Middle English Dictionary Entry

hit pron.
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Entry Info

Definitions (Senses and Subsenses)

1.
As subject of a verb: it; -- used with reference to: (a) an inanimate thing, abstraction, etc.; (b) an animal; also, a devil [neuter in OE as common noun]; (c) a child; (d) the general sense of a preceding statement or discussion, a matter previously stated or understood, an action, a plan, story, etc.; (e) a plural antecedent; (f) a man.
2.
As object of a verb or preposition: it; -- used with reference to: (a) an inanimate thing, abstraction, etc.; thit (the hit), who it; (b) an animal; also, a devil; (c) a child; (d) folk (in early usage, still a neuter noun); (e) the general sense of something previously stated or implied, an action, a story, etc.; (f) a plural antecedent.
3.
(a) As a possessive: its; ~ self being, its own being or nature; (b) as a demonstrative: that.
4a.
As a grammatical subject emphasizing a real subject, which usually follows hit and which may be: (a) a noun or pronoun designating a thing, an animal, an abstraction, etc.; (b) a plural of this kind; (c) a noun designating a person; (d) a pronoun designating a person; -- usually precedes hit in early usage; (e) a plural noun or pron. designating persons; (f) an infinitive or inf. phr.; (g) a noun clause. [In (a), (b), (c), and (e), the verb is often subjunctive.]
4b.
(a) As a grammatical subject emphasizing an adverb or an adv. phrase or clause, which may precede or follow hit; (b) as an equivalent of MnE there; ~ is, ist, there is; ~ was, there was; ~ aren, there are; ~ weren, there were; etc.
5.
As a grammatical object emphasizing a real object, which may be: (a) a direct quotation; (b) a noun clause; -- usually a that or hou clause; (c) an infinitive phrase.
6.
In pleonastic uses [not always clearly distinguished from usages 4 and 5]: (a) accompanying a subject, which may precede or follow hit; (b) accompanying an object, which may precede or follow.
7.
As an indefinite subject in impersonal constructions: (a) having to do with weather; ~ reineth, it is raining, it rains; ~ shineth, there is sunshine; etc.; (b) having to do with time or the passage of time; ~ daued, it dawned, the dawn came; ~ is prime, ~ com to night, it was dai, etc.; (c) with verbs like faren, gon, sitten, wenden; so ~ fareth, thus ~ goth, it goes thus, this is what happens, the situation is thus, etc.; (d) having to do with something reported, said in a book, told in a story, etc.; (e) with verbs like liken, plesen, semen, thinken; as ~ thoughte hem, as it seemed to them, as they thought; and ~ like you, if it please you, if you are pleased; etc.; (f) having to do with the actions of an indefinite agency.
8.
As an indefinite object [often difficult to distinguish from 2. (e)]; god ~ wot, God knows; he ~ forgilte, he forfeited, he became liable to forfeiture; maken ~ treu, to appear to be truthful; requiren ~ of, demand sexual intercourse with (sb.); thei ~ spedde lite, they had little success; etc.

Supplemental Materials (draft)

  • c1390 NHom.Narrat.(Vrn)32.289/37 : Touward þe Borwh he hit plette, And wel sone þe kyng he mette.
  • Note: AQ for 8.--per AS. = 'he hastened'
  • c1175 Orm.(Jun 1)1573 : Soþfasst lufe bærneþþ aʒʒ, Loc ʒiff þut mihht ohht findenn, & whærs itt iss itt harrdneþþ all Þe gode manness heorrte.
  • a1300(a1250) Bestiary (Arun 292)195 : Ðe corn ðat ge to caue bereð, al get bit otwinne..er ge it eten wille.
  • Note: NF. Contractions ge hit = get and thou hit = thut for 2.(b)--per SMK
  • c1450 ?C.d'Orl.Poems (Hrl 682)57/1688 : I writen haue within myn hert..This refrayt..Teys yow to whom y loue am and no mo.
  • c1450 ?C.d'Orl.Poems (Hrl 682)44/1286 : Mi weele, my ioy, myn hertis sovl, lady, Tesse ye ye ye swet hert bi god almyght I mene.
  • c1450 ?C.d'Orl.Poems (Hrl 682)105/3163 : My hert gan him acquaynt the tothir day With bewte which so cherid him therfore That hir to serve he hath him silf y-swore Teys doon, he here is, and wol be to he day.
  • Note: NF: Contraction 'it is' = 'Teys' & 'Tesse'
  • c1350(a1333) Shoreham Poems (Add 17376)8/209 : Cristning..moʒt be do ine kende water And non oþer licour..Ne inne ale, For þie hiʒt were water ferst, Of water neþ hit tale.
  • (1447-8) Paston (Gairdner)2.330 : I wot wel if he wyt iyt he wyll wyth-drawyn hym and hyden.
  • c1450(a1400) Orolog.Sap.(Dc 114)366/28 : How þat my body is contyned in þe sacramente..hith longith to þe forto byleue þis soþfastly and to by-warre of presumptuous serchynge in this mater.
  • (c1465) Stonor1.70 : Cossyne, and ʒe had desyred me..I wold have sene yow offtener. I wesse, cossyne, het greveth me &c...I moste take het as weele as I can.
  • Note: NF
  • a1475 Peniarth Informacio(1) (Pen 356B)97/207 : When þe Englysch of an infenetyue mode comys after 'sum'..I schall haue a gerundyffe wtowt ad prepocicion, as thus: 'Hyt ys to wtstonde owr enmys purposyng to dystrye our reaume'.
  • a1475 Peniarth Informacio(1) (Pen 356B)99/300 : For hyt hase nothur nowumbur ne person ne no nominatyue case, and is declynyd in þe voyce of the iij person singler nowumbor and comys in Englyche wt one of thes synis 'hyt' or 'me'.
  • a1475 Peniarth Informacio(1) (Pen 356B)99/307-8 : My Englyche schall begynne wt 'hyt', as 'hyt forthynkys', 'hyt ruis'.
  • Note: New sense: the word itself.