A Dictionary of the English Language
                        A Digital Edition of the 1755 Classic by Samuel Johnson
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Van. n.s. [from avant, French.]

  1. The front of an army; the first line.

    Before each van prick forth the airy knights. Milton.

                The foe he had survey'd,
    Arrang'd, as to him they did appear,
    With van, main battle, wings, and rear.

    Van to van the foremost squadrons meet,
    The midmost battles hast'ning up behind.

  2. [van, Fr. vannus, Latin.] Any thing spread wide by which a wind is raised; a fan.

    The other token of their ignorance of the sea was an oar, they call it a corn-van. Notes on Odyss.

  3. A wing with which the air is beaten.

                    His sail-broad vans
    He spreads for flight, and in the surging smoke
    Up-lifted, spurns the ground.
    Milton's Par. Lost.

                    A fiery globe
    Of angels on full sail of wing drew nigh,
    Who on their plumy vans receiv'd him soft
    From his uneasy station, and upbore,
    As on a floating couch, through the blithe air.

                His disabled wing unstrung:
    He wheel'd in air, and stretch'd his vans in vain;
    His vans no longer could his flight sustain.

    The vanes are broad on one side, and narower on the other; both which minister to the progressive motion of the bird. Derh.

Sources: Butler, Samuel (98) · Denham, John (75) · Dryden, John (788) · Milton, John (449) · Pope, Alexander (393)

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Cite this page: Johnson, Samuel. "Van." A Dictionary of the English Language: A Digital Edition of the 1755 Classic by Samuel Johnson. Edited by Brandi Besalke. Last modified: May 4, 2012. https://johnsonsdictionaryonline.com/van/.

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