Wednesday, 18th February 2015

by Joshua Gaskell

Further to yesterday’s entry, another interesting definitional construction in the OED is See quot. ——., where the blank is a date referring the reader to one of the illustrative quotations below. This is used when said quote is not just an illustration of usage but a definition in its own right. The applications of the construction I find particularly interesting are those in which it constitutes the full extent of the definition of a word or sense, and the referred-to quotation is the first or only one. I assume that in cases of this kind the OED writer would have had difficulty improving on a prior definition, with no earlier usages to go on, and so has delegated their own definition wholesale. This honour is typically bestowed on other reference works, and I collect examples below.

From Ephraim Chambers’s Cyclopædia:

  • amalgamation: ‘a solution of sulphur with mercury.’
  • banquet: ‘Banquet in the manege, denotes that small part of the branch of a bridle under the eye.’
  • belfry: ‘the timber-work, which sustains the bells in a steeple’.
  • bring: ‘Bringing in a horse, in the manege, is the keeping down his nose, when he boars, and tosses it up to the wind.’
  • burr: ‘[a bit] of flesh adjoining to the horns of a beef’s hide’.
  • camel: ‘a kind of pit-coal, otherwise called canel.’
  • casque: ‘in natural history, a name given to a kind of murex, called the helmet-shell.’
  • casualty: ‘in the tin-mines, a word used to denote the earth and stony matter which is, by washing in the stamping-mills, etc., separated from the tin ore, before it is dried and goes to the crazing mill.’
  • centner: ‘in metallurgy and assaying is a weight divisible first into an hundred and thence into a great number of other smaller parts’.
  • defossion: ‘the punishment of burying alive, inflicted among the Romans, on vestal virgins guilty of incontinency.’
  • drab: ‘in the English salt works, a name given to a sort of wooden [case] into which the salt is put, as soon as it is taken out of the boiling pan’.
  • elome: ‘a name given by some authors to orpiment.’
  • excipient: ‘a term used to express that ingredient in a compound medicine, the business of which is to receive all the rest’.
  • excommunication: ‘The rule of the Benedictines gives the name Excommunication, to the being excluded from the oratory, and the common table of the house.’
  • exprobration: ‘in rhetoric, is the reproaching a person with ingratitude, and unmindfulness of some particular benefit conferred upon him.’
  • feather: ‘Mid-Feather in the English salt-works, the name given to a sort of partition placed in the middle of the furnace’.
  • fork-tail: ‘the salmon, while in the fourth years growth.’
  • ground: ‘Bowling […] a bag or handkerchief laid down to mark where a bowl is to go.’
  • harrow: ‘in Fortification, is a Gate made of timber, whose dimensions are commonly six by four inches, and six inches distant from each other’.
  • lapactic: ‘a term used by the old writers in medicine to express such things as purged by stool, or at least gently loosened the belly.’
  • lead: ‘Bowling […] the advantage of throwing the block and bowling first.’
  • lech: ‘in metallurgy, a term used by the miners to express the gold ore which has been powdered, and washed, and afterwards run with the assistance of lime stone.’
  • liphaemia: ‘An excess in the quantity of blood constitutes what we call a..plethora; a defect or want of a competent quantity, a leiphæmia.’
  • seedy: ‘The French suppose that these brandies obtain the flavour which they express by this name from the weeds which grew among the vines, from whence the wine, of which this brandy was made, was pressed.’
  • serpentine: ‘These creeping, or as we sometimes call them serpentine bandages.’
  • shoring: ‘a sheep whose fleece is shorn off.’
  • sluds: ‘a term used by the miners in Cornwall for half-roasted ores.’
  • thermopolium: ‘a name for a sort of public houses among the ancients, in which hot liquors were sold.’
  • trammelled: ‘A horse is said to be tramelled, that has blazes or white marks upon the fore and hind foot of one side’.
  • unite: ‘A horse is said to unite, or walk in union, when, in galloping, the hind quarters follow and keep time with the fore.’
  • unsinew: ‘To unsinew a horse, to cut the two tendons on the side of the head, about five inches under the eyes.’
  • zenith: ‘a word used by some medical writers to express the first appearance of the menses in young women.’

From William Dwight Whitney’s Century Dictionary:

  • break: ‘To break a gun, to open it by the action.’
  • choir: ‘a group of instruments of the same class’.
  • club: ‘a small spar to which the head of a gaff-topsail or the clue of a staysail or jib is bent to make the sail set to the best advantage.’
  • co-determination: ‘1. A determination that determines the same matter.—2. The reciprocal relation of determining the same matter.’
  • condensery: ‘an establishment where condensed milk is prepared.’
  • humidistat: ‘a small chest or cabinet lined with sheet-metal and fitted with some device for holding a damp sponge or piece of felt: used to keep cigars moist.’
  • settee: ‘A small part taken off from a long and large sofa by a kind of arm’.
  • sharp: ‘In diamond-cutting, the edge of the quadrant when an octahedral diamond is cleft into four parts.’
  • sheathing: ‘Sheathing canal (canalis vaginalis), the communication of the cavity of the tunica vaginalis testis with the general peritoneal cavity of the abdomen.’
  • shelver: ‘a wagon or truck shelving or sloping toward the back.’
  • shield-bearer: ‘any one of the small elachistid moths of the genus Coptodisca (formerly Aspidisca)’.
  • shoaler: ‘a sailor in the coast-trade; a coaster: in distinction from one who makes voyages to foreign ports.’
  • soaper: ‘in calico-printing, a machine in which the cloth is washed with soap.’
  • spline: ‘a flexible strip of wood or hard rubber used by draftsmen in laying out broad sweeping curves, especially in railroad work.’
  • strainer: ‘In carriage-building: (a) A reinforcing strip or button at the back of a panel. (b) Canvas glued to the back of a panel to prevent warping or cracking.’
  • thirteener: ‘in whist, the last card of a suit left in the hands of a player after the other twelve have been played.’
  • tipping: ‘In the preparation of curled hair, the operation of tossing the carded hair about with a stick so that it will fall in tufts, to be afterwards consolidated by rapid blows.’
  • toponym: ‘the technical designation of any region of an animal, as distinguished from any organ.’
  • under-chord: ‘the minor triad of F’.
  • watch: ‘the trumpet~leaf, Sarracenia flava, probably alluding to the resemblance of the flowers to watches.’

From the Encyclopædia Britannica:

  • ambreada: ‘the false or fictitious amber, which the Europeans use in their trade with the negroes on the coast of Africa.’
  • ante-post: ‘when wagering opens weeks or months before the event.’
  • calina: ‘In July and August the plains of New Castile..are sunburnt wastes;..the atmosphere is filled with a fine dust, producing a haze known as calina.’
  • cuneator: ‘he had the sole charge of all the dies used not only at the mint in the Tower of London but also in the provinces.’
  • list-stick: ‘to which the high-lisses are tied. The high-lisses, or lists, are a number of long threads, with platines, or plate-leads, at the bottom.’
  • stactometer: ‘a glass vessel four or five inches long, having a hollow bulb about half an inch in diameter.’
  • siglos: ‘The unit of weight in the East was the shekel (siglos)’.
  • steatization: ‘the deposit of talc and steatite in place of the original minerals of the rock.’
  • underpitch: ‘When the main longitudinal vault of any groining is higher than the cross or transverse vaults which run from the windows, the system of vaulting is called underpitch groining.’
  • undercooled: “It is generally possible to cool a liquid several degrees below its normal freezing~point without a separation of crystals… A liquid in this state is said to be ‘undercooled’, or ‘superfused’.”