A Collection of College Words and Customs
Benjamin Homer Hall
Part 10 out of 12
SENATE. In the University of Cambridge, England, the legislative
body of the University. It is divided into two houses, called
REGENT and NON-REGENT. The former consists of the vice-chancellor,
proctors, taxors, moderators, and esquire-beadles, all masters of
arts of less than five years' standing, and all doctors of
divinity, civil law, and physic, of less than two, and is called
the UPPER HOUSE, or WHITE-HOOD HOUSE, from its members wearing
hoods lined with white silk. The latter is composed of masters of
arts of five years' standing, bachelors of divinity, and doctors
in the three faculties of two years' standing, and is known as the
LOWER HOUSE, or BLACK-HOOD HOUSE, its members wearing black silk
hoods. To have a vote in the Senate, the graduate must keep his
name on the books of some college (which involves a small annual
payment), or in the list of the _commorantes in villa_.--_Webster.
Cam. Cal. Lit. World_, Vol. XII. p. 283.
2. At Union College, the members of the Senior Class form what is
called the Senate, a body organized after the manner of the Senate
of the United States, for the purpose of becoming acquainted with
the forms and practice of legislation. The members of the Junior
Class compose the House of Representatives. The following account,
showing in what manner the Senate is conducted, has been furnished
by a member of Union College.
"On the last Friday of the third term, the House of
Representatives meet in their hall, and await their initiation to
the Upper House. There soon appears a committee of three, who
inform them by their chairman of the readiness of the Senate to
receive them, and perhaps enlarge upon the importance of the
coming trust, and the ability of the House to fill it.
"When this has been done, the House, headed by the committee,
proceed to the Senate Chamber (Senior Chapel), and are arranged by
the committee around the President, the Senators (Seniors)
meanwhile having taken the second floor. The President of the
Senate then rises and delivers an appropriate address, informing
them of their new dignities and the grave responsibilities of
their station. At the conclusion of this they take their seats,
and proceed to the election of officers, viz. a President, a
Vice-President, Secretary, and Treasurer. The President must be a
member of the Faculty, and is chosen for a term; the other
officers are selected from the House, and continue in office but
half a term. The first Vice-Presidency of the Senate is considered
one of the highest honors conferred by the class, and great is the
strife to obtain it.
"The Senate meet again on the second Friday of the next term, when
they receive the inaugural message of the President. He then
divides them into seven districts, each district including the
students residing in a Section, or Hall of College, except the
seventh, which is filled by the students lodging in town. The
Senate is also divided into a number of standing committees, as
Law, Ethics, Political Economy. Business is referred to these
committees, and reported on by them in the usual manner. The time
of the Senate is principally occupied with the discussion of
resolutions, in committee of the whole; and these discussions take
the place of the usual Friday afternoon recitation. At
Commencement the Senate have an orator of their own election, who
must, however, have been a past or honorary member of their body.
They also have a committee on the 'Commencement Card.'"
On the same subject, another correspondent writes as follows:--
"The Senate is composed of the Senior Class, and is intended as a
school of parliamentary usages. The officers are a President,
Vice-President, and Secretary, who are chosen once a term. At the
close of the second term, the Junior Class are admitted into the
Senate. They are introduced by a committee of Senators, and are
expected to remain standing and uncovered during the ceremony, the
President and Senators being seated and covered. After a short
address by the President, the old Senators leave the house, and
the Juniors proceed to elect their officers for the third term.
Dr. Thomas C. Reed who was the founder of the Senate, was always
elected President during his connection with the College, but
rarely took his place in the chamber except at the introduction of
the Juniors. The Vice-President for the third term, who takes a
part in the ceremonies of commencement, is considered to hold the
highest honor of the class, and his election is attended with more
excitement than any other in the College."
See COMMENCEMENT CARD; HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES.
SENATE-HOUSE. At the University of Cambridge, Eng., the building
in which the public business of the University, such as
examinations, the passing of graces, and admission to degrees, is
carried on.--_Cam. Guide_.
SENATUS ACADEMICUS. At Trinity College, Hartford, the _Senatus
Academicus_ consists of two houses, known as the CORPORATION and
the HOUSE OF CONVOCATION, q.v.--_Calendar Trin. Coll._, 1850, p.
SENE. An abbreviation for Senior.
Magnificent Juns, and lazy _Senes_.
_Yale Banger_, Nov. 10, 1846.
A rare young blade is the gallant _Sene_.
_Ibid._, Nov. 1850.
SENIOR. One in the fourth year of his collegiate course at an
American college; originally called _Senior Sophister_. Also one
in the third year of his course at a theological
SENIOR. Noting the fourth year of the collegiate course in
American colleges, or the third year in theological
SENIOR BACHELOR. One who is in his third year after taking the
degree of Bachelor of Arts. It is further explained by President
Woolsey, in his Historical Discourse: "Bachelors were called
Senior, Middle, or Junior Bachelors, according to the year since
graduation and before taking the degree of Master."--p. 122.
SENIOR CLASSIC. At the University of Cambridge, Eng., the student
who passes best in the voluntary examination in classics, which
follows the last required examination in the Senate-House.
No one stands a chance for _Senior Classic_ alongside of
him.--_Bristed's Five Years in an Eng. Univ._, Ed. 2d, p. 55.
Two men who had been rivals all the way through school and through
college were racing for _Senior Classic_.--_Ibid._, p. 253.
SENIOR FELLOW. At Trinity College, Hartford, the Senior Fellow is
a person chosen to attend the college examinations during the
SENIOR FRESHMAN. The name of the second of the four classes into
which undergraduates are divided at Trinity College, Dublin.
SENIORITY. In the University of Cambridge, Eng., the eight Senior
Fellows and the Master of a college compose what is called the
_Seniority_. Their decisions in all matters are generally
My duty now obliges me, however reluctantly, to bring you before
the _Seniority_.--_Alma Mater_, Vol. I. p. 75.
SENIOR OPTIME. Those who occupy the second rank in honors at the
close of the final examination at the University of Cambridge,
Eng., are denominated _Senior Optimes_.
The Second Class, or that of _Senior Optimes_, is larger in number
[than that of the Wranglers], usually exceeding forty, and
sometimes reaching above sixty. This class contains a number of
disappointments, many who expect to be Wranglers, and some who are
generally expected to be.--_Bristed's Five Years in an Eng.
Univ._, Ed. 2d, p. 228.
The word is frequently abbreviated.
The Pembroker ... had the pleasant prospect of getting up all his
mathematics for a place among the _Senior Ops._--_Ibid._, p. 158.
He would get just questions enough to make him a low _Senior Op._
--_Ibid._, p. 222.
SENIOR ORATION. "The custom of delivering _Senior Orations_," says
a correspondent, "is, I think, confined to Washington and
Jefferson Colleges in Pennsylvania. Each member of the Senior
Class, taking them in alphabetical order, is required to deliver
an oration before graduating, and on such nights as the Faculty
may decide. The public are invited to attend, and the speaking is
continued at appointed times, until each member of the Class has
SENIOR SOPHISTER. At the University of Cambridge, Eng., a student
in the third year of his residence is called a Senior Soph or
2. In some American colleges, a member of the Senior Class, i.e.
of the fourth year, was formerly designated a Senior Sophister.
SENIOR WRANGLER. In the University of Cambridge, Eng., the Senior
Wrangler is the student who passes the best examination in the
Senate-House, and by consequence holds the first place on the
The only road to classical honors and their accompanying
emoluments in the University, and virtually in all the Colleges,
except Trinity, is through mathematical honors, all candidates for
the Classical Tripos being obliged as a preliminary to obtain a
place in that mathematical list which is headed by the _Senior
Wrangler_ and tailed by the Wooden Spoon.--_Bristed's Five Years
in an Eng. Univ._, Ed. 2d, p. 34.
SEQUESTER. To cause to retire or withdraw into obscurity. In the
following passage it is used in the collegiate sense of _suspend_
Though they were adulti, they were corrected in the College, and
_sequestered_, &c. for a time.--_Winthrop's Journal, by Savage_,
Vol. II. p. 88.
SERVITOR. In the University of Oxford, an undergraduate who is
partly supported by the college funds. _Servitors_ formerly waited
at table, but this is now dispensed with. The order similar to
that of the _servitor_ was at Cambridge styled the order of
_Sub-sizars_. This has been long extinct. The _sizar_ at Cambridge
is at present nearly equivalent to the Oxford _servitor_.--_Gent.
Mag._, 1787, p. 1146. _Brande_.
"It ought to be known," observes De Quincey, "that the class of
'_servitors_,' once a large body in Oxford, have gradually become
practically extinct under the growing liberality of the age. They
carried in their academic dress a mark of their inferiority; they
waited at dinner on those of higher rank, and performed other
menial services, humiliating to themselves, and latterly felt as
no less humiliating to the general name and interests of
learning."--_Life and Manners_, p. 272.
A reference to the cruel custom of "hunting the servitor" is to be
found in Sir John Hawkins's Life of Dr. Johnson, p. 12.
SESSION. At some of the Southern and Western colleges of the
United States, the time during which instruction is regularly
given to the students; a term.
The _session_ commences on the 1st of October, and continues
without interruption until the 29th of June.--_Cat. of Univ. of
Virginia_, 1851, p. 15.
