"False face" from 1586 (OED2 has 1817--) [Was: Again recalling my lost youth,]

Joel S. Berson Berson at ATT.NET
Sun Apr 6 14:22:31 UTC 2014

"False face" is presumably what one would learn
from reading, "Halloween mask" from the street.

I notice that the OED of 1894 has "false face"
("a mask. Also, a deceiver, a hypocrite."), under
"false", back only to 1817 (Scott, "Rob
Roy").  ("Halloween mask" shows up only within two quotations, 1969 and 2004.)

Googling Books finds many "false face"s more than
two centuries earlier than Sir Walter, such as:

1586  -- According to GBooks's preview, which
gives no title page:  "The French Academie
(1586).   By Pierre de La Primaudaye."  The
"Note" says "The present facsimile is reproduced
from a copy in the possession of the British
Museum ... a translation of L'Académie françoise
(1577), probably by T. B[owes]." An impression
dated 1586 is at Houghton.  P. 214 --

"Especially we haue to note this well that
concerneth masks and mummeries, so common amongst
vs, and the cause of infinite offences, that
forasmuch as the face was appointed and ordeined
of God to be seen openly, and the mouth to
speake, we destroy the ordinance of God, as much
as lieth in vs, and become contrary vnto him,
when we take vnto vs a false face, and derpriue our seluse of speech."

1600:  Thomas Dekker, "Old
Fortunatus".  Impressions dated 1600 are at the
Harvard libraries.  In GBooks's 1904 edition (J. M. Dent, London), p. 100 --

"Shad. Did I not clap on a good false Irish face?
Andel. It became thee rarely. Shad. Yet that's
lamentable, that a false face should become any
man. Andel. Thou art a gull, ' tis all the fashion now ..."

c1606:  Shakespeare, Macbeth, closing line of Act
I [how did the OED2 miss this??  Although I
confess I needed to be reminded of it (my lost youth).] --

"[Macb.] False face must hide what the false heart doth know."

And many through the next 150 years.


At 4/5/2014 08:17 PM, Jonathan Lighter wrote:
>No, a "false-face" didn't have to be worn specifically on or for Halloween,
>but it did have to cover the entire face. (Commercial masks for the whole
>head were unknown in my childhood.)
>On Fri, Apr 4, 2014 at 11:19 PM, Wilson Gray <hwgray at gmail.com> wrote:
> > ---------------------- Information from the mail header
> > -----------------------
> > Sender:       American Dialect Society <ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU>
> > Poster:       Wilson Gray <hwgray at GMAIL.COM>
> > Subject:      Re: Again recalling my lost youth,
> >
> >
> -------------------------------------------------------------------------------
> >
> > On Fri, Apr 4, 2014 at 9:18 PM, Jonathan Lighter <wuxxmupp2000 at gmail.com
> > >wrote:
> >
> > > stress on "false"
> > >
> >
> > Exactly!
> >
> > Maybe the term was once the usual word, since it's probably not sheer
> > coincidence that my East Texas gram and your NYC gram of similar age, would
> > both use this as their usual word, and it was fairly recently - I've never
> > really stopped using "false face"; being childless, I've had no reason to
> > update - replaced by the specific "Hallowe'en mask." I have a vague memory
> > that a false face wasn't *necessarily* a Hallowe'en mask. The relevant
> > memory is being blocked by the clear memory of the funny-book hero, The
> > Face, whose false-face-looking face, IIRC, was the consequence of an injury
> > suffered in combat, During The War.
> >
> > Correcting a pswaydo-memory that I once posted: It was not Doctor Mid-Nite,
> > but Mister Terrific, whose costume bore an escutcheon on the chest with the
> > motto, "Turn-About Is Fair Play." Too bad, since "turn-about" goes quite
> > well with the concept of a blind man who can see better in the dark than
> > the sighted can see in the light.
> >
> > And, while looking for something else entirely, I was unpleasantly
> > surprised to come upon irrefutable documentation that strings of the type,
> >
> > "... A, B, and C, the latter, _C_, ..."
> >
> > can be dated to at least 1905, about eighty years earlier than I would have
> > guessed.
> >
> > Youneverknow.
> >
> > --
> > -Wilson
> > -----
> > All say, "How hard it is that we have to die!"---a strange complaint to
> > come from the mouths of people who have had to live.
> > -Mark Twain
> >
> > ------------------------------------------------------------
> > The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org
> >
>"If the truth is half as bad as I think it is, you can't handle the truth."
>The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org

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