Middle English Dictionary Entry

strau n.
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Entry Info

Definitions (Senses and Subsenses)

(a) Coll. The dried stalks of grain after threshing, straw; also in fig. context [quot. a1475]; -- also pl.; stubbe ~; (b) a stalk or stem; a piece of straw; in the ~, on the stalk, before harvest [quot. a1325]; knot of a ~, a node or joint of a stalk; turninge (wagginge) of a ~, the slightest action; towenden ech ~, to search everywhere; (c) in cpds., combs., and related gen. and prep. phrases: ~ brede, brede of ~, straues brede, the breadth of a straw; ~ brod, a nail or peg used for attaching thatch to a roof; -- also coll.; ~ cap (hatte), a cap (hat) made of straw [1st elem. could also be construed as adj.]; ~ der, a hare; ~ lat, a lath used for supporting roof thatch; barli (haver, ote, whete) ~; pese ~, dried stalks of pea plants.
(a) As an image of something worthless, insignificant, or contemptible; nought a ~, nothing at all; to dere a ~, worth less than a straw; setten at a ~, to value (sth.) very little or not at all; stonden in stede nought of a ~, be worth less than a straw; strepen a ~, perform a trivial action; (b) not (nought, ne..) worth a ~, unworth a ~, not worth a straw, worthless; (c) in adverbial phrases: bi) a ~, at all, in the least; not (nought) a ~, not (ne..) worth a ~, not at all, not a bit; (d) chargen (recchen) not a ~, not yeven a ~, to care not at all, not give a hoot; acounten not (ne recchen, yeven nought) a ~ of, yeven not two straues of, counten not thre straues of, setten not (nought, no more than) a ~ bi, care nothing for (sb. or sth.), not give a hoot about; (e) in imprecations; also as an interjection; also, in oath: bi the ~.
In misc. proverbs, prov. expressions, and conventional comparisons.
A unit of measurement for wax, of variable weight, from the use of packing straw or woven straw containers in shipping wax, fish, etc.
(a) In surnames; (b) in place name [see Smith PNElem.2.163].

Supplemental Materials (draft)

  • a1500 Cmb.Diseases Hawk (Cmb Ll.1.18)45 : For þe fraunce..take the white dry pouder and cast [in] þine hauke and wt a hesell stykke or stryse clense her mouth þer off to þt it blede.
  • Note: From Linda Voigt's note after seeing the MS: "word is possibly stryse, but if so, it is made up of anomalous letter forms."
    Note: Could the strange form in the MS perhaps be MED brēr n.? See sense 2.: "A cut branch covered with prickles or thorns." Cleansing the hawk's mouth with this would definitely cause it to bleed.--per MLL

Supplemental Materials (draft)

  • (1443) Acc.St.Mary Thame in BBOAJ 828 : For strawe of the perse, vi s. viii d.
  • (1444) Acc.St.Mary Thame in BBOAJ 851 : We have reseyvede of the persone for strawwe to the schyrche howr parte, x d.
  • (1445) Acc.St.Mary Thame in BBOAJ 854 : Halso Ryschard lave'der & Jho' manyturne have reseyved as for kepyng of the klokke the iij day of apryl as for strawe of the person, xx d..halso for strawwe of the perso' at myssomur, xx d.
Note: Not clear what the parson's straw consists of, but these quots. evidently belong together and belong here.