Middle English Dictionary Entry

wā̆st(e adj.
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Entry Info

Definitions (Senses and Subsenses)

Note: Cp. west(e adj.
Of land, a country, a place, etc.: uncultivated, wild; uninhabited, desolate; ~ lond.
(a) Superfluous, excess; also, excessive; also, prodigal, wasteful; (b) futile, fruitless; pointless, meaningless; of speech, belief, etc.: idle, vain; (c) insubstantial, empty; also, ephemeral.
Enfeebled, shriveled.

Supplemental Materials (draft)

  • c1400 St.Alex.(2) (Trin-O 57)53/334 : Ofte hy hime bete and burste, Þat þe lord þer-of nuste, Þo unlede fode; Þeȝ clepude him 'waste bred' And weste þat he wer ded.
  • Note: Quot. belongs under wast(e adj., which does not supply an appropriate definition for the collocation here, namely, 'leftover bread' (perhaps 'stale bread' or more generally, 'table scraps'). Context: St. Alexis lives unrecognized at his fathers house, sleeping under the stairs and eating table scraps. The servants make fun of him by calling him 'waste bread'.--per MLL.
    Note: waste here describes something that is thrown away or worthless. ~ bred could be translated as 'table scraps,' used here as a term of abuse. See bred n.(1), sense 4. The collocation best fits under sense 2.(b)--"~ bred, as term of abuse: table scraps.--per MLL
    Note: [L: Jube me suscipi in domo tua, ut pascor de micis mensae tuae]--spoken by St. Alexis. "Micis" = "on the crumbs, morsels (of your table)"
    Note: [Fr: Soz le degret..Iluec paist l'um del relef de la table..Tuz l'escarnissent, s'il tenent pur bricun; L'egua li getent, si moilent sun linçol.] "Relef de la table" = "table scraps".