A Dictionary of the English Language
                        A Digital Edition of the 1755 Classic by Samuel Johnson
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Perfidious

View Scan · View Transcription · from page 1481

View Scan · View Transcription · from page 1481

Perfídious. adj. [perfidus, Lat. perfide, Fr.] Treacherous; false to trust; guilty of violated faith.

Tell me, perfidious, was it fit
To make my cream a perquisite,
And steal to mend your wages.
Widow and Cat.

Sources: Arbuthnot, John (227) · Prior, Matthew (162) · Swift, Jonathan (306)

Attributes: Adjective (426) · French (385) · Latin (690)

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Cite this page: Johnson, Samuel. "Perfidious." A Dictionary of the English Language: A Digital Edition of the 1755 Classic by Samuel Johnson. Edited by Brandi Besalke. Last modified: June 26, 2013. http://johnsonsdictionaryonline.com/?p=15695.


  1. Johnson probably quoted the work title instead of a specific author because the poem’s authorship is debated. “Widow and Cat” was a satirical poem written against the Duke of Marlborough. In Johnson’s own anthology The Works of the English Poets, the poem is listed among those by Matthew Prior, with a note stating: “In Tindal’s Continuation of Rapin, XVII. 454, this fable is said to be by Prior or Swift. In Boyer’s Political State, 1720, p. 519, where it is applied to the duke of Marlborough, it is said to be by Swift or Prior. N.” In the modern-day Everyman’s Library anthology The Great Cat: Poems About Cats, the poem is attributed to Jonathan Swift (p. 180).

    According to J. A. Downie, in his book Robert Harley and the Press: Propaganda and Public Opinion in the Age of Swift and Defoe, “Swift collaborated with Arbuthnot on A Fable of the Widow and her Cat, ‘a ballad made by several hands, I know not whom. I believe lord treasurer had a finger in it; I added three stanzas; I suppose Dr Arbuthnot had the greatest share’. Swift saw the poem through the press” (pp. 165-166).

  2. Brandi on May 5th, 2013 at 10:42 pm

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