A growing assortment of words and definitions used in the Early Modern era. See the Guide for more information.
LetterFind:   Selected:  



A coarse garment; especially, a loose outer shirt without sleeves, worn by peasants, foot-soldiers, monks. In the 16th and 17th centuries, the official dress of a herald. Common since the 13th century; hence, The Tabard Inn, in Southwark, where the pilgrims assembled in Chaucer's CANTERBURY TALES (1386). The inn stood until 1875; William Toone, in his GLOSSARY of 1834, says it is now corruptly called the Talbot. Cp. courtepy; rochet.


Emaciation; wasting away. tabefact, wasted away; corrupted (15th century), tabe, tabes, gradual wasting away; consumption. Root ta, to run, melt, related to English thaw. Also tabetic, relating to emaciation; a tabetic, one afflicted with tabes.


Relating to letters, or a letter-carrier. Latin tabellarius, letter-carrier, courier; tabella, writing-tablet. Hence tabellary, a letter-carrier; a scrivener; also as an adjective, pertaining to such things; (of ancient practice) pertaining to voting tablets. A tabellion was a minor official clerk in the Roman Empire and until the Revolution in France; in England, 17th and 18th centuries.


From his voyages to the South Seas, Captain James Cook brought home numerous new words, including taboo, a Tongan word (tabu "set apart," "forbidden") he introduced into English in 1777.


A drum. Related to Persian tabirah and taburak, both meaning drum; possibly to Arabic tanbur, a kind of lyre. Also tabour, taborn, tabron, tabberone, tawberne, talburn, tawbron, and more. When the word drum was introduced, in the 16th century, tabor was used of a small drum. A taborin was one less wide but longer than the tabor, played with one drumstick, while the other hand manipulated a flute or fife. A tabret (taberett, tabberet, tabarde, tabouret) was also a small tabor, a timbrel (q.v.). Some of the Romance languages have the same word with an m; whence also, English tambour, drum, especially the large bass drum (also, a kind of embroidery or needlework made with the material stretched as on a drum-head). A tamboura was an oriental instrument of the lute family. A tamborin, tambourin, was a long narrow drum, especially of a type used in Provence. The French tambour de basque, on the other hand, is English tambourine, made familiar by the Salvation Army. From its drum-shape the low stool called tabouret drew its name; privilege (honour) of the tabouret, permission for a lady to sit in the Queen's presence. The tabor might also be the drummer, usually the taborer. William Shakespeare in THE TEMPEST (1610) tells: Then I beat my tabor, At which like unbackt colts they prickt their eares.


Things that should not be mentioned. Directly from the gerundive of Latin tacere, to be silent, whence also English tacent, silent. The imperative tace (pronounced tay see) is sometimes used as an admonition to silence; since the 17th century (Henry Fielding in AMELIA, 1752; Walter Scott in a letter of 1821), the sentence Tace is Latin for a candle has been used to let a person know he's to keep silent on a matter. BLACKWOOD'S EDINBURGH MAGAZINE of February 1883 referred to topics regarded as tacenda by society.


I. As a noun. (1) A spot, blemish, physical or moral; a stain, stigma; a distinctive mark (good or bad) . Caxton's THE GOLDEN LEGEND (1483): She that never had tatche ne spot of corruption. Related to touch. (2) A clasp, buckle, hook and eye, or other device for fastening. The same word as tack. (3) A flat pan for boiling maple sugar; also for drying tealeaves. (4) Tinder. Also teche, taich, tash, and more. II. As a verb. (1) To stain or taint, especially morally; to stigmatize; to blemish. (2) To fasten, lay hold of (15th to 17th century, arrest) . Replaced in this sense by attach. (3) To attack, to charge. Also teccheless, tacheless, stainless, without fault. In 1723 R. Hay wrote A Vindication of Elizabeth More from the Imputation of being a Concubine; and her Children from the Tache of Bastardy.


Shape; especially, one's shape from shoulder to waist. From the French, used in the 17th century; in the 14th century, tail was used in the same sense. Samuel Pepys in his DIARY (13 July, 1663) said that Mrs. Stewart, with her sweet eye, little Roman nose, and excellent taille, is now the greatest beauty I ever saw.


A repayment of like for like. Latin tails, like. Used from the 15th into the 18th century; replaced by retaliation. Also talio, talion. Sometimes the Latin phrase lex talionis, the law of like, is used, for such principles as the Biblical "an eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth"; also, for the infliction on an accuser that does not prove his case of the penalty that would have fallen upon the accused had he been found guilty. Also talionic, relating to such retaliation. Beaumont in PSYCHE (1648) observed: Just Heav'n this taliation did decree, That treason treason's deadly scourge should be.


To tire, become exhausted; swoon. Also taum, tawm. Used from the 14th to the 17th century, later in dialects. Thomas Drant in THE WAILYNGS OF THE PROPHET HIEREMIAH (1566) wrote: My babes dyd faynt, And sucklynges tawmed in the streetes.


