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Chambers's Twentieth Century Dictionary.

Part 1.

by Various.


This is the third English Dictionary which the present Editor has prepared, and he may therefore lay claim to an unusually prolonged apprenticeship to his trade. It is surely unnecessary for him to say that he believes this to be the best book of the three, and he can afford to rest content if the Courteous Reader receive it with the indulgence extended to his Library Dictionary, published in the spring of 1898. It is based upon that work, but will be found to possess many serviceable qualities of its own. It is not much less in content, and its greater relative portability is due to smaller type, to thinner paper, and still more to a rigorous compression and condensation in the definitions, by means of which room has been found for many additional words.

The aim has been to include all the common words in literary and conversational English, together with words obsolete save in the pages of Spenser, Shakespeare, Milton, and the Authorised Version of the Bible. An attempt has been made also to include the common terms of the sciences and the arts of life, the vocabulary of sport, those Scotch and provincial words which assert themselves in Burns, Scott, the Brontes, and George Eliot, and even the coinages of word-masters like Carlyle, Browning, and Meredith. Numberless compound idiomatic phrases have also been given a place, in each case under the head of the significant word.

Correctness in technical matters has been ensured by consulting such books as Smyth's _Sailor's Word-Book_, Voyle's _Military Dictionary_, Wilson's _Stock-Exchange Glossary_, Lee's _Glossary of Liturgical and Ecclesiastical Terms_, &c. Besides books of this class, the Editor has made constant use of special books such as Schmidt's _Shakespeare-Lexicon_, Calderwood's edition of Fleming's _Vocabulary of Philosophy_, Jamieson's _Scottish Dictionary_, the _Stanford Dictionary of Anglicised Words and Phrases_, Yule and Burnell's _Anglo-Indian Glossary_, Addis and Arnold's _Catholic Dictionary_, and the Dictionaries of the Bible of Sir William Smith and Dr Hastings.

In Latin, his authority is Lewis and Short; in Greek, Liddell and Scott; in Romance Philology, Diez and Scheler; in French, Littre; in Spanish, Velazquez; in German, Weigand and Flugel; in Gaelic, Macleod and Dewar, and M'Bain; in Hebrew, Gesenius.

In English etymology the Editor has consulted Professor Skeat's _Dictionary_ and his _Principles of English Etymology_--First and Second Series; the magistral _New English Dictionary_ of Dr James A. H. Murray and Mr Henry Bradley, so far as completed; and the only less valuable _English Dialect Dictionary_ of Professor Wright (begun 1896).

Two complete American _English Dictionaries_ still hold the first place as works of reference, Professor Whitney's _Century Dictionary_ and Funk and Wagnall's _Standard Dictionary_.

The Editor has great pleasure in acknowledging his personal obligations to his brothers, the Rev. Robert P. Davidson, B.A., of Trinity College, Oxford, and David G. Davidson, M.D., Edinburgh; and to his equally capable and courteous colleagues, Mr J. R. Pairman and David Patrick, LL.D., Editor of _Chambers's Encyclopaedia_.

T. D.



the first letter in our alphabet, its corresponding symbol standing first also in many other alphabets derived from the Phoenician. It originated in the hieroglyphic picture of an eagle (Old Egyptian _ahom_), the cursive hieratic form of which was the original of the Phoenician _aleph_, an ox, from a fancied resemblance to its head and horns.--A, as a note in music, is the major sixth of the scale of C; A1, the symbol by which first-class vessels are classed in Lloyd's Register of British and Foreign Shipping, hence first-rate.

A, the indefinite article, a broken-down form of An, and used before words beginning with the sound of a consonant. [_An_ was a new development, after the Conquest, of the A.S. numeral _an_, one.]

A, a or [=a], a _prep._, derived from the old prep. _on_, and still used, as a prefix, in _a_foot, _a_field, _a_part, _a_sleep, now_a_days, twice-_a_-day; also with verbal nouns, as _a_-building, to be _a_-doing, to set _a_-going. It is now admitted only colloquially. [Short for A.S. _an_, a dialectic form of _on_, on, in, at. See PREFIXES.]

A, a, a dialectic corruption of _he_ or _she_, as in quoth_a_, (_Shak._) '_A_ babbled of green fields.'--A, usually written _a'_, Scotch for _all_; A, a form of the L. prep. _ab_, from, of, used before consonants, as in Thomas _a_ Kempis, Thomas _a_ Becket, &c.

AARDVARK, ard'vark, _n._ the ground-hog of South Africa. [Dut. _aarde_, earth; _vark_, found only in dim. _varken_, a pig.]

AARDWOLF, ard'w[=oo]lf, _n._ the earth-wolf of South Africa, a carnivore belonging to a sub-family of the Hyaenidae. [Dut. _aarde_, earth, _wolf_, wolf.]

AARONIC, -AL, [=a]-ron'ik, -al, _adj._ pertaining to AARON, the Jewish high-priest, or to his priesthood.--_n._ AA'RON'S-ROD (_archit._), a rod having one serpent twined round it.--AARON'S BEARD, a popular name for a number of cultivated plants--among the best known, a species of Saxifrage (_S. sarmentosa_), usually grown in hanging pots, from which hang long stems, bearing clumps of roundish, hairy leaves.

AB, ab, _n._ the eleventh month of the Jewish civil year, and the fifth of the ecclesiastical year, answering to parts of July and August. [Syriac.]

