A Collection of College Words and Customs
Benjamin Homer Hall
Part 9 out of 12
PREPOSITOR. Latin. A scholar appointed by the master to overlook
And when requested for the salt-cellar, I handed it with as much
trepidation as a _praeposter_ gives the Doctor a list, when he is
conscious of a mistake in the excuses.--_The Etonian_, Vol. II. p.
PRESENTATION DAY. At Yale College, Presentation Day is the time
when the Senior Class, having finished the prescribed course of
study, and passed a satisfactory examination, are _presented_ by
the examiners to the President, as properly qualified to be
admitted to the degree of Bachelor of Arts. A distinguished
professor of the institution where this day is observed has kindly
furnished the following interesting historical account of this
"This presentation," he writes, "is a ceremony of long standing.
It has certainly existed for more than a century. It is very early
alluded to, not as a _novelty_, but as an established custom.
There is now less formality on such occasions, but the substantial
parts of the exercises are retained. The examination is now begun
on Saturday and finished on Tuesday, and the day after, Wednesday,
six weeks before the public Commencement, is the day of
Presentation. There have sometimes been literary exercises on that
day by one or more of the candidates, and sometimes they have been
omitted. I have in my possession a Latin Oration, what, I suppose,
was called a _Cliosophic Oration_, pronounced by William Samuel
Johnson in 1744, at the presentation of his class. Sometimes a
member of the class exhibited an English Oration, which was
responded to by some one of the College Faculty, generally by one
who had been the principal instructor of the class presented. A
case of this kind occurred in 1776, when Mr., afterwards President
Dwight, responded to the class orator in an address, which, being
delivered the same July in which Independence was declared, drew,
from its patriotic allusions, as well as for other reasons,
unusual attention. It was published,--a rare thing at that period.
Another response was delivered in 1796, by J. Stebbins, Tutor,
which was likewise published. There has been no exhibition of the
kind since. For a few years past, there have been an oration and a
poem exhibited by members of the graduating class, at the time of
presentation. The appointments for these exercises are made by the
"So much of an exhibition as there was at the presentation in 1778
has not been usual. More was then done, probably, from the fact,
that for several years, during the Revolutionary war, there was no
public Commencement. Perhaps it should be added, that, so far back
as my information extends, after the literary exercises of
Presentation Day, there has always been a dinner, or collation, at
which the College Faculty, graduates, invited guests, and the
Senior Class have been present."
A graduate of the present year writes more particularly in
relation to the observances of the day at the present time. "In
the morning the Senior Class are met in one of the lecture-rooms
by the chairman of the Faculty and the senior Tutor. The latter
reads the names of those who have passed a satisfactory
examination, and are to be recommended for degrees. The Class then
adjourn to the College Chapel, where the President and some of the
Professors are waiting to receive them. The senior Tutor reads the
names as before, after which Professor Kingsley recommends the
Class to the President and Faculty for the degree of B.A., in a
Latin discourse. The President then responds in the same tongue,
and addresses a few words of counsel to the Class.
"These exercises are followed by the Poem and Oration, delivered
by members of the Class chosen for these offices by the Class.
Then comes the dinner, given in one of the lecture-rooms. After
this the Class meet in the College yard, and spend the afternoon
in smoking (the old clay pipe is used, but no cigars) and singing.
Thus ends the active life of our college days."
"Presentation Day," says the writer of the preface to the "Songs
of Yale," "is the sixth Wednesday of the Summer Term, when the
graduating Class, after having passed their second 'Biennial,' are
presented to the President as qualified for the first degree, or
the B.A. After this 'presentation,' a farewell oration and poem
are pronounced by members of the Class, previously elected by
their classmates for the purpose. After a public dinner, they seat
themselves under the elms before the College, and smoke and sing
for the last time together. Each has his pipe, and 'they who
never' smoked 'before' now smoke, or seem to. The exercises are
closed with a procession about the buildings, bidding each
farewell." 1853, p. 4.
This last smoke is referred to in the following lines:--
"Green elms are waving o'er us,
Green grass beneath our feet,
The ring is round, and on the ground
We sit a class complete."
_Presentation Day Songs_, June 14, 1854.
"It is a very jolly thing,
Our sitting down in this great ring,
To smoke our pipes and loudly sing."--_Ibid._
Pleasant reference is had to some of the more modern features of
Presentation Day, in the annexed extract from the "Yale Literary
"There is one spot where the elms stretch their long arms, not 'in
quest of thought,' but as though they would afford their friendly
shade to make pleasant the last scene of the academic life. Seated
in a circle in this place, which has been so often trampled by the
'stag-dance' of preceding classes, and made hallowed by
associations which will cling around such places, are the present
graduates. They have met together for the last time as a body, for
they will not all be present at the closing ceremony of
Commencement, nor all answer to the muster in the future Class
reunions. It is hard to tell whether such a ceremony should be sad
or joyous, for, despite the boisterous merriment and exuberance
which arises from the prospect of freedom, there is something
tender in the thought of meeting for the last time, to break
strong ties, and lose individuality as a Class for ever.
