[Ads-l] "Whose ox hath he taken [gored]", 1683, 1724, 1773; antedate OED3 1843--

Joel Berson berson at ATT.NET
Sat Aug 1 01:26:37 UTC 2015

Looking more into "ox ... taken", I am not as certain as I was initially that these quotations should be taken figuratively as "an interest". They might rather have been meant  literally as "property", livestock, taken unjustly.

I also find that in 1693 (although I don't have access to that edition) Aphra Behn, in _Love-letters between a noble-man and his sister_, used the phrase:

"Whose Ox or whose Ass has he unjustly taken?"

     From: Joel Berson <berson at ATT.NET>
 Sent: Friday, July 31, 2015 8:48 PM
 Subject: [ADS-L] "Whose ox hath he taken [gored]", 1683, 1724, 1773; antedate OED3 1843--
(1)  1683

When I recollect how strictly and impartially righteousness and justice is executed among us, he [sc. Charles II?] seldom or never obstructing the Law; ... But otherwise let me ask you, whose Ox has he taken, whose Ass has he seiz'd, who has he Defrauded or Oppressed, whose Life, whose Property has he invaded, whose Liberty has he illegally or unreasonably restrain'd in Prison, or in Exile?

Thomas Gipps, _Three Sermons Preached in Lent and Summer Assizes last ... wherein The Nature of Subjection to the Civil Magistrate is Explained, the Duty Proved, and the Clergy Justified in pressing the same upon their Fellow-Subjects_ (London: H. H. for Walter Kettilby, 1683), Sermon III, p. 79.  GBooks, full view.


(2)  1724

But is this using him [sc. George I] well, who protects them in their just Rights and Liberties? Whose Ox hath he taken? or whose Ass hath he taken? whom hath he defrauded or oppressed?

1724 Oct. 20.  Samuel Knight, _The Obligation of Obedience to the present Government: Enforced in a Sermon ... On Tuesday, October 20, 1724. Being the Anniversary of His Majesty King George's Coronation_ (London: Joseph Downing, 1724), p. 24.  GBooks, full view.

(3)  1773

Who is there that will not recognize the patient attention, the unremitted assiduity, and the penetrating perspicuity by which he [sc. Thomas Hutchinson] searched out the matters which came before him, and adorned and rendered amiable the seat of justice? And I may ask, whose ox hath he taken? Or whom has he defrauded? Whom has he oppressed?

1773 Aug. 5 or 12, Jonathan Sewall, _Massachusetts Gazette, and the Boston Weekly News-Letter_.  In Bernard Bailyn, _The Ordeal of Thomas Hutchinson_ (Cambridge, Mass.: The Belknap Press of Harvard University Press, 1974), p. 247.


Antedate OED3 ox, n., sense 1.c, 1843--.

Sense 1.c is "An interest that is threatened or harmed."  The OED says of this sense "In collocation with gored", but also "Chiefly in whose ox is gored."  I believe these quotations well fit the definition, and therefore even though they do not contain "gored" should not be bracketed.
In Gbooks before 1843 there is an additional quotation for "ox ... taken", in 1798; and one for "ox ... stolen" in 1837.
Should "ass ... taken", in the same sense as "ox ... gored", be added to the OED?  GBooks has quotations from 1805, 1824, 


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

More information about the Ads-l mailing list