ABA, ab'a, _n._ a Syrian woollen stuff, of goat's or camel's hair, usually striped; an outer garment made of this. [Ar.]

ABACA, ab'a-ka, _n._ the native name of the so-called Manilla hemp of commerce--really a plantain, much grown in the Philippine Islands.

ABACK, a-bak', _adv._ (_naut._) said of sails pressed backward against the mast by the wind--hence (_fig._) TAKEN ABACK, taken by surprise, [A.S. _on baec._ See ON and BACK.]


ABACTINAL, ab-ak'ti-nal, _adj._ (_zool._) remote from the actinal area, without rays.--_adv._ ABAC'TINALLY.

ABACTION, ab-ak'shun, _n._ (_law_) the stealing of a number of cattle at once.--_n._ ABAC'TOR, one who does this. [L. _abig[)e]re_, _abactum_, to drive off.]


ABACUS, ab'a-kus, _n._ a counting-frame or table: (_archit._) a level tablet on the capital of a column, supporting the entablature:--_pl._ AB'AC[=I].--_ns._ ABACIS'CUS, ABAC'ULUS, dims. of ABACUS; AB'ACIST, one who counts with the abacus. [L.--Gr. _abax_, _abakos_, a board for reckoning on.]

ABADDON, a-bad'don, _n._ the destroyer, or angel of the bottomless pit: (_Milton_) the bottomless pit, or abyss of hell itself. [Heb., from _[=a]bad_, to be lost.]

ABAFT, a-baft', _adv._ and _prep._ on the aft, hind, or stern part of a ship: behind. [Pfx. _a-_, for A.S. _on_, on, and _baeftan_, after, behind; itself made up of pfx. _be-_, and _aeftan_. See AFT.]

ABALIENATE, ab-[=a]l'yen-[=a]t, _v.t._ Same as ALIENATE.

ABANDON, a-ban'dun, _v.t._ to give up: to desert: to yield (one's self) without restraint (with _to_).--_v.t._ ABAND' (_Spens._), to abandon.--_n._ ABAN'DON (_n_ to be nasalised), freedom from conventional restraints: careless freedom of manners.--_adj._ ABAN'DONED, given up, as to a vice: profligate: completely deserted: very wicked.--_adv._ ABAN'DONEDLY.--_n._ ABAN'DONMENT, act of abandoning: state of being given up: enthusiastic surrender of self to a cause: (_law_) the renunciation of a claim. [O. Fr.

_bandon_, from the Teut. root _ban_, proclamation, came to mean decree, authorisation, permission; hence _a bandon_--at will or discretion, _abandonner_, to give up to the will or disposal of some one. See BAN, BANNS.]

ABASE, a-b[=a]s', _v.t._ to cast down: to humble: to degrade.--_adjs._ AB[=A]'SED, ABAISSe (_her._), depressed.--_n._ ABASE'MENT, state of humiliation. [O. Fr. _abaissier_, to bring low--L. _ad_, to, and root of BASE, adj.]

ABASH, a-bash', _v.t._ to confuse with shame or guilt.--_pa.p._ ABASHED'

(with _at_, of an occasion; _by_, of a cause).--_n._ ABASH'MENT, confusion from shame. [O. Fr. _esbhir_ (Fr. _s'ebahir_), pr.p. _esbahiss-ant_, to be amazed--L. _ex_, out, and interj. _bah_, expressive of astonishment.]

ABATE, a-b[=a]t', _v.t._ to lessen: to deduct (with _of_): to mitigate: (_law_) to put an end to, do away with, as of an action or a nuisance, to render null, as a writ.--_v.i._ to grow less.--_adjs._ AB[=A]T'ABLE, capable of being abated; AB[=A]T'ED, beaten down or cut away, as the background of an ornamental pattern in relief.--_n._ ABATE'MENT, the act of abating: the sum or quantity abated: (_law_) the act of intruding on a freehold and taking possession before the heir, the abandonment of an action, or the reduction of a legacy: (_her._) a supposed mark of dishonour on a coat of arms--apparently never actually used.--ABATED ARMS, those whose edges have been blunted for the tournament. [O. Fr. _abatre_, to beat down--L. _ab_, from, and _bat[)e]re_, popular form of _batu[)e]re_, to beat: conn. with BEAT.]

ABATIS, ABATTIS, a'bat-is, _n.sing._ and _pl._ (_fort._) a rampart of trees felled and laid side by side, with the branches towards the enemy. [Fr. See ABATE.]

ABATTOIR, a-bat-war', _n._ a public slaughter-house. [Fr. See ety. of ABATE.]

ABATURE, ab'a-t[=u]r, _n._ the trail of a beast of the chase. [Fr.]

ABB, ab, _n._ properly woof- or weft-yarn, but sometimes warp-yarn. [Pfx.

_a-_, and WEB.]

ABBA, ab'a, _n._ father, a term retained in the Gr. text of the New Testament, together with its translation 'father,' hence _Abba father_, applied to God the Father: also a bishop in the Syriac and Coptic Churches.

[L.--Gr.--Syriac and Chaldee, _abb[=a]_--Heb. _ab_, father.]

ABBACY, ab'a-si, _n._ the office or dignity of an abbot: the establishment under an abbot: an abbey.--_adj._ ABB[=A]'TIAL. [The earlier form was _abbatie_--said by Dr Murray to have been originally a Scotch form.]

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