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31 August 2008 @ 08:58 pm
For the Dons  

OED Online Word of the Day


Don, n.1

SECOND EDITION 1989  

( d{rfa}n )  Also 6 Doen, Done. In senses 3, 4 with small initial. [a. Sp. don:{em}L . domin-um master, lord.] 

    1. A Spanish title, prefixed to a man's Christian name.
  Formerly confined to men of high rank, but now applied in courtesy to all of the better classes.

1523 WOLSEY in St. Papers VI. 119 The Archiduke Don Ferdinando. 1568 GRAFTON Chron. II. 313 Done Peter King of Spaine. 1591 SHAKES. Two Gent. I. iii. 39 Don Alphonso, With other Gentlemen of good esteeme. 1724 T. RICHERS Hist. R. Geneal. Spain 92 This prince [Pelayus] was the first, to whom was given the Title of Don, which till then, they gave only to saints. 1838 PRESCOTT Ferd. & Is. xvi, (Cent.), The title of Don, which had not then been degenerated into an appellation of mere courtesy.

    {dag}b. By extension: often humorous. Obs.

1588 SHAKES. L.L.L. III. i. 182 This signior Junios gyant dwarfe, don [Qo. dan] Cupid. 1599 {emem} Much Ado V. ii. 86 If Don worme (his conscience) find no impediment to the contrarie. 1619 Pasquil's Palin. (1877) 152 Don Constable in wrath appeares. a1659 CLEVELAND London Lady 17 Don Mars, the great Ascendant on the Road.

    c. Don Diego, a name for a Spaniard (cf. DIEGO); hence, {dag}Don Diego v., to cheat or ‘do’ (obs.). Don Juan, the name of a legendary Spanish nobleman whose dissolute life was dramatized by Gabriel Tellez in his Convivado de Piedra; the name was adopted in various popular imitations of this play and by Byron in his well-known poem; a rake, libertine, roué; also attrib.; hence, Don Jua{sm}nesque , Don Ju{sm}anic , Don {sm}Juanish adjs., and Don {sm}Juanery , Don {sm}Juanism . Don Pedro (see sense 6). Don Quixote, the hero of a Spanish romance by Cervantes, who, from his attempt to be a knight-errant as described in the books of chivalry, has become the type of any one who attempts to do an absurdly impossible thing or to carry out an impossible ideal; also attrib.; hence, Don Quixote v., Don Quixotism: see also QUIXOTIC, etc.

1607 WEBSTER Hist. Sir T. Wyat Wks. 1830 II. 298 A Dondego is a kind of Spanish stockfish, or poor John. c1626 Dick of Devon II. iv. in Bullen O. Pl. II. 39 Now Don Diego..or Don Divell, I defye thee. 1674 [Z. CAWDREY] Catholicon 18 The furious zeal of persons Don-Quixotted in Religion. 1709 STEELE Tatler No. 31 {page}8 Why you look as if you were Don Diego'd to the Tune of a Thousand Pounds. 1719 DE FOE Crusoe II. xiii, The state he [a Chinaman of position] rode in was a perfect Don Quixoteism being a mixture of pomp and poverty. [1734 FIELDING Don Quixote in England Introd., The Audience, I believe, are all acquainted with the Character of Don Quixote and Sancho. I have brought them over into England, and introduced them at an Inn in the Country.] a1845 HOOD T. of Trumpet xxx, The most Don Juanish rake. 1848 THACKERAY Van. Fair xxii. 190 Don't trifle with her affections, you Don Juan! 1855 {emem} Newcomes (1879) II. xx. 236 (Stanf.) It was the man whose sweetheart this Don Juan had..deserted. 1870 D. G. ROSSETTI Let. 15 Mar. (1965) II. 817 He is a complete Don Quixote in every way. 1882 STEVENSON Fam. Stud. 55 It is the punishment of Don Juanism. 1890 G. B. SHAW Let. 16 Dec. (1965) 278 An Irish Don Juan who will eventually compromise Socialism by some outrageous scandal. Ibid., Those who take the Don Juan view of me. 1898 W. GRAHAM Last Links 33 Byron's manner was tinged with a vein of Don-Juanesque recklessness. 1900 A. CONAN DOYLE Gt. Boer War x. 167 His long thin figure, his gaunt Don-Quixote face. 1902 Pall Mall Gaz. 4 Jan. 6/3 This Don Quixote of a society has made an assault upon the most solid of windmills. 1925 D. H. LAWRENCE Refl. on Death Porcupine 182 It's Don Juanery, sex-in-the-head, no real desire, which leads to profligacy and squalid promiscuity. 1926 W. J. LOCKE Old Bridge ix. 138 Her father was a Don Juanesque clerk in a factory. 1963 AUDEN Dyer's Hand III. 106 B..tries to be a Don Juan seducer in an attempt to compel life to take an interest in him.

