false, adj., adv., and n.
, (ME Orm. falls
, ME falsse
, ME vals(e
), ME–16 falce
, (ME fauce
, 15 falls
), 17–18 Sc. fause
, 16, 18 dial. fause
, ME– false
late Old English fals
adjective and noun, < Latin falsus
false (neuter falsum
, used subst. in sense fraud, falsehood), originally past participle of fallĕre
to deceive; compare Old Norse fals
noun. The adjective is found in Old English only in one doubtful instance (see sense ); its frequent use begins in the 12th cent., and was probably due to a fresh adoption through the Old French fals
(modern French faux
= Provencal fals
, Spanish, Portuguese, Italian falso
). The continental Germanic languages adopted the word in an altered form: Middle High German valsch
, modern German falsch
(compare Old High German gifalscôn
to falsify), Old Frisian falsch
, Dutch valsch
, late Icelandic (15th cent.) falskr
, Danish, Swedish falsk
The etymological sense of Latin falsus is ‘deceived, mistaken’ (of persons), ‘erroneous’ (of opinions, etc.). The transition to the active sense ‘deceitful’ is shown in phrases like falsa fides ‘breach of trust, faithlessness’, where the noun has a subjective and an objective sense. In modern English the sense ‘mendacious’ is so prominent that the word must often be avoided as discourteous in contexts where the etymological equivalent in other Germanic languages or in Romanic would be quite unobjectionable. Some of the uses are adopted < French, and represent senses that never became English.
A. adj. I.
b. Law. Of a judgement or verdict.
1634 R. Sanderson II. 293
In the courts of law..false verdicts, false judgments.
1768 W. Blackstone III. 34
A writ also of false judgment lies to the courts at Westminster to rehear and review the cause.
1768 W. Blackstone III. 402
A jury of twelve men gave a false verdict.
c. false position n. Arith. the rule also called simply position ().
Not according to correct rule or principle; wrong.
b. Music. Of a note: Not in tune, wrong in pitch, also fig. Also, false cadence (see quot. ). false fourth, false fifth, etc.: a fourth, fifth, etc. when not perfect. false intonation:
(a) the production of an unnatural or improper quality of tone;
(b) singing or playing out of tune. false relation: the separation of a chromatic semitone between two parts. Also, see quot. . false string: a badly woven string, which produces an uncertain and untrue tone.
1597 T. Morley 72
Shew me..which be the true notes, and which false.
1599 J. Davies 91
If false accords from her false strings be sent.
1626 Bacon §171
A Lute-String, if it be..Unequall in his Parts..we call False.
1655 Campion's Art composing Musick in Parts in J. Playford ii. 38
The fift example yields a false fourth, and the sixt a false fift.
1817 Byron xxxii,
Some false note's detected flaw.
1830 Tennyson 102
If ye sing not, if ye make false measure, We shall lose eternal pleasure.
1869 F. A. G. Ouseley ii. 9
By a false relation is meant the simultaneous, or immediately successive, sounding of a note of the same name, but accidentally altered pitch.
1876 9 Sept. 253/1
The minutest..examination [of an actress's part] will hardly discover a false note or a dropped stitch.
1888 J. Stainer
When the last chord of the phrase is other than the tonic chord and is preceded by that of the dominant, the cadence is said to be interrupted, false or deceptive.
1888 J. Stainer
False or feigned music was that in which notes were altered by the use of accidentals.
1917 T. S. Eliot 19
Inside my brain a dull tom-tom begins... That is at least one definite ‘false note’.
1932 13 Aug. 188/2
This episode, with its rather sentimental sequel, seems to strike a false note in the story.
1715 J. Richardson 134
If the Perspective is not just the Drawing of that Composition is false.
d. false imprisonment n. Law the trespass committed against a person by imprisoning him contrary to law, or by any restrictive action or influence.
1387–8 Petition London Mercers in R. W. Chambers & M. Daunt
The forsaid Nichol..destruyd the kynges trewe lyges..bi false emprisonementȝ.
1768 W. Blackstone III. viii. 127
To constitute the injury of false imprisonment there are two points requisite; 1. The detention of the person; and, 2. The unlawfulness of such detention.
1880 T. E. Holland xi. 111
A man has a right to go where he pleases,..and anyone who prevents him from so doing, whether by constraint actually applied, or by such show of authority or force as has an effect on the will equivalent to actual constraint, is said in English law to be guilty of ‘false imprisonment’.
1891 63 690/2
An action to recover damages for false imprisonment.
e. Heraldry. (See quots.)
1730 N. Bailey et al.
False Arms, (in Heraldry) are those wherein the fundamental rules of the art are not observed.
1864 C. Boutell
An Orle is blazoned as a ‘false escutcheon’, by the early Heralds.
1889 C. N. Elvin
An Annulet [is blazoned] as a False Roundel. A Cross voided, as a False Cross.
f. Of a horse: (see quot.). false gallop: see .
1833 i. ii. 56
In cantering to the right, a horse leading with the two near legs is ‘false’.
1884 E. L. Anderson vi. 27
If it [the horse] turn to the right when the left legs are taking the advanced steps, it is false in its gallop.
g. Of a card: (see quot. ).
1879 ‘Cavendish’ 163
A card [played] contrary to rule in order to take in the adversary..is technically called a false card.
h. false point n.
a mistaken act of pointing by a game-dog. Hence false-pointing n., false-point vb.