SEVENTY-EIGHTH PSALM. The recollections which cluster around this
Psalm, so well known to all the Alumni of Harvard, are of the most
pleasant nature. For more than a hundred years, it has been sung
at the dinner given on Commencement day at Cambridge, and for more
than a half-century to the tune of St. Martin's. Mr. Samuel
Shapleigh, who graduated at Harvard College in the year 1789, and
who was afterwards its Librarian, on the leaf of a hymn-book makes
a memorandum in reference to this Psalm, to the effect that it has
been sung at Cambridge on Commencement day "from _time
immemorial_." The late Rev. Dr. John Pierce, a graduate of the
class of 1793, referring to the same subject, remarks: "The
Seventy-eighth Psalm, it is supposed, has, _from the foundation of
the College_, been sung in the common version of the day." In a
poem, entitled Education, delivered at Cambridge before the Phi
Beta Kappa Society, by Mr. William Biglow, July 18th, 1799,
speaking of the conduct and manners of the students, the author
"Like pigs they eat, they drink an ocean dry,
They steal like France, like Jacobins they lie,
They raise the very Devil, when called to prayers,
'To sons transmit the same, and they again to theirs'";
and, in explanation of the last line, adds this note: "Alluding to
the Psalm which is _always_ sung in Harvard Hall on Commencement
day." In his account of some of the exercises attendant upon the
Commencement at Harvard College in 1848, Professor Sidney Willard
observes: "At the Commencement dinner the sitting is not of long
duration; and we retired from table soon after the singing of the
Psalm, which, with some variation in the version, has been sung on
the same occasion from time immemorial."--_Memoirs of Youth and
Manhood_, Vol. II. p. 65.
But that we cannot take these accounts as correct in their full
extent, appears from an entry in the MS. Diary of Chief Justice
Sewall relating to a Commencement in 1685, which he closes with
these words: "After Dinner ye 3d part of ye 103d Ps. was sung in
In the year 1793, at the dinner on Commencement Day, the Rev.
Joseph Willard, then President of the College, requested Mr.
afterwards Dr. John Pierce, to set the tune to the Psalm; with
which request having complied to the satisfaction of all present,
he from that period until the time of his death, in 1849,
performed this service, being absent only on one occasion. Those
who have attended Commencement dinners during the latter part of
this period cannot but associate with this hallowed Psalm the
venerable appearance and the benevolent countenance of this
In presenting a list of the different versions in which this Psalm
has been sung, it must not be supposed that entire correctness has
been reached; the very scanty accounts which remain render this
almost impossible, but from these, which on a question of greater
importance might be considered hardly sufficient, it would appear
that the following are the versions in which the sons of Harvard
have been accustomed to sing the Psalm of the son of Jesse.
1.--_The New England Version_.
"In 1639 there was an agreement amo. ye Magistrates and Ministers
to set aside ye Psalms then printed at ye end of their Bibles, and
sing one more congenial to their ideas of religion." Rev. Mr.
Richard Mather of Dorchester, and Rev. Mr. Thomas Weld and Rev.
Mr. John Eliot of Roxbury, were selected to make a metrical
translation, to whom the Rev. Thomas Shepard of Cambridge gives
the following metrical caution:--
"Ye Roxbury poets, keep clear of ye crime
Of missing to give us very good rhyme,
And you of Dorchester, your verses lengthen,
But with the texts own words you will y'm strengthen."
The version of this ministerial trio was printed in the year 1640,
at Cambridge, and has the honor of being the first production of
the North American press that rises to the dignity of _a book_. It
was entitled, "The Psalms newly turned into Metre." A second
edition was printed in 1647. "It was more to be commended,
however," says Mr. Peirce, in his History of Harvard University,
"for its fidelity to the text, than for the elegance of its
versification, which, having been executed by persons of different
tastes and talents, was not only very uncouth, but deficient in
uniformity. President Dunster, who was an excellent Oriental
scholar, and possessed the other requisite qualifications for the
task, was employed to revise and polish it; and in two or three
years, with the assistance of Mr. Richard Lyon, a young gentleman
who was sent from England by Sir Henry Mildmay to attend his son,
then a student in Harvard College, he produced a work, which,
under the appellation of the 'Bay Psalm-Book,' was, for a long
time, the received version in the New England congregations, was
also used in many societies in England and Scotland, and passed
through a great number of editions, both at home and abroad."--p.
The Seventy-eighth Psalm is thus rendered in the first edition:--
Give listning eare unto my law,
Yee people that are mine,
Unto the sayings of my mouth
Doe yee your eare incline.
My mouth I'le ope in parables,
I'le speak hid things of old:
Which we have heard, and knowne: and which
Our fathers have us told.
Them from their children wee'l not hide,
To th' after age shewing
The Lords prayses; his strength, and works
Of his wondrous doing.
In Jacob he a witnesse set,
And put in Israell
A law, which he our fathers charg'd
They should their children tell:
That th' age to come, and children which
Are to be borne might know;
That they might rise up and the same
Unto their children show.
That they upon the mighty God
Their confidence might set:
And Gods works and his commandment
Might keep and not forget,
And might not like their fathers be,
A stiffe, stout race; a race
That set not right their hearts: nor firme
With God their spirit was.
The Bay Psalm-Book underwent many changes in the various editions
through which it passed, nor was this psalm left untouched, as
will be seen by referring to the twenty-sixth edition, published
in 1744, and to the edition of 1758, revised and corrected, with
additions, by Mr. Thomas Prince.
The Psalms and Hymns of Dr. Isaac Watts were first published in
this country by Dr. Franklin, in the year 1741. His version is as
Let children hear the mighty deeds
Which God performed of old;
Which in our younger years we saw,
And which our fathers told.
He bids us make his glories known,
His works of power and grace,
And we'll convey his wonders down
Through every rising race.
Our lips shall tell them to our sons,
And they again to theirs,
That generations yet unborn
May teach them to their heirs.
Thus shall they learn in God alone
Their hope securely stands,
That they may ne'er forget his works,
But practise his commands;
3.--_Brady and Tate's Version_.
In the year 1803, the Seventy-eighth Psalm was first printed on a
small sheet and placed under every plate, which practice has since
been always adopted. The version of that year was from Brady and
Tate's collection, first published in London in 1698, and in this
country about the year 1739. It was sung to the tune of St.
Martin's in 1805, as appears from a memorandum in ink on the back
of one of the sheets for that year, which reads, "Sung in the
hall, Commencement Day, tune St. Martin's, 1805." From the
statements of graduates of the last century, it seems that this
had been the customary tune for some time previous to this year,
and it is still retained as a precious legacy of the past. St.
Martin's was composed by William Tans'ur in the year 1735. The
following is the version of Brady and Tate:--
Hear, O my people; to my law
Devout attention lend;
Let the instruction of my mouth
Deep in your hearts descend.
My tongue, by inspiration taught,
Shall parables unfold,
Dark oracles, but understood,
And owned for truths of old;
Which we from sacred registers
Of ancient times have known,
And our forefathers' pious care
To us has handed down.
We will not hide them from our sons;
Our offspring shall be taught
The praises of the Lord, whose strength
Has works of wonders wrought.
For Jacob he this law ordained,
This league with Israel made;
With charge, to be from age to age,
From race to race, conveyed,
That generations yet to come
Should to their unborn heirs
Religiously transmit the same,
And they again to theirs.
To teach them that in God alone
Their hope securely stands;
That they should ne'er his works forget,
But keep his just commands.
4.--_From Belknap's Collection_.
This collection was first published by the Rev. Dr. Jeremy
Belknap, at Boston, in 1795. The version of the Seventy-eighth
Psalm is partly from that of Brady and Tate, and partly from Dr.
Watts's, with a few slight variations. It succeeded the version of
Brady and Tate about the year 1820, and is the one which is now
used. The first three stanzas were written by Brady and Tate; the
last three by Dr. Watts. It has of late been customary to omit the
last stanza in singing and in printing.
Give ear, ye children; to my law
Devout attention lend;
Let the instructions of my mouth
Deep in your hearts descend.
My tongue, by inspiration taught,
Shall parables unfold;
Dark oracles, but understood,
And owned for truths of old;
Which we from sacred registers
Of ancient times have known,
And our forefathers' pious care
To us has handed down.
Let children learn the mighty deeds
Which God performed of old;
Which, in our younger years we saw,
And which our fathers told.
Our lips shall tell them to our sons,
And they again to theirs;
That generations yet unborn
May teach them to their heirs.
Thus shall they learn in God alone
Their hope securely stands;
That they may ne'er forget his works,
But practise his commands.
It has been supposed by some that the version of the
Seventy-eighth Psalm by Sternhold and Hopkins, whose spiritual
songs were usually printed, as appears above, "at ye end of their
Bibles," was the first which was sung at Commencement dinners; but
this does not seem at all probable, since the first Commencement
at Cambridge did not take place until 1642, at which time the "Bay
Psalm-Book," written by three of the most popular ministers of the
day, had already been published two years.
SHADY. Among students at the University of Cambridge, Eng., an
epithet of depreciation, equivalent to MILD and SLOW.--_Bristed_.
Some ... are rather _shady_ in Greek and Latin.--_Bristed's Five
Years in an Eng. Univ._, Ed. 2d, p. 147.
My performances on the Latin verse paper were very
_shady_.--_Ibid._, p. 191.