A 16th and 17th century dainty: a tart or sugared pastry, made with cheese, cream, and eggs; an early variety of cheesecake.


One who tans (cures) animal hides into leather


A thing that only seems to exist Latin tanquam, as if; as it were. In Cambridge University, in the 17th and 18th centuries (tanquam socius, as if a fellow), a tanquam was an associate or companion of a fellow of the University.


One who puts the tap in an ale cask


A pleasant drink: (1) From the 16th century, the fermented sap of various palm trees, especially the date and the coconut. Also tingling terry; and tarea, taree; tadie, taddy; (most popular form in the 18th century) toddey, toddie, toddy. (2) hot toddy (since the 18th century), hot water, sugar, and brandy or rum or gin or whisky. Robert Burns in THE HOLY FAIR (1786) wrote: The lads and lasses, blythely bent To mind baith soul an' body, Sit round the table,, weel content. An' steer about the toddy. The Revenue Office in 1850 ruled that The taree or juice of the palm tree is liable to duty, in its fermented or unfermented state.




An old form of tercel, q.v. The tercel-gentle was the male of the peregrine falcon -- used figuratively of a noble gentleman. In William Shakespeare's ROMEO AND JULIET (1595), Romeo has just left the orchard beneath Juliet's window -- He jests at scars that never felt a wound. But soft! What light through yonder window breaks? It is the east, and Juliet is the sun! -- after their first wooing, when Juliet calls: Hist, Romeo, hist! -- Oh, for a falconer's voice, To lure this tassel-gentle back again!


Another word (for "skin art") introduced by Captain Cook, who in 1769 told how Tahitians painted themselves with "tattows." From Tahitian, Tongan, and Samoan ta-tau or Marquesan ta-tu.

The use of the word meaning "rhythmic drumming" is earlier, from the 1600s, (originally as tap-too) from Dutch taptoe, literally "close the tap (of the cask)."


Torch. See tede. Latin taeda, pine-torch. Edmund Spenser in his EPITHALAMION (1595) said of his bride: Bid her awake; for Hymen is awake, And long since ready forth his maske [merry procession] to move, With his bright tead that flames with many a flake [flash], And many a bachelor to wait on him.


One who drives a team for hauling.


Divination -- foretelling events, predicting the future --using tracings in ashes.


Pertaining to monsters or prodigies. Cp. teratoscopy. Greek terata, marvels, which is also used in English of monstrous births. Hence also teratism, love of the marvellous or the prodigious. teramorphous, monstrous in appearance or form. Wollaston, in THE RELIGION OF NATURE DELINEATED (1722) pictures Herodotus, possibly delighting in teratical stories. Many playwrights picture a teratical aspect of nature on the brink of dire human events (as William Shakespeare, before Julius Caesar's assassination).


Divination -- foretelling events, predicting the future --using prodigies, or natural marvels.


The male of a hawk; especially, of the peregrine falcon and the goshawk. Also tiercel, tarcel, tyercelle, and many others. Cp. Tassel; gerfalcon. Also tercelet, tiercelet; tercellene. Ultimately from popular Latin tertiolus, a little third; tertius, third. Some say it is thus named because it is a third smaller than the female; Sir Thomas Browne (TRACTS; 1682) suggests another reason: When they lay three eggs . . . the first produceth a female and large hawk, the second of a midler sort, and the third a smaller bird, terecellene or tassel of the male sex. In hunting days, falcon always meant the female. In the 16th and 17th centuries, tercel was sometimes applied figuratively to a person, as by George Chapman in MAY DAY (1611): Whose foole are you? Are not you the tassell of a gander? Walter Scott in THE ABBOT (1820) revived this application: Marry, out upon thee, foul kite, that would fain be a tercel gentle!


Harsh; austere; bitter; morose. Also tetric. Latin tetricus, harsh, forbidding; taeter, foul. Hence, tetricity, tetritude, tetricality, tetricalness. Gauden in HIERASPISTES (1653) declares: It requires diligence to contend with younger ignorance, and elder obstinacy, and aged tetricalness.


Straw roofer.


That corrupts or ruins women. Greek thelys, female + phthora, corruption. M. Madan in 1780 wrote a book entitled Telyphthora; or, A Treatise on Female Ruin, in its Causes, Effects, Consequences, Prevention, and Remedy. Fourteen years later Thomas Mathias inquired, in his poem THE PURSUITS OF LITERATURE: Must I with Madan, bent on gospel truth, In telyphthoric lore instruct our youth? The prefix thely-, female, is used in various scientific terms, such as thelytokous, thelygenous, producing only female offspring; hence thelytoky; arrhenotoky, q.v., is the production only of males. Nathan Bailey in his DICTIONARY (1751) lists thelygonum, 'an herb which, when steeped in drink, is said to make a woman conceive a girl' It is equally efficacious when drunk by the man.


