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EXPLAINING THE TERMS
THE ARTS, SCIENCES, LITERATURE,
PROFESSIONS, AND TRADES.
W. M. BUCHANAN,
EDITOR OF "THE PRACTICAL MECHANIC AND ENGINEER'S MAGAZINE; AND LATELY
PRINTED FOR W. TEGG & Co., 73, CHEAPSIDE;
R. GRIFFIN & CO., GLASGOW;
AND CUMMING & FERGUSON, DUBLIN.
MORE than twelve years have elapsed since the compilation of this small volume was commenced. The want of a convenient vocabulary of termal language was then much and widely felt, especially by that large section of the public who come under the designation of General Readers. The deficiency has since been partially supplied by publications of various degrees of pretension and merit, directed to that end; but it does not appear that any of these works is sufficiently compendious and comprehensive in character-sufficiently adapted to the ordinary purpose of ready consultation to render this a superfluous addition to a branch of literature which can at most only distantly approximate to completeness.
The object which led to the compilation, and which has uniformly been kept in view in its preparation, was to furnish a Dictionary of Technological Terms, so moderate in size and price as to be generally accessible, and yet sufficiently copious and comprehensive to serve all the purposes of a book of reference in every department of Science, Literature, and Art. Although too restricted in plan and purpose to warrant any pretension to originality, it is nevertheless something more than a loose compilation. Its materials have been derived from the best and most authentic sources, and have been brought together with much care, and, it is hoped, not without discrimination. Many
important terms and explanations, and many valuable facts belonging to the Industrial Arts, have been supplied by those engaged in the practical operations to which they relate; and in no case, when doubt arose, were similar means of attaining correct information overlooked.
The narrow limits prescribed by the plan and purpose of the work have necessarily precluded all irrelevant discussion on particular subjects; yet, in the multiplicity, conciseness, and general accuracy of the definitions, the aptness of illustration, and brevity of statement, the Editor has reason to believe that it will bear a favourable comparison with any similar compilation. He cannot hope to have entirely escaped all the numerous chances of inaccuracy which beset an undertaking of so varied and laborious a character; but he has used his best endeavours for that purpose, and confidently hopes to have approximated very closely to the end desired.
GLASGOW, July, 1846.
A, is bets, except the Ethiopic, in which it is the thirteenth, and the Runic, in which it is the tenth.
A is naturally the first letter, because it represents the first vocal sound naturally formed by the human organs: being the sound uttered by merely opening of the mouth, and without effort to alter the natural position of the lips. Hence this letter is found in many words first uttered by infants: which words are the names of objects with which infants are first concerned, as the breast and the parents. Hence in Hebrew, am is mother, and ab is father. In Chaldee and Syriac, abba is father: in Arabic, aba; in Ethiopic, abi; in Malayan and Bengalese, bappa; in Welsh, tad, whence Scotch, daddy; in Old Greek and Gothic, atta; in Irish, aithair; in Cantabrian, aita; in Lapponic, atki; in Abyssinian, abba; in Amharic, aba; in Shilhic and Melindane (African dialects), baba; and papa is found in many languages. Hence the Latin mamma, the breast, which is, in popular use, the name of mother: in Swedish, amma is a nurse.
A. was used by the Romans as a numeral to denote 500, and with a dash over it, A, to mean 5000. The Romans also employed A, the initial letter of antiquo,—I oppose, to signify dissent in voting. The letters U.R. (for uti rogas, be it as you desire), were the form of assent. [These letters were marked on two wooden ballots, and given to each voter, who gave one of them as his vote.] In criminal trials, A. stocd for absolvo, I acquit; C. for condemno, I condemn: and N. L. for non liquet, it is not evident: and the judges voted by ballots so marked. In Roman inscriptions, A stands for Augustus, argentum, aurum, &c.
AARON'S ROD, in architecture, a rod with a serpent twined round it. It is sometimes confounded with Caduceus, (q. v.)
A.B. an abbreviation of artium baccalaureus, bachelor of arts.
AB, in the Jewish Calendar, the 11th month of the civil year, and the 5th month of the ecclesiastical year, answering to a part of July and of August. In the Syriac calendar, Ab is the last summer month of the year. As a prefix to English names, Ab is usually an abbreviation of abbot, or abbey.
ABACK', from Saxon, a, on, and baec, back. A nautical term, signifying the situation of the sails when flattened by the wind against the masts. Taken aback, is when they are carried back suddenly by the wind; laid aback, is when they are purposely placed so to give the ship sternway.