    2. A Spanish lord or gentleman; a Spaniard.

1610 B. JONSON Alch. III. iii, A doughty don is taken with my Dol. 1659 DRYDEN On Cromwell xxiii, The light Monsieur the grave Don outweighed. 1797 NELSON 13 Jan. in Nicolas Disp. (1845) II. 326, I hailed the Don, and told him, ‘This is an English Frigate’. 1880 TENNYSON Revenge iv, I never turn'd my back upon Don or devil yet.

    3. transf. A distinguished man; one of position or importance; a leader, first class man. Also (colloq. and dial.) attrib., and in phrase a don at something, i.e. an adept.

a1634 RANDOLPH Amyntas II. v. Wks. (1875) 306 This is a man of skill, an {Oe}dipus , Apollo, Reverend Phoebus, Don of Delphos. 1665 DRYDEN Indian Emp. Epil. 21 The great dons of wit. 1768-74 TUCKER Lt. Nat. (1852) II. 466 Quotations from the old dons of Greece. 1833 in Westm. Rev. Apr. 445 One of the men..was what was called a ‘don workman’. 1854 Chamb. Jrnl. II. 280 A don at cricket.

    4. Hence, in the colloquial language of the English universities: A head, fellow or tutor of a college.

1660 SOUTH Serm. 29 July (1843) II. 88 The raving insolence which those spiritual dons from the pulpit were wont to show [at Oxford]. 1681 THORESBY Diary (Hunter) I. 109 Sermons..against Arminianism, whereat many dons were offended. 1726 AMHERST Terræ Fil. v. 20 The reverend dons in Oxford are already alarm'd. 1882 BESANT Revolt of Man vii. (1883) 164 The few left were either the reading undergraduates or the dons. 1888 BURGON Lives 12 Gd. Men II. x. 242 An introduction to two Oxford dons.

    {dag}5. = DAN1, DOM1 2. Obs. rare.

1600 Chester Pl. Proem i, The devise of one done Rondall, moonke of Chester abbe.

    6. More fully, Don Pedro, a game at cards.
  The players are divided into two sides and have 6 or 5 cards each; the points scored in one game are 23:{em}one each for High, Low, and Jack of trumps, 5 for Game (i.e. for the side which at the end of the game scores the highest total from the cards won by them, counting 10, 4, 3, 2 and 1 for a ten, ace, king, queen and knave respectively), also 4, 3, 2 and 1 respectively for the ace, king, queen and knave of trumps, and 5 for the five or Don.

1873 Slang Dict., Don Pedro..was probably invented by the mixed English and Irish rabble who fought in Portugal in 1832-3. 1897 Daily News 16 Mar. 8/3 Two detectives..saw the prisoners playing Don.

    Hence {sm}dondom , {sm}donhood , {sm}donlike a., {sm}donly a., {sm}donness , all nonce-wds. from sense 4.

1797 A. M. BENNETT Beggar Girl (1813) III. 122 The don was in..a truly don-like rage. 1865 Sat. Rev. 4 Feb. 143 In the glory of early donhood at the Universities. 1891 RODEN NOEL Byron 64 Juvenile verses against Cambridge Dondom. 1893 Nat. Observer 20 May 12/2 A very donly Don. 1895 Ibid. 2 Mar. 432/1 Englishwomen ‘who are fairly familiar with Middle English’ (who, beyond the range of donnesses, may probably be counted on fingers).

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Doug Hulick / Simon Morcar: rapier kitswords_and_pens on September 1st, 2008 03:54 am (UTC)
I especially like the "Don Diego v." usage, and "The don was truly in...a truly don-like rage." And, of course, definition 3 is just splendid. :)