Amy West medievalist at W-STS.COM
Sun Jan 3 16:29:38 UTC 2010

Hum. Have you taken a look at the Middle English Dictionary to see if
there's a "missing link" there? (I have not.) From what we've turned
up so far, we've got it appearing in OE and Early Modern (but
glossing Latin) -- what's going on with it in Middle English, I

---Amy West

>On Fri, Jan 1, 2010 at 8:59 PM, Robin Hamilton
><robin.hamilton2 at btinternet.com> wrote:
>>  ---------------------- Information from the mail header
>>  Sender:       American Dialect Society <ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU>
>>  Poster:       Robin Hamilton <robin.hamilton2 at BTINTERNET.COM>
>  > Subject:      Re: Swordplay
>>>  Off the top of my noggin, look to "swordplay" for the root of the
>>>  "gun play" formation. M-W dates swordplay to 1602. But the first
>  >> sense of "play" in MW is "swordplay".
>>>  OED cites "lindplegan" in Beowulf and "sweord [p]legan" in Waldere as
>>>  instances of sense 1b of "play" [n]: "The action of lightly and
>>>  briskly wielding or plying a weapon in fencing or combat. Freq. as
>>>  the second element in compounds" BUT then there's nothing until 1647.
>>             SNIP
>>>  I can't recall if George Silver uses "sword play" or "play" in this
>>>  sense in his two manuals c. 1590, but I can take a look.
>>>  ---Amy West
>>  LEME (Lexicon of Early Modern English --
>>  http://leme.library.utoronto.ca/search ) provides a positive wealth of
>>  examples, mostly glossing the Latin "Gladiator" and "Lanista", from 1538 to
>>  1623.
>>  The entry [below] in Thomas Cooper, _Thesaurus Linguae Romanae et
>>  Britannicae_ (1584), on "Ludus", seems to provide the fullest unfolding of
>>  the link between play, Roman games, and Gladiators, leading to the English
>>  "sword play" and "sword players".
>  >
>  > Robin Hamilton

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