Middle English Dictionary Entry

slēn v.
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Entry Info

Definitions (Senses and Subsenses)

Note: Cp. aslen v., islen v. (Suppl.).
1.
(a) To strike (sth.), beat; pitch (a tent); light (a fire); strike off (a head from the body); beat (metal into a shape) [quot.: c1175(?OE) HRood]; -- used without obj.; ~ of, cut off (someone's head); ~ to nought, cut (a shield) to pieces; (b) to move (sth.) forcefully; ~ adoun (right, swing (an ax, a club) down; ~ doun, throw (a body) down; ~ on, jerk (bait); ~ togeder, of stones: dash together; ben slein, of precipitation or moisture: fall, last; (c) to strike (sb., an animal), beat, attack; -- also without obj.; also, wound (sb.) [quot.: a1387]; also, fig. afflict (sb.); (d) ~ on (upon), to smite (sb.), lay on; -- also without obj.; (e) ~ a)doun, ~ adoun right, ~ to ground, to strike (sb., an animal) down, slay [cp. 2.(b), (c), & (d)]; ~ doun right(es, wreak havoc, cause death; (f) ~ oute, to burst out, emerge.
2.
To kill, commit murder; cause death, destroy; also fig.; ppl. sleinge, causing death, killing; deadly, pernicious; also, as noun: a killer; a caustic or corrosive medicine.
3.
(a) To kill (sb., oneself), murder; also fig.; -- also without obj.; ~ from, separate (sb.) from (sb. or sth.) by death; also fig.; ~ in-to deth; ppl. slein, slain, killed; also, as noun: a slain person or persons; (b) to kill (sb.) in battle; ~ of, kill some of (the enemy); (c) to kill (an animal, a bird, demon, monster's head), slaughter; ~ in-to deth; hote (neue) slein, recently killed; (d) to kill (living things); (e) ~ up (clene, ~ up and doun, to kill (a whole group of people), wipe out completely; (f) to be killed or slaughtered; (g) don (geren, leten, maken) ~, to cause (sb.) to be killed; don slein, cause someone to be killed.
4.
(a) To have (sb.) killed; put (sb.) to death, execute; also fig.; -- also without obj.; ~ lif, execute Jesus; (b) of a person, God, the devil, death personified, etc.: to cause the death of (sb., the body); (c) of an animal, a monster: to kill (sb.); of an inanimate thing, the complications of pregnancy, etc.: cause the death of (sb.); of a disease: be fatal to (sb.); (d) to cause the death of (an animal, a worm, etc.); exterminate (vermin, parasites); the worm for to ~ in the pesecod, ?nip (sth.) in the bud.
5.
(a) To destroy (sb., oneself) spiritually through sin; also, make (Christ, his teaching) ineffective; also, repeat the death of (God through swearing); (b) to ruin (sb.); ruin (sb.) through calumny; (c) to cause (sb.) great distress; overcome (sb.) with emotion; (d) to distress (one's heart), dismay; (e) ~ saule, to cause the soul to perish, remove a soul from grace, damn a soul.
6.
(a) To destroy (sth.); cause grave damage to (a country), smite; ~ doun rightes; ~ up, destroy (sth.) completely; (b) to destroy (truth, reason, reputation, etc.), suppress, lose; (c) to overcome (death, care, Satan, etc.), banish, do away with; (d) to overcome (sin, passion, the flesh, etc.), subdue, mortify; (e) to put out (a fire), extinguish; also, modify (quicksilver) by adding something to it or by heating it.
7.
Med. & surg. To destroy (a sore, tumor, dead flesh, etc.), remove, eradicate.
8.
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10.

Supplemental Materials (draft)

  • a1500 Sln.122 Artist.Recipes (Sln 122) 113/21 : Take a bladder of a oxe or of an hogge þat is new sclawe, and put þerin al þat gleyre.
  • Note: Additional quot., sense 3.(c).
  • a1525 BodEMus.52 Artist.Recipes (BodEMus 52) 190/12 : Take þe bledder of an hogge or of a schepe or of a noxe þat is newe slayn.
  • Note: Postdates sense 3.(c).
  • a1500 Sln.122 Artist.Recipes (Sln 122) 119/18 : Yf þu seyst þi matere in þe pot blak enowe thenne is þi quyksyluer sclawe.
  • a1500 Trin-C.R.14.45 Recipes (Trin-C R.14.45) 127/5 : Medele þem welle togeder with summe maner instrument until alle þe quiksilver be mortified and slayne.
  • Note: Postdates sense 6.(e). Clarke provides the following gloss for 'slain' (alchemical term): "figuratively 'slay', to perform a chemical process destroying the essential 'lively' quality of quiksilver by fixing and blackening (e.g. reacting with sulphur into metacinnabar, or amalgamating with gold)."
  • a1500 Dc.45 Artist.Recipes (Dc 45) 150/7 : Grynde fyn verdegrece with sydyr of a rotyn appyl ofte tyme ydryyd and ygrownde, and þat schel scleye þe virdegrece, and þu mayst delaye hyt with oyle oþer with sum oþer distempere.
  • Note: = 'subdue' according to Clarke. Perh. 'make stable'. ?New sense, or ?modify sense 6.(e).
  • ?a1425 Glo.34.Add Stain.Recipes (Glo 34 Add.) 225/4 : Wyrche it on þe cloþ, and sette under þe cloþ a panne ful of charcol brennynge clere to drie þe cloþ, of ells þe water of þe lyme wol sle þe colour.
  • a1500 Htrn.110 Artist.Recipes (Htrn 110) 323/30 : Putte þerin a nonse brasill and late it seþ..and þan take fro þe fire and wirche it on þi cloþ, and drie it wyth a panne with clene colis or ellis þe water of þe lime wil slo þe colour.
  • Note: = 'subdue, harm' according to Clarke. Perh. 'dilute'. ?New sense, or ?modify sense 6.(e).