I read the phrase employ for captivation in Jane Austen’s 1813 Regency novel, Pride and Prejudice:

“Undoubtedly,” replied Darcy, to whom this remark was chiefly addressed, “there is a meanness in all the arts which ladies sometimes condescend to employ for captivation. Whatever bears affinity to cunning is despicable.”

But I don’t understand what it means. Does it mean to try to captivate someone?

  • 1
    Just FYI, there's a lot of innuendo in Austen's romance novels. Sometimes, the meanings are twofold. – KannE Jul 4 '19 at 15:20
  • Please edit your post to tell us what exactly the dictionary you consulted told you that condescend to and employ for and perhaps most especially captivation all meant which you found to be so unclear or confusing that would like further clarification about from us here? We need to see what you found when you looked these up — and what about those results proved unsatisfying — so that we can further explain for you. – tchrist Jul 4 '19 at 15:45

It would be easier to answer if you quote a full sentence. I'm guessing that the phrase is something like “those devices that young ladies employ for captivation”, meaning – yes – tricks whose purpose is to captivate the attention of their targets.

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