Middle English Dictionary Entry

ūsen v.
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Entry Info

Definitions (Senses and Subsenses)

(a) To have the use (of sth.), make use (of the imagination, reason, etc.); ~ of godes bord, make use of God’s table, administer the sacrament; (b) to use (sb. or sth., a part of the body, God’s gifts, etc.) for a purpose, put to use, employ; also in fig. context; also, sound (a musical instrument), employ (a musical instrument in church services); put (wealth) to use, invest; wield (a weapon), use (an implement); ~ eres (tonge), listen (speak); (c) to use (a medicine, medicinal preparation or concoction, treatment, etc.), employ; also in fig. context;—also without obj. [quot. c1475]; (d) to use (someone else’s words, the words of the gospel, one’s wits, etc.), utilize (a means to an end), employ (a manner of instruction); also, use (a book of Scripture, psalm, music, etc. in church services), employ (prayers, Biblical verses, etc. in the practice of witchcraft); (e) to employ (a measure, weight, unit of measurement) as a standard; use (a certain kind of year) as a basis for reckoning time, dating events, etc.; also, use (an astronomical table or chart); (f) to adhere to (a guiding principle), follow (advice, instruction).
To wear (a garment, piece of jewelry, clothing, etc.); ppl. usinge, ?to be worn, for wearing.
(a) To consume (food, drink, a substance, etc.), ingest, eat, drink; also in fig. context; also, consume (sth. in or with one’s food or drink); take (a medicine or medicinal substance) internally; swallow (sth.);—also without obj. [quot. a1450 Liber Cophonis]; also, in partitive construction: ~ of, partake of (sth.); (b) eccl. to receive the Eucharist, communicate; also, partake of (the Lord’s flesh and blood, the Eucharist), take (the Sacrament), receive (the Host).
To spend (one’s days, time, or lifetime), pass (a night, one’s youth).
To wear (sth.) out; use (sth.) up, consume by using; also in fig. context.
(a) To treat (sb.) in a certain manner; (b) to have sexual intercourse with (a woman, wife), resort to (a woman) for sexual satisfaction; keep (a concubine); ~ or haunten women, womanize.
(a) To associate (with a people), have dealings; (b) to frequent (a tavern, church, etc.), haunt; visit (a country) frequently; be regularly in (someone’s company); attend (school, a school of a university); ppl. used, of a path: trodden, traveled; of a city: frequented, populated.
To speak [quot. a1400(a1303)]; speak in (a language), speak or write (a language); utter (words, sounds, speech, etc.); pray (a prayer) aloud, recite (a psalm), play or sing (a song); swear (an oath); also, utter (oaths), curse; speak in (a voice, tone); speak with (a stammer, sound of gnashing or grinding of teeth, etc.); ~ communicacioun, converse, hold conversation.
(a) To observe (a custom, tradition, rule of conduct, the rule of a religious order, etc.), keep, act in accordance with, conform to; also, maintain (a traditional practice or usage of the church) [1st quot.]; ~ manere of courte, follow the practice of court; (b) ben used, to be customary, be traditional; with inf. or that clause: be customary (to do sth., that sb. do sth.);—freq. impers.; as) hit is used, as be used, etc.; (c) ppl. used, established by usage, customary, usual; also, customarily observed; of death: natural; of money: in current use; used kinde, usual or customary nature.
To observe (a traditional practice having the force of law, customary law), keep, comply with; obey (a law, the Mosaic law), abide by; ben used, be customary; be customary law, be the established rule;—freq. impers.; also iron. [quot. ?a1475]; ppl. used, having the force of law, established as legal by custom.
(a) To conduct one’s affairs; act (as sth. instructs), do; usinge after, according to (the form of an instruction); (b) to follow (a certain course of life), lead (a certain kind of life), affect (a certain style of living); also, adhere to (a prescribed diet, one’s customary eating schedule), follow; ~ wedlok, continue to live in a matrimonial relationship, remain married.
(a) To practice (a religion, a religious faith or system of belief, idolatry, etc.), follow (a doctrine); perform (a religious rite or ritual, a ritual or sacramental act, etc.), carry out; also, hold (a wedding, funeral feast); keep (a religious holiday), celebrate; (b) to exercise (a right, privilege, authority, power, etc.); enforce (a law); effect (a judgment); also, bring (a suit in a court of law); invoke (the power of religion), wield; ~ aristogracie, rule according to an aristocratic form of government; ~ the keie in-to ilke man, fig. exercise over every man the power of binding and loosing; longe ben used, of laws: be in force for a long time; (c) to exercise (a mental faculty or power, one’s free will, one’s abilities, etc.), bring to bear; (d) to exercise (care, honesty, valor, virtue, etc.), practice (a virtue, type of love, etc.); perform (a blessing); also, in partitive construction: ~ of feithfulnesse, practice fidelity, remain true; (e) to exercise (cruelty, disobedience, scorn, etc.); also, show (partiality); (f) to commit (a crime, sin, sacrilege, etc.), perform (a sinful act); practice (a vice, deceit, deceptive tricks, extortion, treachery, etc.), engage in; also, indulge, esp. habitually or repeatedly, in (fleshly pleasures, debauchery, wanton acts, a dishonest or wrongful practice, etc.); ~ wille, indulge (one’s own) desire; (g) to perform (an action or activity, a gesture, deed, work, etc.), do; engage in (a game, sport, tournament, battle, worldly affairs, etc.); ~ bath (stepe), take a bath (swim); ~ ful endinge, carry out the completion of a task, make an end; ~ hasard (hasardie, hasardrie), play the game of hazard, gamble; also, fig. take risks; ~ message (office), perform a mission (one’s function); ~ preiere in herte, ~ mental preiere, pray silently; (h) to carry on (an occupation), execute (the office of nurse, priest, etc.), discharge (the duties of an occupation); practice (a craft, skill, an occult art, etc.), ply (a trade); ~ abod upon office, perform (one’s) occupation; ~ armes, take up the practice of arms; ~ lether, deal in leather; ppl. usinge, carrying on business or trade.
(a) To exercise (a part of the body) physically; also, exert (physical strength); exercise (the normal physical function of a bodily member); (b) to train (a hawk); ben used, be trained (in doctrine), be experienced (in a craft, weaponry, etc.), be skilled; also, with inf.: be trained (to do sth.); ppl. used, experienced, knowledgeable, proficient, accomplished.
(a) To take advantage of a situation, seize an opportunity; take advantage of (a privilege, the divine mercy), presume to, arrogate; (b) to benefit from (sth.), profit from; enjoy the benefit of (sth., someone else’s position); also, have the benefit of (a legal privilege), enjoy; have the right to bear (a coat of arms).
(a) To possess (sth.), have, own; also, take control over (persons), retain possession of (one’s children); ~ conjunccioun of nombres, have structure as a result of numerical conjunction; ~ pliauntnesse, have flexibility as a physical characteristic, be flexible of body; ~ straunge sepulcre, receive foreign burial, have a foreign grave; (b) to inhabit (a country), occupy (land); also, of a heavenly body: hold (an orbit); (c) to have (joy, abundance, good fortune), enjoy (a state of internal peace in a country); (d) to appropriate (sth.) improperly; (e) to accomplish (a desired marriage), achieve, obtain.
(a) To ponder (on sth.), reflect, muse; refl. bethink oneself (on sth.), meditate; also, occupy oneself (with spiritual labors); ben used, meditate (on sth.); also, be occupied (with God’s justification); (b) refl. to devote oneself (to an occupation); (c) to pursue (a field of knowledge), study (a subject or branch of learning).
To vex (sb., the heart), trouble, agitate.
To take pleasure in (sth.), enjoy, relish.
(a) To be wont, be accustomed; also, be accustomed to (sth.); (b) with inf. preceded by verbal particle: to be accustomed (to do sth.), be wont; also, become accustomed (to do sth.); also in as clause with inf. unexpressed but implied by the context [quots. a1422 & a1500 Proc.Chanc.]; also, in pleonastic phrase: ~ wont, be accustomed (to do sth.); ppl. usinge, accustomed (to do sth.), being accustomed.
In phrase ben used: (a) to be wont, be accustomed; with prep. phrases: ben used in (to), of a person: be accustomed to (sth.), be familiar with, be versed in; of something: be familiar to (sb.); also, ppl. used, in phrase: used in (to), accustomed to (sth.); (b) with inf. preceded by verbal particle: to be accustomed (to do sth.), be wont (to do sth.); also with inf. in as clause unexpressed but implied by the context [quots. 1426-7 & a1464, 2nd].
(a) To accustom (sb. to sth.);—also refl.; also, accustom (one’s mouth to swearing); ~ in, inure (sb.) to (temptation); (b) with inf. preceded by verbal particle: to accustom (sb. to do sth., one’s tongue to speak foul words), habituate;—also refl.; leten ~ hire, cause her to become accustomed (to do sth.).
In misc. senses: (a) to uphold (the common good, honor); (b) to allow (sth.), permit; (c) to undergo (afflictions); endure (sorrow), suffer; (d) with inf.: ?to undertake (to do sth.); (e) in phrases with adverbs or prep. phrases: ~ awei, to drive (worms) away, repel; ~ awei from god; ?drive (sinners) away from the good [prob. mistransl. of L abuti to consume utterly]; ~ forth, pour off (consecrated wine from a chalice), decant; ~ oute of, free (sb.) from (sin).

Supplemental Materials (draft)

  • c1400 St.Anne(1) (Min-U Z.822.N.81)1876 : Hereof wondred more & lesse & sayd..Ffor þou dos thyng was never arevsed.
  • Note: Additional quot.
    Note: Quot. belongs to sense 7.(g).--notes per MLL