1954 D. A. Bannerman III. 214
Ring-ouzels..possess an exceptionally strong scent. They are a frequent cause of ‘false point’ in gun-dogs..a Border terrier often winding the sitting bird at a greater distance than he would a snipe or woodcock.
1960 24 Sept. 9/1
On scenting game they [sc. setters] halt..close enough..to avoid ‘false-pointing’.
1965 P. Wayre iii. 38
The best of dogs can false-point.
b. false start n. a wrong start in a race; often transf. and fig.; also false starter (see quot. ).
Industry..was distanced by having been pulled up soon after starting, in consequence of a repeated cry of ‘false start’.
1850 F. E. Smedley xxxi. 260
Pilkington..was partly coaxed, partly coerced into attempting the only song he knew,..in which performance, after making four false starts,..he contrived..to get as far as the words [etc.].
1854 J. R. Planché 13
Because I fling your follies in your face, And call back all the false starts of your race.
1923 J. D. Hackett Labor Terms in May
False Starter, one who has been selected, tested, and approved by the employment department but who fails to start work.
1957 G. Ryle in M. Black
It was a tragically false start.
Defective, not firm or solid.
1728 R. Morris 87
What a false Bearing, or rather what Bearing at all has it?
1842 J. Gwilt Gloss. 933 at Bearing Wall,
When [the partition is] built in a transverse direction, or, unsupported throughout, its whole length is said to have a false bearing, or as many false bearings as there are intervals below the wall or partition.
Mendacious, deceitful, treacherous.In senses – the phr. false as hell was formerly common.
b. false pretences n.
(also false representations)
Law misrepresentations made to convey a false impression.
1757 c. 24 §1
All persons who knowingly and designedly, by false pretence or pretences, shall obtain..money, goods, wares or merchandizes, with intent to..defraud any person..of the same.
1778 P. Thicknesse
I. iii. 32
He may indeed say..that obtaining money by false pretences is better than forging.
1831 J. Banim I. xi. 253
Made prisoners in it, upon false pretences.
1836 I. 92
Indictable for obtaining money under false pretences.
1858 J. A. Froude
III. xvii. 506
False representations had been held out to bring the lady into the realm.
1861 c. 96 §88
It shall be sufficient in any Indictment for obtaining or attempting to obtain any such Property by false Pretences to allege that the Party accused did the Act with Intent to defraud, without alleging an Intent to defraud any particular Person.
1907 28 Aug.
When charged he pleaded guilty to three charges of obtaining goods on false pretences.
1959 Earl Jowitt & C. Walsh I. 781/2
It is now practically immaterial whether a prisoner is indicted for false pretences or for larceny.
c. false issue n. Law an issue introduced by counsel in order to conceal the real issue.
1903 12 June 10/1
Mr. Robson: Then your lordship does not specify any false issues that you say I raised? His Lordship: The false issue you raised was whether or not the uncle was justified in going to the detective to find out the wife's residence instead of going to the father, and there were hours in the Divorce Court occupied upon that point.
†b. transf. Of ground, a foundation, etc.: Treacherous, insecure. Obs.
1590 Spenser i. xi. sig. L6v,
An huge rocky clift, Whose false foundacion waues haue washt away.
1692 R. L'Estrange liv. 55
The Heart of Man is like a Bog, it looks Fair to the Eye, but when we come to lay any Weight upon't, the Ground is False under us.
1697 Dryden tr. Virgil Pastorals iii, in tr. Virgil 15
Graze not too near the Banks, my jolly Sheep, The Ground is false.
†b. false door n.
(also false postern)
[= French fausse porte]
Obs. a secret door or postern.
1490 Caxton tr.
Yf ye doo assaille the castell, they shall yssue oute at the fauce posternes.
1552 R. Huloet
Ffalse posterne or backe dore.
1627 R. Ashley tr. ‘A. Abencufian’ 44
King Almansor entered sometimes into this Hospitall by a false doore.
1768 J. Byron 226
They have a false door to the alcove.
Spurious, not genuine.
Counterfeit, simulated, sham.
b. Prefixed to personal designations: Pretended, that is not really such; esp. in false god, false prophet.
Þurh false godes þe ælc þiode ham selfe macede.
Þese ben false cristene.
He levede on þe false godes.
1382 Baruch vi. 58
It is beter a kyng for to be schewynge..a profitable vesselle..than fals goddis [1560 Bible (Genev.) Baruch vi. 58 , Then such false gods].
1552 R. Huloet
Ffalse messenger..ffalse prophet.
False heir and other choice stories for the young.
c. with the name of an author: = ‘Pseudo-’.
d. Of hair, teeth, etc.: Artificially made or adapted. Also false eyelashes, false nose, and in more general sense.
1591 R. Percyvall Dict. at Cabelléra,
A false heare, or peruke.
1634 T. Herbert 168
Hired women, who for fiue houres space..howle bitterly, teare their false haire [etc.].
1795 E. Wynne 31 Dec.
The poor Man has a dozen false teeth in his mouth.
1817 Byron lxvi,
One has false curls.
1836 Dickens 1st Ser. I. 329
1873 Oct. 518/2
Will the Editor kindly say if there is anything revolting in wearing false teeth?
1885 16 Apr. 3/2
The false teeth are nothing but animal teeth attached to the human teeth by means of small gold plates.
1902 XXXII. 605/1
Where pheasants exist in any number, a ‘false covert’ of spruce and fir loppings should be made at the point to which it is desirable to force the birds.
