Valentine and Orson) who made a magic horse of wood that could transport him instantly to any desired place. Thus Philip Sidney, discussing the drama's 'unity of place' in his APOLOGY FOR POETRIE (1580) said: I may speake . . . of Peru, and in speech digresse from that, to the description of Calicut; but in action, I cannot represent it without Pacolets horse. The pacolet is the western equivalent of the magic carpet.


Done or settled by agreement. Latin pactum, agreement (English pact), paciscere, pactum, to come to an agreement, the inceptive form from pacare, to make peace. Cp. pacate. The word is found only in 17th and 18th century dictionaries.


A toad. Generally pictured in the Middle Ages (as William Shakespeare phrases it in AS YOU LIKE IT) as ugly and venomous; hence, a pad in the straw, a lurking or hidden danger. In the 17th century, pad came into use as slang for path, the road. Hence, on the pad, tramping; to stand pad, to beg by the way; gentleman (knightt squire) of the pad, highwayman. Also, footpad. By the end of the 17th century, pad was used alone, to mean highway robber. Pad, the toad, by the 14th century developed a diminutive paddock, which was applied to both the toad and the frog (Wyclif's BIBLE: EXODUS in 1382 uses froggis; in 1388 paddokis). Edmund Spenser in THE SHEPHERD'S CALENDAR (1579; DECEMBER) pictures The grieslie todestoole . . . And loathed paddocks lording on the same. The word was applied to an evil person (or a familiar spirit in the shape of a toad) , as in Shakespeare's MACBETH (1605) Padock calls anon: faire is joule, and foule is faire. For another quotation, cp. gib. Hence to pad, to rob, as in Sedley's THE MULBERRY GARDEN (1668): What, ladies, come apadding for hearts here, in your vizards? . . . What, rob us of our liberties without a word? not so much as Stand and deliver? [Both wizard (now male) and witch (now female) were earlier applied to either sex.]


The land, domain, or state of mind of the pagans; pagandom. Also payeny, paeni, paygne, paynye, and the like; via Old French paienie; paien, whence English payen, pagan; Latin paganus, of the country, rustic; pagus, a province, the countryside. Cp. paynim. Lord Berners (Sir John Bourchier) in THE BOKE OF DUKE HUON OF BURDEUX (1533) said: He slew Sorbryn, the moost valyant knyght in all pagany. Thus also paganalian, relating to the rustic feasts and festivals (May Day, Thanksgiving, country fairs) which in Roman times were held in each pagus or rural district and called paganalia; English, paganals.


See palacious. Note that paleaceous means chaffy; covered with chafflike scales. Its uses extend from botany to architecture; Chambers' CYCLOPAEDIA (SUPPLEMENT; 1753) described the Roman receptaculum (waiting-room): Its surface is sometimes naked, and sometimes paleaceous.


A 17th century form, supplanted by palatial. Thus Thomas Dekker in BRITTANNIA'S HONOR (1628) spoke of faire, spacious, and pallacious houses. Note that palaceous is a scientific term meaning spade-like, spade-shaped; from Latin pala, shovel. Palaceward, toward the palace, is used by Chaucer in TROYLUS AND CRISEYDE (1374): As was his wey to wende to paylaysward.


Pertaining to wrestling; athletic Also palaestral; palestric, palestrical. The palaestra, Greek palaistra (palaiein, to wrestle) , was an ancient gymnasium, a place for the teaching and exercise of wrestling and other athletics. Hence, since the 15th century, the practice of wrestling or athletics; also used figuratively, as when Thomas P. Thompson in EXERCISES, POLITICAL AND OTHERS (1840) feared the time when the conduct of criminal justice is but a palaestra or course of exercise, to be turned on occasion against perhaps the most deserving members of the community. A palestrian was a wrestler. Chaucer in TROYLUS AND CRISEYDE (1374) spoke of the feste and pleyes palestral.


A riding-horse, but not a warhorse; especially, a small saddle-horse for ladies. Used since the 12th century, lingering in romantic and poetic use. Also palefrai, paulfrey, and more. The word is via French from Greek para, beside, extra + Latin veredus, light horse. In Portuguese, Spanish, and Italian, forms ending -freno developed, under the influence of Latin frenum, bridle; these came into English in palfrenier, a man in charge of horses; Thackeray in his PARIS SKETCH-BOOK (1840) commented: He calls his palfrenier a groom. Other forms of this word were palfreynyer; palfreyour, palfreur, palfrer, these three untouched of the bridle (frenum). Thomas d'Urfey, in his PILLS TO PURGE MELANCHOLY (1719) tells that A palphry proud, prick'd up with pride, Went prancing on the way. This was a word Walter Scott could not miss: A maiden on a palfrey white comes early in his telling.