A variant form of than. This use was very common until the 18th century. Another instance is in the epigram Nullum stimulum ignavis (Nothing can rouse the lazy) in Henry Parrot's THE MASTIVE, OR YOUNG WHELP OF THE OLDE DOGGE (1615): Caecus awak't, was tolde the sunne appeared, Which had the darknes of the morning cleard: But Caecus sluggish thereto makes replie, 'The sunne hath further farre to goe then I'.


Also Theomagic. Divination -- foretelling events, predicting the future -- by using oracles, or calling on the god.


Divination -- foretelling events, predicting the future -- by the movements of wild animals.


A variant of thrid, thread. The original form of third, the numeral, was also thrid; Gothic thridja; Latin tertius but Greek tritos; Sanskrit trtiyas.William Shakespeare may have meant thread, a constituent fibre, in THE TEMPEST (1611) when Prospero, accepting Ferdinand as betrothed to his daughter Miranda, says: I have given you here a third of my own life, Or that for which I live. In OTHELLO, Desdemona is called the half of her father Brabantio's soul; Prospero would hardly be setting much price on Miranda if we interpret third as the numeral.


A town constable. Also thridborrow, tharborough, thredbearer. Probably a corruption of Middle English fridborgh, frithborh, peace-pledge, peacesurety. The English, having lost the sense, formed various corruptions; the earliest printing of William Shakespeare's TAMING OF THE SHREW (the Induction; 1586) says headborough. The tavern hostess speaks: I know my remedy. I must go fetch the thirdborough. Drunken Sly responds: Third, fourth, or fift borough, lie answere him by law -- and falls asleep. In LOVE'S LABOUR'S LOST: I myselfe reprehend his owne person, for I am his graces tharborough.


(1) A hole, perforation, aperture. What we today call a nostril was originally a nose-thirl. Later, a door or a window; also, a small cavity or recess; a closet. (2) A bondsman; a variant of thrill; thrall (cp. thrall). Especially, thirlage, the obligation to take one's produce or work to a particular mill or forge (the landlord's) or to pay a fee instead. As a verb, (1) to pierce, penetrate, traverse -- and the various literal and figurative senses of thrill, as when Allan Ramsay1 in THE GENTLE SHEPHERD (1725) said: His words they thirle like music through my heart. (2) To reduce to bondage or hold in servitude; to limit a tenant to a particular mill; hence, to confine or restrict, as in Bryce's THE AMERICAN COMMONWEALTH (1888): Great is their power, because they are deemed to be less thirled to a party or leader, because they speak from a moral standpoint. (3) To hurl, or to fly, with a spinning motion. Frequent in the 16th century, possibly by fusion with twirl or whirl. Note that thirlpool was a name for the whale (15th to 17th century). Also thirlepoll; hence it might be from thirl, opening + poll, head; but other forms of the word were whirlpool (1522) and hurlpool (1556), so that there may be a connection with the tumult of the whale's blowing. -- In the figurative sense, to pierce, Chaucer says in ANELIDA AND ARCITE (1374): So thirllethe with the poynt of rememberaunce the sworde of sorowe.


Used in the 17th century (again in the 19th); opposed to thatness, which is the quality of being something other than this. This had various forms: thissen, thisne (used by Bottom in William Shakespeare's A MIDSUMMER NIGHT'S DREAM; 1596), in this manner. Also thiskin, on thiskin wise, this gate, thishow (after somehow) this wise, on this wise, in this manner, thus. this half, a-this-half, on this side, thislike, like this, in this way. this while, this whiles, during this time, meanwhile.


A hamlet; especially, in Middle English, an agricultural village. A Norse word, not common in Old English and appearing mainly (Langland, 1362; Chaucer, 1386) as throp, throop. Thorp was seldom used in literary works after the 15th century, but survived through the countryside, and was restored to poetic use by William Wordsworth (THE EXCURSION, 1814: Welcome, wheresoe'er he came -- Among the tenantry of thorpe and vill) and Alfred (THE BROOK, 1855: I hurry down . . . By twenty thorps; ENOCH ARDEN, 1864).


A beast of prey, of the dog family, named in Greek and Latin writers. Plural, thoes. Mentioned in 17th to 19th century English works, and variously identified; thus Charles Hamilton Smith in his book on DOGS (1839) says: It may be, that one of the smaller thoes of Aristotle is the true jackal. -- John Phillips in 1706 defined the thos: A lynx, a creature resembling a wolf, but spotted like a leopard.


One who is held in bondage; a slave, a captive. Also used to mean the condition of a thrall, thraldom, thralship; and as an adjective: We now are captives that made others thrall; and as a verb, to thrall, to enslave, cp. thirl. By the 17th century, the verb was largely replaced by enthrall, mainly with figurative application. Thrall was used both literally (often, thrall of Satan) and figuratively. Chaucer in THE ROMAUNT OF THE ROSE (1366) says The God of Love . . . can wel these lordis thrallen. William Shakespeare refers to the King's guards, in MACBETH (1605) , as slaves of drink, and thralles of sleepe.


