[Ads-l] Q: "spaniel" = "servile follower" (1603): interdating -- or variant, or new sense?

Joel Berson berson at ATT.NET
Fri Dec 4 19:48:10 UTC 2015

The OED has "spaniel"  n1. sense 2. fig. b.  "A submissive, cringing, or fawning person," with quotations 1598, 1599, and 1606.  Does the following fit there?

"Richard Haretropp ... complained in 1603, 'what rogues are these of the late queen's council that would not suffer her to marry while she was young that by her we might have had an heir to be our king, whereas now we must have a strange king come out of another land with a company of spaniels following him'."  [James I, coming out of Scotland.  Thus these antedate King Charles's spaniels.]

Cited to J. S. Cockburn (ed.), _Calendar of Assize Records: Kent Indictments. James I_ (1980), 4, 10.  In David Cressy, _Dangerous Talk_ (Oxford Univ. Press, 2010), p. 92 and n. 11.

"Fawning" fits -- "fawning" adj. 2 "Showing servile deference, cringing, flattering."  So I suppose the 1603 quotation is merely an interdating.


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

More information about the Ads-l mailing list