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Obscure and preposterous words in TBTF




From time to time readers inquire about an unfamiliar word they find in TBTF. Here are definitions from the prototype OED Online for some of the more recently queried words. (These definitions were captured before the OED went live, while I had a beta account. Alas, I can no longer access this amazing resource.)

[RE] Regular entries [NE] New entries [AE] Non-naturalized entries [OE] Obsolete entries

Haven't used this one yet; working on it.

[OE] champerty ('tSæmp@tI). Forms: 4­5 champartie, -tye, 5 chaumpartye, champertye, 5­7 champertie, 6­8 champarty, ( petrie), champerty. [Properly champarty: a deriv. of CHAMPART, the ending perh. due to some of the Latin forms, or to association with part, party.]	+ 1. Division of lordship or power, partnership in power. Obs.
	c 1386 CHAUCER Knight's T. 1091 Thus may ye seen þat wysdom ne richesse, Beautee ne sleighte, strengthe, hardynesse, Ne may with Venus holde champartie [1 later MS. maken champartie], ffor as hir list the world than may she gye.

Note: P. Lydgate appears to have known the word only from Chaucer's phrase above, which he misunderstood, and took to mean `to hold rivalry or contest, to hold the field against, to maintain the struggle, resist'. Some of the 16th c. archaists followed Lydgate in his error.
	c 1430 LYDG. Min. Poems (1840) 131 Folk whiche..Dare to theyr wyfes be nat contrarye..Nor withe hem holde ne champartye. -- Chron. Troy II. xvi, They stande full assured Agayne vs all to holde chaumpartye. -- Bochas I. iii, Against the heauen to holden champartie. Ibid. I. xviii. 1532 W. WALTER Guistard & Sism. (1597) B ij, Yet mought my frailté gainst such occasions Make no champarty, nor no great defence.
	2. Law. The illegal proceeding, whereby a party not naturally concerned in a suit engages to help the plaintiff or defendant to prosecute it, on condition that, if it be brought to a successful issue, he is to receive a share of the property in dispute.
	a 1329 Sc. Act 1 Robert I, xxii. §2 Nec terram seu aliquam rem aliam capiat, ad Champarte, ad defendendum, differendum, seu prolongandum jus alterius extra formam juris. 1467 Ord. Worcester lix. in Eng. Guilds (1870) 400 The attorners..to execute ther office..wtout mayntenaunce, or champertye. 1495 Act. 11 Hen. VII, c. 25 Preamb., Unlaufull reteynders, mayntenaunce, embrasyng, champertie and corrupcion. 1594 WEST Symbol. II. §216 Maintenance and champarty in sutes. 1602 FULBECKE 2nd Pt. Parall. 48 There is no diversitie where a man selleth land depending a writ petitorie of the same land, or doe giue it depending the writ: for in both cases there is Champertie. 1755 CARTE Hist. Eng. IV. 86 note, Sir E. Coke who being in danger of a prosecution..for champarty and maintenance being a judge. 1881 Standard 1 Aug. 5/2 Champerty is a bargain either with the Plaintiff or Defendant to contribute towards the cost of litigation, the price being a share in the spoil. 1882 Spect. 8 Apr. 459.
	b. An act or case of champerty.
	1450 Paston Lett. 107 I. 145 To enquere..all..mayntenaunces, champerties, embraceries..by hem..doen. 1750 CARTE Hist. Eng. II. 452 [To] hear, and determine of all felonies, conspiracies, champerties, breaches of peace.
	c. fig. A combination for an evil purpose.
	1612­5 BP. HALL Contempl. N.T. III. v, A combination and hellish champertie in these powers of darknesse. 1645 MILTON Reply Answ. Divorce Wks. (1847) 221 These made the cham-party, he contributed the law, and both joined in the divinity. 1671 H. STUBBE Reply 21 If that the Historian had not been of the champerty, this Passage had been more plausible.


From
TBTF Log for 1999-11-01 [OE] lipogram ('lIp@græm).[Back-formation f. Gr. lipogrammatoj adj., wanting a letter, f. lip-, weak stem of leipein to leave, be wanting + grammat-, gramma letter. Cf. F. lipogramme.]	A composition from which the writer rejects all words that contain a certain letter or letters.
	1711 ADDISON Spect. No. 62 P. 3 Anagrams, Chronograms, Lipograms and Acrosticks. 1880 W. T. DOBSON Lit. Frivol. 58 Lipogram is the name applied to a species of verse in which a certain letter, either vowel or consonant, is altogether omitted.


