[Ads-l] SET -- to cheat at dice

Robin Hamilton robin.hamilton3 at VIRGINMEDIA.COM
Fri Dec 16 17:53:30 EST 2016

Roger Ascham uses the verb “set” twice in _Toxophilus_ (1545), in the context of
dice, in a way which doesn't seem to be covered in any dictionary:

"... so take vp the false, and if they be true dise, what shyfte wil they make
to set the one of them with slyding, with cogging, with foysting, with coytinge
as they call it. [19r]"

"Than euery one of them setteth his shiftes abroche, some with false dise, some
wyth settynge of dyse, some with hauinge outelandishe syluer coynes guylded ..."

Here, Ascham seems to be pointing to either the manipulation or substitution of
dice by sharpers, a sense not in the OED. The closest I can find is SET, v,
Sense 14b: “b. absol. or intr. To put down a stake, lay money on (or at). Also
fig. to give a challenge to. Obs. or arch.”, but this doesn't seem to be quite
what Ascham has in mind.

Any suggestions? What I'm inclined to think is that we have here an otherwise
unrecorded special sense of “set” as part of Sharper's Jargon (along with “cog”
and “foist” in their earliest senses).

Robin Hamilton

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

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