Bragging; vainglorious. Also thrasonic. A thraso, a thrasonist, a swaggerer, a boaster. In Terence's play THE EUNUCH (161 B.C.) the miles gloriosus, the braggart soldier, is named Thraso (Greek thrasys, spirited). The popularity of the play in Tudor England brought the name into common use; cp. gnathonical. Hence also thrasonism, braggart behavior; to thrasonize, to play the daredevil, to brag. William Shakespeare in AS YOU LIKE IT (1600) mentions that Caesars thrasonical bragge of I came, saw, and overcame.


Originally, to rebuke, scold, blame. Common from the 9th to the 16th century, thereafter persisting in country speech; revived in the 19th century (Walter Scott, Charlotte Bronte, Edward Bulwer-Lytton). Also threpe, threep, threppe, threip, thraip, and the like. Various meanings developed. To dispute, to inveigh (against) , to haggle, to contend. Hence, as a noun, threap, quarreling, contention, contest. To threap with kindness was rarely used in the sense of to treat with kindness; more often, to attribute kindness to, to urge to the exercise of kindness. To threap upon, to impose upon, to try to press one's beliefs upon; to press (something) upon one, to urge one's acceptance or acquiescence. Failing that, to threap down, to beat down resistance, to silence by vehement or persistent assertion, as R. W. Hamilton observed in NUGAE LITERARIAE (1841): A man will say of a clamorous talker, he did not convince me, but he threaped me down. The form threapen, in addition to these uses, borrowed the sense of threaten as well; threapening, threatening. Thence, threapland, land of disputed ownership. In the sense of strongly affirming, persisting in a (challenged) point of view, Chaucer uses the word in the Prologue to THE CANON YEOMAN'S TALE (1386): Sol gold is and Luna silver we threpe. Thus also Walter Scott in THE ANTIQUARY (1816): He threeps the castle and lands are his ain as his mother's eldest son. Beaumont in PSYCHE (1648) has the fair nymph cry: Behold how gross a ly of ugliness They on my face have threaped!


With the loops of the pile-warp (that forms the nap -- of carpetry, or velvet) formed of three threads, hence producing a trebly thick pile, of the finest quality. Hence, three-piled, of the highest quality; exquisite; by deterioration, overfine, extreme. Elizabeth Barrett Browning in NATURE'S REMORSES (1861) has: On three-piled carpet of compliments. William Shakespeare in LOVE'S LABOUR'S LOST (1588) speaks of the courtier's Taffata phrases, silken tearmes precise, Three-pil'd hyperboles, spruce affectation.


A song of lamentation. Also threnode, threnody (Greek ode, song); threnos. Greek threnos, lament William Shakespeare uses the form threnos as a heading, in THE PHOENIX AND THE TURTLE (1601); in the body of the poem he uses threne. Stedman, in his VICTORIAN POETS (1876) calls Arnold's THYRSIS the best threnode since Shelley's ADONAIS; later he calls Alfred's IN MEMORIAM the great threnody of our language. Other great ones are Lord Tennyson's LYCIDAS and Swinburne's AVE ATQUE VALE, in memory of Baudelaire.


A very common Old English verb, with the basic meaning to press, to crowd; in this sense replaced by one of its forms, throng. By development, thring came to mean: to push forward, hasten; to press hard, oppress, repress; to press together, compress; to thrust with violence, to dash, knock, hurl (down) -- also downthring, to press down, crush. Hence also, to press through, to pierce, penetrate, burst (out). A thringer, an overthrower. Also thryng. In the past tense, thrang, thrange, thronge, throng, thrungen, thrung. Of petty assemblages, Chaucer in THE ROMAUNT OF THE ROSE (1366) tells: There was many a bird singing Throughout the yerde al thringing; and Gavin Douglas in the AENEIS (1513): The damecellis [damsels] fast to thar lady thringis. In less pleasant fashion, from the same poem of Chaucer's: In his sieve he gan to thringe A rasour sharpe and wel bitinge. Rutherford in a letter of 14 March, 1637, exclaims: There is no little thrusting and thringing to thrust in at Heaven's gates.


Lightning. Originally thunderlait, -layt, -leit, -leyt. From Old English ley, flame, came lait, a flash of fire, as in Malory's MORTE D'ARTHUR (1485): Ther felle a sodeyne tempest and thonder layte and rayne. Chaucer uses thunderlight (in one manuscript thonderleit) several times; after him, the picturesque term was neglected until Leigh Hunt caught it up in his FEAST OF POETS (1815): What shall move his placid might? Not the headlong thunderlight.


To cut down, to pare away; to shape by paring. Used from the 9th century. Also in the popular phrase, used by More in a DYALOGE (1529): to thwite a mill-post to a pudding-prick; figuratively, to cut down the size of, to reduce (arrogance, complacency, etc.) to proper proportions, to 'take down a peg/ A diminutive of to thwite (also thwyte, thwight, etc.) was to thwittle, whence the variant and still current whittle. A whit -- surviving in the expression no whit the (worse, etc.) -- is a shaving, whittled off; hence, an insignificant bit.