From
TBTF for 1999-01-13 [OE] nudiustertian, a. Obs. rare - 1. [f. L. nudius tertius.] 	Of the day before yesterday.
	1647 WARD Simp. Cobler 26 When I heare a..Gentledame inquire..what [is] the nudiustertian fashion of the Court; I mean the very newest.


From
TBTF for 1998-05-25 [OE] mort (mO :t), sb.6 dial. [Origin obscure.
Note: The suggestion that it is derived from ON. mart, neut. of margr great, as in mart manna a great number of people, is not supported by the form, chronology, or locality of the Eng. word. It is possibly a dial. corruption of mortal used as an intensive (e.g. with such a sb. as deal). The existence of the north. dial. MURTH (ON. mergð) in the same sense may have assisted its development.]
	A great quantity or number; a great deal. Usually const. of; rarely absol. Also pl. (cf. quantities).
	1694 ECHARD Plautus 94 They had a mort o' Prisoners. 1708 Brit. Apollo No. 44. 3/2 You having zuch a Mort of Wit. 1775 SHERIDAN Rivals I. i, Here's a mort o' merry~making, hey? 1821 CLARE Vill. Minstr. I. 123 She talk'd of morts of luck. 1850 DICKENS Dav. Copp. xxxii, `We have had a mort of talk, sir', said Mr. Peggotty to me. 1868 HELPS Realmah ii, My Betsy..knew a mort more than I do. 1887 H. SMART Cleverly won i. 7 There's a mort of money to be made off the farm in a good year.
	b. a mort used advb.
	1887 HALL CAINE A Son of Hagar I. Prol., I'll not say but other folks look a mort madder nor ever I looked. 1904 WEYMAN Abb. Vlaye viii, You've fared better with me, ay, a mort better, than you'd have fared if the Captain had been here.


From
TBTF for 1998-04-20 [OE] cadastral (k@'dA:str@l, -æ-), a. [a. mod.F. cadastral relating to the cadastre, as in les registres cadastraux (Littré).]	1. Of, pertaining to, or according to a cadastre; having reference to the extent, value, and ownership of landed property (strictly, as a basis of distributing taxation).
	1858 GLADSTONE Homer I. 567 [Darius] divided the empire by a cadastral system under provincial governors. 1868 -- Juv. Mundi xiii, The catalogue of Homer is a great attempt to construct..a cadastral account of Greece. 1886 Q. Rev. Apr. 395 The following statement exhibits the cadastral distribution of properties.
	2. cadastral survey: 	a. strictly, a survey of lands for the purposes of a cadastre; 	b. loosely, a survey on a scale sufficiently large to show accurately the extent and measurement of every field and other plot of land. Applied to the Ordnance Survey of Great Britain on the scale of 1/2500 or 25·344 inches to a mile. So cadastral map, plan, etc.
	1861 Sel. Comm. Ho. Commons 182 To inquire into the expediency of extending the Cadastral Survey to those portions of the United Kingdom which have been surveyed upon the scale of one inch to the mile only. 1861 A. S. AYRTON [in Parlt.] Thought that the question was very much mystified by calling the survey a cadastral survey, which meant all the details relating to the tenure of land, the condition of each property, and all such matters. 1862 TOULM. SMITH in Parly. Remembrancer Oct 182 The newfangled phrase `cadastral survey' is as foolish as it is unquestionably mischievous. 1863 Edin. Rev. CXVIII. No. 242. 379 The French term `cadastral'..is now used in England to denote a survey on a large scale. 1881 TCH Lect. Teaching iii. 72 A special map of the province, and a cadastral plan (ordnance map) of the commune. 1885 SMITH in Law Times LXXIX. 400/2 The necessity of a complete cadastral survey of property in England and Wales. 1886 Blackw. Mag. Sept. 332 note, The Domesday Survey was in a sense a cadastral one: and the Ordnance Survey in its larger scale, as being the only comprehensive basis upon which a correct computation of areas and valuation of landed property for assessment of imposts is possible, may also be called `Cadastral'.


