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Cast (verb active)

View Scan · View Transcription · from pages 336, 337, 338

View Scan · View Transcription · from pages 336, 337, 338

To Cast. v.a. preter. cast; particip. pass. cast. [kaster, Danish.]

  1. To throw with the hand.

    I rather chuse to endure the wounds of those darts, which envy casteth at novelty, than to go on safely and sleepily in the easy ways of ancient mistakings. Raleigh's Hist. of the World.

    They had compassed in his host, and cast darts at the people from morning till evening. 1 Macc. vii. 80.

                    Then cast thy sword away,
    And yield thee to my mercy, or I strike.
    Dryden and Lee.

  2. To throw away, as useless or noxious.

                Old Capulet, and Montague,
    Have made Verona's ancient citizens
    Cast by their grave beseeming ornaments.
    Shakesp.

                    I have brought
    Golden opinion from all sort of people,
    Which would be worn now in their newest gloss,
    Not cast aside so soon.
    Shakesp. Macbeth.

    When men, presuming themselves to be the only masters of right reason, cast by the votes and opinions of the rest of mankind, as not worthy of reckoning. Locke.

  3. To throw dice, or lots.

    And Joshua cast lots for them in Shiloh. Josh. xviii. 10.

  4. To throw from a high place.

    Bear him to the rock Tarpeian, and from thence
    Into destruction cast him.
    Shakesp. Coriolanus.

  5. To throw in wrestling.

    And I think, being too strong for him, though he took my legs sometime, yet I made a shift to cast him. Shakesp. Macbeth.

  6. To throw as a net or snare.

    I speak for your own profit, not that I may cast a snare upon you. 1 Cor. vii. 35.

  7. To drop; to let fall.

    They let down the boat into the sea, as though they would have cast anchor. Acts, xxvii. 30.

  8. To expose.

    His friends contend to embalm his body, his enemies, that they may cast it to the dogs. Pope's Essay on Homer.

  9. To drive by violence of weather.

    Howbeit we must be cast upon a certain island. Acts, xxvii. 26.

    What length of lands, what ocean have you pass'd,
    What storms sustain'd, and on what shore been cast?
    Dryd.

  10. To build by throwing up earth; to raise.

    And shooting in the earth, casts up a mount of clay. Spenser's Fairy Queen, b. i. c. viii. stanz. 9.

    The king of Assyria shall not come into this city, nor shoot an arrow there, nor come before it with shield, nor cast a bank against it. 2 Kings, xix. 32.

    At length Barbarossa having cast up his trenches, landed fifty-four pieces of artillery for battery. Knolles's History.

    Earth-worms will come forth, and moles will cast up more, and fleas bite more, against rain. Bacon's Nat. History.

  11. To put into any certain state.

    Jesus had heard that John was cast into prison. Matt. iv. 12.

    At thy rebuke both the chariot and horse are cast into a dead sleep. Psalm lxxvi. 6.

  12. To condemn in a trial.

    But oh, that treacherous breast! to whom weak you
    Did trust our counsels, and we both may rue,
    Having his falsehood found too late, 'twas he
    That made me cast you guilty, and you me.
    Donne.

    We take up with the most incompetent witnesses, nay, often suborn our own surmises and jealousies, that we may be sure to cast the unhappy criminal. Governm. of the Tongue, § 6.

    He could not, in this forlorn case, have made use of the very last plea of a cast criminal; nor so much as have cried, Mercy! Lord, mercy! South.

    There then we met; both try'd, and both were cast,
    And this irrevocable sentence past.
    Dryden's Theod. and Hon.

  13. To condemn in a law-suit. [from caster, Fr.]

    The northern men were agreed, and, in effect, all the other, to cast our London escheatour. Camden's Remains.

    Were the case referred to any competent judge, they would inevitably be cast. Decay of Piety.

  14. To defeat.

    No martial project to surprise,
    Can ever be attempted twice;
    Nor cast design serve afterwards,
    As gamesters tear their losing cards.
    Hudibras, p. iii. c. iii.

  15. To cashier.

    You are but now cast in his mood, a punishment more in policy than in malice; even so as one would beat his offenceless dog, to affright an imperious lion. Shakesp. Othello.

  16. To leave behind in a race.

    In short, so swift your judgments turn and wind,
    You cast our fleetest wits a mile behind.
    Dryden.