1939 L. MacNeice xv. 57
False eyelashes and finger-nails of carmine.
1954 L. MacNeice xxiii. 141
That Christmas should be white Is something we go on with, like false noses.
e. false face n. a mask. Also, a deceiver, a hypocrite.
1817 Scott I. ix. 200
His fause-face slipped aside.
1833 M. Scott I. xi. 346
A white false-face or mask, of a most methodistical expression.
1893 R. L. Stevenson xxv. 300
That false-face, Prestongrange; I think shame to own to you that I was ever trusting to a lawyer.
f. false key n. a skeleton key, picklock.
1701 No. 3708/3
A false Key, and a Steel, were left by the said Murderers.
1833 J. Holland II. 267
False keys, and all other counterfeit means of opening locks.
g. Of attributes or actions: Feigned, counterfeited, spurious.
1609 Shakespeare lxxii. sig. E4v,
Least your true loue may seeme falce.
1697 Dryden tr. Virgil Æneis ii, in tr. Virgil 240
False Tears true Pity move.
1711 Pope 4
So by false Learning is good Sense defac'd.
h. false action n.
(also false plea)
Law = ‘feigned action’: see .
False Action = Faint Action.
1848 J. J. S. Wharton 246/2
i. false image n. Photogr. an extra image made on the plate by a defective lens at the same time as the image proper.
1892 II. 39
Another troublesome fault is what is called a ghost, or false image.
1918 Mar. (Gloss.),
False Image, an extra image, usually unsharp and often inverted, which a defective (doublet) lens will give on the plate at the same time as the image proper.
b. false fire n.
†(a) a blank discharge of firearms (obs.);
(b) a fire made to deceive an enemy, or as a night-signal.
1602 T. Dekker sig. E3,
We must haue false fiers.
1633 T. James 26
We shot and made false fires.
1642 E. Dering xvi. 86
Artillery men, though..nimble with false fires, are not immediately compleated into true-Souldiers.
1711 A. Duncan
Night coming on we lost sight of our consort, and made several false fires.
1720 D. Defoe 149
We made false Fire with any Gun that was uncharged, and they would walk off as soon as they saw the Flash.
1777 G. Forster II. 92
We let off some false fires at the mast-head.
1805 Ld. Nelson in
We have found the comfort of blue lights and false fires in the Mediterranean.
1853 J. H. Stocqueler 101/2
When an army is about to retire from a position during the night, false fires are lighted in different parts of the encampment to impose upon the enemy's vigilance.
c. false alarm n. an alarm without foundation, given either purposely to deceive or under misapprehension of danger. Now often transf. or gen.
1579 S. Gosson f. 32,
That is a vain brag, & a false allarme.
1594 T. Nashe sig. C4 v,
What did I now but one daie made a false alarum in the quarter where they laie.
1770 Johnson 3
One of the chief advantages derived by the present generation from the improvement and diffusion of Philosophy, is..exemption from false alarms.
1802 C. James at Alarm,
False-Alarms, are strategems of war, frequently made use of to harrass an enemy, by keeping them perpetually under arms.
1834 tr. I. 214
My pistols and watch were almost in his way; but, disturbed..by some noise or false alarm, he had not time to choose.
1847 A. Brontë xvii,
There was ‘no need to be in such agitation about the matter—it might prove a false alarm after all’.
1873 New Ser. 10 587
The false alarm..was made the occasion of a discussion.., which ended in the Lord Mayor advising his civic brethren to wait and see.
1900 7 Dec. 3/2
Any day the giving of a false alarm might cause the deaths of persons endangered by fire, and whom the Brigade did not reach in time.
1931 H. Mutschmann 22/1
False Alarm, a divorced woman.
Improperly so called. (Prefixed, like quasi-
, to form names of things bearing a deceptive resemblance to those properly denoted by the n.)
b. in popular or literary names of plants (sometimes rendering modern Latin names formed with pseudo-).
1578 H. Lyte tr. R. Dodoens 42
Of the false and Bastard Rewbarbes, there are at ye least foure or fiue kindes.
1597 J. Gerard (Table Eng. Names),
False Mercurie, that is All good.
1854 H. D. Thoreau 218
The celtis occidentalis, or false elm.
1861 A. Pratt VI. 50
1861 at Bottle-gourd,
The common bottle-gourd, or false calabash, is a native of India.
1861 at Locust Tree,
The locust-tree of America is also called the false acacia, or thorn acacia.
1878–86 J. Britten & R. Holland
1940 E. Step 23
The Sycamore, Great Maple, or False Plane (Acer pseudoplatanus).
†c. false nail n. Obs. ? = .
False nails..arise from a want of due attention to the parts surrounding the nail.
d. false conception n. now hist. an abnormal mass within the uterus; spec. one formed as a result of the death and degeneration of a fetus early in gestation; =
1601 P. Holland tr. Pliny Hist. World II. x. lxiv. 304
False conceptions [Fr. faulx germes] or Moone-calues.
1611 J. Donne sig. B4v,
And false-conceptions fill the generall wombs.
1662 R. Mathews §87. 121
It..brought from her an abortive or false conception.
1771 Philos. Trans. 1770
Those large clots which..have often been called moles or false conceptions.
1889 W. W. Wagstaffe 94
False Conception, an imperfect impregnation or blighted ovum.