From
TBTF for 1998-04-13 [OE] spoonerism. [f. the name of the Rev. W. A. Spooner (b. 1844).] 	An accidental transposition of the initial sounds, or other parts, of two or more words.
Note: Known in colloquial use in Oxford from about 1885.
	1900 Globe 5 Feb., To one unacquainted with technical terms it sounds as if the speaker were guilty of a spoonerism.1923 [see MARROWSKY b]. 1976 Oxford Diocesan Mag. July 15/1, I am not going to put on any weight until I'm fifty, when I shall allow myself to become matronly, ready to be a follower of `soda and gobbly matrons', as enjoined by the marriage service. (A good Spoonerism that, created quite involuntarily by my mother some years ago.)
	Hence 	Spoonerismus [nonce mock-German], a spoonerism; 	spoonerize v. trans., to alter (a word or phrase) by a spoonerism; 	spoonerized ppl. a.
	1923 A. HUXLEY Antic Hay xx. 284 When pain and anguish wring the brow, an interesting mangle thou, as we used to say in the good old days when the pun and the Spoonerismus were in fashion. 1927 Daily Express 22 July 7 Zoojolical Gardens... But why not let the misprint stick? The Zoo gardens are `jolical' gardens, and probably the London Zoological Society would have no objection to them being spoonerised as such. 1972 D. W. BAHLMAN in E. W. Hamilton Diary p. xxv, The Herbert family, Hamilton, and other friends..called themselves the Bilton Waggers, a Spoonerized version of Wilton Baggers. 1974 V. NABOKOV Look at Harlequins (1975) II. v. 101 Only a lunatic would have chosen a pair of third-rate publicists to write about - spoonerizing their names in addition!

From
TBTF for 1998-01-26 [OE] doddle, sb.3 colloq. [? f. DODDLE v. 2.] 	Something that is easy or requires little effort; a `walk-over'; (see also quot. 1937).
	1937 PARTRIDGE Dict. Slang 229/2 Doddle, money very easily obtained. 1966 M. WOODHOUSETree Frog xv. 122 If the climb had reached any level of difficulty higher than Moderate, which is the Climbers' Club's polite way of labelling a gumshoe doddle, we'd have died. 1970 A. DRAPERSwansong for Rare Bird vi. 40 Probation was a doddle really, and it didn't make much difference to me.
[OE] doddle, sb.2 Obs. [f. DODDLE v.] 	? A doddling or infirm person.
	1681 OTWAY Soldier's Fort. I. i, Is your Piece of Mortality such a doting Doddle? is he so very fond of you?

From
TBTF for 1998-01-26 [OE] fructify ('frVktIfaI), v. Also 6 frutyfye. [a. F. fructifier, ad. L. fructificare, f. fructus fruit: see -FY.]	1. intr. To bear fruit, become fruitful.
	a 1325 Prose Psalter li[i]. 8 Ich am in Godes hous as oliue fructifiand. 1340 Ayenb. 234 Þet zed..fructefide of one half to þe þritta3te, of oþer half to zixtia3te. c 1400 MAUNDEV. (1839) v. 50 Elles it [the Bawm] would not fructify. c 1450 Mirour Saluacioun 1065 Aarons 3erde fructified without plantacionne. 1538 BALE Thre Lawes 141 Hys wyfe shall encreace, hys land shall frutyfye. 1561 DAUS tr. Bullinger on Apoc. (1573) 304 The tree of lyfe..doeth fructifie, or bring forth fruite twelue tymes in the yeare. 1665 BOYLE Occas. Refl. IV. xv. (1845) 260 Those Soils wherein they will afterwards Flourish and Fructifie. 1709 Brit. Apollo II. No. 7. 2/2 Saffron..needs no adventitious moisture to make it Fructify. 1794 G. ADAMS Nat. & Exp. Philos. III. xxvi. 84 Causing it [the perfect animal] to fructify and renew the species. 1874 COOKE Fungi 13 Species of lichens which in many countries do not fructify.

	fig. c 1393 CHAUCER Scogan 48 Thenke on Tullius kindenesse, Minne thy frend, ther it may fructifye! c 1422
HOCCLEVE Learn to Die 17 Y shal teche thee Thyng þat shal to thy soule fructifie. 1483 CAXTON Gold. Leg. 422 b/1 So moche grewe and fructefyed the chylde in resplendour or lyghte of alle good vertues. 1502 Ord. Crysten Men (W. de W. 1506) I. iii. 24 And desyreth not to fructefye neyther to encrease with the goodes of the erthe. 1699 DAMPIER Voy. II. I. 96 It seems very improbable that Christianity should fructify there. 1847 C. G. ADDISON Contracts II. iii. §1 (1883) 591 This description of pledge..was constantly fructifying and paying off the debt. 1875 HAMERTON Intell. Life XI. iv. 420 Each has caused to fructify the talent which the Master gave.
	2. trans. To make fruitful, cause to bear fruit; to fecundate, impregnate.
	1583 STUBBES Anat. Abus. II. (1882) 66 To fructifie and increase the earth. 1611
BEAUM. & FL. King & No K. II. i, Let a man..fructify foreign countries with his blood. c 1630 RISDON Surv. Devon (1810) 4 The red marle hath this property to fructify the barrenest ground. a 1711 KEN Christophil Poet. Wks. 1721 I. 441 To fructify the Seed he sow'd. 1822­34 Good's Study Med. (ed. 4) I. 654 On the mucous surface of which..it [exhalation of yellow fever]..fructifies a like harvest of contagious matter. 1865 W. KAY Crisis Hupfeldiana 6 Many a plant has been fructified by means of pollen..brought to it unwittingly by an insect.

