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VENTURE ( 591 ) WHITTLE avant-coureur, and avant-garde, the Vow stands for the ordinary old Eng. initial a being in each case probably avow or avowe (Prompt. Parv.), fremistaken for the indefinite article. quently in texts misprinted a vow, a Compare VAMP, p. 420, for avampé. derivative of old Eng. avowen, old Fr. VENTURE has originated in a mis
avouer, from Lat. advotare. understanding of the old word aventure
avow.”—Chaucer, O. Tales, 2416 ; as a venture, Fr. aventure, from Low [He] perfourmed his auowe.”—LeLat. adventura, a thing about to come
genda Aurea, p. 47 (Way). or happen, and so an uncertainty. A-wowyn, or to make a-wowe, Voveo.The original and proper form of the Prompt. Paru. phrase at a venture was at aventure. I make myne avoue verreilly to Cryste. See Eastwood and Wright, Bible Word
Morte Arthure, 1. 308. book, s.v.
Compare beatilles, an old culinary But at aventure the instrument I toke,
word for the giblets of fowl (Bailey, And blewe so loude that all the toure I shoke. Wright), representing Fr. atatis. So S. Hawes, Pastime of Pleasure, cap. xxvi. tender, a small vessel attendant on p. 115 (Percy Soc.).
another, is properly attender, evidently The enemies at auenture runne against mistaken for a tender. theyr engines.- Hall, Chron. 1550, Hen. V.
VoWTRE, frequently found in old He was some hielding Fellow, that had stolne writings for avowtry, adultery, old Fr. The Horse he rode-on: and vpon my life avoutrie. See ADVOWTRY, p. 3. Speake at aduenture. Shukespeare, 2 Hen. IV. i. 1 (1. 59), 1623. þat man how (=ought] to curse for crime (The Globe ed. here has “spoke at a ven
of vowtre.—Apology for Lolurds, p. 21 (Cam
den Soc.). ture.”]
On slep an ober bi ... vowtrand or doing A certain man drew a bow at a venture.
a vowtri.-ld. p. 87. A. V. 1 kings xxii. 34.
Compare a vantage for a(d)vantage:
Therefore to them which are young, Salomon shews what a vantage they have above the aged.-H. Smith, Sermons, 1657, p. 216.
W. VANGELISTE, a frequent old Eng. form of evangelist, understood probably WHITTLE, an old word for a knife as a vangelist. Wycliffe has vangelie (Shakespeare), whence whittle, to cut (1 Tim. i. 11) for evangel or gospel. So away, is a corruption of old Eng. thwitel old Eng. lowance for allowance ; rith- (from A. Sax. þwitan, to cut), perhaps metique (B. Jonson) for arithmetic; mistaken for th' witel, " the wittle." ringo (Howell) for eringo.
Lancashire thwittle, a knife (E. D. Sayn Mathew the wungeliste.
Soc.). Compare riding for thriding, i.e. Eng. Metrical Homilies, p.31 (ed. Small). thirding, the third part of a county.
P. 16 b.
WORDS CORRUPTED THROUGH MISTAKES ABOUT NUMBER.
Substantives ending in -s, -M, or -ce, which consequently either in sound or form simulate the appearance of plurals, are often popularly mistaken as such, and constructed with verbs in the plural. I have observed a class of Sunday School children in repeating their collect almost unanimous in thinking it due to grammar to say "forgiving us those things whereof our conscience are afraid."
Handle Holme, on the other hand, has "Innocence Day" (Academy, p. 181, 1688) for Innocents' Day. The claimant in the Tichborne trial, when questioned incidentally about "the Marseillaise" replied that he did not know "them."
Even the most correct speakers will not hesitate to say, "Where riches are, some alms are due." In some instances popular errors of this kind have so far reacted on the form of the word that new singulars have been evolved to correspond to the imaginary plural. Hence such words as a pea, a cherry, for a peace, a cherries, slierry for sherris, &c.
Instances of the contrary mistake, plurals being turned into singulars, are not wanting. Implements consisting of two inseparable parts, though plural in form, are generally treated as singulars, e.g. a bellows, a pincers, a scissors, a tongs.
In Middlesex, a habs or haps, used popularly by the common folk for a painful sore or gathering, is evidently an imaginary singular of the pluralsounding word abscess (Cockneyce habsccss). At different times I have
heard the sentences, " My daughter ha? a habs in her jaw ;" "My husband has a bad haps under his arm."
So rice (old Fr. ris) was once taken for a plural:
Nyra rip, and leae hem, and wasch kes clene.— \\'arner, Antiq. Cutin. p. 39.