SHARK. In student language, an absence from a recitation, a
lecture, or from prayers, prompted by recklessness rather than by
necessity, is called a _shark_. He who is absent under these
circumstances is also known as a shark.
The Monitors' task is now quite done,
They 've pencilled all their marks,
"Othello's occupation's gone,"--
No more look out for _sharks_.
_Songs of Yale_, 1853, p. 45.
SHEEPSKIN. The parchment diploma received by students on taking
their degree at college. "In the back settlements are many
clergymen who have not had the advantages of a liberal education,
and who consequently have no diplomas. Some of these look upon
their more favored brethren with a little envy. A clergyman is
said to have a _sheepskin_, or to be a _sheepskin_, when educated
at college."--_Bartlett's Dict. of Americanisms_.
This apostle of ourn never rubbed his back agin a college, nor
toted about no _sheepskins_,--no, never!... How you'd a perished
in your sins, if the first preachers had stayed till they got
_sheepskins_.--_Carlton's New Purchase_.
I can say as well as the best on them _sheepskins_, if you don't
get religion and be saved, you'll be lost, teetotally and for
ever.--(_Sermon of an Itinerant Preacher at a Camp
As for John Prescot, he not only lost the valedictory, but barely
escaped with his "_sheepskin_."--_Yale Lit. Mag._, Vol. X. p. 74.
That handsome Senior ... receives his _sheepskin_ from the
dispensing hand of our worthy Prex.--_Ibid._, Vol. XIX. p. 355.
When first I saw a "_Sheepskin_,"
In Prex's hand I spied it.
_Yale Coll. Song_.
We came to college fresh and green,--
We go back home with a huge _sheepskin_.
_Songs of Yale_, 1853, p. 43.
SHIN. To tease or hector a person by kicking his shins. In some
colleges this is one of the means which the Sophomores adopt to
torment the Freshmen, especially when playing at football, or
other similar games.
We have been _shinned_, smoked, ducked, and accelerated by the
encouraging shouts of our generous friends.--_Yale Banger_, Nov.
SHINE. At Harvard College this word was formerly used to designate
a good recitation. Used in the phrase, "_to make a shine_."
SHINNY. At Princeton College, the game of _Shinny_, known also by
the names of _Hawky_ and _Hurly_, is as great a favorite with the
students as is football at other colleges. "The players," says a
correspondent, "are each furnished with a stick four or five feet
in length and one and a half or two inches in diameter, curved at
one end, the object of which is to give the ball a surer blow. The
ball is about three inches in diameter, bound with thick leather.
The players are divided into two parties, arranged along from one
goal to the other. The ball is then '_bucked_' by two players, one
from each side, which is done by one of these two taking the ball
and asking his opponent which he will have, 'high or low'; if he
says 'high,' the ball is thrown up midway between them; if he says
'low,' the ball is thrown on the ground. The game is opened by a
scuffle between these two for the ball. The other players then
join in, one party knocking towards North College, which is one
'home' (as it is termed), and the other towards the fence bounding
the south side of the _Campus_, the other home. Whichever party
first gets the ball home wins the game. A grand contest takes
place annually between the Juniors and Sophomores, in this game."
SHIP. Among collegians, one expelled from college is said to be
For I, you know, am but a college minion,
But still, you'll all be _shipped_, in my opinion,
When brought before Conventus Facultatis.
_Yale Tomahawk_, May, 1852.
He may be overhauled, warned, admonished, dismissed, _shipped_,
rusticated, sent off, suspended.--_Burlesque Catalogue_, _Yale
Coll._, 1852-53, p. 25.
SHIPWRECK. Among students, a total failure.
His university course has been a _shipwreck_, and he will probably
end by going out unnoticed among the [Greek:
_polloi_].--_Bristed's Five Years in an Eng. Univ._, Ed. 2d, p.
SHORT-EAR. At Jefferson College, Penn., a soubriquet for a
roistering, noisy fellow; a rowdy. Opposed to _long-ear_.
SHORT TERM. At Oxford, Eng., the extreme duration of residence in
any college is under thirty weeks. "It is possible to keep '_short
terms_,' as the phrase is, by residence of thirteen weeks, or
ninety-one days."--_De Quincey's Life and Manners_, p. 274.
SIDE. In the University of Cambridge, Eng., the set of pupils
belonging to any one particular tutor is called his _side_.
A longer discourse he will perhaps have to listen to with the rest
of his _side_.--_Westminster Rev._, Am. ed., Vol. XXXV. p. 281.
A large college has usually two tutors,--Trinity has three,--and
the students are equally divided among them,--_on their sides_ the
phrase is.--_Bristed's Five Years in an Eng. Univ._, Ed. 2d, p.
SILVER CUP. At Trinity College, Hartford, this is a testimonial
voted by each graduating class to the first legitimate boy whose
father is a member of the class.
At Yale College, a theory of this kind prevails, but it has never
yet been carried into practice.
I tell you what, my classmates,
My mind it is made up,
I'm coming back three years from this,
To take that _silver cup_.
I'll bring along the "requisite,"
A little white-haired lad,
With "bib" and fixings all complete,
And I shall be his "dad."
_Presentation Day Songs_, June 14, 1854.
See CLASS CUP.
SIM. Abbreviated from _Simeonite_. A nickname given by the rowing
men at the University of Cambridge, Eng., to evangelicals, and to
all religious men, or even quiet men generally.
While passing for a terribly hard reading man, and a "_Sim_" of
the straitest kind with the "empty bottles,"... I was fast lapsing
into a state of literary sensualism.--_Bristed's Five Years in an
Eng. Univ._, Ed. 2d, pp. 39, 40.
SIR. It was formerly the fashion in the older American colleges to
call a Bachelor of Arts, Sir; this was sometimes done at the time
when the Seniors were accepted for that degree.
Voted, Sept. 5th, 1763, "that _Sir_ Sewall, B.A., be the
Instructor in the Hebrew and other learned languages for three
years."--_Peirce's Hist. Harv. Univ._, p. 234.
December, 1790. Some time in this month, _Sir_ Adams resigned the
berth of Butler, and _Sir_ Samuel Shapleigh was chosen in his
stead.--_MS. Journal, Harv. Coll._
Then succeeded Cliosophic Oration in Latin, by _Sir_ Meigs.
Poetical Composition in English, by _Sir_ Barlow.--_Woolsey's
Hist. Disc._, p. 121.
The author resided in Cambridge after he graduated. In common with
all who had received the degree of Bachelor of Arts and not that
of Master of Arts, he was called "_Sir_," and known as "_Sir_
Some of the "_Sirs_" as well as undergraduates were arraigned
before the college government.--_Father Abbey's Will_, Cambridge,
Mass., 1854, p. 7.
SITTING OF THE SOLSTICES. It was customary, in the early days of
Harvard College, for the graduates of the year to attend in the
recitation-room on Mondays and Tuesdays, for three weeks, during
the month of June, subject to the examination of all who chose to
visit them. This was called the _Sitting of the Solstices_,
because it happened in midsummer, or at the time of the summer
solstice. The time was also known as the _Weeks of Visitation_.
SIZAR, SISAR, SIZER. In the University of Cambridge, Eng., a
student of the third rank, or that next below that of a pensioner,
who eats at the public table after the fellows, free of expense.
It was formerly customary for _every fellow-commoner_ to have his
_sizar_, to whom he allowed a certain portion of commons, or
victuals and drink, weekly, but no money; and for this the sizar
was obliged to do him certain services daily.
A lower order of students were called _sub-sizars_. In reference
to this class, we take the following from the Gentleman's
Magazine, 1787, p. 1146. "At King's College, they were styled
_hounds_. The situation of a sub-sizar being looked upon in so
degrading a light probably occasioned the extinction of the order.
But as the sub-sizars had certain assistances in return for their
humiliating services, and as the poverty of parents stood in need
of such assistances for their sons, some of the sizars undertook
the same offices for the same advantages. The master's sizar,
therefore, waited upon him for the sake of his commons, etc., as
the sub-sizar had done; and the other sizars did the same office
to the fellows for the advantage of the remains of their commons.
Thus the term sub-sizar became forgotten, and the sizar was
supposed to be the same as the _servitor_. But if a sizar did not
choose to accept of these assistances upon such degrading terms,
he dined in his own room, and was called a _proper sizar_. He wore
the same gown as the others, and his tutorage, etc. was no higher;
but there was nothing servile in his situation."--"Now, indeed,
all (or almost all) the colleges in Cambridge have allowed the
sizars every advantage of the remains of the fellows' commons,
etc., though they have very liberally exempted them from every
Another writer in the same periodical, 1795, p. 21, says: The
sizar "is very much like the _scholars_ at Westminster, Eton, &c.,
who are on the _foundation_; and is, in a manner, the
_half-boarder_ in private academies. The name was derived from the
menial services in which he was occasionally engaged; being in
former days compelled to transport the plates, dishes, _sizes_,
and platters, to and from the tables of his superiors."
A writer in the Encyclopaedia Britannica, at the close of the
article SIZAR, says of this class: "But though their education is
thus obtained at a less expense, they are not now considered as a
menial order; for sizars, pensioner-scholars, and even sometimes
fellow-commoners, mix together with the utmost cordiality."
"Sizars," says Bristed, "answer to the beneficiaries of American
colleges. They receive pecuniary assistance from the college, and
dine gratis after the fellows on the remains of their table. These
'remains' are very liberally construed, the sizar always having
fresh vegetables, and frequently fresh tarts and puddings."--_Five
Years in an Eng. Univ._, Ed. 2d, p. 14.