Writing material that can be used over again, the first writing wiped or rubbed off. Greek palin, again + psestos, scraped; psao, psen, to rub smooth. Hence, parchment or other material used for a second time; this sense survives, applied to old manuscripts. Also used figuratively, as by Thomas De Quincey in SUSPIRIA (1845) : What else than a natural and mighty palimpsest is the human brain?


'A sort of high spirits worked up in despite of accidents -- ready to drink too, if you will'. Thus Francois Rabelais, who drew the word from his character -- whose name Rabelais also explains: One Friday, when people were all at their prayers, great drops of water exuded from the ground like drops of sweat. When, however, they collected and drank this marvelous dew they found it naught but brine, worse and salter than seawater. Now as it came to pass that Pantagruel was born on this very day, his father gave him a corresponding name; for panta in Greek signifieth all, and gruel in Arabic means thirsty -- wishing to suggest that on his birthday all the world was thirsty, and seeing, in the spirit of prophecy, that he would one day become the Lord of the Thirsty. Thus pantagruelism came to mean (Donaldson, THE THEATRE OF THE GREEKS; 1860) Bacchanalian buffoonery as a cloak to cover some serious purpose. Hence, pantagruelist, a jolly tippler (17th and 18th centuries) , a follower of Pantagruel; or a satirist, a follower of Rabelais. Adjectives include pantagruelistic, pantagruelian, pantagruelical, pantagrueline. Also note pantagruelion, a word Rabelais used for hemp, the material of the hangman's rope. Charles Kingsley in TWO YEARS AGO (1857) spoke of an immediate external application . . . of that famous herb pantagruelion, cure for all public ills and private woes.


A 17th century English word that means “coming together through the binding of two ropes,” according to a 1627 publication housed at the New York Public Library’s Rare Book Division [which one? -ed]


Littleness of spirit. Latin parvus, small + animus, spirit, mind: small-mindedness; the converse of magnanimity. Thomas De Quincey in 1830 wrote of the meanness and parvanimity of Bonaparte. Several English words have been formed with the prefix parvi, small; some are scientific. Others include paruitude, parvity, smallness; parvipotent (accent on the vip), of little power; parviscient, knowing little. The common quality of man is parviscience.


Relating to the gallows. Hence, patibulate, to hang. Both terms were mainly in humorous use. Latin patibulum, a fork-shaped yoke placed on the neck of a criminal; patere, to lie open, to be exposed (as in the stocks). Hence patible was used in English (15th into the 18th century) to mean the horizontal bar of a cross; a gallows. Also in the 17th century, patible (from Latin pati, to suffer, whence also patient, long-suffering) was used to mean capable of suffering, enduring. SOCIETY of II June, 1881, spoke of that distinguished burglar, after he had been duly patibulated.

Pattern Maker

A maker of a clog shod with an iron ring. A clog was a wooden pole with a pattern cut into the end.


An old form of pet, a darling. Also, a spoiled child; William Shakespeare in THE TAMING OF THE SHREW (1596) has: A pretty peate! It is best put finger in the eye, and she knew why -- the remainer of the passage implying a cry-baby. Being very common from 1570 to 1640, the word developed other uses: as a term of scorn for a woman, especially, a proud peat. Ben Jonson in EVERY MAN OUT OF HIS HUMOUR (1599) described Deliro's wife and idoll, a proud mincing peat, and as perverse as he is officious. Also, a lawyer favored by a judge, referred to as his peat. Walter Scott revived this use (in REDGAUNTLET; 1824); he also used peat (THE HEART OF MIDLOTHIAN; 1818) as a term of scorn for a man. Hence peatry, peatship, the character or behavior of a peat. A peatery, however, is a place where peat (chunks of decomposed and partly carbonized vegetable matter, used for fuel -- the still current sense) is dug

