Read an Excerpt
A Modern Selection
By Samuel Johnson, E. L. McAdam, George Milne
Dover Publications, Inc.Copyright © 2005 Dover Publications, Inc.
All rights reserved.
A MODERN SELECTION
a'bbey-lubber. A slothful loiterer in a religious house, under pretence of retirement and austerity.
This is no Father Dominic, no huge overgrown abbey-lubber; this is but a diminutive sucking friar.
Dryden, Spanish Friar.
abeceda'rian. He that teaches or learns the alphabet, or first rudiments of literature.
a'bject. A man without hope; a man whose miseries are irretrievable.
But in mine adversity they rejoiced, and gathered themselves together; yea, the abjects gathered themselves together against me, and I knew it not; they did tear me, and ceased not.
Psalm xxxv, 15.
to abla'ctate. To wean from the breast.
to a'blegate. To send abroad upon some employment; also to send a person out of the way that one is weary of.
ablu'tion. (3) The cup given, without consecration, to the laity in the popish churches.
to abo'de. To foretoken or foreshow; to be a prognostic, to be ominous. It is taken, with its derivatives, in the sense either of good or ill.
ablution. (3) I.e., the third definition of this word.
After the hideous storm that follow'd, was
A thing inspir'd; and, not consulting, broke
Into a general prophecy, that this tempest,
Dashing the garment of this peace, aboded
The sudden breach of it.
Shakespeare's Henry VIII.
abo'dement. A secret anticipation of something future; an impression upon the mind of some event to come; prognostication; omen.
abo'minable. (3) In low and ludicrous language, it is a word of loose and indeterminate censure.
They say you are a melancholy fellow.—I am so; I do love it better than laughing.–Those that are in extremity of either, are abominable fellows, and betray themselves to every modern censure, worse than drunkards.
Shakespeare's As You Like It.
abo'rtive. That which is born before the due time.
Take the fine skin of an abortive, and, with starch thin laid on, prepare your ground or tablet. Peacham, On Drawing.
above-board. In open sight; without artifice or trick. A figurative expression, borrowed from gamesters, who, when they put their hands under the table, are changing their cards. It is used only in familiar language.
It is the part also of an honest man to deal above-board, and without tricks. L'Estrange.
abracada'bra. A superstitious charm against agues.
Abraham's balm. The name of an herb.
to absco'nd. To hide one's self; to retire from the public view: generally used of persons in debt, or criminals eluding the law.
absente'e. He that is absent from his station or employment, or country. A word used commonly with regard to Irishmen living out of their country.
a'bsonous. Absurd, contrary to reason.
to absu'me. To bring to an end by a gradual waste; to eat up.
abu'se. (3) Seducement.
Abraham's balm. An example of a definition which does not define.
Was it not enough for him to have deceived me, and through the deceit abused me, and, after the abuse, forsaken me, but that he must now, of all the company, and before all the company, lay want of beauty to my charge. Sidney, b. ii.
abu'sive. (3) Deceitful; a sense little used, yet not improper.
aca'cia. (1) A drug brought from Egypt, which, being supposed the inspissated juice of a tree, is imitated by the juice of sloes, boiled to the same consistence. Dictionaire de Commerce. Savary. Trevoux.
a'ccidence. The little book containing the first rudiments of grammar, and explaining the properties of the eight parts of speech.
I do confess I do want eloquence,
And never yet did learn mine accidence.
Taylor the Water-poet.
to acco'st. To speak to first; to address; to salute. You mistake, knight: accost her, front her, board her, woo her, assail her. Shakespeare's Twelfth Night.
to accro'ach. To draw to one as with a hook; to gripe, to draw away by degrees what is another's.
accuba'tion. The antient posture of leaning at meals.
It will appear, that accubation, or lying down at meals, was a gesture used by very many nations.
Browne's Vulgar Errours, b. v.
a'ce. (2) A small quantity.