SIZE. Food and drink from the buttery, aside from the regular
dinner at commons.
"A _size_" says Minsheu, "is a portion of bread or drinke, it is a
farthing which schollers in Cambridge have at the buttery; it is
noted with the letter S. as in Oxford with the letter Q. for halfe
a farthing; and whereas they say in Oxford, to battle in the
Buttery Booke, i.e. to set downe on their names what they take in
bread, drinke, butter, cheese, &c.; so, in Cambridge, they say, to
_size_, i.e. to set downe their quantum, i.e. how much they take
on their name in the Buttery Booke."
In the Poems of the Rev. Dr. Dodd, a _size_ of bread is described
as "half a half-penny 'roll.'" Grose, also, in the Provincial
Glossary, says "it signifies the half part of a halfpenny loaf,
and comes from _scindo_, I cut."
In the Encyclopaedia Britannica is the following explanation of
this term. "A _size_ of anything is the smallest quantity of that
thing which can be thus bought" [i.e. by students in addition to
their commons in the hall]; "two _sizes_, or a part of beef, being
nearly equal to what a young person will eat of that dish to his
dinner, and a _size_ of ale or beer being equal to half an English
pint." It would seem, then, that formerly a _size_ was a small
plateful of any eatable; the word now means anything had by
students at dinner over and above the usual commons.
Of its derivation Webster remarks, "Either contracted from
_assize_, or from the Latin _scissus_. I take it to be from the
former, and from the sense of setting, as we apply the word to the
_assize_ of bread."
This word was introduced into the older American colleges from
Cambridge, England, and was used for many years, as was also the
word _sizing_, with the same meaning. In 1750, the Corporation of
Harvard College voted, "that the quantity of commons be as hath
been usual, viz. two _sizes_ of bread in the morning; one pound of
meat at dinner, with sufficient sauce [vegetables], and a
half-pint of beer; and at night that a part pie be of the same
quantity as usual, and also half a pint of beer; and that the
supper messes be but of four parts, though the dinner messes be of
six."--_Quincy's Hist. Harv. Coll._, Vol. II. p. 97.
The students of that day, if we may judge from the accounts which
we have of their poor commons, would have used far different
words, in addressing the Faculty, from King Lear, who, speaking to
his daughter Regan, says:--
"'T is not in thee
To grudge my pleasures,...
... to scant my _sizes_."
SIZE. In the University of Cambridge, Eng., to _size_ is to order
any sort of victuals from the kitchens which the students may want
in their rooms, or in addition to their commons in the hall, and
for which they pay the cooks or butchers at the end of each
quarter; a word corresponding to BATTEL at Oxford.--_Encyc. Brit._
In the Gentleman's Magazine, 1795, p. 21, a writer says: "At
dinner, to _size_ is to order for yourself any little luxury that
may chance to tempt you in addition to the general fare, for which
you are expected to pay the cook at the end of the term."
This word was formerly used in the older American colleges with
the meaning given above, as will be seen by the following extracts
from the laws of Harvard and Yale.
"When they come into town after commons, they may be allowed to
_size_ a meal at the kitchen."--_Laws of Harv. Coll._, 1798, p.
"At the close of each quarter, the Butler shall make up his bill
against each student, in which every article _sized_ or taken up
by him at the Buttery shall be particularly charged."--_Laws Yale
Coll._, 1811, p. 31.
"As a college term," says the Gradus ad Cantabrigiam, "it is of
very considerable antiquity. In the comedy called 'The Return from
Parnassus,' 1606, one of the character says, 'You that are one of
the Devil's Fellow-Commoners; one that _sizeth_ the Devil's
butteries,' &c. Again, in the same: 'Fidlers, I use to _size_ my
music, or go on the score for it.'"
_For_ is often used after the verb _size_, without changing the
meaning of the expression.
The tables of the Undergraduates, arranged according to their
respective years, are supplied with abundance of plain joints, and
vegetables, and beer and ale _ad libitum_, besides which, soup,
pastry, and cheese can be "_sized for_," that is, brought in
portions to individuals at an extra charge.--_Bristed's Five Years
in an Eng. Univ._, Ed. 2d, p. 19.
_To size upon another_. To order extra food, and without
permission charge it to another's account.
If any one shall _size upon another_, he shall be fined a
Shilling, and pay the Damage; and every Freshman sent [for
victuals] must declare that he who sends him is the only Person to
be charged.--_Laws Yale Coll._, 1774, p. 10.
SIZING. Extra food or drink ordered from the buttery; the act of
ordering extra food or drink from the buttery.
Dr. Holyoke, who graduated at Harvard College in 1746, says: "The
breakfast was two _sizings_ of bread and a cue of beer." Judge
Wingate, who graduated a little later, says: "We were allowed at
dinner a cue of beer, which was a half-pint, and a _sizing_ of
bread, which I cannot describe to you. It was quite sufficient for
one dinner."--_Peirce's Hist. Harv. Univ._, p. 219.
From more definite accounts it would seem that a sizing of biscuit
was one biscuit, and a sizing of cracker, two crackers. A certain
amount of food was allowed to each mess, and if any person wanted
more than the allowance, it was the custom to tell the waiter to
bring a sizing of whatever was wished, provided it was obtained
from the commons kitchen; for this payment was made at the close
of the term. A sizing of cheese was nearly an ounce, and a sizing
of cider varied from a half-pint to a pint and a half.
The Steward shall, at the close of every quarter, immediately fill
up the columns of commons and _sizings_, and shall deliver the
bill, &c.--_Laws Harv. Coll._, 1798, p. 58.
The Butler shall frequently inspect his book of
_sizings_.--_Ibid._, p. 62.
Whereas young scholars, to the dishonor of God, hinderance of
their studies, and damage of their friends' estate,
inconsiderately and intemperately are ready to abuse their liberty
of _sizing_ besides their commons; therefore the Steward shall in
no case permit any students whatever, under the degree of Masters
of Arts, or Fellows, to expend or be provided for themselves or
any townsmen any extraordinary commons, unless by the allowance of
the President, &c., or in case of sickness.--Orders written 28th
March, 1650.--_Quincy's Hist. Harv. Univ._, Vol. I. p. 583.
This term, together with the verb and noun _size_, which had been
in use at Harvard and Yale Colleges since their foundation, has of
late been little heard, and with the extinction of commons has,
with the others, fallen wholly, and probably for ever, into
The use of this word and its collaterals is still retained in the
University of Cambridge, Eng.
Along the wall you see two tables, which, though less carefully
provided than the Fellows', are still served with tolerable
decency, and go through a regular second course instead of the
"_sizings_."--_Bristed's Five Years in an Eng. Univ._, Ed. 2d, p.
SIZING PARTY. In the University of Cambridge, Eng., where this
term is used, a "_sizing party_" says the Gradus ad Cantabrigiam,
"differs from a supper in this; viz. at a sizing party every one
of the guests contributes his _part_, i.e. orders what he pleases,
at his own expense, to his friend's rooms,--'a _part_ of fowl' or
duck; a roasted pigeon; 'a _part_ of apple pie.' A sober beaker of
brandy, or rum, or hollands and water, concludes the
entertainment. In our days, a bowl of bishop, or milk punch, with
a chant, generally winds up the carousal."
SKIN. At Yale College, to obtain a knowledge of a lesson by
hearing it read by another; also, to borrow another's ideas and
present them as one's own; to plagiarize; to become possessed of
information in an examination or a recitation by unfair or secret
means. "In our examinations," says a correspondent, "many of the
fellows cover the palms of their hands with dates, and when called
upon for a given date, they read it off directly from their hands.
Such persons _skin_."
The tutor employs the crescent when it is evident that the lesson
has been _skinned_, according to the college vocabulary, in which
case he usually puts a minus sign after it, with the mark which he
in all probability would have used had not the lesson been
_skinned_.--_Yale Banger_, Nov. 1846.
Never _skin_ a lesson which it requires any ability to
learn.--_Yale Lit. Mag._, Vol. XV. p. 81.
He has passively admitted what he has _skinned_ from other
grammarians.--_Yale Banger_, Nov. 1846.
Perhaps the youth who so barefacedly _skinned_ the song referred
to, fondly fancied, &c.--_The Tomahawk_, Nov. 1849.
He uttered that remarkable prophecy which Horace has so boldly
_skinned_ and called his own.--_Burial of Euclid_, Nov. 1850.
A Pewter medal is awarded in the Senior Class, for the most
remarkable example of _skinned_ Composition.--_Burlesque
Catalogue, Yale Coll._, 1852-53, p. 29.
Classical men were continually tempted to "_skin_" (copy) the
solutions of these examples.--_Bristed's Five Years in an Eng.
Univ._, Ed. 2d, p. 381.
_To skin ahead_; at Hamilton College, to read a lesson over in the
class immediately before reciting.
SKIN. A lesson learned by hearing it read by another; borrowed
ideas; anything plagiarized.
'T was plenty of _skin_ with a good deal of Bohn.
_Songs, Biennial Jubilee, Yale Coll._, 1855.
SKINNING. Learning, or the act of learning, a lesson by hearing it
read by another; plagiarizing.
Alas for our beloved orations! acquired by _skinning_, looking on,
and ponies.--_Yale Banger_, Oct. 1848.