Pedlers French

The canting language, the special speech of the beggars, vagabonds, and thieves of Tudor times. It is used, to some extent, in plays of the period, and especially in the pamphlets and broadsides of the day. Both Thomas Harman in A CAVEAT OR WAKENING FOR COMMON CURSETORS, VULGARELY CALLED VAGABONDES (1567) and Thomas Dekker in LANTHORNE AND CANDLE-LIGHT (Part Two of THE BELMAN OF LONDON; 1609) discuss it in detail. Some of its words are from Latin: Togeman, a cloak, from toga; pannam, bread, from panis; cassan, cheese, from caseus. Others of the words follow, lightmans, day; darkmans, night; the harmans, the stocks; the harman beck, the constable; grannam, corn; ruffmans, bushes, woods, hedges, chete, thing, in many compounds as smelling-chete, a nose, also an orchard or garden; nab, head; nab-chete, cap; prattling chete, tongue; crashing chetes, teeth; fambles, hands; fambling chete, a ring; belly chete, apron; grunting chete, pig. prat, a buttock (we still speak, in the circus, of a pratfall) ; stampes, legs; stampers, shoes. A cove (cofe, co, cuffin) was a man; a mort was a woman. Hence patriarke co, patrico, priest, especially a hedgepriest; gentry cofe, a nobleman; kinchin co, a boy, also kitchen co. kinchin mort, a girl; especially, the baby girl carried by a beggar woman to win pity and elicit pence; "she is brought at her full age to the upright to be broken, and so she is called a doxy until she come to the honor of an altham." autem, altar, church; autem (altham) mort, married woman. Rome mort, queen; Rome bowse, wine; Rome vile (French ville, city), London, ken, house; quier, queer, quyer, evil; quier ken, prison; quier cuffin, justice of the peace, bowsing ken, tavern; stauling ken, place that will receive stolen goods. To cut, cutte, to say; to cant, to speak; to towre, to see, to maunde, ask; to prig, ride; to nygle, niggle, to have to do with a woman carnally. Chief among beggars was the upright, the master vagabond; his staff was called a filtchman. The jarkeman (jackman) could read and write; he provided (counterfeit) licenses, called gybes; the seals he affixed were called jarkes. The frater carried a gybe to beg for a hospital (spittlehouse). The curtsey man was a polite beggar with a piteous tale. The verser (cp. gramercy) was a thief's confederate, steering the victim (verse, to turn) into the snare. A ruffler was, or claimed to be, a veteran of the wars; a whipjack, an old mariner. These terms but scratch the surface of the Elizabethan underworld, yet in some measure I have -- if I may quote Harman -- set before thee, good Reader, the leud lousey language of these leutering luskes and laysy lorels ... an unknowen tounge onely but to these bold, beastly, bawdy beggers and vayne vacabonds.


Divination -- foretelling events, predicting the future -- using fountains.


A stake, used in practicing sword-craft in the 14th century. Also, an early form for pall, peel, pell. Joseph Strutt [1], discussing the old use in SPORTS AND PASTIMES (1801), said: The practitioner was then to assail the pel, armed with sword and shield, in the same manner as he would an adversary. Pel is via French from Latin palus, stake, whence also palisade, pale, pile, peel. The noun peel has had several meanings beside the now current rind of fruit, often candied. (1) A pillow. (2) An equal, a peer. W. Hamilton, in WALLACE (1722): In time of peace, he never had a peel, So courteous he was, and so genteel. (3) A shovel; a baker's shovel. (4) Related to pel: a stake. Hence, a fence of stakes, a palisade (from the 13th to the 16th century) ; a small castle or tower; later, especially, one of the small towers or fortified dwellings built in the 16th century along the English-Scottish border, a peel-house, shortened to peel. Chaucer in THE HOUS OF FAME (1384) has: I gan to romen til I fonde The castel gate on my ryght honde . . . Ther mette I cryinge many oon [a one] God save the lady of thys pel.


Property pilfered or stolen, booty; property; money, wealth. Thus William Shakespeare in the prologue to PERICLES (1608): All perishen, of man, of pelfe, Ne ought escapende but himselfe. This progression of meanings toward social acceptance altered, and the word came to mean money, disparagingly, "filthy lucre"; then trumpery, trash -- Gosson in PLEASANT QUIPS FOR UPSTART NEWFANGLED GENTLEWOMEN (1595) decries all this new pelfe now sold in shops, in value true not worth a louse.


The quality of being very clear. Used from the 17th century, sometimes to mean physically transparent (Latin per, through + lux, lucem, light), sometimes of ideas and the mind. C. Lucas in 1756 observed that the Thames River preserves her purity and pellucidity. Of what river that washes a city can this still be said? Witness the already old jingle ending: "The River Rhone washes the city of Cologne . . . Who now will wash the River Rhone?"


