"sling arms" (not in OED2) -- why not before 1824?

Joel S. Berson Berson at ATT.NET
Tue Apr 22 01:23:26 UTC 2014

At 4/21/2014 12:07 PM, Amy West wrote:
>... Your [Joel's] poem is from 1749 and OED has "sling" for the long
>arms from 1711,
>pre-dating the poem by a good bit, so "slung" from the sling for the
>firelock is likely, I think.

Amy, if you're referring to:

1711   Mil. & Sea Dict. (ed. 4) ,   Slings are Leather Thongs, made
fast to both Ends of the Musket, and serving for the Men to hang them
by on their Shoulders.

This too is a noun (under  "sling, n .2", 3.a); I'm concerned with the verb.

One useful aspect of the 1711 quotation is that it defines "sling" as
something *attached* to the long arm.  That fits with Jon's comment
that grenadiers' muskets had slings attached so their throwing arms
would be free.  Thus I surmise that the command "sling arms" would be
given only to soldiers carrying arms with attached slings; others
would be commanded to "shoulder arms".  The 1824 "sling arms" seems
consistent with this --

"Sling arms" (two motions)
1. Hold the piece firmly, in the position of "present arms," with the
right hand, and press the sling out to the front with the open palm
of left hand.
2.  Raise the right arm, turning the butt upward, slip the head and
left arm between the sling and the gun, let the gun fall behind the
back, butt over the right shoulder, arms falling to the sides.


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

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

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