A Dictionary of the English Language
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Birth

View Scan · View Transcription · from pages 245, 246

View Scan · View Transcription · from pages 245, 246

Birth. n.s. [boꞃþ, Sax.]

  1. The act of coming into life.

    But thou art fair, and, at thy birth, dear boy,
    Nature and fortune join'd to make thee great.
    Shakesp. K. J.

    In Spain, our springs like old mens children be,
    Decay'd and wither'd from their infancy:
    No kindly showers fall on our barren earth,
    To hatch the seasons in a timely birth.
    Dryden.

  2. Extraction; lineage.

    Most virtuous virgin, born of heav'nly birth. Fairy Q.

    All truth I shall relate: nor first can I
    Myself to be of Grecian birth deny.
    Sir J. Denham.

  3. Rank which is inherited by descent.

    He doth object, I am too great of birth. Shakesp. Merry Wives of Windsor.

    Be just in all you say, and all you do;
    Whatever be your birth, you're sure to be
    A peer of the first magnitude to me.
    Dryden's Juvenal.

  4. The condition, or circumstances, in which any man is born.

    High in his chariot then Halesus came,
    A foe by birth to Troy's unhappy name.
    Dryden's Virgil.

  5. Thing born; production.

    The people fear me; for they do observe
    Unfather'd heirs and loathly births of nature.
    Shakesp. H. IV.

    That poets are far rarer births than kings,
    Your noblest father prov'd.
    Ben. Johnson's Epigrams.

                    Who of themselves
    Abhor to join: and, by imprudence mix'd,
    Produce prodigious births, of body, or mind.
    Milton's Paradise Lost, b. xi. l. 687.

    She, for this many thousand years,
    Seems to have practis'd with much care,
    To frame the race of woman fair;
    Yet never could a perfect birth
    Produce before, to grace the earth.
    Waller.

                            His eldest birth
    Flies, mark'd by heav'n, a fugitive o'er earth.
    Prior.

    The vallies smile, and with their flow'ry face,
    And wealthy births, confess the flood's embrace.
    Blackmore.

    Others hatch their eggs, and tend the birth, till it is able to shift for itself. Addison. Spectator, № 120.

  6. The act of bringing forth.

    That fair Syrian shepherdess,
    Who after years of barrenness,
    The highly favour'd Joseph bore
    To him that serv'd for her before;
    And at her next birth, much like thee,
    Through pangs fled to felicity.
    Milton.

  7. The seamen call a due or proper distance between ships lying at an anchor, or under sail, a birth. Also the proper place aboard for a mess to put their chests, &c. is called the birth of that mess. Also a convenient place to moor a ship in, is called a birth. Harris.

Sources: Addison, Joseph (408) · Blackmore, Richard (24) · Denham, John (75) · Dryden, John (788) · Harris, John (31) · Shakespeare's Henry IV, Part 2 (72) · Jonson, Ben (70) · Shakespeare's King John (43) · Shakespeare's Merry Wives of Windsor (95) · Milton, John (449) · Prior, Matthew (162) · Spectator (140) · Spenser, Edmund (254) · Waller, Edmund (63)

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

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Cite this page: Johnson, Samuel. "Birth." A Dictionary of the English Language: A Digital Edition of the 1755 Classic by Samuel Johnson. Edited by Brandi Besalke. Last modified: April 11, 2014. http://johnsonsdictionaryonline.com/?p=7012.


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