  17. To shed; to let fall; to lay aside; to moult.

    Our chariot lost her wheels, their points our spears,
    The bird of conquest her chief feather cast.
    Fairfax, b. iii.

    Of plants some are green all winter, others cast their leaves. Bacon's Natural History, № 592.

    The casting of the skin is, by the ancients, compared to the breaking curd of the secundine, or cawl, but not rightly; for that were to make every casting of the skin a new birth; and besides, the secundine is but a general cover, not shaped according to the parts, but the skin is shaped according to the parts. The creatures that cast the skin, are the snake, the viper, the grashopper, the lizzard, the silkworm, &c. Bacon's Natural History, № 732.

    O fertile head, which ev'ry year
    Could such a crop of wonders bear!
    Which might it never have been cast,
    Each year's growth added to the last,
    These lofty branches had supply'd
    The earth's bold sons prodigious pride.
    Waller.

    The waving harvest bends beneath his blast,
    The forest shakes, the groves their honours cast.
    Dryden.

    From hence, my lord, and love, I thus conclude,
    That though my homely ancestors were rude,
    Mean as I am, yet may I have the grace
    To make you father of a generous race:
    And noble then am I, when I begin,
    In virtue cloath'd, to cast the rags of sin.
    Dryden's W. of B.

    The ladies have been in a kind of moulting season, having cast great quantities of ribbon and cambrick, and reduced the human figure to the beautiful globular form. Addison. Spectator.

  18. To lay aside, as fit to be worn no longer.

    So may cast poets write; there's no pretension
    To argue loss of wit, from loss of pension.
    Dryden's D. Seb.

    He has ever been of opinion, that giving cast clothes to be worn by valets, has a very ill effect upon little minds. Addison.

  19. To have abortions; to bring forth before the time.

    Thy ews and thy she-goats have not cast their young, and the rams of thy stock have I not eaten. Gen. xxxi. 38.

  20. To overweigh; to make to preponderate; to decide by overballancing.

    Which being inclined, not constrained, contain within themselves the casting act, and a power to command the conclusion. Brown's Vulgar Errours, b. iv. c. 13.

    How much interest casts the balance in cases dubious. South.

    Life and death are equal in themselves,
    That which could cast the balance, is thy falshood.
    Dryden.

    Not many years ago, it so happened, that a cobler had the casting vote for the life of a criminal, which he very graciously gave on the merciful side. Addison on Italy.

    Suppose your eyes sent equal rays
    Upon two distant pots of ale,
    In this sad state, your doubtful choice
    Would never have the casting voice.
    Prior.

  21. To compute; to reckon; to calculate.

    Hearts, tongues, figure, scribes, bards, poets, cannot
    Think, speak, cast, write, sing, number, ho!
    His love to Antony.
    Shakesp. Antony and Cleopatra.

    Here is now the smith's note for shoeing and plow-irons. —
    Let it be cast and paid.
    Shakesp. Henry IV. p. ii.

    You cast th' event of war, my noble lord,
    And summ'd th' account of chance, before you said,
    Let us make head.
    Shakesp. Henry IV. p. ii.

    The best way to represent to life the manifold use of friendship, is to cast and see how many things there are, which a man cannot do himself. Bacon's Essays.

    I have lately been casting in my thoughts the several unhappinesses of life, and comparing the infelicities of old age to those of infancy. Addison. Spectator, № 131.

  22. To contrive; to plan out.

    The cloister facing the South, is covered with vines, and would have been proper for an orange-house; and had, I doubt not, been cast for that purpose, if this piece of gardening had been then in as much vogue as it is now. Temple.

  23. To judge; to consider in order to judgment.

                If thou couldst, doctor, cast
    The water of my land, find her disease,
    And purge it to a sound and pristine health,
    I would applaud thee to the very echo,
    That should applaud again.
    Shakesp. Macbeth.

    Peace, brother, be not over exquisite
    To cast the fashion of uncertain evils.
    Milton.

  24. To fix the parts in a play.

    Our parts in the other world will be new cast, and mankind will be there ranged in different stations of superiority. Addison. Spectator, № 219.

  25. To glance; to direct the eye.

    Zelmanes's languishing countenance, with crossed arms, and sometimes cast up eyes, she thought to have an excellent grace. Sidney, b. ii.

                        As he past along,
    How earnestly he cast his eyes upon me.
    Shakesp. H. VIII.

    Begin, auspicious boy, to cast about
    Thy infant eyes, and, with a smile, thy mother single out.
    Dryden's Virgil, Past. iv.