Li zozo, a bird, in the Creole patois of Mauritius, is from Fr. les oisewz sounding to the ear as Ze S«'*',j« (AtfietKeum, Dec. 31, 1870, p. 889). In the same dialect zot, another (for' Void'), is from Fr. Us aulres.
In the Hebrew of Job v. 5, the word izammim, an intriguer, having all the appearance of a plural (like our aim or riches), has actually been so taken by the Targumist, who renders it "robbers" (Delitzsch, in loc).
These various irregularities have in fact arisen from a misguided endeavour to be regular, and they furnish curious examples of what may be termed the "pathology " of grammar (Philog. Sec. Trans. 1873-4, p. 259).
Aborigine, sometimes ignor&ntly used as a singular of aborigines, Lat. aborigines, a word found only in the plural.
An aborigine of Home region not far removed from the equator.—Church Record (DublinV, Dec. 1869, p. 18.
To the European sense of right they united the desperate energy of the abori-itu. —The Standard, July 18, 1882, p. 5.
Similarly relic is a word, like "remains," originally employed only in
the plural, old Eng. relikes, Fr. reUqucs, Lat. reliquias, ace. of reliquiae, relics.
Aoatk (for achate) stands for old Eng. achates, which was no doubt mistaken for a plural, but is really borrowed from Lat. and Greek achates, a stone named from the river Achates in Sicily near which it was discovered.
Onyx and achatis both more & lease.
Plaii of the Sacrament, Philog. Soo.
Gower, Can/'. Ainantis, iii. 130. Achate, the precious stone Achates.—Cotgrave.
Alms, now always regarded as a plural because it ends in -s, so that it would be "bad grammar" to say "alms was given to the poor." It is really a singular, being the mod. form of old Eng. almes, or almesse, A. Sax. almesse, or CBlmcesse, which is merely a corrupted form of L. Lat. eUemosyna, from Greek Mlemfisune, pity (compare our " charity "). "Eleemosynary aid" is merely alms "writ large." Compare Aelmesse, p. 4. The A. V. is inconsistent in its usage :—
[He] asked an alms. —Acts iii. 3.
Thine aim* are come up for a memorial before God.—Id. x. 4.
Alms is a good gift unto all that give it.— Tobit iv. 11.
The alms of a man is as a signet with him. — Ecclus. xvii. 22.
Fruits, as it were, fastened on externally, alms given that they may be gloried in,
?rayers made that they may be seen.—Abp. VencA, Miracles, p. 3J6 (9th ed.).
Wycliffe's pun on almes and all-amiss shows how the word was pronounced in his time:—
be endowynge of be clergy wib worldly lordeachipe ow3t not to be callid almes, but rather alle a mysse or wastynge of goddis goodes.—Unpri'nted Eng. Works of Wyclif, p. 388 (K. E. T. S.).
But now borou bis perpetual alamysse bat be clerkis and religious folke callen almes, cristes ordenaunce is vndo.—Id. p. 389.
Anchovy is a corruption of an anchovies, or anchoves, Dut. "ansjovis, anchoves."—Sewel, 1708.
See above, p. 8.
Assets, a legal term and apparent plural, as when we say " no assets are
forthcoming," is only an Anglicized form of Fr. assez, sufficient (i. e. to discharge a testator's debts and legacies), old Eng. assetz (P. Plowman), from Lat. ad satis. The word, therefore, is not, as generally understood, plural, but singular.
The value of the tenant's right is an available asset against his debt to the landlord.— The Standard, July 22, 1882.
Old Eng. forms are aseth, asseth, aseeth (=: satisfaction), which appear to be fictitious singulars.
berfor make to god a-seep for synne .. . Many men maken aseeb bi sorrow of herte. — H uclift Unprinted Eng. Works, p. 310 (E. E. T. S.).
Ackoch. Dr. Latham mentions that he has met some instances of "an auroch" being used, as if the singular of aurochs (Diet. s.v. Bonasus)—a mistake pretty much the same as if we spoke of an oc instead of an ox, ochs being the German for ox.
It is strange to find an eminent philologer like Mr. T. L. K. Oliphant speaking of our fathers "hunting the auroch " (Old and Middle Eng. p. 13).
Axev (Prov. Eng.), the ague, is a feigned singular of access, mistaken for a plural, as if axeys. See Axey, p. 15, and Nabsy, p. 581.
The tercyan ye quartane or y= brynnyng axs. Play of the Sacrament, 1. till (Philolog. Soc. Trans. 1860-1).
