Middle English Dictionary Entry

kerven v.
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Entry Info

Definitions (Senses and Subsenses)

(a) Of an edged or pointed weapon, a sharp implement, a stroke, etc.: to cut or pierce, make a cut or incision, inflict a stroke that cuts or pierces; have the property of cutting or piercing; also fig.; cutten and ~; ~ and biten; (b) ppl. kerving, as adj.: that cuts or is capable of cutting, sharp-edged, sharp-pointed, sharp; fig. of words, the tongue: biting, mordant, sarcastic; of water: ?sharp to the taste, ?caustic.
(a) Of a personal agent: to deliver a stroke that cuts or pierces, make or direct an attack using such strokes; also, deliver a stroke that slashes rather than thrusts [quot.: Vegetius(1) & Vegetius(2)]; (b) ~ kervinge, to mutilate oneself with a cut; (c) to fell (sb., a horse) with cutting strokes, cut (sth.) down, level (a hill); ~ doun.
Of an agent, an operation, or an instrument: to cut into or through (sth. or sb.); cut (sth.) open; pierce, slit, slash, or cleave (sth.); also fig.
(a) To perform a surgical operation upon (sth. or sb.); -- also intr.; (b) to circumcise (sb.); castrate (?sb., ?a cock); cut open the womb of (a pregnant woman) to destroy the fetus; ~ out; (c) of a wound: to smart or burn.
(a) To cut (sth.) into parts or pieces; carve or cut up (meat); slice (bread); chop, dice, or mince (cooking ingredients); ~ in morseles; ~ in (on, to) peces; ~ smal; (b) ~ on (to), to cut (a hide) into (thongs); (c) to hack to pieces (a fortified structure on a warship); (d) to rend (clothing), tear to pieces.
To carve (meat) at the table and serve it and other food; also, serve (sb.) with (a piece of meat); -- with or without obj.
(a) To cut (sth.) into two parts; ~ asonder, ~ in (on) sonder; ~ atwein; ~ atwo, ~ in (on) two; (b) ~ atwo, to separate (two persons); (c) of the heart: to split in two, break; of a hill: ~ on twein, split in two; (d) to divide (waters).
(a) To cut (sth.) away or off; remove (sth.) by cutting; ~ awei, ~ of, ~ asonder, ~ up, cut (sth.) away; (b) ~ abouten, to eat away (teeth) by decay or decalcification; (c) fig. to remove (sth.) from somebody, extirpate, eliminate; cut off (one's life); remove (sb.) from the living; remove (sb.) from a condition of life; ~ awei.
(a) To cut (sth.) short; trim (hair); (b) to prune (a vineyard).
To cut (sth.) out, cut (sb.) out of his armor; ~ out.
(a) To fashion or shape (sth.) by cutting it out of a material; fashion or cut out (garments); ~ out; (b) fig. to fashion (the winds).
(a) To shape or fashion (a material) by cutting, chiseling, etc.; hew or carve (wood), chisel (stone); (b) to cut (sth. in a certain shape).
(a) To portray (sth.) by carving, chiseling, or engraving; fashion (an artistic image or ornament) by any of these means; corven werk, sculpture; (b) to employ carving for artistic expression.
To ornament (sth.) with carved or engraved work; fit (a window) with glass or crystal cut to shape.
(a) To cut furrows in (the soil) with a plow; also, cut (furrows); (b) to dig.
(a) Of a ship: to make progress through (the sea), cleave (the waves); (b) of a person: to traverse (the sea), go by ship.
(a) Of a highway: to traverse (a land), cut across (a river); ~ thurgh, of a wall: extend through (a land); (b) of a thread: to intersect (a line); of a geometrical line: extend across (sth.); ~ thurgh, pass through (a point).
(a) To break apart (sth. solid), cause to crumble or disintegrate; -- also used intr.; (b) med. to disperse or dissolve (viscous humors); -- also used intr.

Supplemental Materials (draft)

  • a1400 Ancr.(Pep 2498)97/14 : Swerd & knyf oiþer beþ keruande worde þat hij werpeþ fram hem & kerueþ toward oþer.
  • Note: I have called this (= skirmen v.) transitive, that is, 'thrust (a knife)' - we don't seem to have such a sense in kerven v.--per REL
  • a1450(1419) Loke how Flaundres (Dgb 102)21 : It is worthy he smerte and be wo, Þat of his owen skyn wole kerue a thong.
  • Note: Altered gloss
    Note: closest sense is 4a.(b) per JP or better 7b.(a)
  • a1500(?c1400) Gowther (Adv 19.3.1)580 : Þo sawdyn bare in sabull blacke iij lyons rampand…All of silver schese; Won was corvon with golys redde, A nodur with gold in þat steyd.
  • Note: Postdates 9b.
  • ?c1400 PPl.Z (Bod 851)3.153 : Furst thow corue hem a cope, Conscience, thyselue, And comawndest vche couent coueytyse to lete, Ant nyme nat of no man but as nede hascheth.
  • Note: ?for 7b.

Supplemental Materials (draft)

  • a1500 Add.21431 Artist.Recipes (Add 21431) 327/22 : Carfe with a sharp knyf vpon a code of calfys leder.
  • Note: Postdates sense 1.(a).