	fig. 1768­74
TUCKER Lt. Nat. (1852) I. 204 It fructifies our knowledge by making it practical. 1769 BURKE Late St. Nat. Wks. 1842 I. 85 Floods of treasure would..have fructified an exhausted exchequer. 1860 SMILES Self-Help xi. 282 The facility with which young people are made to acquire knowledge..fills, but does not fructify the mind.
	Hence 	fructified ppl. a., in senses of the vb.; also +Her. = FRUCTED; 	fructifying vbl. sb., the action of the vb.; 	fructifying ppl. a. Also 	fructifier, one who or that which fructifies.
	c 1374
CHAUCER Boeth. I pr. i. 3 (Camb. MS.) Affeccyons whiche þat ne ben nothing fructefiynge nor profytable. 1532 Fructyfyed [see FRUCTIVE]. 1594 PLAT Jewell-ho. I. 3 The vegetatiue & fructifying Salt of Nature. 1638 WILKINS New World I. (1684) 128 It is not necessary there should be the same means of Growth and Fructifying in both these Worlds. 1649 HAMMOND Serm. Chr. Oblig. Peace 10 The growths and fructifyings of his Graces. 1681 T. JORDAN London's Joy 5 An Almond-tree Leav'd, Blossom'd, and Fructified. 1708 MOTTEUX Rabelais v. Prol. (1737) p. lvii, These merry and fructifying..Books. 1816 SCOTT Old Mort. viii, An able and fructifying preacher. 1825 COLERIDGE Aids Refl. (1848) I. 261 A fructifying of the corrupt seed, of which death is the germination. 1835 Fraser's Mag. XII. 39 Think you..that one of our great financiers I mean the Thomsonian fructifier..would be scared from his presidency by apprehension of a general bankruptcy? 1879 B. TAYLOR Stud. Germ. Lit. 263 His ideas still retain their fructifying character.

From
the TBTF masthead bell-wether (blwð(r)). Forms: 5 belle-weder, belwedyr, 5­7 -weather, -weder, -wedder, -weadder, 6­8 bellweather, bel-wether, bellwether. [f. BELL sb.1 + WETHER.]  1. The leading sheep of a flock, on whose neck a bell is hung.
c 1440 Promp. Parv. 30/1 Belwedyr, shepe, titurus. 1549 Compl. Scot. vi. 66 The bel veddir for blythtnes bleyttit rycht fast. 1591 SPENSER M. Hubberd 296 To follow after their Belwether. 1718 MOTTEUX Quix. (1733) I. 237 He that steals a Bell-weather, shall be discover'd by the Bell. 1847 LEWES Hist. Philos. (1867) II. 254 Men are for the most part like sheep, who always follow the bell-wether.
  2. fig. A chief or leader. (Mostly contemptuous.)
  c 1430
LYDG. Bochas (1554) 224 a, I was cleped in my countrey The belweather. 1577 HOLINSHED Chron. II. 40/2 Thomas being the ring-leader of the one sect, and Scotus the belweadder of the other. 1687 T. BROWN Saints in Upr. Wks. 1730 I. 73 The principal bell-weathers of this mutiny. 1794 SOUTHEY Wat Tyler III. i. Wks. II. 50 You bell-wether of the mob. 1848 LOWELL Biglow P. i, 'Taint afollerin' your bell-wethers Will excuse ye in His sight.
  3. fig.   a. A clamorous person, one ready to give mouth. b. (Used opprobriously.)
  c 1460 Towneley Myst. 86 Go now, belleweder. 1598
SHAKS. Merry W. III. v. 111 To be detected with a iealious rotten Bell-weather. 1620 SHELTON Quix. IV. xiii. 109 She made me weep, that am no Bell-weather. 1847 HALLIWELL, Bell-wedder, a fretful child. North.
Hence   bell-wethering, the fact of leading and being led `like sheep.'   bell-wetherishness, tendency to follow one who takes the lead.
1882 Spectator 25 Mar. 388 But for the bell-wethering, there could have been no crinoline at all. Ibid. 387 The gregariousness, and bell-wetherishness of the English people, who must all do the same thing at once.

Most recently updated 2000-03-21