Baize, a woollen stuff, now used as a singular, was originally a plural, viz. bayes (Cotgrave), plu. of bay, Fr. baye (Dan. bai, Dut. baai), originally, perhaps, cloth of a bay colour (Fr. bai). —Skeat, Wedgwood. Compare Fr. bureau (O. Fr. burel, 0. Eng. boreV), orig. coarse cloth of a russet colour, from Lat. burrus, reddish.
Baye . . . the cloth called bayes.—Cotgrave.
Balance (Fr. balance, Lat. bi-lancem, "two-platter "), from its sounding like a plural and signifying two scales, is used by old writers as a plural. "A peyre of Ballaunce."—Drant (Morris, Accidence, p. 98).
( 594 )
Reprooue our ballance when they are Sometimes with sleeves and bodies wide, faultie.—Gosson, School of Abuse, p. 54.
And sometimes straiter than a hide. Are these ballance here, to weigh the Aesh.
Sam. Butler, Works, ii. 164, 1. 30 Merchant of Venice, iv. 1.
(ed. Clarke). BARBERRY is a corruption of Fr.
With the plural bodices (= bodies-ta) berberis, Low Lat. berberis, Arab. bar
compare oddses used by Butler.
Can tell the oddses of all games, báris (Skeat), perhaps understood as
And when to answer to their names. barberries, a plural. Compare heresy,
Sam. Butler, Works, ü. 153, 1. 06! 0. Fr. heresie, from Lat. hceresis, Greek
(ed. Clarke). hairësis, the taking up (of a wrong Like rooks, who drive a subtle trade, opinion), which is much the same as By taking all the oddses laid. if analysy had been formed out of
Id. ii. 986. analysis, Greek análusis. Shenstone
BRACE, a pair, is the old Fr. bruce, somewhat similarly uses crise (Fr.
“ the two arms," from Lat. brachil, crise) for crisis. See Dose below.
the arms, plu. of brachium, an Behold him, at some crise, prescribe
(Skeat). And raise with drugs the sick’ning tribe. Progress of Taste, pt. iv. l. 56.
BRACKEN, coarse fern, is properly the
old plural in -en (Mid. Eng. braken, A. BELLOWS, now used as a singular, Sax, braccan) of brake (1, a fern, filix.was originally the plural of old Eng. Prompt. Parv.; 2, a thicket), A. Sar. belowe (Prompt. Parv.), a bag, another
bracce, a fern. Thus bracken = brakes form of the old Eng. beli, bali, A. Sax.
(see Skeat, s.v.,
and Prior). bolig, a bag (Skeat). A bellows is properly a pair of leathern blow-bags BREF, a name for the gadily in the joined together (Ger. blase-balg = Lat.
Cleveland dialect and in N. English, folles).
from breese, A. Sax. briosa, brimsi, be deouel muchele his beli bles.
Swed. and Dan. brems (Ger. bremse), Ancren Riule, p. 296.
the original word evidently having been [The devil increaseth with his bellow(s)
mistaken for a plural. Similar corthe blast.]
ruptions are the following, given in
Wright, Prov. and Obsolete Dictionary: BIBLE, Fr. bible, Lat. biblia, is the Greek BiBaía, books, the sacredwritings, chimy, a shift, from chemise (as if
Essex blay, a blaze (as if blıys); plural of Biblíov, a book. The Latin
chimies) ; furny, a furnace (as if fur. word was sometimes taken as a fem. sing. substantive. See Westcott, The
nies); Somerset may, a maze (as if Bible in the Church, p. 5; Smith, Bible
mays); pray, a press or crowd, forDict. i. 209.
merly spelt prease (as if prays).
The learned write an insect breeze Biga, and quadriga, used by later Is but a mongrel prince of bees, Latin writers for a chariot, are in earlier
That falls before a storm on cows writers properly plurals, bigo, quadrig,
And stings the founders of his house. standing for bijugce, quadrijugo (sc.
Butler, Hudibrus, Pt. III. ii. 1. 4. equo), a double yoke, or quadruple BREECHES is a double plural (as inyoke, of mares drawing a chariot. For correct as geeses would be); breech, O. these and other plural forms in Latin, Eng. breche, breke, A. Sax. bric, being see Philog. Soc. Trans. 1867, p. 105. already the plural of bróc, just as O.
BLOUSE, a smock-frock, Fr. blouse, Eng. tėth (teeth) is of toth, fët (feet) of is from old Fr. bliaus, which is the fột, &c. So Icel. brækr is the plural of plural of bliaut, a rich over-garment
brók. See BREECHES, p. 38. (see Skeat, Etym. Dict. s.v.).
Breche or breke, Braccæ.—Prompt. Paro.