A coarse woollen cloth, used in the 16th and 17th centuries. From Pentstone, a town in Yorkshire. Also pennystone, penyston, etc. An Act of Edward VI (1551) required that clothes commonlye called pennystones or forest whites . . . shall conteyne in lengthe beinge wette betwixt twelve and thirtene yardes.


An itinerant wanderer


To do half-heartedly, to perform in a perfunctory way. Also perfunctorize; both in the 19th century. Latin perfunctor (which might well be used in English) , one that acts in order to be done with a thing; perfungi, perfunctum, to perform, carry through, get rid of; per, through + fungi, to busy oneself, be engaged.


To investigate thoroughly; to examine minutely. Also perscrutate; perscrutation; perscrutator. Latin per, through + scrutari, scrutatum, to examine; whence also scrutiny and the inscrutable ways of providence. Thomas Carlyle in PAST AND PRESENT (1843) exclaimed at Such guessing, visioning, dim perscrutation of the momentous future!


A wigmaker


A hassock; especially, one to rest the feet on or to kneel on, in church. In GAMMER GURTON'S NEEDLE (1575) we hear: My gammer sat her down on her pesf and bad me reach thy breches.


Divination -- foretelling events, predicting the future --using tossed pebbles.


Shyster lawyer


(1) A rash driver; one that by his rashness 'sets the world on fire' From Phaethon (three syllables; the word means shining) , the son of the sun -- Helios and Clymene, in Greek mythology -- who begged permission to drive the chariot of the sun just once, but could not control the horses, which plunged down until the earth was almost burned: Zeus saved it by hurling a thunderbolt that destroyed Phaethon. Thomas Watson2 in A BODY OF PRACTICAL DIVINITY (1692) said: Sin is the Phaeton that sets the world on fire. (2) A light four-wheeled open carriage, used in the 18th and 19th centuries; William Felton2 in his book on CARRIAGES (1794) said: The sizes and constructions of phaetons are more various than any other description of carriages.


An illusion; the appearance of a spectre. The word itself was originally a phantomnation; it was first recorded in the dictionaries by a misreading. The original sense appears in Alexander Pope's translation (1725) of the ODYSSEY: The phantome nations of the dead.


This is the German word for Philistine, borrowed by the English in the 19th century, for an unenlightened, uncultured person, a philistine. This use probably dates from a sermon preached by Pastor Gotze in Jena in 1693, on the text The Philistines be upon thee, Samson! (Philister uber dir, Simson!), at the funeral of a student killed by the townsmen in a quarrel between 'town and gown.' Hence, applied by students to townsmen, to all that are not students; hence, an unenlightened person. Also philistee, philistian.


Also Phyznomancy. Also Fiznomancy. Divination -- foretelling events, predicting the future -- using the countenance.


A crockery dealer.


An outer garment of skin dressed with the hair. Chaucer gives as a proverb (1390): After heet comethe colde, No man caste his pilchche away. Old English pylece, pelisse; see pell. Also pylche. The verb pilch meant to pick, pluck; hence, to pilfer, rob. Hence pilcher was widely used in the 17th century, as a term of abuse, as in Ben Jonson's THE POETASTER (1601): you mungrels, you curres . . . you inhumane pilchers! Pilcher was also used as a variant of pilch, and as meaning a scabbard -- this in William Shakespeare's ROMEO AND JULIET (1592): Will you pluck your sword out of his pilcher by the ears?


(1) The penis. Pill and cock were used separately in this sense; pill also was figurative for testicle. The word cock took this meaning not directly from the barnyard animal, but from the watercock, supposedly representing a cock's head and comb the top of which suggested the penis. When Lear on the heath (William Shakespeare, KING LEAR, 1605) says: 'Twas this flesh begot Those pelican daughters, Edgar, disguised as a madman, sings the old song: Pillicock sat on Pillicock Hill, Halloo, halloo, loo, loo! [pelican, ungrateful, turning upon one's parents. The pelican mother supposedly fed her young on her own blood; the young thus gained strength, with which they tore her. Thus his daughters, with Lear.] (2) A term of endearment or compliment to a boy, like 'my pretty knave'; thus Thomas Urquhart in his translation (1653) of Francois Rabelais cries: By my faith, I cannot tell, my pillicock, but thou art more worth than gold.


