hist-brewing: Re: "Stale" for Braggot

Donald Beistle dbeistle at arches.uga.edu
Fri Apr 7 11:00:28 PDT 2000

>From the Oxford English Dictionary:

stale steil, a.1 [Of obscure history, but prob. ultimately f. the Teut.
root *sta- to stand. Cf. Flem. stel in the same sense, said of beer and
urine (Kilian; still used in WFlem., see De Bo). ]

1. Of malt liquor, mead, wine: That has stood long enough to clear; freed
from dregs or lees; hence, old and strong. Obs.

     C. 1300 K. Horn 383 (Laud) Bi forn e king abenche Red win to
schenche  And after mete stale Boe win and ale; 

     C. 1386 Chaucer Sir Thopas 52 Notemuge to putte in ale, Whether it be
moyste or stale. 

     1398 Trevisa Barth. De P.R. xix. lvii. (1495) 896 Yf meth is well sod
and stale it is lykynge to the taste. 

     A. 1400 Stockh. Medical MS. in Anglia XVIII. 310 Good reed wyn at be

     1421 Cov. Leet Bk. (1907) 25 When hit [ale] is good and stale. 

     1483 Cath. Angl. 358/1 Sstale As Ale, defecatus. 

     A. 1529 Skelton E. Rummyng 367 And ye will gyve me a syppet Of your
stale ale. 

     A. 1553 Udall Royster D. i. iii. (Arb.) 19 Where good stale ale is
will drinke no water I trust. 

     1586 Cogan Haven Health ccxviii. 221 Good ale..must be..made of good
corne, well sodden, stale and well purged. 

     1709 Addison Tatler No. 162 1, I daily live in a very comfortable
Affluence of Wine, Stale Beer, Hungary Water, Beef, Books, and

     1743 Lond. & Country Brew; iv. (ed. 2) 294 To turn Ale into stale
Beer presently.

     fig.  1709 O. Dykes Eng. Prov. & Refl; (ed. 2) Pref. 16 Proverbs
scatter'd through all the Works of the Learned, like Salt, to give them a
Relish, and to make them keep stale.

2. That has lost its freshness; altered by keeping.

a. of food or drink.

`Usually in disparaging sense; but when said of bread it is the ordinary
opposite of new, without necessarily implying inferiority.' N.E.D.

     1530 Palsgr. 325/2 Stale as breed or drinke is, rassis. Stale as
meate is that begynneth to savoure, viel. 

     C. 1550 Wyll of Deuill (c 1825) C 2 b, New freshe blood to
ouersprinkle their stale mete that it may seme..newly kylled. 

     1580 Lyly Euphues (Arb.) 386 Gestes and fish..are euer stale within
three dayes. 

     1606 Shaks. Tr. & Cr; v. iv. 11 That stole [read stale] old
Mouse-eaten dry cheese, Nestor.

     1726 Swift Gulliver ii. v, To let out the Water when it began to grow

     1727 Swift Past. Dial. Richm. Hill 53 To cry the Bread was stale, and
mutter Complaints against the Royal Butter. 

     1759 R. Brown Compl. Farmer 78 [A chicken will be] tender and green
in the vent if stale. 

     1829 Chapters Phys. Sci. 251 The egg becomes stale or addled. 

     1845 James Arrah Neil ii, I would as soon..eat stale cabbage. 

     1878 M. L. Holbrook Hygiene Brain 61 The bread should be stale. 

     1888 F. Hume Mme. Midas i. Prol., His companion collected the stale
biscuits which had fallen out of the bag.

b. of urine, manure, straw, etc.

     1577 Googe Heresbach's Husb. ii. (1586) 83 Stale vrine. 

     1765 Museum Rust. IV. 255 Where dung is made use of, it must be very
stale and rotten. 

     1865 Dickens Mut. Fr. iii. xi, An early public-house, haunted by
unsavoury smells of musty hay and stale straw.

Et cetera...

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