Archive for October, 2009


The Beinecke’s annotated proof copy of the Dictionary, from which this blog has drawn its images, ends with the letter P. Words will now be taken from a copy of the first edition of the Dictionary, presented by Johnson to his good friend, Hester Lynch Thrale (later Hester Thrale Piozzi). This copy, annotated by Piozzi, can be found in Yale’s Beinecke Library, call number IIm J637 755D copy 4.
–Kathryn James, Beinecke Assistant Curator for Early Modern Books and Manuscripts,


QUAI’NTNESS. n.s. [from quaint.] Nicety; petty elegance.
There is a certain majesty in simplicity, which is far above
all the quaintness of wit. Pope.
[Pope says Quaint of Musical Recitative, wch is anything but quaint.]



PRI’THEE.  A familiar corruption of pray thee, or I pray thee,
which some of the tragick writers have injudiciously used.
Well, what was that scream for, I prithee? L’Estrange.
Alas! why com’st thou at this dreadful moment,
To shock the peace of my departing soul?
Away! I prithee leave me! Rowe’s Jane Shore.

To PRINT. v.n.

To PRINT. v.n.

To PRINT. v.n.  To publish a book.
From the moment he prints, he must expect to hear no
more truth. Pope.



PRE’SUMABLY. adv. [from presume] Without examination.
Authors presumably writing by common places, wherein,
for many years, promiscuously amassing all that make for their
subject, break forth at last into useless rhapsodies. Brown.



PRE’SSMAN. n.s. [press and man.]
I. One who forces another into service; one who forces away.
One only path to all; by which the pressmen came. Chap.
2. One who makes the impression of print by the press: di-
stinct from the compositor, who ranges the types.


PRE'SSER. n.s.

PRE’SSGANG. n.s. [press and gang.] A crew that strolls about
the streets to force men into naval service.



PREAPPRE’HENSION. n.s. [pre and apprehend.] An opinion
formed before examination.
A conceit not to be made out by ordinary eyes, but such
as regarding the clouds, behold them in shapes conformable
to preapprehension. Brown’s Vulgar Errours.


PRA'TTLE. n.s.

PRA’TTLER. n.s. [from prattle.] A trifling talker; a chatterer.
Poor prattler! how thou talk’st? Shakesp.
Prattler, no more, I say;
My thoughts must work, but like a noiseless sphere,
Harmonious peace must rock them all the day;
No room for prattlers there. Herbert.

PRANK. n.s.

PRANK. n.s.

PRANK. n.s. A frolick; a wild flight; a ludicrous trick; a
wicked act.
Lay home to him;
Tell him, his pranks have been too broad to bear with.  Sha.
Such is thy audacious wickedness,
Thy lewd, pestif’rous and dissentious pranks;
The very infants prattle of thy pride. Shakesp.
They caused the table to be covered and meat set on, which
was no sooner set down, than in came the harpies, and played
their accustomed pranks. Raleigh.
They put on their cloaths, and played all those pranks you
have taken notice of. Addison’s Guardian.



PO’WDER-ROOM. n.s. [powder and room.] The part of a ship
in which the gunpowder is kept.
The flame invades the powderrooms, and then
Their guns shoot bullets, and their vessels men. Waller.