I was researching the etymology of caster (n. 2), which contends that 'cast' had 'the old sense of "turn."' Then I researched cast (v.) and read that it originally signified

"to throw, throw violently, fling, hurl," from a Scandinavian source akin to Old Norse kasta "to throw" (cognate with Swedish kasta, Danish kaste, North Frisian kastin), of uncertain origin.

What semantic notions underlie 'throw, fling, hurl' with 'turn'? cast (n.) mentions it:

A cast in the eye "slight squint" (early 14c.) preserves the older verbal sense of "warp, turn," via the notion of "permanent motion or turn."


3 Answers 3


The second citation the OED gives for cast meaning turn (1545) is

My good bowe clene cast on the one side.

Where cast seems to mean here throw, but not straight.

The first citation the OED gives for this is poetry (1475),

By strete or way yf þou schalle go,
Fro þes two þynges þou kepe þe fro,
Noþer to harme chylde ne best,
With castyng, turnyng west ne est;

The meaning is quite obscure; in his notes on the poem one commentator, Fernival, suggests it refers to giving somebody the evil eye. This might be related to the cast of an eye, meaning "slight squint," that started your investigation, and seems related to the sense of throw, but not straight.

  • On 2nd example, OED is relying or copying verbatim from Fernival's 1868 trans. and close read notes he makes on "THE BOKE OF CURTASYE" (c.1475) in "The Babees Book" Oxford. Courtesy and behavior advice to children in the service or presence of a lord. These lines, line 335-336 (BOOKE ONEI) end one stanza, starts a next. Best is, a reader do their own close read & apply lines to separate stanzas for meaning vs.copying Fernival. BOOK ONE of this work, line 25-26: If Sitthen to þo left honde þy neghe þou cast; To hom þou boghe withouten wrast; Meaning is quite clear in context.
    – Steve B053
    Feb 25, 2019 at 3:55
  • @SteveB053: I added lines 333-334. But I don't see how there could be a break after best. Feb 25, 2019 at 11:46
  • Fernival is an excellent fellow. In all his expounds on poetry, he provides a universe of information. The history: written to aristocratic children of kings/nobles. The where & why of the day. Excellent. only his close read notes, but little on stanza, meter, this ABAB, then rhyme shift fm iambic pentameter delightfully 7 syllable stress to 8, then 9. The originator is genius. Line 333: attached to the stanza above in original work (1475). 334 is part of next stanza. 1st instance in line 25 of cast is passive v. while line 335, is active. Look beyond Fernival's question in his notes.
    – Steve B053
    Feb 25, 2019 at 12:09
  • Do you have a reference for this stanza division? It seems completely wrong to me. Feb 25, 2019 at 12:22
  • Do you have access to folio 12?
    – Steve B053
    Feb 25, 2019 at 12:35

//Below definitions taken directly from Coleridge, H. (1862) See "ref"//

Throw, sb. == a space of time. RG. 261; hence ‘a turn.’ O. and N. 260. AS. þrag

Fling, v. n. == rush hastily. Alys. 1165; pret. ‘fleng.’ Ib. 6084. Sw. flänga

—— adv. ? == rashly. Alys. 4602

Cast, v. a. RG. 511, 375

Hurl, v. a. pret. ‘harlede.’ RG. 487, 537

Turn, v. n. == return; ‘turnde again.’ RG. 387. 53 B.

—— with ‘to’ == become; ‘turn to ill.’ RG. 375

—— == turn against a person. RG. 367

—— v. a. == turn one’s back on a person. RG. 525; part. ‘yturned.’ RG. 28

—— == convert. St Swithin, 10


Coleridge, H. "A Dictionary of the First, or Oldest Words in the English Language: From the Semi-Saxon Period of A.D. 1250 to 1300..." - Secretary to the Philological Society (1862.) John Childs and Son, Printers. London (Book) Avail on web at Project Gutenberg http://www.gutenberg.org/files/41975/41975-h/41975-h.htm

//List of abbreviations used in terms and full identification of primary source or work where words were gleaned is included in the work at link provided.//

Coleridge's (Ref) "PREFACE"

