"to sweat [something] out" -- 146-year antedating, I hope

Joel S. Berson Berson at ATT.NET
Fri Feb 22 22:30:05 UTC 2013

Acknowledging that sweat, v., "has not yet been
fully updated (first published 1918)."

"But for those who out of private Piques or
Views, have exclaim'd and railed against it
[smallpox inoculation], and who have trumpt up
the groundless ill Consequences that would attend
or follow it: Such I leave to sweat it out with
just Reflection and due Repentance."

Zabdiel Boylston, _An Historical Account of the
Small-Pox Inoculated in New England [etc.]_, The
Second Edition, Corrected. Re-Printed at Boston
for S. Gerrrish and T. Hancock, 1730.  Preface, vi.

"sweat, v." 9.b "trans. With out, to await or
endure anxiously or with unease. Esp. in phr. to
sweat it out . colloq.", antedates 1876-- ('M. Twain').

There is the earlier (1592--) sense 2.b.
(trans.?) "fig. To give forth or get rid of as by
sweating; slang, to spend, lay out (money). Also
with away, out.", for which the OED has
"c1610–15   tr. St. Augustine Life St. Monica in
C. Horstmann Lives Women Saints (1886) 140,   I
could not sweate out from my hart that bitternes
of sorrow."  But I think Boylston's quote does
not have the connotation of "to emit" something,
rather of time passing and the world accepting
inoculation despite the views of its opponenet.

There are a few earlier instances of
"sweat/sweated/sweating it out" in GBooks, but
they all seem to be literal, e.g. in the context
of illness.  For example, the OED has under sense
1.a "1700  Dryden Chaucer's Cock & Fox in Fables
224   With Exercise she sweat ill Humors out."
However, since the form is "sweat [something]
out", it seems difficult to search for a figurative instance.


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