I'll not wag an ace farther: the whole world shall not bribe me to it. Dryden's Spanish Friar.
a'cme. The height of any thing; more especially used to denote the height of a distemper, which is divided into four periods. 1. The arche, the beginning or first attack. 2. Anabasis, the growth. 3. Acme, the height. And, 4. Paracme, which is the declension of the distemper. Quincy.
aco'usticks. (2) Medicines to help the hearing. Quincy.
acqui'ttance. (2) A writing testifying the receipt of a debt. They had got a worse trick than that; the same man bought and sold to himself, paid the money, and gave the acquittance. Arbuthnot's History of John Bull.
acroama'tical. Of or pertaining to deep learning; the opposite of exoterical.
acro'ss. Athwart, laid over something so as to cross it.
There is a set of artisans, who, by the help of several poles, which they lay across each others shoulders, build themselves up into a kind of pyramid; so that you see a pile of men in the air of four or five rows rising one above another. Addison, On Italy.
a'ction-taking. Accustomed to resent by means of law; litigious.
to a'ctivate. To make active. This word is perhaps used only by the author alleged.
As snow and ice, especially being holpen, and their cold activated by nitre or salt, will turn water into ice, and that in a few hours; so it may be, it will turn wood or stiff clay into stone, in longer time.
Bacon's Natural History, No. 83.
a'ctuary. The register who compiles the minutes of the proceedings of a court; a term of the civil law.
a'damant. (3) Adamant is taken for the loadstone.
You draw me, you hard-hearted adamant!
But yet you draw not iron; for my heart
Is true as steel.
Shakespeare's Midsummer Night's Dream.
to adco'rporate. To unite one body with another; more usually wrote accorporate; which see.
a'dder. A serpent, a viper, a poisonous reptile; perhaps of any species. In common language, adders and snakes are not the same.
a'ddice. (For which we corruptly speak and write adz, from Saxon an axe.)
a'ddle. Originally applied to eggs, and signifying such as produce nothing, but grow rotten under the hen; thence transferred to brains that produce nothing.
After much solitariness, fasting, or long sickness, their brains were addle, and their bellies as empty of meat as their heads of wit. Burton, On Melancholy.
adcorporate. Johnson forgot to put in accorporate.
addre'ss. (5) Manner of directing a letter; a sense chiefly mercantile.
adhe'sion. (1) The act or state of sticking to something. Adhesion is generally used in the natural, and adherence in the metaphorical sense; as, the adhesion of iron to the magnet; and adherence of a client to his patron.
a'djugate. To yoke to; to join to another by a yoke.
admoni'tioner. A liberal dispenser of admonition; a general adviser. A ludicrous term.
to admo've. To bring one thing to another.
If, unto the powder of loadstone or iron, we admove the north-pole of the loadstone, the powders, or small divisions, will erect and conform themselves thereto.
Browne's Vulgar Errours, b. ii.
admurmura'tion. The act of murmuring, or whispering to another.
ado'. (3) It has a light and ludicrous sense, implying more tumult and shew of business, than the affair is worth; in this sense it is generally used.
Come, come, says Puss, without any more ado, 'tis time for me to go to breakfast; for cats don't live upon dialogues. L'Estrange, Fables, ii.
adsciti'tious. That which is taken in to complete something else, though originally extrinsick; supplemental; additional.
adstri'ction. The act of binding together; and applied, generally, to medicaments and applications, which have the power of making the part contract.
adu'lt. A person above the age of infancy, or grown to some de gree of strength; sometimes full grown: a word used chiefly by medicinal writers.
to adu'lter. To commit adultery with another: a word not classical.
His chaste wife
He adulters still: his thoughts lye with a whore. Ben. Jonson.
adu'lterate. (1) Tainted with the guilt of adultery.
—That incestuous, that adulterate beast. Shakespeare, Hamlet.
adu'lterine. A child born of an adulteress: a term of canon law.
to adu'mbrate. To shadow out; to give a slight likeness; to exhibit a faint resemblance, like that which shadows afford of the bodies which they represent.
adu'ncity. Crookedness; flexure inwards; hookedness.