2005 L. Kassell Med. & Magic in Elizabethan London
iii. vii. 163
Women had problems with their wombs if evil humours congealed in them... Three things made this happen: first, sexual intercourse too soon after the birth of a child; secondly, a false conception or some after-birth left behind.
e. false grain n. a fresh crop of small sugar crystals formed during the process of sugar manufacture when syrup is introduced into the crystallizing pans in order to increase the size of the crystals already formed.
1900 S. P. Sadtler
The process of admitting successive portions of fresh syrup after the ‘grain’ has once formed is used in the development of large crystals. It must be used with judgment though, or the new syrup starts a new set of minute crystals, making what is called ‘false grain’.
1959 V. 200/2
If more sugar is held in the solution than that given by the super-solubility curve, a fresh crop of nuclei or a ‘false grain’ will result.
f. false killer n. a name of the whale, Pseudorca crassidens, which partly resembles the killer whale ().
1937 J. R. Norman & F. C. Fraser ii. xiii. 294
In the genus Pseudorca..there is only one species admitted, P. crassidens, the False Killer Whale. It is nearly related to the true Killer, but many external differences distinguish the two forms from each other.
1959 A. Hardy xv. 288
The false killer, Pseudorca crassidens, is entirely black and might perhaps be mistaken for the pilot whale.
1875 II. 281/2
The impression inevitably created on a comparison of the true and false scorpions is that the latter are little scorpions without tails.
1949 II. 140/1
False Scorpions owe their name to the possession of a pair of large, claw-like ‘pedipalpi’ or specialized feelers, like those of the Scorpions; but they lack the Scorpion's tail and sting.
b. false dawn n.
(also false morning, false sunrise)
[translating Arabic ṣubḥ kāḏib]
a transient light which precedes the true dawn by about an hour, a phenomenon common in the East. Also fig.
1832 J. Morier i. 6
Do tell me..whether that be the dawn or the false dawn?
1868 E. FitzGerald tr.
Before the phantom of False morning died.
1879 E. Arnold v. 112
Then slept he..But rose e'er the False-Dawn.
1924 E. Wharton
Old New York. False Dawn.
1928 23 Aug. 8/3
A flickering false-sunrise.
1946 K. Tennant
When the false dawn came, it was a pale thing compared with the moon-light.
1963 16 Jan. 3/3
We are thus back to where we were before the excitement of Melbourne and the optimism of the week that followed. That seems now like a false dawn.
) Subsidiary, supplementary; substituted for or serving to supplement the thing properly or chiefly denoted by the name.
b. Shipbuilding. Of things temporarily attached to the real or true part to assist or protect it, as in false keel, false keelson, false post, false rail, false stay, false stem, false stern, false stern-post. Also in false deck, a grating or the like supported above the main deck by the ‘close fights’.
1626 J. Smith 14
A grating, netting or false decke for your close fights.
1627 J. Smith xi. 53
Another keele vnder the first..wee call a false Keele.
1627 J. Smith xi. 53
Fix another stem before it [sc. the stem], and that is called a false stem.
1709 No. 4521/2
Having our..Back-stays cut to pieces; as also our Main and False~stay.
1769 W. Falconer at Architecture,
The false post..serves to augment the breadth of the stern-post.
1850 J. Greenwood 117
1850 J. Greenwood 117
False rail, a rail fayed down upon the upper side of the main, or upper rail of the head.
1867 W. H. Smyth & E. Belcher
False kelson or Kelson Rider.
i. i. xi. §2. 33
The false~breech is cut away more than I like it.
1880 XI. 280/1
A pair of barrels..abutting against a false breech.
1881 W. W. Greener 262
A false pin is screwed into the lever, which, when removed, will leave an aperture through which the breech-pin must be extracted.
d. Archit. in false pillar, false roof (see quots.). false ceiling, a dummy ceiling fixed below the genuine one (e.g. to accommodate wires, conduits, etc.).
1552 R. Huloet
Ffalse roufe of a chambre, house, seller, or vault.
1611 W. Perkins
The other which was most outward, and lesse weightie might be vpholden by lesser proppes, which Artificers in that kind call by the name of false-pillars.
1849 J. Weale ii. 181/1
False roof, the space between the ceiling and the roof above it.
1870 E. C. Brewer 285/2
False ceiling, the space between the garret ceiling and the roof.
1874 J. T. Micklethwaite 213
The main pipes should..be in the false roof.
1937 81 63
The entrance hall from the living room, showing again the curved screen wall with its false ceiling.
†1. Fraud, falsehood, treachery. In early use esp. counterfeiting (of coin), forgery. Obs.
c1000 Ælfric xliv. 7
Hwi tihþ ure hlaford us swa micles falses?
a1016 vi. §32
Þæt an mynet gange ofer ealle þas þeode buton ælcon false.
1154 anno 1124
Hi hafden fordon eall þæt land mid here micele fals.
Crist forrwerrpeþþ falls & flærd.
Wiþ-outen faute oþ er faus.
Þu leies..and aȝte haue wand Wiþ fals þe hali gaste to fand.
Now art þou trewly hor traitour, & tainted for fals!
One who or that which is false.
†a. ellipt. for ‘false person’. Obs.
Ioseph..þat suikeful fals, þat fole lichour.
Alle false shul fare on þat wise.
Eneas..wold haue dungyn hym to deth, & deiret þe fals.
†b. What is false; falsehood. Obs. exc. as absol. use of the adj.
c1380 Wyclif III. 345
Men moten..take ofte fals as bileve.
a1592 R. Greene
v. sig. H4,
Such reports more false then trueth containe.
ii. iv. 170
My false, ore-weighs your true.
a1680 S. Butler
Science..Conveys, and counterchanges true and false.
