A "fifty-six"?

Wilson Gray hwgray at GMAIL.COM
Thu Apr 3 15:09:46 UTC 2008

"[A] fifty-six [is a] weight of 4 stone."

Damn, Joel! I'm impressed! That would never have occurred to me! {No,
I'm not being sarcastic. I *am* impressed. I would have totally missed
that connection.]


On Thu, Apr 3, 2008 at 10:50 AM, Joel S. Berson <Berson at att.net> wrote:
> ---------------------- Information from the mail header -----------------------
>  Sender:       American Dialect Society <ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU>
>  Poster:       "Joel S. Berson" <Berson at ATT.NET>
>  Subject:      A "fifty-six"?
>  -------------------------------------------------------------------------------
>  In _The House of the Seven Gables_, I find:
>  "Though looked upon as a weighty man among his contemporaries, in
>  respect of animal substance; and as favored with a remarkable degree
>  of fundamental development, well adapting him for the judicial bench,
>  we conceive that the modern Judge Pyncheon, if weighed in the same
>  balance with his ancestor, would have required at least an
>  old-fashioned fifty-six, to keep the scale in equilibrio."
>  [And they say Hawthorne was humorless.]
>  What is a fifty-six?  Not in OED2.  A weight of 4 stone, I
>  assume--but was this a common unit for weights used in a scale,
>  perhaps for animals?
>  Joel
>  ------------------------------------------------------------
>  The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org

All say, "How hard it is that we have to die"---a strange complaint to
come from the mouths of people who have had to live.
 -Sam'l Clemens

The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org

More information about the Ads-l mailing list