Barefaced copying from books and reviews in their compositions is
familiar to our students, as much so as "_skinning_" their
mathematical examples.--_Bristed's Five Years in an Eng. Univ._,
Ed. 2d, p. 394.
SKUNK. At Princeton College, to fail to pay a debt; used actively;
e.g. to _skunk_ a tailor, i.e. not to pay him.
SLANG. To scold, chide, rebuke. The use of this word as a verb is
in a measure peculiar to students.
These drones are posted separately as "not worthy to be classed,"
and privately _slanged_ afterwards by the Master and
Seniors.--_Bristed's Five Years in an Eng. Univ._, Ed. 2d, p. 74.
"I am afraid of going to T------," you may hear it said; "he don't
_slang_ his men enough."--_Ibid._, p. 148.
His vanity is sure to be speedily checked, and first of all by his
private tutor, who "_slangs_" him for a mistake here or an
inelegancy there.--_Ibid._, p. 388.
SLANGING. Abusing, chiding, blaming.
As he was not backward in _slanging_,--one of the requisites of a
good coach,--he would give it to my unfortunate composition right
and left.--_Bristed's Five Years in an Eng. Univ._, Ed. 2d, p.
SLEEPING OVER. A phrase equivalent to being absent from prayers.
You may see some who have just arisen from their beds, where they
have enjoyed the luxury of "_sleeping over_."--_Harv. Reg._, p.
SLOW. An epithet of depreciation, especially among students.
Its equivalent slang is to be found in the phrases, "no great
shakes," and "small potatoes."--_Bristed_.
One very well disposed and very tipsy man who was great upon
boats, but very _slow_ at books, endeavored to pacify
me.--_Bristed's Five Years in an Eng. Univ._, Ed. 2d, p. 82.
The Juniors vainly attempted to show
That Sophs and Seniors were somewhat _slow_
In talent and ability.
_Sophomore Independent, Union College_, Nov. 1854.
SLOW-COACH. A dull, stupid fellow.
SLUM. A word once in use at Yale College, of which a graduate of
the year 1821 has given the annexed explanation. "That noted dish
to which our predecessors, of I know not what date, gave the name
of _slum_, which was our ordinary breakfast, consisting of the
remains of yesterday's boiled salt-beef and potatoes, hashed up,
and indurated in a frying-pan, was of itself enough to have
produced any amount of dyspepsia. There are stomachs, it may be,
which can put up with any sort of food, and any mode of cookery;
but they are not those of students. I remember an anecdote which
President Day gave us (as an instance of hasty generalization),
which would not be inappropriate here: 'A young physician,
commencing practice, determined to keep an account of each case he
had to do with, stating the mode of treatment and the result. His
first patient was a blacksmith, sick of a fever. After the crisis
of the disease had passed, the man expressed a hankering for pork
and cabbage. The doctor humored him in this, and it seemed to do
him good; which was duly noted in the record. Next a tailor sent
for him, whom he found suffering from the same malady. To him he
_prescribed_ pork and cabbage; and the patient died. Whereupon, he
wrote it down as a general law in such cases, that pork and
cabbage will cure a blacksmith, but will kill a tailor.' Now,
though the son of Vulcan found the pork and cabbage harmless, I am
sure that _slum_ would have been a match for him."--_Scenes and
Characters at College_, New Haven, 1847, p. 117.
SLUMP. German _schlump_; Danish and Swedish _slump_, a hap or
chance, an accident; that is, a fall.
At Harvard College, a poor recitation.
SLUMP. At Harvard College, to recite badly; to make a poor
In fact, he'd rather dead than dig;
he'd rather _slump_ than squirt.
_Poem before the Y.H. of Harv. Coll._, 1849.
_Slumping_ is his usual custom,
Deading is his road to fame.--_MS. Poem_.
At recitations, unprepared, he _slumps_,
Then cuts a week, and feigns he has the mumps.
_MS. Poem_, by F.E. Felton.
The usual signification of this word is given by Webster, as
follows: "To fall or sink suddenly into water or mud, when walking
on a hard surface, as on ice or frozen ground, not strong enough
to bear the person." To which he adds: "This legitimate word is in
common and respectable use in New England, and its signification
is so appropriate, that no other word will supply its place."
From this meaning, the transfer is, by analogy, very easy and
natural, and the application very correct, to a poor recitation.
SMALL-COLLEGE. The name by which an inferior college in the
English universities is known.
A "_Small-College_" man was Senior Wrangler.--_Bristed's Five
Years in an Eng. Univ._, Ed. 2d, p. 61.
SMALL-COLLEGER. A member of a Small-College.
The two Latin prizes and the English poem [were carried off] by a
_Small-Colleger_.--_Bristed's Five Years in an Eng. Univ._, Ed.
2d, p. 113.
The idea of a _Small-Colleger_ beating all Trinity was deemed
preposterous.--_Ibid._, p. 127.
SMALLS, or SMALL-GO. At the University of Oxford, an examination
in the second year. See LITTLE-GO; PREVIOUS EXAMINATION.
At the _Smalls_, as the previous Examination is here called, each
examiner sends in his Greek and Latin book.--_Bristed's Five Years
in an Eng. Univ._, Ed. 2d, p. 139.
It follows that the _Smalls_ is a more formidable examination than
the Little-Go.--_Ibid._, p. 139.
SMASH. At the Wesleyan University, a total failure in reciting is
called a _smash_.
SMILE. A small quantity of any spirituous liquor, or enough to
give one a pleasant feeling.
Hast ta'en a "_smile_" at Brigham's.
_Poem before the Iadma_, 1850, p. 7.
SMOKE. In some colleges, one of the means made use of by the
Sophomores to trouble the Freshmen is to blow smoke into their
rooms until they are compelled to leave, or, in other words, until
they are _smoked out_. When assafoetida is mingled with the
tobacco, the sensation which ensues, as the foul effluvium is
gently wafted through the keyhole, is anything but pleasing to the
Or when, in conclave met, the unpitying wights
_Smoke_ the young trembler into "College rights":
O spare my tender youth! he, suppliant, cries,
In vain, in vain; redoubled clouds arise,
While the big tears adown his visage roll,
Caused by the smoke, and sorrow of his soul.
_College Life, by J.C. Richmond_, p. 4.
They would lock me in if I left my key outside, _smoke me out_,
duck me, &c.--_Sketches of Williams College_, p. 74.
I would not have you sacrifice all these advantages for the sake
_of smoking_ future Freshmen.--_Burial of Euclid_, 1850, p. 10.
A correspondent from the University of Vermont gives the following
account of a practical joke, which we do not suppose is very often
played in all its parts. "They 'train' Freshmen in various ways;
the most _classic_ is to take a pumpkin, cut a piece from the top,
clean it, put in two pounds of 'fine cut,' put it on the
Freshman's table, and then, all standing round with long
pipe-stems, blow into it the fire placed in the _tobac_, and so
fill the room with smoke, then put the Freshman to bed, with the
pumpkin for a nightcap."
SMOUGE. At Hamilton College, to obtain without leave.
SMUT. Vulgar, obscene conversation. Language which obtains
"Where Bacchus ruleth all that's done,
And Venus all that's said."
SMUTTY. Possessing the qualities of obscene conversation. Applied
also to the person who uses such conversation.
SNOB. In the English universities, a townsman, as opposed to a
student; or a blackguard, as opposed to a gentleman; a loafer
They charged the _Snobs_ against their will,
And shouted clear and lustily.
_Gradus ad Cantab_, p. 69.
Used in the same sense at some American colleges.
2. A mean or vulgar person; particularly, one who apes gentility.
Used both in England and the United States, "and recently," says
Webster, "introduced into books as a term of derision."
SNOBBESS. In the English universities, a female _snob_.
Effeminacies like these, induced, no doubt, by the flattering
admiration of the fair _snobbesses_.--_Alma Mater_, Vol. II. p.
SNOBBISH. Belonging to or resembling a _snob_.
SNOBBY. Low; vulgar; resembling or pertaining to a _snob_.
SNUB. To reprimand; check; rebuke. Used among students, more
frequently than by any other class of persons.
SOPH. In the University of Cambridge, England, an abbreviation of
On this word, Crabb, in his _Technological Dictionary_, says: "A
certain distinction or title which undergraduates in the
University at Oxford assume, previous to their examination for a
degree. It took its rise in the exercises which students formerly
had to go through, but which are now out of use."
Three College _Sophs_, and three pert Templars came,
The same their talents, and their tastes the same.
_Pope's Dunciad_, B. II. v. 389, 390.
2. In the American colleges, an abbreviation of Sophomore.
_Sophs_ wha ha' in Commons fed!
_Sophs_ wha ha' in Commons bled!
_Sophs_ wha ne'er from Commons fled!
Puddings, steaks, or wines!
_Rebelliad_, p. 52.
The _Sophs_ did nothing all the first fortnight but torment the
Fresh, as they call us.--_Harvardiana_, Vol. III. p. 76.
The _Sophs_ were victorious at every point.--_Yale Banger_, Nov.
My Chum, a _Soph_, says he committed himself too soon.--_The
Dartmouth_, Vol. IV. p. 118.
SOPHIC. A contraction of sophomoric.
So then the _Sophic_ army
Came on in warlike glee.
_The Battle of the Ball_, 1853.