1812 H. Davy 13
Truths..were blended with the false.
c. Something that is false; untruth; false appearance. Obs. exc. arch.
1598 T. Bastard i. xxv. 16
He..hath put a false upon thy face.
1786 J. Clowes tr. E. Swedenborg
His Understanding is full of Falses.
1884 Tennyson iii. iii. 146
Earth's falses are heaven's truths.
1637 T. Nabbes Microcosmus in IX. 122
Mar's fencing school, where I learn'd a mystery that consists in..thrusts, falses, doubles.
Of the adj.:
With agent-nouns forming ns.
1928 D. H. Lawrence 272
Her eyes especially were warm and naïve and false-innocent.
1938 R. Graves 187
Their false-innocence assaulting her, Breaching her hard heart.
† false writer n. Obs.
(a) one who writes incorrectly;
(b) a forger.
False wryter, plastographus.
1574 J. Baret F 100
A false writer..Mendosus scriptor.
With pa. pples., forming adjs. chiefly parasynthetic.
1654 R. Whitlock 450
For our Equalls, what they say or do..what is good, we make Casuall, or false Byassed.
1655 H. L'Estrange 25
You have..upon false-bottomed suggestions endeavoured to distain his [the king's]..honour.
i. x. 44
Let Courts and Cities be Made all of false-fac'd soothing.
a1959 E. Muir
But why was our old friend Everyman Among this false-faced company?
1649 F. Roberts
His confutation, of their false-grounded opinion.
1571 A. Golding tr. J. Calvin (lv. 21)
Ye falseharted folk bear in their mouth hony dipped in poison.
1685 R. Baxter Matt. xii. 39
A false-hearted People that will not be convinced by Miracles.
1847 R. W. Emerson 13
When love has once departed From the eyes of the false-hearted.
1571 A. Golding tr. J. Calvin (xli. 7)
To utter the falsehartednesse assoone as they come out of the doores.
1889 16 May
The..false heartedness of the temperance Republicans.
1892 24 Sept. 270
False-necked vases are represented in the tomb of Ramessu III.
1837 H. Martineau III. 94
The brand of contempt should be fixed upon any..false principled style of manners.
1563 J. Foxe 1355/2
The dark and falseuisured kingdom of Antichrist.
Of the adv.:
With pr. pples., forming adjs.
1597 Shakespeare i. iii. 245
False boading woman, end thy frantike curse.
1594 Shakespeare sig. L1,
Iealousie it selfe could not mistrust False creeping Craft.
false-glozing adj. (see )
1633 G. Herbert Dotage in i,
False glozing pleasures.
1686 R. South
II. ix. 347
A false glossing parasite would..call his fool-hardiness valour.
1682 T. Otway iv. 56
Thanks to thy tears and false perswading love.
1599 Shakespeare in Shakespeare et al.
I smiling, credite her false speaking toung.
1884 tr. H. Lotze 286
False-speaking is wrong in itself.
1730 J. Thomson Spring in 47
False-warbling in his cheated ear.
1605 J. Sylvester tr. G. de S. Du Bartas ii. i. 352
Theeuing, False-contracting, Church-chaffering [etc.].
1702 C. Mather i. ii. 7/2
This False-dealing proved a Safe-dealing for the good People against whom it was used.
With pa. pples., forming adjs.
1680 H. More 69
They shall not be false-fed..by deceitful Teachers.
a1558 Queen Mary I in J. Foxe
Sedition and false rumors haue bene nourished..by..Printyng of false fonde bokes.
1673 Milton On Death Fair Infant xi, in
Her false imagin'd loss cease to lament.
1608 Shakespeare iv. 228,
I should be false persuaded I had daughters.
1553 tr. E. Bonner in tr. S. Gardiner Pref. B v,
False pretended supremacie.
1530 Form Greater Excommun. in W. Maskell
All tho ben acursed..that use wytingly suche false purchased letters.
1569 J. Sanford tr. H. C. Agrippa 2 b,
A falsesworne Marchaunte.
1706 I. Watts
The cruel shade apply'd..a false tinctur'd glass.
1641 Milton 58
A false-whited, a lawnie resemblance of her.
a1754 T. Carte
Names false-written as Artherus for Arthurus.
1948 41 237
He ‘false-brooded’ by crouching in any convenient depression nearby.
1948 41 243
In the same way false-brooding occurs as a substitute activity when uncertainty arises within the bird's mental framework.
1817 S. T. Coleridge
Genius neither distorts nor false-colours its objects.
1948 41 12
She then inserts her bill into that of the male and symbolic ‘false-feeding’ follows in which food is not actually passed.
iv. xv. 19
The Queene..has false plaid my Glory Vnto an Enemies triumph.
1892 7 May 695/1
They kept on false pointing and backing..Ivybridge did little else but false point.
1949 42 7
On one or two occasions the false-preening by the male, mentioned by Makkink, was observed at this stage.
1961 D. Nethersole-Thompson in D. A. Bannerman X. 313
After oystercatchers have copulated, they may preen or ‘false preen’, feed rapidly or ‘false feed’, peck at the ground, curtsey.
a1618 J. Sylvester 22
Smiling Hope..False-promiseth long Peace and plenty too.
† false-back adj. Obs. ? treacherously retreating.
1633 P. Fletcher xi. xlviii. 157
The false-back Tartars fear with cunning feigne.
false-bedded adj. Geol. (see quots. , ).
