Dastard
Posted: 26 October 2007 08:06 AM   [ Ignore ]
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A 1909 newspaper article describing the killing of a man by his own son was headlined ”The Deed of a Dastard.” I’ve never before heard of this word used as a noun.  Makes sense I suppose. 

AHD, however, lists dastard and dastardly as separate entries rather than dastardly as the adjective of the noun listed in its “Other forms” category.  Curious.

Etymonline doesn’t have a separate entry for the noun form, but notes that the noun hails from about 1440 and the adjective is first cited in 1567.

This site offers the interesting possibility (though offered as if it is fact) that dastard “is widely avoided” because of its “fraternal twin” that begins with a “b”.  Think so?

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Posted: 26 October 2007 09:24 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 1 ]
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Not only is there a noun, there was also a verb (albeit long obsolete), “to make a dastard of, to cow, to terrify”.

Yes, one sees the noun used now and again. Here’s OED on the etymology:

Known only from the 15th c. Notwithstanding its French aspect (cf. bastard) it appears to be of Eng. formation. The Promptorium identifies it in sense with dasiberde; cf. also dasart, of kindred derivation and meaning; these make it probable that the element dast is = dased dull, stupid, inert, f. dase, DAZE; cf. other native formations with the suffix -ard, as dasart, drunkard, dullard, laggard, sluggard.

BTW the Promptorium is identified in the Bibliography as “Promptorium parvulorum sive clericorum, lexicon Anglo-Latinum princeps c 1440 (Camden Soc. 1843–65)”.

[ Edited: 26 October 2007 09:26 AM by aldiboronti ]
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Posted: 26 October 2007 10:11 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 2 ]
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I think the first time I encountered the noun may have been in the title of a collection of stories and non-fiction articles by science-fiction writer Fred Pohl: Digits & Dastards. That was published in the 60’s. Modern use (by which I include the 60’s) is rare but not unheard-of. I think the notion that it’s rare because of the similarity in sound to “bastard” is quite likely but unprovable. 

The adjective figures in one of my favorite lines from the movie Robots: the villain has been visiting his even more villainous mother in her underground lair, where we see that she keeps his ineffectual father hanging in chains from the ceiling.  After mother and son discuss their plot to force more of their fellow robots onto the scrapheap by keeping spare parts off the market, the son takes his leave and the father calls out, “So long, son. Good luck with your dastardly plans!”

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Posted: 26 October 2007 10:38 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 3 ]
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Who can forget Dick Dastardly of the 70s cartoon serial Wacky Races?

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Posted: 26 October 2007 10:49 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 4 ]
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24450239 - 26 October 2007 10:38 AM

Who can forget Dick Dastardly of the 70s cartoon serial Wacky Races?

“Curses, foiled again, Muttley”

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Posted: 26 October 2007 06:16 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 5 ]
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Not only is there a noun, there was also a verb (albeit long obsolete), “to make a dastard of, to cow, to terrify”.

I’m trying to get a sense of how it might be used in a sentence.  Intransitive?  “He was dastarded.” transitive: “The trick-or-treater dastarded the nice man after ringing the doorbell of his home.” Past perfect: “They had dastarded their way down the city streets.”

Anyway, this is a marvelous discovery.  Thanks Aldi.

[ Edited: 26 October 2007 06:27 PM by Oecolampadius ]
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Posted: 26 October 2007 11:19 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 6 ]
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Here are the cites for the verb in OED:

1593 NASHE Christ’s T. (1613) 73 My womanish stomacke hath serued me to that, which your man-like stomackes are dastarded with. 1620 SHELTON Quix. III. xxvi. 186 The Scholar was frighted, the Page clean dastarded. 1665 DRYDEN Ind. Empr. II. i, I’m weary of this Flesh, which holds us here, And dastards manly Souls with Hope and Fear.

I suspect this was one of the many nouns that were pressed into service as verbs by the Elizabethans (vide Shakespeare passim).

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Posted: 27 October 2007 03:47 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 7 ]
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And dastards manly Souls with Hope and Fear.

Very nice!  I now have to figure out a place to use it in polite conversation!

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