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

Joel Berson berson at ATT.NET
Fri Dec 16 20:33:52 EST 2016

I suggest this is related to certain senses of set, v1. 

"IV. To place or cause to be in a position, condition, relation, or connection. (This group embraces a large number of uses in which the precise implication of sense depends mainly on the kind of construction employed.)"  Perhaps "27. To place (a person or thing) in one's possession or control, or in a condition to be used, dealt with, or occupied." from c1275.  Or "28. b. To cause to take a certain shape (defined by an adj. or adv. phr.)" from 1678.

"VI. To arrange, fix, adjust."  To manipulate, make something do something desired. See "***  To give a required shape or form to." at sense 75, and "84. To give the requisite adjustment, alignment, or shape to (a mechanical contrivance, an instrument, etc.). (Cf. set n.1 33.)", from 1879.
      From: Robin Hamilton <robin.hamilton3 at VIRGINMEDIA.COM>
 Sent: Friday, December 16, 2016 7:31 PM
 Subject: Re: [ADS-L] SET -- to cheat at dice
There's probably a connection somewhere, and it should be possible to excavate
some of the links in the chain, but it doesn't seem to have been much noted.

Assuming that Ascham does mean something other than simply placing a bet (OED
sense 14b), then does it mean *manipulating* (which would fit with a link to
"cog", and lead into the later sense that Dan pointed to) or *substituting*
(which would link it to "foist")?

It's unlikely, I think, to tie into a group of dice, since the commonest term
for such a thing at that period was "a bale of dice".

Then there's the term Setter, criminal argot for someone who acts as a
bringer-in of marks, sometimes inveigling them into a dice game ...

The obvious suspects, for the term to appear, if it is part of Sharper's Jargon,
would be Walker (c. 1550), Greene (1591-92) and Charles Cotton (various editions
of _The Compleat Gambler_ from late 1660s onwards), but I don't recall noticing
anything pertinent.  But then, till today, I wasn't looking out for it.

Does David Maurer deal with dice anywhere in his various works?  That might push
"setting" back a bit from the present day, if not quite as far back as the 16th
century ...


>    On 17 December 2016 at 00:10 Dan Goncharoff <thegonch at GMAIL.COM> wrote:
>    Is it possible this is an early use of the current meaning of "setting
>    dice"?
>    http://www.smartcraps.com/SmartCraps_theory.pdf
>    On Dec 16, 2016 5:53 PM, "Robin Hamilton"
> <robin.hamilton3 at virginmedia.com>
>    wrote:
>    > 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:

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


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

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