"The present publication may be considered as the foundation-stone of the Historical and Literary portion of the Philological Society’s proposed English Dictionary. Its appearance in a separate form has been necessitated by the nature of the scheme, on which that work is being constructed. Without entering into details, which will be found in the Society’s published Prospectus,[1] it will be sufficient for the present purpose to mention, that the raw material of the Dictionary, the words and authorities, are being brought together by a number of independent collectors, for whom it is consequently necessary to provide some common standard of comparison, whereby each may ascertain what he is to extract, and what to reject, from the author, or work, he has undertaken. This standard for works of earlier date than 1526 is furnished by the following pages, which contain an alphabetical inventory of every word found in the printed English literature of the 13th century. As, however, a mere index verborum would but inadequately fulfil its object, a certain amount of explanatory and etymological matter has been added, which it is hoped may render the work more generally interesting and useful than could otherwise have been the case. It is only proper to add that English literature, as distinguished from Semi-Saxon, is assumed to commence about the middle of the 13th century."

  • How does the addendum/ or last paragraph answer the question? Words that are not your own should be placed in block quotes.
    – Mari-Lou A
    Feb 25, 2019 at 0:25
  • Again, I live in Japan. A Japanese keyboard same symbology on key, but mapped to export different things. . Keystrokes I enter do not correspond to editor on this page. It is absolutely frustrating, like pressing the button for the milk can, and out comes ginger ale. I read the original post. I read all the additional poster's comments. The etymology of poster's original question was examined by Coleridge. I find this dictionary crucial. Sharing.
    – Steve B053
    Feb 25, 2019 at 0:30
  • 1
    What does the dictionary preface, which seems you quote in full, have to do with answering the actual question? No one is questioning your choice of source nor its legitimacy.
    – Mari-Lou A
    Feb 25, 2019 at 0:34
  • This is not rocket science. Take the term "cast" - the abbreviation for "RG" listed in the definition cites abbrev. for Robert of Glouster (1260 – 1300), a well known historian (British/Norman & English) of his day and known/respected today. His use of this word comes from using "cast" in his literary works as edited by Thomas Hearne (1678-1735) also a well respected antiquarian and known today. "RG" used Cast as turn on both pg. 511 & 375 or Hearne's (1810) work published by Oxford. This is not rocket science.
    – Steve B053
    Feb 25, 2019 at 0:50
  • Here's an answer to the poster's question, based on the reference (which poster may or may not know exists. From his/her question, appears they may not know either Coleridge, H or of this work. "Cast" was used as "turn" by Robert of Gloucester (1260 – 1300) on two occasions, as documented by the well respected antiquarian, Thomas Hearne (1678-1735) in his work, "Robert of Gloucester's Chronicle" (1810), published by Oxford & avail in book. (Pg. 311,575) The preface introduces to the poster like an abstract to the original work to check ref. further at link provided.
    – Steve B053
    Feb 25, 2019 at 1:13


When I first noticed this post earlier this month, I printed it off and put it on the refrigerator for 3 days. I pondered quite extensively without making even any verbal comment.

I thought, the poster has either started to spend quite a number of hours pouring over Old English, Middle, to Medieval texts. Later, Modern era text. and has stumbled on a conundrum. Simply asking a question about the word cast they've seen in one or a number of texts, how it obviously is used compared with its etymologic traced used annotated by Oxford and found instance where it just doesn't fit.


The person who made this post is very, very smart. The person that can call out the fly on the wall, or the elephant in the room without slight or infringement is quite a gentlemen.

For 3 days I pondered before providing answer to an elephant in the room.

If someone were to ask me, "Do you use Oxford when initiating etymology search of definition for English words found in manuscript or text? Yes, I do.

"Then, do you use it as a definitive source & use it to expound definition?" No, I do not.

"Well, why not?" Because it's the elephant in the room. Even with a pittance of one word, cast, to providing five words that all share the same conundrum this poster expounds in question, Oxford remains and elephant in the room. Even with example where it's obvious the meaning [examples all given] Oxford won't look further and stays an unreliable elephant in the room.

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