Middle English Dictionary Entry

pī̆lē̆r(e n.
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Entry Info

Definitions (Senses and Subsenses)

1.
(a) A pillar or column, either weight-bearing or free-standing; a pedestal; tre ~, ~ of tre, a wooden pillar or post; (b) fig. a source of support, a supporter; the beam in the eye as referred to in Mat. 7.3; ~ of (in) holi chirche, ~ of the chirche; ~ and firmament (foundement), support and foundation; (c) as a type of strength or stability; strong as ~, stonden as ~; (d) maister ~, the main pillar; copped ~, a pointed pillar, an obelisk; pileres at (of) godes, Pillars of Hercules; romulus ~; ~ fot, the foundation or base of a pillar; ~ hed, hed of ~, the upper part of a column; also, the abacus; also, the architrave; (e) a support for heaven or earth; ~ of heven; also fig. an angel, a saint; (f) the pillar, column, or post to which Christ was bound during the Scourging (one of the Instruments of the Passion);(g) ?a whipping post; (h) surg. a stout post to which parts of a patient are attached while his broken or dislocated bones are stretched for repositioning; (i) anat. something which supports the body or a part of the body; also, an organ with a somewhat columnar shape, the uvula; (j) a pier of a bridge; also fig.; (k) a prop for a tree; -- used fig.; (l) post and ~, a game; ?a game similar to 'twos and threes'; from post to ~, from one thing to another, from pillar to post; (m) as adj.:?serving as a support; ?providing material for pillars.
2.
(a) The leg of a table or of an altar; a bedpost; (b) a column or post either at the side of a window or dividing it perpendicularly.
3.
(a) A column of smoke, cloud, fire, lightning, etc.; also fig.; brenning ~, a column of burning vapor in the sky; (b) clouden ~, ~ of cloud, the pillar of cloud that led the Israelites by day; fir (firen, firi) ~, ~ of fir, the pillar of fire that led the Israelites by night.
4.
?Mistransl. of L torques: a necklace.
5.

Supplemental Materials (draft)

  • a1500(?c1425) Spec.Sacer.(Add 36791)115/12-13 : Holy Setterday…a newe fyere oweþ to be..blissid and sette to a pyller, and it betokeneþ þe pyller þat yede afore the children of Israel... The yere of incarnacion of Crist is innotyd in the taper.
Note: The New Fire of the Easter vigil is used to light a 'pillar', i.e., a taper (the Paschal Candle, subsumed typologically into the Mosaic 'Pillar of Fire'). Probably best placed under sense 3.(a), with additional gloss: 'a tall, cylindrical candle, a taper; specif., the Paschal Candle, typologically identified with the Mosaic pillar of fire.' As in the prayer accompanying the lighting of said candle, "Haec nox est, in qua..filios Israel eductos de Aegypto, mare rubrum sicco vestigio transire fecisti; haec igitur nox est quae peccatorum tenebras columnae illuminatione purgavit.... Sed iam columnae hius praeconia novimus, quam in honorem Dei rutilans ignis accendit." [The Office of the Holy Week according to the .. Roman Breviary (Paris, 1670; Wing 0150), pp. 376-9.]

Supplemental Materials (draft)

Note: Med., etc., see further J.Norri, Dictionary of Medical Vocabulary, s.v. pillar.