A Dictionary of the English Language
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Youth

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Youth. n.s. [ẏoᵹuð, Saxon.]

  1. The part of life succeeding to childhood and adolescence; the time from fourteen to twenty eight.

    But could youth last, and love still breed,
    Had joys no date, and age no need;
    Then these delights my mind might move,
    To live with thee, and be thy love.
    Shakespeare.

    See how the morning opes her golden gates,
    And takes her farewel of the glorious sun;
    How well resembles it the prime of youth,
    Trim'd like a yonker, prancing to his love.
    Shakesp.

    His starry helm unbuckled show'd him prime
    In manhood, where youth ended.
    Milton.

    The solidity, quantity, and strength of the aliment is to be proportioned to the labor or quantity of muscular motion, which in youth is greater than any other age. Arbuthnot.

  2. A young man.

                                Siward's son,
    And many unrough youths even now,
    Protest their first of manhood.
    Shakespeare's Macbeth.

                            If this were seen,
    The happiest youth viewing his progress through,
    What perils past, what crosses to ensue,
    Would shut the book and sit him down and die.
    Shakesp.

    About him exercis'd heroick games
    Th' unarmed youth of heav'n.
    Milton.

    O'er the lofty gate his art emboss'd
    Androgeos' death, and off'rings to his ghost;
    Sev'n youths from Athens yearly sent, to meet
    The fate appointed by revengeful Crete.
    Dryden.

                            The pious chief
    An hundred youths from all his train elects,
    And to the Latian court their course directs.
    Dryden.

  3. Young men. Collectively.

    As it is fit to read the best authors to youth first, so let them be of the openest and clearest; as Livy before Sallust, Sidney before Donne. Ben. Johnson.

    The graces put not more exactly on
    Th' attire of Venus, when the ball she won,
    Than that young beauty by thy care is drest,
    When all your youth prefers her to the rest.
    Waller.

Sources: Arbuthnot, John (227) · Dryden, John (788) · Shakespeare's Henry IV, Part 2 (72) · Shakespeare's Henry VI, Part 3 (39) · Jonson, Ben (70) · Shakespeare's Macbeth (136) · Milton, John (449) · Raleigh, Walter (68) · Waller, Edmund (63)

Attributes: Noun Substantive (1269) · Saxon (215)

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Cite this page: Johnson, Samuel. "Youth." A Dictionary of the English Language: A Digital Edition of the 1755 Classic by Samuel Johnson. Edited by Brandi Besalke. Last modified: February 1, 2014. http://johnsonsdictionaryonline.com/?p=13518.


  1. The first quote, though attributed to Shakespeare, is by Sir Walter Raleigh. It can be found in Johnson’s notes to Shakespeare’s Merry Wives of Windsor, Act 3, Scene 1:

    By shallow rivers, &c.] This is part of a beautiful little poem of the author’s, which poem, and the answer to it, the reader will not be displeased to find here.

    The Passionate Shepherd to his Love
    Come live with me, and be my Love,
    And we will all the Pleasure prove,
    That Hills and Vallies, Dale and Field,
    And all the craggy Mountains yield.
    There will we sit upon the Rocks,
    And see the Shepherds feed their Flocks.
    By shallow Rivers, by whose Falls
    Melodious Birds sing Madrigals:
    There will I make thee Beds of Roses,
    And then a thousand fragrant Posies;
    A Cap of Flowers, and a Kirtle
    Imbroider’d all with leaves of Myrtle;
    A Gown made of the finest Wool,
    Which from our pretty Lambs we pull;
    Fair lined Slippers for the Cold,
    With Buckles of the purest Gold;
    A Belt of Straw, and Ivie Buds,
    With Coral Clasps, and Amber Studs.
    And if these Pleasures may thee move,
    Come live with me, and be my Love.
    Thy silver Dishes for thy Meat,
    As precious as the Gods do eat,
    Shall on an ivory Table be
    Prepar’d each Day for thee and me.
    The Shepherds Swains shall dance and sing,
    For thy Delight each May Morning.
    If these Delights thy Mind may move,
    Then live with me, and be my Love.

    The Nymph’s Reply to the Shepherd.
    If all the World and Love were young,
    And Truth in every Shepherd’s Tongue;
    These pretty Pleasures might me move,
    To live with thee, and be thy Love.
    But Time drives Flocks from Field to Fold.
    When Rivers rage, and Rocks grow cold;
    And Philomel becometh dumb,
    And all complain of Cares to come:
    The Flowers do fade, and wanton Fields
    To wayward Winter reckoning yields.
    A honey Tongue, a Heart of Gall,
    Is Fancy’s Spring, but Sorrow’s Fall.
    Thy Gowns, thy Shoes, thy Bed of Roses,
    Thy Cap, thy Kirtle, and thy Posies:
    Soon break, soon wither, soon forgotten,
    In Folly ripe, in Reason rotten.
    Thy Belt of Straw and Ivy-Buds,
    Thy Coral Clasps, and Amber Studs,
    All these in me no means can move,
    To come to thee, and be thy Love.
    What should we talk of Dainties then,
    Of better Meat than’s fit for Men?
    These are but vain: that’s only good
    Which God hath blest, and sent for Food.
    But could Youth last, and Love still breed,
    Had Joys no date, and Age no need;
    Then these Delights my Mind might move,
    To live with thee, and be thy Love.

    These two poems, which Dr. Warburton gives to Shakespeare, are, by writers nearer that time, disposed of, one to Marlowe, the other to Raleigh. These Poems are read in different Copies with great Variations.

  2. Brandi on February 1st, 2014 at 3:24 pm

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