An alloy (5 parts copper with 1 part zinc) that looks like gold, hence used for cheap jewelry; hence, spurious; imitation, sham. From Christopher Pinchbeck (died 1732) a watchmaker of Fleet Street, London, who invented the alloy; apparently his family name is a place-name; there is a village called Pinchbeck near Spalding. An advertisement in THE DAILY POST of 27 November, 1732, read: The toys made of the late ingenious Mr. Pinchbeck's curious metal . . . are now sold only by his son and sole executor, Mr. Edward Pinchbeck. William Makepeace Thackeray in THE VIRGINIAN (1859) said what is true of many a young woman this hundred years later: Those golden locks were only pinchbeck. Symonds in THE RENAISSANCE IN ITALY (1877) spoke of a pinchbeck age of poetry.


To enclose; to dam up (as water) ; to put (animals) in a pound. In a farming book of 1641, Henry Best pictured a sorry state of lambs: Theire excremente . . . berke together their tayles and hinder parts, and soe stoppe their fundament; the sheapheardes phrase is that such lambs are pinded, and that they must bee sette ait liberty. From the 9th century. Hence pinder (short i) , an officer of the manor whose duty it was to impound stray beasts; in Nottingham in the 1760's there were two, "one for the fields and the other for the meadows." Also pinfold, a pound, a place for confining stray cattle, horses, sheep, etc. In the ten provinces of Poland, remarked A. White in 1899, the Jews are confined as in a pinfold.


In The whole Body of Cookery dissected (1682) there is the following recipe for something like a fritter, pancake, or cookie that's been fried rather than baked. This is the only known use of this word.

How to make small Pindents to fry for first Course.
Take one pint of Flour, and as much grated bread, eight Eggs, cast away the whites, or five thereof, beat it to a thick batter, with Cream, Rosewater and Sack; season it with beaten Cinamon, Ginger, Nutmeg and Mace, put to it a handful of parboyled Currans, and a handful of minced Marrow, if not Beef-suet, add Salt, then let your pan be hot with clarified Butter or sweet suet, then drop it in by spoonfuls, and when they are fryed on both sides, dish them up on a dish and plate, and scrape on sugar: you may add a handful of sugar to the batter.


Growing fat; causing to grow fat, Latin pinguescere, to grow fat; pinguis, fat. pinguescence, the process of growing fat. pinguefy, rarely pinguedinize, to make fat. pinguefaction, the act of fattening. Robert Southey in 1797 pictured a very brown looking man, of most pinguescent and fullmoon cheeks. BLACKWOOD'S EDINBURGH MAGAZINE of 1825 more gruesomely pictured buttocks pinguefying on their own steaks.


Chirping like a young bird; hence, young, new-fledged. Collins in a sermon of 1607 spoke of Anacreon's fonde doves, some perfect, some pipient, some hatcht, some half hatcht. Thomas Adams in THE SPIRITUALL, NAVIGATOR (1615) castigated hypocrites, a pipient brood, cackling their own ripeness.


Short for epistle. Also pistel, pistol, pystol, pistelle, pystle, and the like. Chaucer uses the word pistel to mean story. As a verb, to write an epistle on, to satirize; in PAPPE WITH A HATCHET (1589) we read: Take heed, he will pistle thee. A pistoler (pystoler) might be a letter-writer, or a church officer assigned to read the Epistle; Cardinal Wolsey had in his private chapel (said George Cavendish in 1557) a deane who was allwayes a great clarke and devyne; a subdeane, a repeter [rehearser] of the quyer; a gospeller; a pystoler; and xii syngyng prestes.


(1) A plan or map (16th century). (2) A piece of armour worn over the cuirass, or a leather jacket with steel strips. In this sense, also placcate, placard, plaquet. (3) A woman's petticoat; hence, a woman. Also, a pocket in a woman's skirt; but especially, the opening in a petticoat (to make it easy to take off) , hence used with sexual implications, as in William Shakespeare's KING LEAR (1605) : Keep thy foot out of brothels, thy hand out of plackets, thy pen from lender's books, and defy the foul fiend!


Making the noise of waves breaking on the shore; loudsounding, used of a metallic or of a plaintive sound; hence plangor, loud lamentation; plangorous. Latin plangere, to strike noisily, beat the breast, bewail. Hence plangiferous, producing or accompanied by the sound of beating, like a lively plangiferous flagellation. Plangency might be either pleasant or unpleasant: Thomas Carlyle in FREDERICK THE GREAT (1858) says: Friedrich Wilhelm's words, in high clangorous metallic plagency . . . fall hotter and hotter; Stevenson in THE ARABIAN NIGHTS (1882) says: Her voice had charm and plangency.


Plain-speaking. Also planiloquy, plain speech. 17th and 18th century, after the Latin planiloquus of Plautus.