A license to be at large after part of a prison term has been served; as in Australia, and in 19th century England of convicts released for good behavior. Hence, ticket-of-leave man, ticket-of-leaver, one thus released. THE TICKET-OF-LEAVE MAN, by Tom Taylor, in May, 1863, brought to the Olympic Theatre the first great detective in the drama. His removal of disguise and selfdisclosure became traditionalized in three movements: Left hand removes cap -- he says: "I." Right hand removes wig -- he says "Hawkshaw." Left hand, holding cap, removes whiskers -- he says: "the detective."

Tide Waiter

Also "Tidewaiter",d "Tide-waiter.", or just Waiter. Customs inspector. A customs official who waited to board incoming (with the tide) ships to prevent customs evasion. From at least mid-1700s, probably earlier.


Originally, though rarely in English, short for Epiphany, the Twelfth Day (January 6) -- as in William Shakespeare's TWELFTH NIGHT. Tiffany is really short (there were some forty variant forms in Old French) for Theophany, the manifestation of God. From the meaning of manifestation, revealing, the word was given English use as tiffany, short for tiffany silk, which cloths, said Holland in his translation (1601) of Pliny, 'instead of apparell to cover and hide, shew women naked through them.' Thus also John Evelyn in his DIARY for June 1645: shewing their naked arms through false sleeves of tiffany. Hence, an article made of tiffany, such as a head-dress. Also used figuratively, as in Richard Franck's NORTHERN MEMOIRS (1658): It's a tiffany plot; any man with half an eye may easily see through it.


To light, to kindle; hence, to inflame, arouse; also, to catch fire, become ignited; to become inflamed or aroused. An early word, common in Old English and developing many forms, including tend, tynd, tynne, tin, teyne, tinnd. tinder, though surviving as a noun, was in the 13th century (also tender) used as a verb, to become inflamed, to glow. Robert Herrick in HESPERIDES (1648, CANDLEMAS DAY) said: Kindle the Christmas brand . . . Part must be kept wherewith to teend The Christmas log next year. John Dryden used the verb figuratively in THE DUKE OF GUISE (1682): Shop-consciences . . . Preach'd up, and ready tined for a rebellion.


An itinerant tin pot and pan seller and repairman.


A clamor, uproar, hubbub, racket -- a great confused noise. The O.E.D. says it is of obscure origin; Nathan Bailey (1751) suggests Latin tinnitus Martius, a warlike jingling. [Note that Poe's tintinnabulation of the bells, while an echoic word, was not coined by him; Latin has tintinnabulum, a bell, a call-bell.] Also tintamare, tintamarre, tintimar. Henry William Greville in his DIARY for 21 November, 1834, said: Such a tintamarre I never heard, but the audience were enthusiastic. And THE ACADEMY of 28 December, 1901, complained: The just praise he wishes to utter is forestalled by a tintamar of rash eulogy.


Originally (13th century) a separate, long narrow slip of cloth, worn hanging from the hood, headdress, or sleeve. In the 15th century, also a scarf, or a short (wool or fur) cape. Especially, an ecclesiastical scarf (16th century on) worn around the neck, with the two ends hanging in front; hence, tippet-captain, tippet-knight, contemptuous terms for a priest; tippet-scuffle, ecclesiastical quarrel. Caxton in his translation (1481) of THE MIRROUR OF THE WORLD observed: They be not alle clerkes that have short typettis. The LONDON GAZETTEER in 1686 carried a notice: Lost a sable tippet with scarlet and silver strings.


A policeman, a sheriff's officer; a bailiff. From the mid-16th century (first denoting a metal-tipped staff); contraction of tipped staff (carried by a bailiff).


A rascal, scoundrel; especially, a tattling or mischievous tell-tale; Cotgrave in 1611 has: a tatling houswife, a titifill, a flebergebit. Plautus once used the word titivillitium, apparently meaning a mere trifle. This may be the origin of Titivil, which was the name of the devil that gathered up the fragments of words dropped, skipped, or mumbled in the religious services, and took them to hell to be stored up against the offending one. From this, the name was used for a devil or demon in the Mystery Plays, then extended to persons. Also tittifill, titifyl, titivillus. In Edward Hall's CHRONICLES (1548, EDWARD IV) we read: Mistrusting lest her counsayl should by some titiville be published and opened to her adversaries.


To stagger, reel, stumble; to stammer, stumble in speech. Latin titubare, titubatum, to stagger, to stammer, to hesitate. Also, titubation. Samuel Clarke in his ECCLESIASTICAL HISTORY (1650) has: He went on without the least hesitation in his voice, or titubation of his tongue. These two forms were used from the 17th century; in the 19th century, titubant and titubancy came into use, humorously or pedantically. Thus Thomas Love Peacock in THE MISFORTUNES OF ELPHiN (1829) admires that amiable state of semi-intoxication which sets the tongue tripping, in the double sense of nimbleness and titubancy.