SOPHIMORE. The old manner of spelling what is now known as
The President may give Leave for the _Sophimores_ to take out some
particular Books.--_Laws Yale Coll._, 1774, p. 23.
His favorite researches, however, are discernible in his
observations on a comet, which appeared in the beginning of his
_Sophimore_ year.--_Holmes's Life of Ezra Stiles_, p. 13.
I aver thou hast never been a corporal in the militia, or a
_sophimore_ at college.--_The Algerine Captive_, Walpole, 1797,
Vol. I. p. 68.
SOPHISH GOWN. Among certain gownsmen, a gown that bears the marks
of much service; "a thing of shreds and patches."--_Gradus ad
SOPHIST. A name given to the undergraduates at Cambridge, England.
--_Crabb's Tech. Dict._
SOPHISTER. Greek, [Greek: sophistaes]. In the University of
Cambridge, Eng., the title of students who are advanced beyond the
first year of their residence. The entire course at the University
consists of three years and one term, during which the students
have the titles of First-Year Men, or Freshmen; Second-Year Men,
or Junior Sophs or Sophisters; Third-Year Men, or Senior Sophs or
Sophisters; and, in the last term, Questionists, with reference to
the approaching examination. In the older American colleges, the
Junior and Senior Classes were originally called Junior Sophisters
and Senior Sophisters. The term is also used at Oxford and Dublin.
And in case any of the _Sophisters_ fail in the premises required
at their hands, &c.--_Quincy's Hist. Harv. Univ._, Vol. I. p. 518.
SOPHOMORE. One belonging to the second of the four classes in an
Professor Goodrich, in his unabridged edition of Dr. Webster's
Dictionary, gives the following interesting account of this word.
"This word has generally been considered as an 'American
barbarism,' but was probably introduced into our country, at a
very early period, from the University of Cambridge, Eng. Among
the cant terms at that University, as given in the Gradus ad
Cantabrigiam, we find _Soph-Mor_ as 'the next distinctive
appellation to Freshman.' It is added, that 'a writer in the
Gentlemen's Magazine thinks _mor_ an abbreviation of the Greek
[Greek: moria], introduced at a time when the _Encomium Moriae_,
the Praise of Folly, by Erasmus, was so generally used.' The
ordinary derivation of the word, from [Greek: sofos] and [Greek:
moros] would seem, therefore, to be incorrect. The younger Sophs
at Cambridge appear, formerly, to have received the adjunct _mor_
([Greek: moros]) to their names, either as one which they courted
for the reason mentioned above, or as one given them in sport, for
the supposed exhibition of inflated feeling in entering on their
new honors. The term, thus applied, seems to have passed, at a
very early period, from Cambridge in England to Cambridge in
America, as 'the next distinctive appellation to Freshman,' and
thus to have been attached to the second of the four classes in
our American colleges; while it has now almost ceased to be known,
even as a cant word, at the parent institution in England whence
it came. This derivation of the word is rendered more probable by
the fact, that the early spelling was, to a great extent at least,
Soph_i_more, as appears from the manuscripts of President Stiles
of Yale College, and the records of Harvard College down to the
period of the American Revolution. This would be perfectly natural
if _Soph_ or _Sophister_ was considered as the basis of the word,
but can hardly be explained if the ordinary derivation had then
been regarded as the true one."
Some further remarks on this word may be found in the Gentleman's
Magazine, above referred to, 1795, Vol. LXV. p. 818.
SOPHOMORE COMMENCEMENT. At Princeton College, it has long been the
custom for the Sophomore Class, near the time of the Commencement
at the close of the Senior year, to hold a Commencement in
imitation of it, at which burlesque and other exercises,
appropriate to the occasion, are performed. The speakers chosen
are a Salutatorian, a Poet, an Historian, who reads an account of
the doings of the Class up to that period, a Valedictorian, &c.,
&c. A band of music is always in attendance. After the addresses,
the Class partake of a supper, which is usually prolonged to a
very late hour. In imitation of the Sophomore Commencement,
_Burlesque Bills_, as they are called, are prepared and published
by the Juniors, in which, in a long and formal programme, such
subjects and speeches are attributed to the members of the
Sophomore Class as are calculated to expose their weak points.
SOPHOMORIC, SOPHOMORICAL. Pertaining to or like a Sophomore.
Better to face the prowling panther's path,
Than meet the storm of _Sophomoric_ wrath.
_Harvardiana_, Vol. IV. p. 22.
We trust he will add by his example no significancy to that pithy
word, "_Sophomoric_."--_Sketches of Williams Coll._, p. 63.
Another meaning, derived, it would appear, from the
characteristics of the Sophomore, yet not very creditable to him,
is _bombastic, inflated in style or manner_.--_J.C. Calhoun_.
Students are looked upon as being necessarily _Sophomorical_ in
literary matters.--_Williams Quarterly_, Vol. II. p. 84.
The Professor told me it was rather _Sophomorical_.--_Sketches of
Williams Coll._, p. 74.
SOPHRONISCUS. At Yale College, this name is given to Arnold's
Greek Prose Composition, from the fact of its repeated occurrence
in that work.
Et Euclidem comburemus,
Ejus vi soluti.
_Pow-wow of Class of '58, Yale Coll._
SPIRT. Among the students at the University of Cambridge, Eng., an
extraordinary effort of mind or body for a short time. A boat's
crew _make a spirt_, when they pull fifty yards with all the
strength they have left. A reading-man _makes_ _a spirt_ when he
crams twelve hours daily the week before examination.--_Bristed_.
As my ... health was decidedly improving, I now attempted a
"_spirt_," or what was one for me.--_Bristed's Five Years in an
Eng. Univ._, Ed. 2d, p. 223.
My amateur Mathematical coach, who was now making his last _spirt_
for a Fellowship, used to accompany me.--_Ibid._, p. 288.
He reads nine hours a day on a "_spirt_" the fortnight before
examination.--_Ibid._, p. 327.
SPIRTING. Making an extraordinary effort of mind or body for a
Ants, bees, boat-crews _spirting_ at the Willows,... are but faint
types of their activity.--_Bristed's Five Years in an Eng. Univ._,
Ed. 2d, p. 224.
SPLURGE. In many colleges, when one is either dashy, or dressed
more than ordinarily, he is said to _cut a splurge_. A showy
recitation is often called by the same name. In his Dictionary of
Americanisms, Mr. Bartlett defines it, "a great effort, a
demonstration," which is the signification in which this word is
SPLURGY. Showy; of greater surface than depth. Applied to a lesson
which is well rehearsed but little appreciated. Also to literary
efforts of a certain nature, to character, persons, &c.
They even pronounce his speeches _splurgy_.--_Yale Tomahawk_, May,
SPOON. In the University of Cambridge, Eng., the last of each
class of the honors is humorously denominated _The Spoon_. Thus,
the last Wrangler is called the Golden Spoon; the last Senior
Optime, the Silver Spoon; and the last Junior Optime, the Wooden
Spoon. The Wooden Spoon, however, is _par excellence_, "The
Spoon."--_Gradus ad Cantab._
See WOODEN SPOON.
SPOON, SPOONY, SPOONEY. A man who has been drinking till he
becomes disgusting by his very ridiculous behavior, is said to be
_spoony_ drunk; and hence it is usual to call a very prating,
shallow fellow a rank _spoon_.--_Grose_.
Mr. Bartlett, in his Dictionary of Americanisms, says:--"We use
the word only in the latter sense. The Hon. Mr. Preston, in his
remarks on the Mexican war, thus quotes from Tom Crib's
remonstrance against the meanness of a transaction, similar to our
cries for more vigorous blows on Mexico when she is prostrate:
"'Look down upon Ben,--see him, _dunghill_ all o'er,
Insult the fallen foe that can harm him no more.
Out, cowardly _spooney_! Again and again,
By the fist of my father, I blush for thee, Ben.'
"Ay, you will see all the _spooneys_ that ran, like so many
_dunghill_ champions, from 54 40, stand by the President for the
vigorous prosecution of the war upon the body of a prostrate foe."
--_N.Y. Tribune_, 1847.
Now that year it so happened that the spoon was no
_spooney_.--_Alma Mater_, Vol. I. p. 218.
Not a few of this party were deluded into a belief, that all
studious and quiet men were slow, all men of proper self-respect
exclusives, and all men of courtesy and good-breeding _spoonies_.
--_Collegian's Guide_, p. 118.
Suppose that rustication was the fate of a few others of our
acquaintance, whom you cannot call slow, or _spoonies_ either,
would it be deemed no disgrace by them?--_Ibid._, p. 196.
When _spoonys_ on two knees, implore the aid of sorcery,
To suit their wicked purposes they quickly put the laws awry.
_Rejected Addresses_, Am. ed., p. 154.
They belong to the class of elderly "_spoons_," with some few
exceptions, and are nettled that the world should not go at their
rate of progression.--_Boston Daily Times_, May 8, 1851.
SPOONY, SPOONEY. Like a _spoon_; possessing the qualities of a
silly or stupid fellow.
I shall escape from this beautiful critter, for I'm gettin'
_spooney_, and shall talk silly presently.--_Sam Slick_.
Both the adjective and the noun _spooney_ are in constant and
frequent use at some of the American colleges, and are generally
applied to one who is disliked either for his bad qualities or for
his ill-breeding, usually accompanied with the idea of weakness.
