In the script for Stanley Kubrick's film Barry Lyndon, which is set in Europe in the late 1700s, there's a use of the word "mark" that I didn't understand.

Well, if it must be, it must.  For a
young fellow, you are the most
bloodthirsty I ever saw.  No
officer, bearing His Majesty's
commission, can receive a glass of
wine on his nose, without resenting
it -- fight you must, and Best is a
huge, strong fellow.

He'll give the better mark.  I am
not afraid of him.

How is the word mark being used above? Is this an archaic use from the 1700s?

  • Best is a huge man, he'll give the better mark: he'll make an easier target.
    – Bread
    May 7, 2018 at 0:59
  • 1
    @Bread: Oh, of course. I can't believe I didn't get that. Thanks.
    – Random
    May 7, 2018 at 1:01
  • 2
    "and is it I That drive thee from the sportive court, where thou Wast shot at with fair eyes, to be the mark Of smoky muskets?" Shakespeare.
    – Nigel J
    May 7, 2018 at 1:06

1 Answer 1


mark TFD

importance; prominence; a target

As in:

"A fellow of no mark nor likelihood" (Shakespeare).
"A mounted officer would be a conspicuous mark" (Ambrose Bierce).


Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge that you have read and understand our privacy policy and code of conduct.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.