A Dictionary of the English Language
                        A Digital Edition of the 1755 Classic by Samuel Johnson
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Element (noun)

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View Scan · View Transcription · from page 682

Élement. n.s.elementum, Latin.]

  1. The first or constituent principle of any thing.

    If nature should intermit her course, those principal and mother elements of the world, whereof all things in this lower world are made, should lose the qualities which now they have. Hooker, b. i. s. 3.

    A man may rationally retain doubts concerning the number of those ingredients of bodies, which some call elements, and other principles. Boyle's Phys. Consider.

    Simple substances are either spirits, which have no manner of composition, or the first principles of bodies, usually called elements, of which other bodies are compounded. Watts.

  2. The four elements, usually so called, are earth, fire, air, water, of which our world is composed.

    The king is but a man: the violet smells to him as it doth to me; and the element shews to him as it doth to me. Shakes.

            My dearest sister, fare thee well;
    The elements be kind to thee, and make
    Thy spirits all of comfort.
    Shakes. Anth. and Cleopatra.

                                The king,
    Contending with the fretful elements,
    Bids the wind blow the earth into the sea,
    Or swell the curled waters.
    Shakespeare's King Lear.

    The heavens and the earth will pass away, and the elements melt with fervent heat. Peter.

    Here be four of you were able to make a good world; for you are as differing as the four elements. Bacon's Hol. War.

    He from his flaming ship his children sent,
    To perish in a milder element.

  3. The proper habitation or sphere of any thing: as water of fish.

    We are simple men; we do not know she works by charms, by spells, and such dawbry as is beyond our element. Shakesp.

    Our torments may, in length of time,
    Became our elements.
    Milton's Paradise Lost, b. ii. l. 275.

    They shew that they are out of their element, and that logick is none of their talent. Baker's Reflections on Learning.

  4. An ingredient; a constituent part.

                Who set the body and the limbs
    Of this great sport together, as you guess?
    — One sure that promises no element
    In such a business.
    Shakespeare's Henry VIII.

  5. The letters of any language.

  6. The lowest or first rudiments of literature or science.

    With religion it fareth as with other sciences; the first delivery of the elements thereof must, for like consideration, be framed according to the weak and slender capacity of young beginners. Hooker, b. v. s. 18.

    Every parish should keep a petty schoolmaster, which should bring up children in the first elements of letters. Spenser on Irel.

    We, when we were children, were in bondage under the elements of the world. Gal. iv. 3.

    There is nothing more pernicious to a youth, in the elements of painting, than an ignorant master. Dryden's Dufresn.

Sources: The Bible - 2. Peter (3) · Shakespeare's Antony and Cleopatra (57) · Bacon, Francis (396) · Baker, Thomas (10) · Boyle, Robert (84) · Dryden, John (788) · The Bible - Galatians (3) · Shakespeare's Henry V (66) · Shakespeare's Henry VIII (62) · Hooker, Richard (175) · Shakespeare's King Lear (144) · Shakespeare's Merry Wives of Windsor (95) · Milton, John (449) · Spenser, Edmund (254) · Waller, Edmund (63) · Watts, Isaac (116)

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Cite this page: Johnson, Samuel. "Element (noun)." A Dictionary of the English Language: A Digital Edition of the 1755 Classic by Samuel Johnson. Edited by Brandi Besalke. Last modified: December 6, 2012. https://johnsonsdictionaryonline.com/element-noun/.

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