This is another of the English forms that mean their own opposite (see avaunt). (1) In the sense of motion toward or addition to. to-cast, to add. tocome, arrival (9th to 16th century); to-come, to befall, to approach, arrive (13th to 16th century). to-draught, a following, a retinue; a place that people are drawn to, a resort. to-gainst, toward with hostile intent; (1440) Charelemaine's spear that togainst the Saracins he was want to bear. to-lay, to put forward, allege. to-neighe, to approach. (2) Many more words were formed with to- in the sense of apart, asunder, in pieces, or other ideas of separation (equivalent to zer in German, Old Teuton tiz, Latin dis). To-bear, to carry in different directions; to take away; to separate persons (in feelings: make them enemies). to-bell, to swell exceedingly; to be swollen with pride or anger. to-bent, bent way over. to-blow, to puff up (with wind, or with an emotion); to blow away, scatter. to-braid, to wrench apart, pull to pieces; snatch away. to-bray, to beat to atoms. to-break, to demolish, scatter. to-brenn, to consume by fire. to-bune, to-bone, to beat severely, thrash; also to-bust. to-carve, to cut to pieces. to-chew, to chew to pieces. to-chine, to split apart. to-clatter, to knock to pieces (noisily). to-crack, to shatter. to-cut, to cut to bits: The Cassydonyens (1489) were slayne and all to-cutt and cloven. to-dash, to dash to pieces. to-deal, to divide into parts; to sever; to distribute. to-do, to sunder; to undo, open. to-draw, to pull apart, destroy by tearing to pieces. to-drese (past, to-drove), to fall apart, decay. to-drunk, too drunk. to-fare, to disperse. to-flap, to knock to pieces. to-fleet, to float away, be carried away by current or tide. to-frush, to smash, drive violently into (as with an automobile. Most of these words had dropped out of use by the 16th century.). to-gang, to go away, to pass away. to-gnide, to crush to fragments. to-go, to go in different directions, pass away, disappear. to-hale, to drag apart; to pull about. to-hene, to mutilate by stoning. to-hurt, to knock asunder. to-pull, to pull to pieces. to-race, to-rase, to hack or tear to pieces. to-rat, to break up, to scatter. to-reose, to crumble, fall into ruins. to-rush, to disperse with force, to dash to pieces. to-set, distribute, divide. to-shend, to destroy utterly, ruin. to-shoot, to burst asunder. to-skair, to scatter, disperse. to-spring, to spring apart, burst asunder. to-slive, to cleave. to-sned, to cut to pieces. to-sparple, to scatter abroad. to-squat, to crush, squash. to-stick, to prick all over. to-stink, to smell abominably. to-tight, to stretch out, spread out. to-torve, to hurl about, to dash to pieces. to-tose, to tear to pieces. to-twin, to separate, divide. to-whither, to whirl to bits. to-worth, to come to naught; to perish. to-wowe, to scatter by blowing. to-writhe, to wrench or twist apart. to-wry, to twist about.


An alarm, rung by a bell; also, the alarm bell. Provencal tocar (French toucher, originally an echoic word), to touch, strike + senh (Latin signum sign; later, bell), bell. Also used figuratively, as in A. Clarke's LIFE (1832): He thought the seizure in my foot would turn to an attack of gout. This was a tocsin to me.


(1) A watch or clock of the sort made by Thomas Tompion, in the reign of good Queen Anne. For an instance of the use of the word, see cosins. (2) Another form of tampion (q.v.) , a plug for stopping an aperture; especially, a bung for a cask, "a stopple of a great gun or mortar" (Nathan Bailey, 1751) "to keep out rain." Also tomkin, tampoon, tampkin, tomking.


Divination -- foretelling events, predicting the future --by the shape of the terrain.


Relating to toreutics, the art of working in metal, ivory, etc. embossing, chasing, working in relief, and the like. Pronounced tor-you'-tic. A toreutes, an artist in ivory or metal. These are 19th century terms (except for one use, by John Evelyn, torentice, in the 17th century). Thus THE ANTIQUITIES OF ATHENS (1837) called the Minerva of the Parthenon, also by Phidias, wrought in ivory and gold, the noblest example of the toreutic art.


Unsteady, shaky, tottery; dizzy; fuddled. Formed after totter, tottle. Chaucer in THE REEVE'S TALE (1386) has: Myn hed is toty of my swynk tonyght. For another quotation, see noll. Used into the 17th century, the word was revived by Walter Scott in the 19th, in IVANHOE (1819): I was somewhat totty when I received the good knight's blow, or I had kept my ground.