He dide next bis whyte lere BODICE, a stays, was originally a Of cloth of lake fyn and clere plural, the word being a corruption of
A breech and eek a sherte. bodys (Fuller), or "pair of bodies"
Chaucer, Sir Thopas, I. 2019. (Sherwood), i.e. a front and back body The plural hors-es is a refinement on laced together. Compare dice for dies, the old Eng. and A. Saxon, which has and pence for pennies.
hors for both plural and singular, pretty
BROCCOLI (595) ) . CHILDREN much as if we were to speak of sheeps Greek kúpparis, a caper-plant. The and deers. We still say a battery, &c., French have also made the word a of so many horse.
singular, câpre, 0. Fr. cappre. So scholde hors be drawe yn þe same wyse. A locust schal be maad fat, and capparis Trevisa, Morris und Skeat Specimens, schal be distried.--- Wycliffe, Eccles. xii. 5. ii. 239, 1. 108.
Gerarde, while noting “it is geneBroccoli is properly the plural of rally called Cappers, in most languages; It. broccolo, a small sprout (Prior), a in English Cappers, Caper, and Capers ? dimin. of brocco, a shoot (Skeat). (Herbal, p. 749), himself uses the form Compare CELERY. The elder Disraeli caper. has “ a banditti," properly plu. of It. CELERY, Fr. céleri, from prov. It. bandito, outlaw (Calamities of seleri (Skeat), or sellari, which appears Authors, p. 130).
to be the plural of sellaro, selero, a corBROTH, in the provincial dialects, is ruption of Lat. selinum, Greek sélinon, frequently treated as a plural, e.g.
a kind of parsley (Prior, Pop. Names of few broth,” “Theeas broth is varry
Brit. Plants). good.”—Holderness dialect (E. York- So Fr. salmis seems to be a double shire)," They are too hot ”(Cambridge. pluralformed by adding 8 to salmi, from shire). This is perhaps due to a con- It. salami, salted meats, plu. of salame fusion with the synonymous words (Skeat). breuis, brose, old Eng. Vrowes, browesse, CHERRY is a corrupt singular of 0. Fr. broues, which were used as cheris, mistaken for a plural, but really plurals (Skeat). However, brose seems
an Anglicized form of Fr. cerise, from to be itself a singular, from Gael. brothas.
Lat. cerasus, a cherry-tree. Compare Compare PORRIDGE below.
merry (the fruit) from merise, sherry BURIAL, formerly beriel, is a fictitious
from sherris, &c. singular of old Eng. burials, beryels,
CHERUBIN, or cherubim, the Hebrew byrgels, which, though it looks like a
plu. of cherub, is often incorrectly used plural, is itself a singular, A. Sax. in old writers as sing. making its birgels, a tomb. Compare old Eng. plural cherubins or cherubims. rekels, incense,and RIDDLE and SHUTTLE
Patience, thou young and rose-lipp'd cherubelow.
Othello, iv. 2, 1. 63. And was his holie lichame leid in burieles
Still quiring to the young-eyed cherubins. in þe holie sepulcre, þat men sechen giet in
Merchant of Venice, v. i. 1. 62. ierusalem.-Old Eng. Homilies, 2nd Ser. p.
Thou shalt make two cherubims of gold.21 (E. E. T. S.).
A. V. Exodus xxv. 18. Prof. Skeat quotes “Beryels, sepul.
A fire-red cherubinnes face.-Cant. Tales, 626. chrum."—Wright, Vocabularies, i. 178;
For God in either eye has placed a cherubin, and "An buryels."-Robt. of Glouc. p.
Dryden, Poems, p. 511, 1. 156 204.
(Globe ed.). Wycliffe is credited with having in
CHILDREN is a double plural, formed vented the quasi-singular form biriel (Matt. xxvii
. 60), buriel (Mark vi. 29). by adding the old plural formative See Skeat, Notes to P. Plowman, p.
-en (as in Ox-en, prov. Eng. housen,
houses) to childre or childer, which in 430.
old Eng., as still in prov. Eng. (e.g. in That þat blessed body • of buriels sholde
Lancashire and Ireland), is the plural Vision of P. Plowman, C. xxii. 146.
of child (Carleton, Traits of Irish Peasantry, p. 219 ; Philolog. Soc. Proc. i. 115); A. Sax. cildru, infants. Childermass was the old name of Innocents' Day.
He sal say fan, “ Commes now til me, CAPERS, used as the name of a sauce, My fadir blissed childer fre." seems to have been properly a singular, Hampole, Prick of Conscience, 1. 6148, capparis, the caper-shrub, in Wycliffe, Myry tottyr, chylderys game. Oscillum.taken directly from Lat. capparis, Prompi, Parv.