bilbo (was P & Q)

Laurence Horn laurence.horn at YALE.EDU
Thu Apr 23 14:42:54 UTC 2009

At 9:32 AM -0400 4/23/09, Amy West wrote:
>I know it as a type of Spanish sword or sword blade -- a two-edged
>short sword. I've seen it on the labels of a couple of swords hanging
>in HAM.
>---Amy W.

And the OED reminds us that "Bilbo(w)" goes back at least to
Shakespeare in this use:

1598 SHAKES. Merry W. III. v. 112 Compass'd like a good Bilbo in the
circumference of a Pecke, hilt to point.

Also as the proper name of such a sword or in the phrase "Bilbo's the word".

There's another slightly earlier-attested "bilbo(w)" in the OED, also
probably from the Basque city of its supposed manufacture, for a long
iron bar used to shackle prisoners at sea, popularized by its
appearance (but, as history dictated, non-use) on ships of the
Spanish Armada.

1602 SHAKES. Ham. V. ii. 6 Me thought I lay Worse then the mutines in
the Bilboes.


>>What the heck does that last line mean?
>>And what's the history of the name "Bilbo"? Aside from the
>>once-notorious Senator and the famous Mr. Baggins, that is.
>>Mark Mandel
>The American Dialect Society -

The American Dialect Society -

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