    Far eastward cast thine eye, from whence the sun,
    And orient science, at a birth begun.
    Pope's Dunciad.

    He then led me to the rock, and, placing me on the top of it, Cast thy eyes eastward, said he, and tell me what thou seest. Addison, Spectator, № 159.

  26. To found; to form by running in a mould.

    When any such curious work of silver is to be cast, as requires that the impression of hairs, or very slender lines, be taken off by the metal, it is not enough, that the silver be barely melted; but it must be kept a considerable while in a strong fusion. Boyle.

    How to build ships, and dreadful ordnance cast,
    Instruct the artist.
    Waller.

            The father's grief restrain'd his art;
    He twice essay'd to cast his son in gold,
    Twice from his hands he dropp'd the forming mould.
    Dryden, Æneid vi.

  27. To melt metal into figures.

    Yon' croud, he might reflect, yon' joyful croud
    With restless rage would pull my statue down,
    And cast the brass anew to his renown.
    Prior.

    This was but as a refiner's fire, to purge out the dross, and then cast the mass again into a new mould. Burnet's Theory.

  28. To model; to form.

    We may take a quarter of a mile for the common measure of the depth of the sea, if it were cast into a channel of an equal depth every where. Burnet's Theory of the Earth.

    Under this influence, derived from mathematical studies, some have been tempted to cast all their logical, their metaphysical, and their theological and moral learning into this method. Watt's Logick.

  29. To communicate by reflection or emanation.

    So bright a splendour, so divine a grace,
    The glorious Daphnis casts on his illustrious race.
    Dryden.

    We may happen to find a fairer light cast over the same scriptures, and see reason to alter our sentiments even in some points of moment. Watt's Improvement of the Mind.

  30. To yield, or give up, without reserve or condition.

    The reason of mankind cannot suggest any solid ground of satisfaction, but in making God our friend, and in carrying a conscience so clear, as may encourage us, with confidence, to cast ourselves upon him. South.

  31. To inflict.

    The world is apt to cast great blame on those who have an indifferency for opinions, especially in religion. Locke.

  32. To cast away. To shipwreck.

    Sir Francis Drake, and John Thomas, meeting with a storm, it thrust John Thomas upon the islands to the South, where he was cast away. Raleigh's Essays.

    His father Philip had, by like mishap, been like to have been cast away upon the coast of England. Knolles's History.

    With pity mov'd, for others cast away
    On rocks of hope and fears.
    Roscommon.

    But now our fears tempestuous grow,
    And cast our hopes away;
    Whilst you, regardless of our woe,
    Sit careless at a play.
    Dorset.

  33. To cast away. To lavish; to waste in profusion; to turn to no use.

    They that want means to nourish children, will abstain from marriage; or, which is all one, they cast away their bodies upon rich old women. Raleigh's Essays.

    France, hast thou yet more blood to cast away?
    Say, shall the current of our right run on?
    Shakesp. K. J.

    He might be silent, and not cast away
    His sentences in vain.
    Ben. Johnson's Catiline.

    O Marcia, O my sister, still there's hope!
    Our father will not cast away a life,
    So needful to us all, and to his country.
    Addison's Cato.

  34. To cast away. To ruin.

    It is no impossible thing for states, by an oversight in some one act or treaty between them and their potent opposites, utterly to cast away themselves for ever. Hooker, b. iii. § 10.

  35. To cast down. To deject; to depress the mind.

                    We're not the first,
    Who, with best meaning, have incurr'd the worst;
    For thee, oppressed king, I am cast down;
    Myself could else outfrown false fortune's frown.
    Shakesp. King Lear.

    The best way will be to let him see you are much cast down, and afflicted, for the ill opinion he entertains of you. Addison. Spectator, № 171.

  36. To cast off. To discard; to put away.

    The prince will, in the perfectness of time,
    Cast off his followers.
    Shakesp. Henry IV. p. ii.

    He led me on to mightiest deeds,
    But now hath cast me off, as never known.
    Milt. Agonistes.

    How! not call him father? I see preferment alters a man strangely; this may serve me for an use of instruction, to cast off my father, when I am great. Dryden's Spanish Friar.

            I long to clasp that haughty maid,
    And bend her stubborn virtue to my passion:
    When I have gone thus far, I'd cast her off.
    Addison's Cato.