There can be no question, but the aduncity of the pounces, and beaks of the hawks, is the cause of the great and habitual immorality of those animals.
Arbuthnot and Pope's Martinus Scriblerus.
adu'st. (1) Burnt up; hot as with fire, scorched.
adva'ntage. (6) Overplus; something more than the mere lawful gain.
You said, you neither lend nor borrow Upon advantage. Shakespeare, Merchant of Venice.
adve'nture. (1) An accident; a chance; a hazard; an event of which we have no direction.
advi'ce. (4) Intelligence; as, the merchants received advice of their loss. This sense is somewhat low, and chiefly commercial.
adz. See addice.
Aegypti'acum. An ointment consisting only of honey, verdi-grease and vinegar. Quincy.
Ae'thiops-mineral. A medicine so called, from its dark colour, prepared of quicksilver and sulphur, ground together in a marble mortar to a black powder. Such as have used it most, think its virtues not very great. Quincy.
affabula'tion. The moral of a fable.
affe'ction. (1) The state of being affected by any cause, or agent. This general sense is little in use.
Some men there are love not a gaping pig;
Some that are mad if they behold a cat;
And others, when the bag-pipe sings i' th' nose,
Cannot contain their urine, for affection. Shakespeare,
Merchant of Venice.
(8) Lively representation in painting.
Affection is the lively representment of any passion whatsoever, as if the figures stood not upon a cloth or board, but as if they were acting upon a stage. Wotton's Architecture.
affi'ance. (1) A marriage-contract.
(3) Trust in the divine promises and protection. To this sense it is now almost confined.
affilia'tion. Adoption; the act of taking a son. Chambers.
affla'tus. Communication of the power of prophecy.
a'ffluence. (1) The act of flowing to any place; concourse. It is almost always used figuratively.
I shall not relate the affluence of young nobles from hence into Spain, after the voice of our prince being there had been noised. Wotton.
to affro'nt. (1) To meet face to face; to encounter. This seems the genuine and original sense of the word, which was formerly indifferent to good or ill.
We have closely sent for Hamlet hither,
That he, as 'twere by accident, may here
Affront Ophelia. Shakespeare's Hamlet.
affro'nt. (3) Open opposition; encounter: a sense not frequent, though regularly deducible from the derivation.
a'fterclap. Unexpected events happening after an affair is supposed to be at an end.
a'ftergame. The scheme which may be laid, or the expedients which are practised after the original design has miscarried; methods taken after the first turn of affairs.
This earl, like certain vegetables, did bud and open slowly; nature sometimes delighting to play an after-game, as well as fortune, which had both their turns and tides in course. Wotton.
a'ggregate. The complex or collective result of the conjunction or acervation of many particulars.
A tree in the East-Indies, brought to us in small bits, of a very fragrant scent. It is hot, drying, and accounted a strengthener of the nerves in general. The best is of a blackish purple colour, and so light as to swim upon water. Quincy.
to agni'ze. To acknowledge; to own; to avow. This word is now obsolete.
ago'g. (1) In a state of desire; in a state of imagination; heated with the notion of some enjoyment; longing.
agoni'stes. A prize-fighter; one that contends at any public solemnity for a prize. Milton has so stiled his tragedy, because Sampson was called out to divert the Philistines with feats of strength.
ago'uty. An animal of the Antilles, of the bigness of a rabbet, with bright red hair, and a little tail without hair. He has but two teeth in each jaw, holds his meat in his forepaws like a squirrel, and has a very remarkable cry. When he is angry, his hair stands on end, and he strikes the earth with his hindfeet, and, when chased, he flies to a hollow tree, whence he is expelled by smoke. Trevoux.
agra'mmatist. An illiterate man.
to agu'ise. To dress; to adorn; to deck: a word now not in use.
to ail. (4) It is remarkable, that this word is never used but with some indefinite term, or the word nothing; as, What ails him? What does he ail? He ails something: he ails nothing. Something ails him; nothing ails him. Thus we never say, a fever ails him, or he ails a fever, or use definite terms with this verb.
aim. (5) Conjecture; guess.