He sprees, is caught, rusticates, returns next year, mingles with
feminines, and is consequently degraded into the _spooney_ Junior.
_Yale Lit. Mag._, Vol. XV. p. 208.
A "bowl" was the happy conveyance. Perhaps this was chosen because
the voyagers were _spooney_.--_Yale Banger_, Nov. 1849.
SPOOPS, SPOOPSY. At Harvard College, a weak, silly fellow, or one
who is disliked on account of his foolish actions, is called a
_spoops_, or _spoopsy_. The meaning is nearly the same as that of
SPOOPSY. Foolish; silly. Applied either to a person or thing.
Seniors always try to be dignified. The term "_spoopsey_" in its
widest signification applies admirably to them.--_Yale Tomahawk_,
SPORT. To exhibit or bring out in public; as, to _sport_ a new
This word was in great vogue in England in the year 1783 and 1784;
but is now sacred to men of _fashion_, both in England and
With regard to the word _sport_, they [the Cantabrigians]
_sported_ knowing, and they _sported_ ignorant,--they _sported_ an
AEgrotat, and they _sported_ a new coat,--they _sported_ an Exeat,
they _sported_ a Dormiat, &c.--_Gent. Mag._, 1794, p. 1085.
I'm going to serve my country,
And _sport_ a pretty wife.
_Presentation Day Songs_, June 14, 1854, Yale Coll.
To _sport oak_, or a door, is to fasten a door for safety or
If you call on a man and his door is _sported_, signifying that he
is out or busy, it is customary to pop your card through the
little slit made for that purpose.--_Bristed's Five Years in an
Eng. Univ._, Ed. 2d, p. 336.
Some few constantly turn the keys of their churlish doors, and
others, from time to time, "_sport oak_."--_Harv. Mag._, Vol. I.
SPORTING-DOOR. At the English universities, the name given to the
outer door of a student's room, which can be _sported_ or fastened
to prevent intrusion.
Their impregnable _sporting-doors_, that defy alike the hostile
dun and the too friendly "fast man."--_Bristed's Five Years in an
Eng. Univ._, Ed. 2d, p. 3.
SPREAD. A feast of a more humble description than a GAUDY. Used at
This puts him in high spirits again, and he gives a large
_spread_, and gets drunk on the strength of it.--_Gradus ad
Cantab._, p. 129.
He sits down with all of them, about forty or fifty, to a most
glorious _spread_, ordered from the college cook, to be served up
in the most swell style possible.--_Ibid._, p. 129.
SPROUT. Any _branch_ of education is in student phrase a _sprout_.
This peculiar use of the word is said to have originated at Yale.
SPRUNG. The positive, of which _tight_ is the comparative, and
_drunk_ the superlative.
"One swallow makes not spring," the poet sung,
But many swallows make the fast man _sprung_.
_MS. Poem_, by F.E. Felton.
SPY. In some of the American colleges, it is a prevailing opinion
among the students, that certain members of the different classes
are encouraged by the Faculty to report what they have seen or
ascertained in the conduct of their classmates, contrary to the
laws of the college. Many are stigmatized as _spies_ very
unjustly, and seldom with any sufficient reason.
SQUIRT. At Harvard College, a showy recitation is denominated a
_squirt_; the ease and quickness with which the words flow from
the mouth being analogous to the ease and quickness which attend
the sudden ejection of a stream of water from a pipe. Such a
recitation being generally perfect, the word _squirt_ is very
often used to convey that idea. Perhaps there is not, in the whole
vocabulary of college cant terms, one more expressive than this,
or that so easily conveys its meaning merely by its sound. It is
mostly used colloquially.
2. A foppish young fellow; a whipper-snapper.--_Bartlett_.
If they won't keep company with _squirts_ and dandies, who's going
to make a monkey of himself?--_Maj. Jones's Courtship_, p. 160.
SQUIRT. To make a showy recitation.
He'd rather slump than _squirt_.
_Poem before Y.H._, p. 9.
Webster has this word with the meaning, "to throw out words, to
let fly," and marks it as out of use.
SQUIRTINESS. The quality of being showy.
SQUIRTISH. Showy; dandified.
It's my opinion that these slicked up _squirtish_ kind a fellars
ain't particular hard baked, and they always goes in for
aristocracy notions.--_Robb, Squatter Life_, p. 73.
SQUIRTY. Showy; fond of display; gaudy.
Applied to an oration which is full of bombast and grandiloquence;
to a foppish fellow; to an apartment gayly adorned, &c.
And should they "scrape" in prayers, because they are long
And rather "_squirty_" at times.
_Childe Harvard_, p. 58.
STAMMBOOK. German. A remembrance-book; an album. Among the German
students stammbooks were kept formerly, as commonly as
autograph-books now are among American students.
But do procure me the favor of thy Rapunzel writing something in
my _Stammbook_.--_Howitt's Student Life of Germany_, Am. ed., p.
STANDING. Academical age, or rank.
Of what _standing_ are you? I am a Senior Soph.--_Gradus ad
Her mother told me all about your love,
And asked me of your prospects and your _standing_.
_Collegian_, 1830, p. 267.
_To stand for an honor_; i.e. to offer one's self as a candidate
for an honor.
STAR. In triennial catalogues a star designates those who have
died. This sign was first used with this signification by Mather,
in his Magnalia, in a list prepared by him of the graduates of
Harvard College, with a fanciful allusion, it is supposed, to the
abode of those thus marked.
Our tale shall be told by a silent _star_,
On the page of some future Triennial.
_Poem before Class of 1849, Harv. Coll._, p. 4.
We had only to look still further back to find the _stars_
clustering more closely, indicating the rapid flight of the
spirits of short-lived tenants of earth to another
sphere.--_Memories of Youth and Manhood_, Vol. II. p. 66.
STAR. To mark a star opposite the name of a person, signifying
that he is dead.
Six of the sixteen Presidents of our University have been
inaugurated in this place; and the oldest living graduate, the
Hon. Paine Wingate of Stratham, New Hampshire, who stands on the
Catalogue a lonely survivor amidst the _starred_ names of the
dead, took his degree within these walls.--_A Sermon on leaving
the Old Meeting-house in Cambridge_, by Rev. William Newell, Dec.
1, 1833, p. 22.
Among those fathers were the venerable remnants of classes that
are _starred_ to the last two or three, or it may be to the last
one.--_Scenes and Characters in College_, p. 6.
STATEMENT OF FACTS. At Yale College, a name given to a public
meeting called for the purpose of setting forth the respective
merits of the two great societies in that institution, viz.
"Linonia" and "The Brothers in Unity." There are six orators,
three from Linonia and three from the Brothers,--a Senior, a
Junior, and the President of each society. The Freshmen are
invited by handsomely printed cards to attend the meeting, and
they also have the best seats reserved for them, and are treated
with the most intense politeness. As now conducted, the _Statement
of Facts_ is any thing rather than what is implied by the name. It
is simply an opportunity for the display of speaking talent, in
which wit and sarcasm are considered of far greater importance
than truth. The Freshmen are rarely swayed to either side. In nine
cases out of ten they have already chosen their society, and
attend the statement merely from a love of novelty and fun. The
custom grew up about the year 1830, after the practice of dividing
the students alphabetically between the two societies had fallen
into disuse. Like all similar customs, the Statement of Facts has
reached its present college importance by gradual growth. At first
the societies met in a small room of the College, and the
statements did really consist of the facts in the case. Now the
exercises take place in a public hall, and form a kind of
intellectual tournament, where each society, in the presence of a
large audience, strives to get the advantage of the other.
From a newspaper account of the observance of this literary
festival during the present year, the annexed extract is taken.
"For some years, students, as they have entered College, have been
permitted to choose the society with which they would connect
themselves, instead of being alphabetically allotted to one of the
two. This method has made the two societies earnest rivals, and
the accession of each class to College creates an earnest struggle
to see which shall secure the greater number of members. The
electioneering campaign, as it is termed, begins when the students
come to be examined for admission to College, that is, about the
time of the Commencement, and continues through a week or two of
the first term of the next year. Each society, of course, puts
forth the most determined efforts to conquer. It selects the most
prominent and popular men of the Senior Class as President, and
arrangements are so made that a Freshman no sooner enters town
than he finds himself unexpectedly surrounded by hosts of friends,
willing to do anything for him, and especially instruct him in his
duty with reference to the selection of societies. For the benefit
of those who do not yield to this private electioneering, this
Statement of Facts is made. It amounts, however, to little more
than a 'good time,' as there are very few who wait to be
influenced by 'facts' they know will be so distorted. The
advocates of each society feel bound, of course, to present its
affairs in the most favorable aspect. Disputants are selected,
generally with regard to their ability as speakers, one from the
Junior and one from the Senior Class. The Presidents of each
society also take part."--_N.Y. Daily Times_, Sept. 22, 1855.
As an illustration of the eloquence and ability which is often
displayed on these occasions, the following passages have been
selected from the address of John M. Holmes of Chicago, Ill., the
Junior orator in behalf of the Brothers in Unity at the Statement
of Facts held September 20th, 1855.