1876 D. Page
Sandstones are said to be false-bedded when their strata are crossed obliquely by numerous laminæ.
1884 13 Nov. 32
The lower zone of false-bedded grits.
1876 H. B. Woodward
False-bedding..is a feature produced in shallow water by currents and tidal action, whereby beds are heaped up in irregular layers without any approach to horizontality or continuity.
1877 A. H. Green
iv. §1. 124
False-bedding e.g. Current-, Cross-, or Drift-Bedding.
† false-cup n. Obs. a kind of drinking cup.
1708 P. A. Motteux
v. xxxiv. 152
false ebony n. (see quots.).
1892 C. M. Yonge v. 96
The inside heart wood [of the laburnum] is so black as to be called false-ebony.
1911 XVI. 32/1
The heart wood of the laburnum is of a dark reddish-brown colour, hard and durable, and takes a good polish... The laburnum has been called false ebony from this character of its wood.
false greenheart n. a small myrtaceous tree, Calyptranthes Chytraculia.
† false-heart adj. Obs. = .
v. i. 141,
I am thy King, and thou a false-heart Traitor.
false hellebore n. any plant of the genus Veratrum (family Melanthaceae), esp. V. viride.
1859 A. Gray
1980 107 453
False hellebore Veratrum viride),..and rattlesnake plantain (Goodyera pubescens) were also noted.
false honeysuckle n. ‘the genus Azalea’ (W. Miller Dict. Eng. Plant-names).
1822 A. Eaton
False honey-suckle..leaves oval, entire, glaucous-pubescent beneath: flowers in terminal umbels.
1906 Mrs. L. A. McCoy in 57/2
There is also a beautiful azalea, or false honeysuckle, growing in the woods of the Cascade mountains.
2008 J. Watson xl. 369
Dylan had scythed scrub willows and invasive false honeysuckle from the banks.
false leg n. one of the fleshy legs which support the abdomen of some insects and which disappear in the perfect insect.
false mermaid n. a North American aquatic plant of the genus Floerkea (family Limnanthaceae); also false mermaid-weed.
1845–50 A. H. Lincoln App. v. 103/2
Flœrkia palustris (false mermaid).
1846–50 A. Wood 200
Flœrkea proserpinacoides... False Mermaid.
1866 J. Lindley & T. Moore II. 737/1
Mermaid-weed, false. Flörkea.
† false moth n. Obs. (tr. modern Latin pseudo-tinea Réaumur): an insect closely resembling the clothes-moth, but feeding on leaves.
false mustard n. Polanisia Graveolens (formerly Cleome dodecandria).
1845–50 A. H. Lincoln App. 144/1
Polanisia..graveolens, (false mustard..).
false muster n. Mil. the inclusion in a muster-roll of people who are not available for service; fraudulent presentation at a muster; an instance of this; freq. fig. in early use.
1653 Ld. Wariston & J. Guthrie 38
What interverting of Levies, what false Musters.
1665 T. Manley tr. H. Grotius 197
What with Death, and running away, and what with the Captains false Musters, they hardly arose to that Number.
1686 R. South
II. ix. 418
It is this Plague of the World, Deception, which takes wrong Measures, and makes false Musters almost in every Thing.
1728 E. Chambers
False Muster, is when such Men pass in Review, as are not actually listed as Soldiers.
1752 A. Murphy
i.116 No. 17
There are besides several Faggots, and False-musters, which the General thinks proper to connive at.
1790 J. Wesley
Still I complain of false musters.
1801 Duke of Wellington
Our friend, the Commissary, has been guilty of making false musters, as appears in the clearest manner.
1817 J. Mill II. iv. viii. 274
He excelled in deceiving the government with false musters and accounts.
1904 10 Sept. 339/3
Dismissed for dishonest greed—for suttling, false musters, or turning their ships into merchantmen.
1980 Dec. 172
The marine officers ‘corrupted’ the naval officers by ‘introducing’ them to the pernicious practices of mis-ratings and false musters.
false-nerved adj. Bot. having no vascular tissue.
1866 J. Lindley & T. Moore
False-nerved, when veins have no vascular tissue, but are formed of simple elongated cellular tissue; as in mosses, seaweeds, etc.
false nest n. (see quot.).
1954 D. A. Bannerman III. 354
This species [wren] builds ‘false’ nests in the vicinity of the nest which is eventually to hold the eggs..some naturalists considering that they are for the purpose of roosting in, but this is denied by others who consider they are merely the result of the male's craze for building.
a1529 J. Skelton 71
Ther was fals packing, or els I am begylde.
† false pellitory of Spain n. Obs. rare
(a) masterwort, Peucedanum ostruthium;
(b) (in quot. ) a plant of the family Compositae of uncertain identity, perhaps a species of Tanacetum.
1597 J. Gerard ii. 848
Imperatoria. Masterwoorts, or False Pellitory of Spaine.
1760 J. Lee App. 312
Pellitory of Spain, False, Chrysanthemum.
false pennyroyal n. name for two N. American labiates, Trichostemma dichotomum and Isanthus cœruleus.
false pile n. a pile () to which additional length is given after driving.
false pimpernel n.
(a) Chaffweed, Centunculus minimus;
(b) ‘an American name for Ilysanthes gratioloides’ ( Treasury Bot. 1866, Miller Plant-n. 1884).
† false play n. treacherous dealing (obs.).