A curl, or artificial lock of hair atop the head, especially as peak adornment of a periwig. Also toupee (the current spelling, meaning a patch of false hair to cover a bald spot) , tupee, toppee. For an illustration of this use, see cosins. From the first sense, toupet was used of a person of fashion, a gallant, a beau -- who wore a toupet. Hence toupet-coxcomb, toupet~man. Samuel Richardson, in CLARISSA HARLOWE (1748): A couple of brocaded or laced-waistcoated toupets, with sour screwed up half-cocked faces. Again: no mere toupet-man, but all manly.


(1) Transferred; metaphorical, figurative. (2) Transferred from hand to hand, ordinary, commonplace. (3) Transferred from generation to generation, traditional; repeated by person after person. Latin transferre, tralatum, to bear across; whence also transference and many more transfers. Hence tralation, tralatition, metaphor, figurative use. Thomas Fuller in A PISGAH-SIGHT OF PALESTINE (1650) declared men too often guilty of what may be termed tralatitious idolatry, when any thing . . . is loved or honoured above, or even with, God himself. Holder in THE ELEMENTS OF SPEECH (1669), considering the etymology of the word language, said that 'language' properly refers to that of the tongue; 'written language' is tralatitiously so called.


To set down one's foot forcefully; hence, to tramp; to go about. Used from the 14th century; in the 17th century replaced by trapes, traipse, which is still current, to go traipsing around. A trapse was (17th into the 19th century; later in dialects) a gadabout; a slovenly woman. In 1749, Samuel Richardson wrote in a letter (4 August): The lowest of all fellows, yet in love with a young creature who was traping after him.


A twister, a sudden squall with swirling gusts of wind and rain. Also travat. Portuguese travados, whirlwind. Used from the 17th century.


Toll bridge collection


As a noun. A footprint. A trodden way; a path; a way of life; Buckle in his essay on CIVILIZATION (1862) spoke of conditions which determine the tread and destiny of nations. Also, those that move on the routine paths of life; George Chapman in his translation (1615) of the ODYSSEY: the bread Which now he begg'd amongst the common tread. Hence, a course or manner of behaving; custom; sometimes (16th and 17th centuries) used to mean trade, business. Also, the act of a male bird in intercourse; a tread-fowl, a male bird. Thus the treadle, the little membrane (chalaza) that holds the yolk of an egg in place; so called because it was thought to be the sperm; by extension, an egg. For this use, see fraight; cp. tredefoule.


A truce. A form, via Medieval Latin tragua, treuga, from Gothic triggwa; see treves. This bears no relation to intrigue, which is via French from Latin intricare, intricatum (whence also English intricate) to entrap; in + tricae, tricks, traps (related to Latin torquere, to twist) , whence also extricate. Edmund Spenser in THE FAERIE QUEENE (1590) has: Which to confirm, and fast to bind their league, After their weary sweat and bloody toile, She them besought, during their quiet treague, Into her lodging to repairs a while.


A knife or other cutting instrument (14th to 16th century). A flat piece of wood (later, also metal or earthenware) usually square or circular, on which meat was cut and served. The word is via Old French and popular Latin from Latin truncare, truncatum, to cut, lop off; truncus, the trunk of a tree. The word trench (from the 15th century) meant to cut; to cut into (William Shakespeare, THE TWO GENTLEMEN OF VERONA, 1591: This weake impress of love is as a figure Trench'd in ice) ; to make (a cut) in (Shakespeare, VENUS AND ADONIS, 1592: The wide wound, that the boar had trencht In his soft flank) . To lick the trencher (of someone) , to toady. A trencher-beard is large and flat; trencher-art, that of the gourmet -- or the glutton. trencher-critic, one who speaks fulsome praise (in return for which, he is made full at the table), trencher-hero, one valiant at the festive board; Peter Pindar, in THE CHURCHWARDEN (1792): The trencher-heroes hate All obstacles that keep them from the plate; also trencher-knight (Shakespeare, LOVE'S LABOUR'S LOST); and, in more democratic wise, trencher-labourer, and ultimately, trencher-slave. A trencher-cap (18th and early 19th century) was later called a mortar-board: the flat, square academic cap. trencher-fly, a parasite; also, trencher-friend. A trencher-man, in Philip Sidney's ARCADIA (1586) was a cook; in Thackeray's PENDENNIS (1849), a dependent, hanger-on; usually it meant (with measure of admiration) a hearty eater, as in Shakespeare's MUCH ADO ABOUT NOTHING: He's a very valiant trencher-man,, he hath an excellent stomach.


A third fall into sin. Used as an adjective also, in the 16th and 17th century, J. Mill in his DIARY (1776) remarked: This being a relapse to the woman and a trelapse to the man. Latin re, again; tri, three + lapsus, fall, slip, lapse. Hence also trilapser; a church regulation of 1649 required that trelapsers in fornication be brought before the Presbyterie.