"Time forbids me to speak at length of the illustrious alumni of
the Brothers; of Professor Thatcher, the favorite of college,--of
Professor Silliman, the Nestor of American literati,--of the
revered head of this institution, President Woolsey, first
President of the Brothers in 1820,--of Professor Andrews, the
author of the best dictionary of the Latin language,--of such
divines as Dwight and Murdock,--of Bacon and Bushnell, the pride
of New England,--or of the great names of Clayton, Badger,
Calhoun, Ellsworth, and John Davis,--all of whom were nurtured and
disciplined in the halls of the Brothers, and there received the
Achillean baptism that made their lives invulnerable. But perhaps
I err in claiming such men as the peculium of the Brothers,--they
are the common heritage of the human race.
'Such names as theirs are pilgrim shrines,
Shrines to no code nor creed confined,
The Delphian vales, the Palestines,
The Meccas of the mind.'
"But there are other names which to overlook would be worse than
negligence,--it would be ingratitude unworthy of a son of Yale.
"At the head of that glorious host stands the venerable form of
Joel Barlow, who, in addition to his various civil and literary
distinctions, was the father of American poetry. There too is the
intellectual brow of Webster, not indeed the great defender of the
Constitution, but that other Webster, who spent his life in the
perpetuation of that language in which the Constitution is
embalmed, and whose memory will be coeval with that language to
the latest syllable of recorded time. Beside Webster on the
historic canvas appears the form of the only Judge of the Supreme
Court of the United States that ever graduated at this
College,--Chief Justice Baldwin, of the class of 1797. Next to him
is his classmate, a patriarchal old man who still lives to bless
the associations of his youth,--who has consecrated the noblest
talents to the noblest earthly purposes,--the pioneer of Western
education,--the apostle of Temperance,--the life-long teacher of
immortality,--and who is the father of an illustrious family whose
genius has magnetized all Christendom. His classmate is Lyman
Beecher. But a year ago in the neighboring city of Hartford there
was a monument erected to another Brother in Unity,--the
philanthropist who first introduced into this country the system
of instructing deaf mutes. More than a thousand unfortunates bowed
around his grave. And although there was no audible voice of
eulogy or thankfulness, yet there were many tears. And grateful
thoughts went up to heaven in silent benediction for him who had
unchained their faculties, and given them the priceless treasures
of intellectual and social communion. Thomas H. Gallaudet was a
Brother in Unity.
"And he who has been truly called the most learned of poets and
the most poetical of learned men,--whose ascent to the heaven of
song has been like the pathway of his own broad sweeping
eagle,--J.G. Percival,--is a Brother in Unity. And what shall I
say of Morse? Of Morse, the wonder-worker, the world-girdler, the
space-destroyer, the author of the noblest invention whose glory
was ever concentrated in a single man, who has realized the
fabulous prerogative of Olympian Jove, and by the instantaneous
intercommunication of thought has accomplished the work of ages in
binding together the whole civilized world into one great
Brotherhood in Unity?
"Gentlemen, these are the men who wait to welcome you to the
blessings of our society. There they stand, like the majestic
statues that line the entrance to an eternal pyramid. And when I
look upon one statue, and another, and another, and contemplate
the colossal greatness of their proportions, as Canova gazed with
rapture upon the sun-god of the Vatican, I envy not the man whose
heart expands not with the sense of a new nobility, and whose eye
kindles not with the heart's enthusiasm, as he thinks that he too
is numbered among that glorious company,--that he too is sprung
from that royal ancestry. And who asks for a richer heritage, or a
more enduring epitaph, than that he too is a Brother in Unity?"
S.T.B. _Sanctae Theologiae Baccalaureus_, Bachelor in Theology.
S.T.D. _Sanctae Theologiae Doctor_. Doctor in Theology.
STEWARD. In colleges, an officer who provides food for the
students, and superintends the kitchen.--_Webster_.
In American colleges, the labors of the steward are at present
more extended, and not so servile, as set forth in the above
definition. To him is usually assigned the duty of making out the
term-bills and receiving the money thereon; of superintending the
college edifices with respect to repairs, &c.; of engaging proper
servants in the employ of the college; and of performing such
other services as are declared by the faculty of the college to be
within his province.
STICK. In college phrase, _to stick_, or _to get stuck_, is to be
unable to proceed, either in a recitation, declamation, or any
other exercise. An instructor is said to _stick_ a student, when
he asks a question which the student is unable to answer.
But he has not yet discovered, probably, that he ... that
"_sticks_" in Greek, and cannot tell, by demonstration of his own,
whether the three angles of a triangle are equal to two, or four,
... can nevertheless drawl out the word Fresh, &c.--_Scenes and
Characters in College_, p. 30.
S.T.P. _Sanctae Theologiae Professor_. Professor in Theology.
A degree of similar import to S.T.D., and D.D.
STUDENT. A person engaged in study; one who is devoted to
learning, either in a seminary or in private; a scholar; as, the
_students_ of an academy, of a college or university; a medical
_student_; a law _student_.
2. A man devoted to books; a bookish man; as, a hard _student_; a
3. At Oxford, this word is used to designate one who stands upon
the foundation of the college to which he belongs, and is an
aspirant for academic emoluments.--_De Quincey_.
4. In German universities, by _student_ is understood "one who has
by matriculation acquired the rights of academical
citizenship."--_Howitt's Student Life of Germany_, Am. ed., p. 27.
STUDY. A building or an apartment devoted to study or to literary
In some of the older American colleges, it was formerly the custom
to partition off, in each chamber, two small rooms, where the
occupants, who were always two in number, could carry on their
literary pursuits. These rooms were called, from this
circumstance, _studies_. Speaking of the first college edifice
which was erected at New Haven, Mr. Clap, in his History of Yale
College, says: "It made a handsome appearance, and contained near
fifty _studies_ in convenient chambers"; and again he speaks of
Connecticut Hall as containing thirty-two chambers and sixty-four
_studies_. In the oldest buildings, some of these _studies_ remain
at the present day.
The _study_ rents, until December last, were discontinued with Mr.
Dunster.--_Quincy's Hist. Harv. Univ._, Vol. I. p. 463.
Every Graduate and Undergraduate shall find his proportion of
furniture, &c., during the whole time of his having a _study_
assigned him.--_Laws Harv. Coll._, 1798, p. 35.
To him that occupies my _study_,
I give, &c.--_Will of Charles Prentiss_.
STUMP. At Princeton College, to fail in reciting; to say, "Not
prepared," when called on to recite. A _stump_, a bad recitation;
used in the phrase, "_to make a stump_."
SUB-FRESH. A person previous to entering the Freshman Class is
called a _sub-fresh_, or one below a Freshman.
Praying his guardian powers
To assist a poor "_Sub-Fresh_" at the dread examination.
_Poem before the Iadma Soc. of Harv. Coll._, 1850, p. 14.
Our "_Sub-Fresh_" has that feeling.
_Ibid._, p. 16.
Everybody happy, except _Sub-Fresh_, and they trying hardest to
appear so.--_Yale Lit. Mag._, Vol. XX. p. 103.
The timid _Sub-Fresh_ had determined to construct stout
barricades, with no lack of ammunition.--_Ibid._, p. 103.
Sometimes written _Sub_.
Information wanted of the "_Sub_" who didn't think it an honor to
be electioneered.--_N.B., Yale Coll., June_ 14, 1851.
SUBJECT. At the University of Cambridge, Eng., a particular
author, or part of an author, set for examination; or a particular
branch of Mathematics, such as Optics, Hydrostatics,
To _get up a subject_, is to make one's self thoroughly master of
SUB-RECTOR. A rector's deputy or substitute.--_Walton, Webster_.
SUB-SIZAR. In the University of Cambridge, Eng., formerly an order
of students lower than the _sizars_.
Masters of all sorts, and all ages,
Keepers, _subcizers_, lackeys, pages.
_Poems of Bp. Corbet_, p. 22.
There he sits and sees
How lackeys and _subsizers_ press
And scramble for degrees.
_Ibid._, p. 88.
See under SIZAR.
SUCK. At Middlebury College, to cheat at recitation or examination
by using _ponies_, _interliners_, or _helps_ of any kind.
SUPPLICAT. Latin; literally, _he supplicates_. In the English
universities, a petition; particularly a written application with
a certificate that the requisite conditions have been complied
A _Supplicat_, says the Gradus ad Cantabrigiam, is "an entreaty to
be admitted to the degree of B.A.; containing a certificate that
the Questionist has kept his full number of terms, or explaining
any deficiency. This document is presented to the caput by the
father of his college."
SURPLICE DAY. An occasion or day on which the surplice is worn by
the members of a university.
"On all Sundays and Saint-days, and the evenings preceding, every
member of the University, except noblemen, attends chapel in his
surplice."--_Grad. ad Cantab._, pp. 106, 107.
SUSPEND. In colleges, to separate a student from his class, and
place him under private instruction.
And those whose crimes are very great,
Let us _suspend_ or rusticate.--_Rebelliad_, p. 24.
SUSPENSION. In universities and colleges, the punishment of a
student for some offence, usually negligence, by separating him
from his class, and compelling him to pursue those branches of
study in which he is deficient under private instruction, provided
for the purpose.
SUSPENSION-PAPER. The paper in which the act of suspension from
college is declared.
Come, take these three _suspension-papers_;
They'll teach you how to cut such capers.
_Rebelliad_, p. 32.
SUSPENSION TO THE ROOM. In Princeton College, one of the
punishments for certain offences subjects a student to confinement
to his chamber and exclusion from his class, and requires him to
recite to a teacher privately for a certain time. This is
technically called _suspension to the room_.
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