1567 J. Maplet f. 84,
He is good in finding out false play or adulterie done.
false red-top n. any of several grasses, esp. of the genera Tridens and Poa.
1846–50 A. Wood 613
Tricuspis seslerioides. False Red-top.
1859 W. Darlington & G. Thurber 382
Poa serotina, Late Poa. Fowl Meadow-Grass. False Red-top.
false rein n. ‘a lath of leather, passed sometimes through the arch of the banquet to bend the horse's neck’ (Chambers Cycl. 1727–38).
1565–6 T. Blundeville x. 7
When to vse false Reanes, and when to leaue them.
false rhatany n. the astringent extract of the Seaside Grape, Coccoloba uvifera.
1839 XIII. 237/2
In the West Indies the juice of the Coccoloba uvifera is called..false rhatany extract.
1873 F. H. Hooker & J. D. Hooker tr. E. Le Maout & J. Decaisne 635.
P. H. Marsden..describes and illustrates by photographs the macro- and microscopic appearance of a false rhatany root, imported into Liverpool.
false rib n. a rib which is not connected directly to the sternum.
?a1425 tr. Guy de Chauliac
Þer ben twelue ribbes on eiþer side off þe bodie..ffyue fals ribbes and seuene verreie oþer trewe ribbes. Þe false ribbes be cleped mendose be cause þat þei be not hole.
1741 A. Monro
The Ribs are commonly divided into True and False.
false rocket n. U.S. a cruciferous perennial ( Iodanthus pinnatifida).
false twist n.
Textiles (see quot. ), also attrib.; whence false-twist v. intr. and false-twisting ppl. adj.
False twist, turns inserted in opposite directions and in equal numbers in adjacent elements of yarn..characterized by its temporary nature.
The false-twisting element, through which the yarn or sliver passes.
1965 31 Mar. 17/1
False-twist version of acetate yarn.
1965 31 Mar. 17/1
The idea of false-twisting acetate yarns.
† false-winged adj. Archit. Obs. =
c1720 N. Dubois & G. Leoni tr. A. Palladio IV. i. xii. 23
This Temple was..false-wing'd.
Draft additions December 2006
† false molar n. Obs.
[after French fausses molaires, plural (1817 or earlier)]
1827 E. Griffith tr. G. de Cuvier II. 25
This large molar above, and the corresponding one below , we shall call, with M. Frederic Cuvier, carnivorous teeth (carnassières), the anterior pointed teeth we shall call false molars, and the posterior blunt ones, tuberculous teeth.
1863 T. H. Huxley 98
The latter [sc. the permanent teeth] comprise four incisors, two canines, four small grinders, called premolars or false molars, and six..true molars.
Draft additions 1993
false arrest n. U.S. Law arrest contrary to law.
1882 ii. 222
Being the person actually accused, he could not, I think, complain of a false arrest.
1896 XXVI. 407/1
Thereupon a complaint and warrant was procured by Hudson for the false arrest and imprisonment of the Halls by Head.
1924 20 Nov. 15/1
The suit..for $35,000 damages, alleging false arrest and malicious prosecution, went to trial..yesterday.
1954 W. Faulkner 176
When his lawyers sue your bondsmen for false arrest, they can tell them to go chase themselves.
1985 16 Aug. ii. 3/1
Charging Bullock's with malicious prosecution, false imprisonment and false arrest.
Draft additions 1993
false move n. an imprudent or careless move or act, esp. one leading to disaster.
1870 ‘F. Fern’ 79
When some clerical big-gun is supposed to make a false move on the sacerdotal chequer-board.
1958 G. Greene v. v. 239
Wormold..made a false move which enabled Segura to thrust a protected piece into square 22.
1960 25 June 12/4
Remember also that one false move could cost Sally her life.
1989 B. Neal
The slightest false move would set it skittering over the rim and across the table.
Draft additions 1993
false economy n. (an) apparent saving that leads to greater expense in the long run.
1781 G. Morris in J. Sparks
I. xiv. 234
Greatly to curtail salaries is a false economy.
1847 C. Brontë I. xiii. 238
‘For economy's sake, [he] bought us bad needles and thread, with which we could hardly sew.’ ‘That was very false economy,’ remarked Mrs. Fairfax.
1933 37 880
The fact that a larger amount of money is required within the two years period has prevented contracts being secured. This is an example of false economy, which..is very prevalent to-day.
1955 W. Gaddis i. i. 4
The buttons..had originally been made, with all of false economy's ingenious drear deception, of coated cardboard.
1982 27 May 24/1
Communities have to review tax cuts to keep economy from turning into false economy—the inadequate schooling that undermines business, jobs, and citizenship.
Draft additions 1993
false modesty n. affected or pretended modesty concealing pride.
1710 Steele No. 168. ⁋4
There is no Way of mending such false Modesty.
1899 E. H. Miles xi. 69
The man should have no false modesty..about a certain amount of poaching.
1923 ‘R. Crompton’ ii. i. 108
Miss Gill..considered that half the evil in the world arose from ignorance and ‘false modesty’.
1956 N. Pevsner vi. 151
He knew what he was doing, and there is no false modesty in what he writes about his achievement.
1985 21 Nov. b3/5
‘I'm not going to let false modesty stand in the way,’ he told the foreign correspondents as he recited some of his accomplishments as Mayor.
Draft additions 1993
Assumed or ascribed in order to deceive, fictitious, as false age, false name, etc.
1842 W. T. Brande 995/2
Pseudepigraphy, the ascription of false names of authors to works.
