Middle English Dictionary Entry

pīl(e n.(3)
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Entry Info

Definitions (Senses and Subsenses)

1.
(a) A pointed missile of some kind; an arrow or a dart; (b) the heavy javelin of the Roman infantry; (c) a sharp-pointed surgical cutting instrument, a lancet.
2.
(a) A quill of a hedgehog; a prickle of a plant; (b) coll. the spiked lower ends of the bars of a portcullis; (c) the gnomon of a sundial.
3.
(a) A pile; a timber, pole, or stake driven into a riverbed, the ground, etc., to help form an obstruction, a piling of a bridge, a foundation, etc.; a prop for a tree; piles and pales, the palisade of a camp; ~ sho, a metal casing for the end of a pile; (b) a stake fixed in the ground at which soldiers practised fencing strokes, hurled the javelin, and shot arrows; (c) a post.
4.
Her. A wedge-shaped charge, a pile.
5.
(a) In surnames; (b) in place names [see Smith PNElem. 2.64].

Supplemental Materials (draft)

  • a1450(1408) *Vegetius(1) (Dc 291)21a : Also þe castynge schot þat oure footmen vsed in werres was yclepid Pila, and now it is yclepid a spere oþer a darte; þis was nouʒt ellis bot a long schaft wiþ a sotil heued of yren and steele craftliche y-made, þre eggid.
Note: Additional self-defining quot. which belongs to sense 1.(a). Form ('pila') actually reproduces the Latin plural of Vegetius, but appears to be assimilated as an English singular.

Supplemental Materials (draft)

Note: The quots. taken under sense 3(a), especially that from Mannyng Chron.Pt.1, may belong under pel n.(1), sense (a), which contains similar quots. from the same source and with similar meaning. Lay. Brut 3905, describing the same objects and same event, refers to them as "ræftres" (Caligula) or "refteres" (Otho). The two entries (pile and pel) should if possible be reconciled.