A Dictionary of the English Language
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Sack (verb)

View Scan · View Transcription · from pages 1736, 1737

View Scan · View Transcription · from pages 1736, 1737

To Sack. v.a. [from the noun.]

  1. To put in bags.

    Now the great work is done, the corn is ground,
    The grist is sack'd, and every sack well bound.
    Betterton.

  2. [From sacar, Spanish.] To take by storm; to pillage; to plunder.

    Edward Bruce spoiled and burnt all the old English pale inhabitants and sacked and rased all cities and corporate towns. Spenser on Ireland.

    I'll make thee stoop and bend thy knee,
    Or sack this country with a mutiny.
    Shakesp. Henry VI.

    What armies conquer'd, perish'd with thy sword?
    What cities sack'd?
    Fairfax.

    Who sees these dismal heaps, but would demand
    What barbarous invader sack'd the land?
    Denham.

    The pope himself was ever after unfortunate, Rome being twice taken and sacked in his reign. South's Sermons.

    The great magazine for all kinds of treasure is the bed of the Tiber: when the Romans lay under the apprehensions of seeing their city sacked by a barbarous enemy, they would take care to bestow such of their riches this way as could best bear the water. Addison.

Sources: Addison, Joseph (408) · Betterton, Thomas (2) · Denham, John (75) · Fairfax, Edward (30) · Shakespeare's Henry VI, Part 1 (48) · South, Robert (158) · Spenser, Edmund (254)

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Cite this page: Johnson, Samuel. "Sack (verb)." A Dictionary of the English Language: A Digital Edition of the 1755 Classic by Samuel Johnson. Edited by Brandi Besalke. Last modified: November 12, 2012. http://johnsonsdictionaryonline.com/?p=3356.


  1. The Betterton quote is actually a translated passage from Chaucer’s “The Reeve’s Tale:”

    Til that hir corn was faire and weel ygrounde.
    And whan the mele is sakked and ybounde

    Johnson states in the Preface, “But as every language has a time of rudeness antecedent to perfection, as well as of false refinement and declension, I have been cautious lest my zeal for antiquity might drive me into times too remote, and croud my book with words now no longer understood. I have fixed Sidney’s work for the boundary, beyond which I make few excursions.”

    By using this translation, Johnson is able to get Chaucer into the dictionary without using antiquated language. For more on this, see William Snell’s “A Note on Dr. Samuel Johnson and the Reception of Chaucer in Eighteenth-Century England” (Hiyoshi Review of English Studies, No. 44, 2004), available here.

  2. Brandi on January 25th, 2011 at 8:09 am

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