A wagoner. Latin plaustrum, a wagon, cart. The first syllable rhymes with law. Hence, plaustral, pertaining to a cart or wagon. Oliver Goldsmith1 in A CITIZEN OF THE WORLD (1762) observed: Whether the grand jury, in council assembled, had gloriously combined to encourage plaustral merit, I cannot take upon me to determine.


One who applied sheet lead for roofing and set lead frames for plain or stained glass windows.


Divination -- foretelling events, predicting the future --by blowing; a vestigium of this is the blowing out of candles on a festival or birthday cake.


A pocket fiddle, used in the 17th and the early 18th century. Also pochette d'amore, an early viola d'amore.


Door keeper


(1) An apothecary. The form is a 15th to 17th century corruption (revived by Walter Scott in THE FAIR MAID OF PERTH, 1828) of pothecar, pothecary. Also potingair, pottinger. Apothecary is via Late Latin from Greek apotheke, storehouse; pithenai, to put. The form pottinger was also another word, related to pottage and porringer, meaning (2) a vessel for holding liquid food, a small basin. Used from the 15th century. Also (B) a pottage maker, a cook. This was, earlier, potager.


Relating to, or providing, a foretaste. Latin prae, before + libare, libatum, to take a little of, to taste -- whence also libation. Thus prelibate, to taste beforehand; to give a foretaste; prelibation. Used from the 16th century; common in figurative use in the 17th, especially in religious writings, as when T. Adams in his EXPOSITION (1633) of the BIBLE: SECOND EPISTLE GENERAL OF PETER stated that the wicked have a preltbatwn of that darkness they shall go unto hereafter. William Wordsworth makes poetic use of prelibation in THE PRELUDE (1805).


A tinker, a traveling mender of pots and pans; hence, a thief. A prigman (prygman, pridgeman) is one of the varieties of vagabond listed in the Elizabethan pamphlets; cp. pedlers French. Also a verb, to prig, to steal, to cheat. William Shakespeare in THE WINTER'S TALE (1611) tells us a man married a tinkers wife . . . and (having flowne over many knavish professions) he settled onely in rogue: some call him Autolycus. Clowne: Out upon him: prig, for my life, prig: he haunts wakes, faires, and beare-baitings.


A drink made of wine and honey, usually taken before meals. Directly from the Greek pro, before + poma, drink. In English, also propomate. A 17th century term. See mead.


A strong material (originally silk, later worsted) used for students', clergymen's, and barristers' gowns and later for the tops of women's shoes. Alexander Pope used the word in his ESSAY ON MAN (1734): Worth makes the man and want of it, the fellow; The rest is all but leather or prunella. The word is also used as the name of a flower (the self-heal) and -- by alteration from brunella, 'the browns' -- was applied to a camp-fever prevalent among the German imperial troops in 1547 and 1566. The word was also used in the forms prunelle, prunello. Prunello is the Italian for little prune; Sir James Edward Smith in his MEMOIRS (1786) said that he Dined at Brignolle, famous for the Prunes de Brignolle, which we have corrupted into Prunellas. They were a noted product of Provence.


Divination -- foretelling events, predicting the future --using heaped pebbles.


Divination -- foretelling events, predicting the future -- with the intent to deceive, as when the witches promise Macbeth he'll be safe till Birnam Wood shall come to Dunsinane which would leave more than a dunce inane.


Divination -- foretelling events, predicting the future --using spirits.


Wrought iron worker

Pumbum Worker



A prostitute, harlot. From the late 16th century; Shakespeare in MEASURE FOR MEASURE (1603) says: She may be a puncke; for many of them are neither maid, widow, nor wife. Also punque, pung. Nares (1882) notes that punk was used by Samuel Butler and John Dryden, but calls it 'a coarse term, which is deservedly growing obsolete.'


Divination -- foretelling events, predicting the future --using flames.


A box or coffer. A small vase. Cp. pax. Also pix; pyxis; Greek pyxis, box; pyxos, box-tree. Especially (1) in church service, the vessel in which the consecrated bread of the sacrament is kept; (2) the box at the London mint where specimen new coins are kept to be tested; hence, the trial of the pyx, examination of the purity and weight of the coins; pyx-feast, pyx-dinner, meal of the jury of the Goldsmiths' Company, on the occasion of the trial of the pyx. (3) The mariner's compass. -- We note in Smith's DICTIONARY OF GREEK AND ROMAN ANTIQUITIES (1842) that Nero deposited his beard in a valuable pyxis, when he shaved for the first time.
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