There is a history in all mens lives,
Figuring the nature of the times deceas'd;
The which observ'd, a man may prophesy,
With a near aim, of the main chance of things,
As yet not come to life, which, in their seeds
And weak beginnings, lie intreasur'd. Shakespeare,
air. (1) The element encompassing the terraqueous globe. If I were to tell what I mean by the word air, I may say, it is that fine matter which we breathe in and breathe out continually; or it is that thin fluid body, in which the birds fly, a little above the earth; or it is that invisible matter, which fills all places near the earth, or which immediately encompasses the globe of earth and water. Watts's Logick.
(7) Vent; utterance; emission into the air.
(8) Publication; exposure to the publick view and knowledge.
I am sorry to find it has taken air, that I have some hand in these papers. Pope's Letters.
(9) Intelligence; information.
(15) (In horsemanship.) Airs denote the artificial or practised motions of a managed horse. Chambers.
to air. (4) To air liquors; to warm them by the fire: a term used in conversation.
(5) To make nests. In this sense, it is derived from aery, a nest. It is now out of use.
air-drawn. Drawn or painted in air.
This is the very painting of your fear,
This is the air-drawn dagger, which, you said,
Led you to Duncan. Shakespeare, Macbeth.
a'irling. A young, light, thoughtless, gay person.
Some more there be, slight airlings, will be won
With dogs, and horses, and perhaps a whore.
Ben. Jonson, Catiline.
a'iry. Fluttering; loose; as if to catch the air; full of levity.
By this name of ladies, he means all young persons, slender, finely shaped, airy, and delicate: such as are nymphs and Naiads. Dryden's Dufresnoy.
aisle. (Thus the word is written by Addison, but perhaps improperly; since it seems deducible only from either aile, a wing, or allée, a path; and is therefore to be written aile.) The walks in a church, or wings of a quire.
The abbey is by no means so magnificent as one would expect from its endowments. The church is one huge nef, with a double aisle to it; and, at each end, is a large quire. Addison.
to ake. (2) It is frequently applied, in an improper sense, to the heart; as, the heart akes; to imply grief or fear. Shakespeare has used it, still more licentiously, of the soul.
My soul akes
To know when two authorities are up,
Neither supreme, how soon confusion
May enter. Shakespeare, Coriolanus.
ala'criously. (From alacrious, supposed to be formed from alacris; but of alacrious I have found no example.) Cheerfully; without dejection.
Epaminondas alacriously expired, in confidence that he left behind him a perpetual memory of the victories he had atchieved for his country. Government of the Tongue, sect. 4.
ala'crity. Cheerfulness, expressed by some outward token; sprightliness; gayety; liveliness; cheerful willingness.
alamo'de. According to the fashion: a low word. It is used likewise by shopkeepers for a kind of thin silken manufacture.
a'lchymy. (1) The more sublime and occult part of chymistry, which proposes, for its object, the transmutation of metals, and other important operations.
(2) A kind of mixed metal used for spoons, and kitchen utensils.
a'lcohol. An Arabick term used by chymists for a high rectified dephlegmated spirit of wine, or for any thing reduced into an impalpable powder. Quincy.
alco've. A recess, or part of a chamber, separated by an estrade, or partition of a column, and other correspondent ornaments; in which is placed a bed of state, and sometimes seats to entertain company. Trevoux.
alderli'evest. Most beloved; which has held the longest possession of the heart.
Excerpted from Johnson's Dictionary by Samuel Johnson, E. L. McAdam, George Milne. Copyright © 2005 Dover Publications, Inc.. Excerpted by permission of Dover Publications, Inc..
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