[LMB] OT: Online Info

Agnes Charrel-Berthillier agnes at charrel.net
Thu Nov 10 05:29:33 GMT 2016


> On Nov 9, 2016, at 17:36, Luke Bretscher <rocketman0739 at gmail.com> wrote:
> "name of a small knife knight wore opposite their sword and which they
> would use to slay a vanquished enemy if he didn't cry for grace
> [miséricorde]"
> It certainly says that in your link, but I'm dubious. It would make more
> sense if it got the name by being the means of delivering the merciful *coup
> de grace* to someone mortally wounded.

This is the Littré, so the definition only dates back from the 1860s. No quotes are provided for that specific meaning, so... if you have a better source feel free to share!

Wikipedia agrees with you but its sources are not readily available.

Quite frankly I wouldn't be surprised to learn that both definitions matched usage at one time or another.

As shown by the following quote from Ivanhoe, Walter Scott, so once again XIXth century and potentially not the most historically accurate:
"Yield thee, De Bracy,” said the Black Champion, stooping over him, and holding against the bars of his helmet the fatal poniard with which the knights dispatched their enemies, (and which was called the dagger of mercy,) — “yield thee, Maurice de Bracy, rescue or no rescue, or thou art but a dead man.”
(French translation by Dumas has "miséricorde" for "dagger of mercy")
Dispatched their enemies, not finished off their mortally wounded enemies...

1815 quote also leaning toward the less romantic usage: https://books.google.com/books?id=JJpeAAAAcAAJ&pg=PA211

Ah. Think I found Littré's source, from 1750, in Menage's etymological dictionary of the French language and quoting (not exactly decisively though) from the Roman de la Rose:


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