Middle English Dictionary Entry

spar-hauk n.
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Entry Info

Definitions (Senses and Subsenses)

Note: Cp. sparwe n. (d), sperver n.(1).
(a) The European sparrow hawk (Accipiter nisus); --often used in prov. expressions; also coll. [quot. a1387 vr.]; ?also, a falcon or similar bird of prey [quot. ?c1475]; (b) her. an image of a sparrow hawk; (c) in combination spar-hauk(es)-fot, the name of a plant; (d) in surnames.

Supplemental Materials (draft)

Note: For attempts to identify the plant or plants in sense (c), cp. Alphita (ed. Mowat), p. 140, "Pes nisi secundum aliquos est genus narstucii aquatici," which is glossed in Sloane MS 3217 as "after sum men it is the kynde of a water kerse." The two Latin terms bracketed with it in Sloane 282, pulmonaria and politricum, are not, however, associated with water cress, but take the identification in different directions, since 'pulmonaria' is usually associated with the lungworts (genus Pulmonaria), and politricum with the maidenhair ferns Adiantum capillam. (so García González, Alphita) . Tony Hunt, Plant Names of Medieval England ventures three suggestions, maidenhair fern (Adiantum capillus-veneris), maidenhair spleenwort (Asplenium trichomanes), and black spleenwort (Asplenium adiantum-nigrum).