1893 A. Conan Doyle Stockbroker's Clerk in
By some means..he succeeded in winning, under a false name, this official position in the office, which he utilized in order to obtain mouldings of various locks.
1929 R. A. Freeman iv. 139
Now, a common thief, he was sneaking in under a false name.
1958 A. Sillitoe i. v. 78
In fact he joined too young by giving a false age and at seventeen had been thrown into the last offensive over the Rhine.
1987 12 July (Colour Suppl.) 7
False names, private jets and secret addresses—the Royal Family are off on their hols again.
Draft additions September 2004
false consciousness n. (in later use esp. in Marxist theory) a belief or outlook that (supposedly) prevents a person from being able to discern the true nature of his or her (social or economic) situation.
1858 H. L. Mansel iv. 118
If man's dependence on God is not really destructive of his personal freedom, the religious consciousness, in denying that freedom, is a false consciousness.
1934 D. Torr tr. F. Engels in K. Marx & F. Engels 511
Ideology is a process accomplished by the so-called thinker consciously, indeed, but with a false consciousness [Ger. falschen Bewußtsein]. The real motives impelling him remain unknown to him, otherwise it would not be an ideological process at all.
1969 13 Jan. 7/6
They insist that those who differ from them are blinded by ‘false consciousness’.
2000 Z. Smith iv. 78
She reads, in a few short months, Greer's Female Eunuch, Jong's Fear of Flying and The Second Sex, all in a clandestine attempt, on Neena's part, to rid Clara of her ‘false consciousness’.
Draft additions December 2005
false mastic n. a tall tree of Florida, Mexico, the Caribbean, and Central America, Sideroxylon foetidissimum (family Sapotaceae), which yields a hard wood suitable for construction and furniture and bears yellow flowers with a cheesy smell; also called mastic, mastic-bully.
1944 Aug. 101/1
These are the characteristics of heartwood from the five species of trees to be described..: lysiloma, mahogany, fishpoison-tree, false-mastic, and lignumvitae.
1969 T. H. Everett xxx. 284/1
Good lumber for construction, boatbuilding, furniture and fence posts is produced by the jocuma or false mastic.
22 Mar. 14
In 1992 Hurricane Andrew wiped out many national champions in south Florida, but the report of the death of the biggest false-mastic was, as Mark Twain would say, greatly exaggerated.
Draft additions June 2013
false negative n. a test result that incorrectly appears to indicate the absence of a condition or characteristic which is actually present.
1972 Aug. 816/2
Failures in spotting potential offender—the false negatives— would be exposed.
1994 D. S. T. Nicholl xii. 228
A test such as this, where no positive result is obtained even though the individual is infected, is a false negative.
2003 13 May 120/2
Such results are called a ‘false negative’, meaning you really do have Lyme disease, even though the blood test is negative.
false positive n. a test result that incorrectly appears to indicate the presence of a condition or characteristic which is actually absent.
1912 42 56
His modification [of the reaction] is undoubtedly open to serious objection, in that it gives a rather discouraging number of false positives.
1961 5 Oct. 49/3
Of 182 cases..examined there were only two false positives, explained by errors in technique.
1990 May 21/2
The test gave an unacceptably high number of false positives: substances other than gunpowder that gave a positive reading included urine, tobacco,..fertilizer and colored fingernail polish.
2012 A. Brashares 129
I know you're pregnant. I had them run the test twice. False positives are extremely rare after four of five weeks.
Draft additions June 2015
false widow n. (more fully false widow spider) any of various spiders of the genus Steatoda (family Theridiidae), related to black widow spiders but much less dangerous to humans; esp. S. nobilis of Madeira and the Canary Islands (and naturalized in parts of Europe), the bite of which can be painful.
1942 Bull. Southern Calif. Acad. Sci. 41 17
The False Widow in its adult color is almost as black as the Black Widow.
1999 Evening Standard
4 June 20
The rotund black and brown spider, Steatoda noblis [sic] (one of the false widow spiders), introduced from the Canary Islands is now present in substantial colonies along the south coast of England.
2003 Daily Tel. 5 Feb. 5
Paul Hillyard, curator of spiders, said yesterday that it was a Steatoda Nobilis, also known as a false widow. ‘It closely resembles the black widow but its venom is more like a wasp sting.’
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This entry has not yet been fully updated (first published 1894).
In this entry:
- My entries(1)
- fallow-deer, n.15..
- fallowed, adj.1551
- fallowing, n.c1450
- fallowist, n.a1832
- fallowness, n.a1631
- fally, adj.1802
- falsage, n.a1400
- falsart, n.c1380
- falsary, n.1435
- false, adj., adv., a...c1000
- false, v.a1225
- false-card, v.1589
- falsedict, n.1579
- falsedom, n.1297
- falsehood, n.c1290
- falseleke, n.c1325
- falsely, adj.c1325
- falsely, adv.?c1225
- false memory, n.1876
- falsen, v.1888
- falseness, n.1303
- falser, n.1340
- falsery, n.1594
- falseship, n.c1230
- falsesome, adj.1533
- falset, n.11482
- falset, n.21707
- falsetto, n.1774
- falsework, n.1874
- falsidical, adj.1886
- falsies, n.1943
- falsifiability, n.1937
- falsifiable, adj.1611
- falsific, adj.1736
- falsification, n.1565
- falsificator, n.1609
- falsifier, n.1532
- falsify, n.?1635
- falsify, v.c1449
- falsiloquence, n.1710