Imran Ghory imran at BITS.BRIS.AC.UK
Tue Jun 24 11:01:22 UTC 2003

On Tue, 24 Jun 2003, Michael Quinion wrote:
> A World Wide Wprds subscriber asks "Is there such a word as
> 'besmitten'?" As usual, he's really asking something more like "Is
> 'besmitten' the sort of word I can use and not be laughed at?"
> But I can't find it in any dictionary I have here. Can anybody help
> to track down its antecedents, or would anybody like to comment on
> its constituency and validity?

Searching LION it looks possible that it might be a contraction of "be

>From " Tudor, a Prince of Wales" (1678),

"You know, Madam, continued he, that you obliged me to Visit Madam de
Giack; and though you were not in my Eyes the Loveliest Princess that ever
was, Do you believe that I could be smitten with a Lady who is known to be
otherwayes engaged; and that Tudor is not so ambitious as to despise a
Heart which he must share with the Duke of Burgundy."

From, "The Dutch Rogue" (1683),

"Not long after it was his Fate to be smitten with a corruscant
eye-dazling Dame, by name Angelica....."

The dating of these usages of "smitten" seem to align with the
earliest use of besmitten in Samuel Wesley's "Maggots" (1685),

"...whose Damsel that had wofully besmitten the gentle Knight..."

Imran Ghory

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