Middle English Dictionary Entry

cōmb n.
Quotations: Show all Hide all

Entry Info

Definitions (Senses and Subsenses)

(a) A comb for dressing the hair; (b) an ornamental comb for keeping the hair in place; a comli under combe, a fair lady; (c) her. the figure of a comb as a charge.
Various toothed implements: (a) a comb for currying horses; hors ~; (b) a comb for carding wool, a card; (c) an instrument for torturing by laceration; also fig.; (d) a tool for making incisions.
(a) The crest or comb of a cock; (b) the crest of a snake.
(a) A ridge, the crest of a hill; (b) in names: cambehous, cambis heved [see Smith PNElem. 1.79].
The palm or metacarpus (of the hand); the instep or metatarsus (of the foot).
A honeycomb [see honi-comb].
(a) comb coverchef, a kerchief; (b) ~ hed, ?a piece of bone for fashioning a comb; (c) ~ makere, ~ smith, ~ wright, one who makes combs or cards; (d) ~ wul, wool carded out of the long staple; (e) wolves ~, q.v.

Supplemental Materials (draft)

Note: In sense 8., the Will York quot. may belong in cǒumb n.(2) (= "A valley hollow, coomb") as a new sense. The quot. describes a russet robe or a gown trimmed (or lined) with fur "cum rigez et coombes" = ?"with ridges and valleys," that is, the fabric is ribbed and furrowed, or perhaps if trimmed with fur, the design resembles ribs and furrows.
Note: The Will York quot. is also found under riǧǧe n., sense 2. = "A pelt or hide taken from the back of an animal; the fleece of the back of the sheep." Note the (1451) quot. there which describes a garment: "j furrura de rig et wombe." (MED wōmb(e n., sense 3.(c) = "the belly piece of an animal hide or skin.") Alternatively, "coombes" may be some sort of reanalyzation of "woombes."
Note: In sense 8., the Feast Tott. quot. probably belongs to sense 6. = "A honeycomb." The dishes at this feast always consist of ridiculous objects (such as chamber pots, bell clappers, millstones, etc.) or animals (such as steeds, riding horses, a goat, etc.) served in a legitimate food (such as some sort of soup, sauce, stew, etc.). Honeycomb was actually used in food and drink preparation (e.g. mead) although there are no quots. here containing recipes. The nonsensical dish ("castrell in cambys") would thus be a flask, wine-skin, or portable keg served with honeycomb, perfectly in accordance with the other absurdities on this menu.
Note: The list of variant spellings in the form section is incomplete and needs revision to accord with standards of later volumes of the MED.--notes per MLL

Supplemental Materials (draft)

Note: Med., etc., see further J.Norri, Dictionary of Medical Vocabulary, s.v. comb.