The present publication may be considered as the foundation-stone of the Historical and Literary portion of the Philological Society’s proposed English Dictionary. Its appearance in a separate form has been necessitated by the nature of the scheme, on which that work is being constructed. Without entering into details, which will be found in the Society’s published Prospectus,[1] it will be sufficient for the present purpose to mention, that the raw material of the Dictionary, the words and authorities, are being brought together by a number of independent collectors, for whom it is consequently necessary to provide some common standard of comparison, whereby each may ascertain what he is to extract, and what to reject, from the author, or work, he has undertaken. This standard for works of earlier date than 1526 is furnished by the following pages, which contain an alphabetical inventory of every word found in the printed English literature of the 13th century. As, however, a mere index verborum would but inadequately fulfil its object, a certain amount of explanatory and etymological matter has been added, which it is hoped may render the work more generally interesting and useful than could otherwise have been the case. It is only proper to add that English literature, as distinguished from Semi-Saxon, is assumed to commence about the middle of the 13th century.
[1] London, Trubner and Co., Paternoster Row, price 6d.
All words are arranged under their modern forms, where such exist, but the older forms, except where utterly unimportant, are always noticed. The more remarkable of these older forms are also entered in the Glossary in their alphabetical order, with cross references to that under which the word is discussed. Thus under ‘Hymn’ and ‘Isle’ will be found the forms ‘ympne’ and ‘ydle;’ but ‘ympne’ and ‘ydle’ appear also in their proper places in the Glossary. Obsolete words are of course entered as they are spelt in the passage whence they are taken, a rule which applies as much to different forms of the same word, as to different words. As to the etymological matter, nothing further as a general rule has been attempted than to indicate the nearest cognate, or cognates, of the particular word; but it has not been thought necessary, or desirable, to load the Glossary with illustrations of this nature in very simple cases. I have to thank Hensleigh Wedgwood, Esq., for many kind and valuable suggestions in this part of my work.
My best thanks are also due to the Rev. J. Eastwood, the Rev. W. H. Herford, to my colleague Mr F. J. Furnivall, and to Messrs M’Ewan and Harrison, for their valuable assistance in the formation of separate indexes to several of the works comprised in this Glossary. Their respective shares in the work are pointed out in the List of Books and Editions, which will be found in page v.
And I cannot terminate this brief preface without expressing my deep sense of the obligations I am under to Sir F. Madden, not merely for the help of his invaluable editions of Laȝamon and Havelok, without which this work would have been far less complete than it now is, but also for much kind personal advice and assistance, which probably few, if any, living philologists beside himself would have been competent to bestow. It only remains for me to add that, although no pains have been spared to render the book as complete as possible, I cannot but expect that some omissions and errors will be discovered, more especially as the largest and most laborious portion of the work was carried on during a long period of ill health. I shall feel very grateful to those who discover any addenda, if they will kindly communicate them to me for insertion hereafter in the Dictionary itself.
10, Chester Place, Regent’s Park,
June 13th, 1859

Oldest English Words. 2014.

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  • préface — [ prefas ] n. f. • prefaice fin XIIe; lat. præfatio, de præfari « dire d avance » 1 ♦ Texte placé en tête d un livre qui est de l auteur ou d une autre personne, et qui sert à le présenter au lecteur. ⇒ avant propos, avertissement, avis,… …   Encyclopédie Universelle

  • Preface — • The first part of the Eucharistic prayers in all rites Catholic Encyclopedia. Kevin Knight. 2006. Preface     Preface     † …   Catholic encyclopedia

  • preface — PREFACE. s. f. Avant propos, discours preliminaire que l on met ordinairement à la teste d un livre pour preparer le lecteur. Grande, longue preface. belle preface. preface ennuyeuse. faire une preface. l Autheur a mis une excellente preface à la …   Dictionnaire de l'Académie française

  • preface — PREFÁCE, prefác, vb. III. 1. tranz. şi refl. A da sau a lua o formă nouă, un conţinut nou; a (se) transforma, a (se) modifica, a (se) schimba, a (se) preschimba. 2. tranz. A repara, a reface un obiect, schimbându i (parţial sau total) aspectul,… …   Dicționar Român

  • Preface — Préface Cette page d’homonymie répertorie les différents sujets et articles partageant un même nom …   Wikipédia en Français

  • Preface — Pref ace, v. t. [imp. & p. p. {Prefaced}; p. pr. & vb. n. {Prefacing}.] To introduce by a preface; to give a preface to; as, to preface a book discourse. [1913 Webster] …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • Preface — Pref ace (?; 48), n. [F. pr[ e]face; cf. Sp. prefacio, prefacion, It. prefazio, prefazione; all fr. L. praefatio, fr. praefari to speak or say beforehand; prae before + fari, fatus, to speak. See {Fate}.] 1. Something spoken as introductory to a… …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • preface — Preface, et prologue d un livre, Propos preparatif de ce que nous voulons dire puis apres, Prologus, Praefatio, Exordium. Celuy qui recite la preface és comedies, Prologus. Faire une preface, un preambule, ou une entrée de plaidoirie, Exordium… …   Thresor de la langue françoyse

  • preface — ► NOUN 1) an introduction to a book, stating its subject, scope, or aims. 2) the preliminary part of a speech. ► VERB 1) provide with a preface. 2) (preface with/by) begin (a speech or event) with or by doing something. DERIVATIVES …   English terms dictionary

  • preface — [pref′is] n. [ME prefas < MFr < ML prefatia, for L praefatio < prae , before (see PRE ) + fatus, pp. of fari, to speak: see FAME] 1. [usually P ] R.C.Ch. the introduction to the Canon of the Mass, ending with the Sanctus 2. an… …   English World dictionary

  • Preface — Pref ace, v. i. To make a preface. Jer. Taylor. [1913 Webster] …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

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