Middle English Dictionary Entry

sē̆ven num.
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Entry Info

Definitions (Senses and Subsenses)

Cardinal number as adj.: (a) seven; six other ~, six or seven (things); also, about half a dozen (summoners); (b) sevenfold; ~ double, seven times as much; ~ so, seven times as (bright, much).
In phrases & combs.: (a) ~ askinges (bedes), ~ bones i the pater-noster, ~ peticiouns (preieres) of the pater-noster, the seven petitions of the Lord's Prayer [see also askinge ger.2.(b) and see peticioun n.1.(b), preiere n.(2) 2a.(c)]; ~ (gostli) dedes of merci, ~ werkes of (bodili) merci, werkes (of merci) ~, etc. [see merci n.5. (g)]; ~ dedli (hed) sinnes, dedli) sinnes ~, dedli vices ~, the seven deadly sins; ~ mightes (yiftes), ~ yiftes (vertues) of the holi gost, etc., the seven gifts of the Holy Ghost; ~ principal vertues, the seven virtues; also, the three theological virtues and the four cardinal or Platonic virtues; ~ psalmes [see Psalm(e n.1a.(c)]; ~ sacramentes [see sacrament n.1.(b)]; ~ susteres, the seven virtues personified; ~ vertues, the seven virtues; (b) ~ daies (daies and nightes, monthes, nightes, tide, winter); ~ yer(es, yeres ~, seven years; also, a period of seven years; also, an indefinitely long period; ~ yer old (of age); (c) ~ sithes (times), seven times; also, an indefinite number; ~ sithes brighter than, ~ sithes shener than, brighter ~ sithes than, ~ sithes so bright as, more bi foldes ~ than, seven times as bright as (sth.); ~ sithes hire weght; (d) ~ hevenes [see heven n.3.]; ~ planetes, planetes ~ [see also planete n.]; ~ sterres, sterres ~, the seven planets; also, the Pleiades; also, the constellation Ursa Major, the Plow; susteres ~, the Pleiades; (e) ~ ages [see age n.1a.(a)]; ~ eldes; ~ (liberal) artes, ~ (liberal) sciences [see art n.(1) 1.(a), science n.3b.]; ~ sages [see sage n.(b)]; ~ slepers, the seven sleepers of Ephesus; bodies ~ [see bodi n.10b.(a)]; but ~ fet, only seven feet (enough for a grave); name(s ~ [see name n.2a.(c)].
In cpds.: (a) ~ lef, the plant septfoil (Potentilla tormentilla); (b) ~ cornered, having seven corners; ~ kinne, of seven kinds; ~ peni, costing seven pence.
Cardinal number as noun: (a) seven men, seven devils, seven planets, etc.; also, in partitive constr.: ~ of; bi ~ and ~, in sevens; bi six and ~, in indefinitely large numbers; in six or in ~, in several pieces; setten on (upon) ~, to create (the world, the sun, etc.) in seven days; (b) seven as an abstract number; also, as a numerical label in a series of kings, hours of the clock, etc.; ~ of the clokke, the houre of ~; (c) a cast of seven at dice; in fig. phrases: casten the world in ~, to make a desperate venture; setten al at six and ~ , risk all, live dangerously; setten al on six and ~, act without care, create havoc.
In compound numbers: (a) ~ hund (hundred, thousand), ~ score, ~ thousand and hundred ~, ~ and hundseventi, seventi and ~, etc.; (b) ~ and hundseofenteoða, ~ and thritieth, ~ and twentieth.
Ordinal number: (a) as adj.: seventh; ~ dai; (b) as noun: the seventh step.
In place names [see Smith PNElem.2.119].

Supplemental Materials (draft)

  • ?a1300 *Body & S.(4) (Dgb 86)80 : Ich holde him louer and sire þa set seuene mai suale.
  • Note: 'set seuene' seems to be a phrase that the lord will destroy.--per REL
    Note: use 2.(a).--per REL
    Note: MED swolwen v., sense 2.(d) which has this quot.
    Note: MED setten v., sense 21.(b): "~ on (upon) seven, create (sth.) in seven days."
    Note: Is the Dgb quote saying that the Lord who created the earth in seven days may destroy it? The text is problematic, and A.S.M. Clark indicates that scribal damage in transmission has occurred, with an unknown number of copyists introducing ambiguities into the text. Clark's edition does not really provide specific information about this quote.--per MLL