  37. To cast off. To reject.

    It is not to be imagined, that a whole society of men should publickly and professedly disown, and cast off a rule, which they could not but be infallibly certain was a law. Locke.

  38. To cast off. To disburden one's self of.

    All conspired in one to cast off their subjection to the crown of England. Spenser's State of Ireland.

    This maketh them, through an unweariable desire of receiving instruction, to cast off the care of those very affairs, which do most concern their estate. Hooker, Preface.

    The true reason why any man is an atheist, is because he is a wicked man: religion would curb him in his lusts; and therefore he casts it off, and puts all the scorn upon it he can. Tillotson, Serm. ii.

    Company, in any action, gives credit and countenance to the agent; and so much as the sinner gets of this, so much he casts off of shame. South.

    We see they never fail to exert themselves, and to cast off the oppression, when they feel the weight of it. Addison.

  39. To cast off. To leave behind.

    Away he scours cross the fields, casts off the dogs, and gains a wood; but, pressing through a thicket, the bushes held him by the horns, till the hounds came in, and plucked him down. L'Estrange, Fab. xliii.

  40. To cast off. [hunting term.] To let go, or set free; as, to cast off the dogs.

  41. To cast out. To reject; to turn out of doors.

    Thy brat hath been cast out, like to itself, no father owning it. Shakesp. Winter's Tale.

  42. To cast out. To vent; to speak; with some intimation of negligence or vehemence.

    Why dost thou cast out such ungenerous terms
    Against the lords and sovereigns of the world?
    Add. Cato.

  43. To cast up. To compute; to calculate.

    Some writers, in casting up the goods most desirable in life, hath given them this rank, health, beauty, and riches. Temple.

    A man who designs to build, is very exact, as he supposes, in casting up the cost beforehand; but, generally speaking, he is mistaken in his account. Dryden's Fab. Preface.

  44. To cast up. To vomit.

    Thou, beastly feeder, art so full of him,
    That thou provok'st thyself to cast him up.
    Shakesp. H. IV.

    Their villainy goes against my weak stomach, and therefore I must cast it up. Shakesp. Henry V.

    O, that in time Rome did not cast
    Her errours up, this fortune to prevent.
    Ben. Johnson's Catil.

                    Thy foolish errour find;
    Cast up the poison that infects thy mind.
    Dryden.

Sources: The Bible - 1. Corinthians (15) · The Bible - 1. Maccabees (8) · The Bible - 2. Kings (12) · The Bible - Acts (20) · Addison, Joseph (408) · Allestree, Richard (89) · Shakespeare's Antony and Cleopatra (57) · Bacon, Francis (396) · Boyle, Robert (84) · Browne, Thomas (204) · Burnet, Thomas (45) · Butler, Samuel (98) · Camden, William (28) · Shakespeare's Coriolanus (80) · Dillon, Wentworth (Roscommon) (31) · Donne, John (44) · Dryden, John (788) · Fairfax, Edward (30) · The Bible - Genesis (48) · Shakespeare's Henry IV, Part 2 (72) · Shakespeare's Henry V (66) · Shakespeare's Henry VIII (62) · Hooker, Richard (175) · Jonson, Ben (70) · The Bible - Joshua (4) · Shakespeare's King John (43) · Shakespeare's King Lear (144) · Knolles, Richard (44) · L'Estrange, Roger (131) · Lee, Nathaniel (6) · Locke, John (269) · Shakespeare's Macbeth (136) · The Bible - Matthew (21) · Milton, John (449) · Shakespeare's Othello (60) · Pope, Alexander (393) · Prior, Matthew (162) · The Bible - Psalms (29) · Raleigh, Walter (68) · Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet (46) · Sackville, Charles (Dorset) (3) · Sidney, Philip (140) · South, Robert (158) · Spectator (140) · Spenser, Edmund (254) · Temple, William (54) · Tillotson, John (68) · Waller, Edmund (63) · Watts, Isaac (117) · Shakespeare's Winter's Tale (43)

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Cite this page: Johnson, Samuel. "Cast (verb active)." A Dictionary of the English Language: A Digital Edition of the 1755 Classic by Samuel Johnson. Edited by Brandi Besalke. Last modified: April 24, 2013. http://johnsonsdictionaryonline.com/?p=6662.


  1. The quote “They had compassed in his host, and cast darts at the people from morning till evening” is found in 1. Maccabees x. 80, not 1. Maccabees vii. 80.

  2. Brandi on April 24th, 2013 at 11:06 am

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