A Dictionary of the English Language
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Abate (verb active)

View Scan · View Transcription · from page 54

View Scan · View Transcription · from page 54

To Aba'te. v.a. [from the French abbatre, to beat down.]

  1. To lessen, to diminish.

    Who can tell whether the divine wisdom, to abate the glory of those kings, did not reserve this work to be done by a queen, that it might appear to be his own immediate work? Sir John Davies on Ireland.

    If you did know to whom I gave the ring,
    And how unwillingly I left the ring,
    You would abate the strength of your displeasure.
    Shakesp. Merchant of Venice.

    Here we see the hopes of great benefit and light from expositors and commentators are in a great part abated; and those who have most need of your help, can receive but little from them, and can have very little assurance of reaching the Apostle's sense, by what they find in them. Locke's Essay on St. Paul's Epistles.

  2. To deject, or depress the mind.

    This iron world (the same he weeping says)
    Brings down the stoutest hearts to lowest state:
    For misery doth bravest minds abate.
    Spens. Hubberd's Tale.

    — — — — Have they power still
    To banish your defenders, till at length
    Your ignorance deliver you,
    As most abated captives to some nation
    That won you without blows?
    Shakesp. Coriolanus.

    Time that changes all, yet changes us in vain,
    The body, not the mind; nor can controul
    Th' immortal vigour, or abate the soul.
    Dryden's Æneid.

  3. In commerce, to let down the price in selling, sometimes to beat down the price in buying.

Sources: Shakespeare's Coriolanus (80) · Davies, John (45) · Dryden, John (788) · Locke, John (269) · Shakespeare's Merchant of Venice (83) · Spenser, Edmund (254)

Attributes: French (385) · Verb Active (289)

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Cite this page: Johnson, Samuel. "Abate (verb active)." A Dictionary of the English Language: A Digital Edition of the 1755 Classic by Samuel Johnson. Edited by Brandi Besalke. Last modified: November 23, 2013. http://johnsonsdictionaryonline.com/?p=114.


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