The act of leaping or dancing for joy; exultation; although to J. Johnson in THE CLERGYMAN'S VADE MECUM (1709) came other thoughts: The word implies tripudiation, or immodest dancing. Also, a divination or prophesying from the behavior of fowl (especially the sacred chickens of the ancient Roman temples) when fed. Hence tripudiary, relating to such divination, or to dancing, tripudial, tripudiant, relating to dancing. Hence, a tripudist. Ultimately from Latin tri, three + Greek pod, foot, as when skipping or dancing. From the 17th into the 19th century, tripudiate meant to leap with excitement or joy; to stamp or trample (upon) in scorn or triumph. THE SATURDAY REVIEW of 5 May, 1888, observed: On poor Colonel Slade . . . he tripudiates with all the chivalry of the f varray perfit gentil knight" of controversy that he is.


Trite, commonplace.Hence also triticism, a trite utterance or writing. Jonathan Swift in 1709 wrote: A Tritical Essay upon the Faculties of the Mind. Benjamin Disraeli in THE AMENITIES OF LITERATURE (1841) has: To sermonise with a tedious homily or a tritical declamation. Hence also triticalness, triticality.


Divination -- foretelling events, predicting the future --using wheel tracks.


(1) Faith, belief; pledged faith, covenant; fancy, supposition. (2) A boat or barge, a variant of trough. (3) Toll, trewage, q.v. (4) A variant of troll, a malevolent spirit; especially, the sea-trow. To trow is to trust, believe; the noun is troth, q.v. Hence trowable, credible. For trowandise, see truandise. The expression I trow, I believe, grew weak, and was often used to mean I suppose (I hope) , or just to emphasize a question, as in William Shakespeare's THE MERRY WIVES OF WINDSOR (1598): Who's there, I troa?


A scene or sound of confusion. The name is taken from Troy in Asia Minor, to which it was more than confusion Helen brought. Also Troy-fair; sometimes just Troy. Otway in FRIENDSHIP IN FASHION (1678) said ironically: And for the cittern, if ever Troy Town were a tune, he mastered it upon that instrument. Also, a labyrinth, a maze. Wright (1859) explains the notion that Troy was a town which had but one gate, and that it was necessary to go through every street to get to the market-place. They call a garden laid out spirally a city of Troy.


Savage slaughtering. Latin trucidare, for trucicaedere; trucem, ferocious + caedere, to cut down, to kill. See Stillicide. In dictionaries from the 17th century; Stevenson, in a letter of 1883, uses it humorously: I loathe the snails; but from loathing to actual butchery, trucidation of multitudes, there is still a step that I hesitate to take.


A weighing; consideration. Latin trutinare, trutinatum; trutina, from Greek trutane, balance. Hence also trutinate, to weigh (mentally), to consider. The words were rather common in the 16th and 17th centuries; in that period, too, astrologers said that the first way of rectifying a nativity was by the trutine or scrutiny of Hermes. Alas, as John Foxe pointed out in THE BOOK OF MARTYRS (1570), human fragilitie suffereth not all thinges to bee pondered, trutinate, and weyed in just balance.


Originally (13th century) one that worked at fulling and dressing cloth; A cleaner of cloth goods. Tucker's earth, fuller's earth. Other meanings came much later: (17th century), a piece of lace worn by women tucked in or around the top of the bodice; Some of the girls have two clean tuckers in the week, says Charlotte Bronte in JANE EYRE (1847); the rules limit them to one. Hence, one's best bib and tucker; see bib. Also, an instrument for tucking or plucking; a pair of tuckers, tweezers. A tucker up (to an old bachelor), a serving-maid who may well be a mistress, (19th century, colonial): daily rations taken along by a worker; to earn one's tucker, to earn about enough for one's keep.


A person who turns wood on a lathe into spindles


In addition to meaning to wink the eye, or to twinkle, or to tinkle, twink meant to chastise (by word or blow). Also twank, to spank. Both words seem echoic in origin. Elizabeth Carter ended a letter (1747): I have been called away ten times, and shall be twinked if I do not leave you. A year later, she wrote a twinkation to Mr. Richardson about it, to which I received so civil an answer that I knew not how to be angry.


A variant form of twirl. (The O.E.D. suggests that both twire and twirk, used in this sense, are misprints.) Breton, IN PRAISE OF VERTUOUS LADIES (1599): If shee have her hand on the pette in her cheeke, he is twyrking of his mustachios. The idea in twirk seems to be a combination of a twirl and a tug.


Divination -- foretelling events, predicting the future -- by the coagulation of cheese.


A posy, a tuzzymuzzy, q.v. This form was used in the 15th century. In the early 19th century tistytosty was also used of a nosegay; but apparently this word is related to toss, and the bunch of flowers was tossed to and fro in a sort of game, also called tistytosty (teesty-tosty). In the 16th century, however, tistytosty was used (1) as a refrain: I shall be a lively lad, with hey tistye tosty. (2) as a name for a bully, a blusterer.
Colonial Sense is an advocate for global consumer privacy rights, protection and security.
All material on this website © copyright 2009-22 by Colonial Sense, except where otherwise indicated.