"In the centre of the circle are the Class band, with horns,
flutes, and violins, braying, piping, or saw-filing, at the option
of the owners,--toot,--toot,--bum,--bang,--boo-o-o,--in a most
melodious discord. Songs are distributed, pipes filled, and the
smoke cloud rises, trembles as the chorus of a hundred voices
rings out in a merry cadence, and then, breaking, soars off,--a
fit emblem of the separation of those at whose parting it received
"'Braxton on the history of the Class!'
"'The Class history!--Braxton!--Braxton!'
"'In a moment, gentlemen,'--and our hero mounts upon a cask, and
proceeds to give in burlesque a description of Class exploits and
the wonderful success of its _early_ graduates. Speeches follow,
and the joke, and song, till the lengthening shadows bring a
warning, and a preparation for the final ceremony. The ring is
spread out, the last pipes smoked in College laid down, and the
'stag-dance,' with its rush, and their destruction ended. Again
the ring forms, and each classmate moves around it to grasp each
hand for the last time, and exchange a parting blessing.
"The band strike up, and the long procession march around the
College, plant their ivy, and return to cheer the
buildings."--Vol. XX. p. 228.
The following song was written by Francis Miles Finch of the class
of 1849, for the Presentation Day of that year.
"Gather ye smiles from the ocean isles,
Warm hearts from river and fountain,
A playful chime from the palm-tree clime,
From the land of rock and mountain:
And roll the song in waves along,
For the hours are bright before us,
And grand and hale are the elms of Yale,
Like fathers, bending o'er us.
"Summon our band from the prairie land,
From the granite hills, dark frowning,
From the lakelet blue, and the black bayou,
From the snows our pine peaks crowning;
And pour the song in joy along,
For the hours are bright before us,
And grand and hale are the towers of Yale,
Like giants, watching o'er us.
"Count not the tears of the long-gone years,
With their moments of pain and sorrow,
But laugh in the light of their memories bright,
And treasure them all for the morrow;
Then roll the song in waves along,
While the hours are bright before us,
And high and hale are the spires of Yale,
Like guardians, towering o'er us.
"Dream of the days when the rainbow rays
Of Hope on our hearts fell lightly,
And each fair hour some cheerful flower
In our pathway blossomed brightly;
And pour the song in joy along,
Ere the moments fly before us,
While portly and hale the sires of Yale
Are kindly gazing o'er us.
"Linger again in memory's glen,
'Mid the tendrilled vines of feeling,
Till a voice or a sigh floats softly by,
Once more to the glad heart stealing;
And roll the song on waves along,
For the hours are bright before us,
And in cottage and vale are the brides of Yale,
Like angels, watching o'er us.
"Clasp ye the hand 'neath the arches grand
That with garlands span our greeting,
With a silent prayer that an hour as fair
May smile on each after meeting;
And long may the song, the joyous song,
Roll on in the hours before us,
And grand and hale may the elms of Yale,
For many a year, bend o'er us."
In the Appendix to President Woolsey's Historical Discourse
delivered before the Graduates of Yale College, is the following
account of Presentation Day, in 1778.
"The Professor of Divinity, two ministers of the town, and another
minister, having accompanied me to the Library about 1, P.M., the
middle Tutor waited upon me there, and informed me that the
examination was finished, and they were ready for the
presentation. I gave leave, being seated in the Library between
the above ministers. Hereupon the examiners, preceded by the
Professor of Mathematics, entered the Library, and introduced
thirty candidates, a beautiful sight! The Diploma Examinatorium,
with the return and minutes inscribed upon it, was delivered to
the President, who gave it to the Vice-Bedellus, directing him to
read it. He read it and returned it to the President, to be
deposited among the College archives _in perpetuam rei memoriam_.
The senior Tutor thereupon made a very eloquent Latin speech, and
presented the candidates for the honors of the College. This
presentation the President in a Latin speech accepted, and
addressed the gentlemen examiners and the candidates, and gave the
latter liberty to return home till Commencement. Then dismissed.
"At about 3, P.M., the afternoon exercises were appointed to
begin. At 3-1/2, the bell tolled, and the assembly convened in the
chapel, ladies and gentlemen. The President introduced the
exercises in a Latin speech, and then delivered the Diploma
Examinatorium to the Vice-Bedellus, who, standing on the pulpit
stairs, read it publicly. Then succeeded,--
Cliosophic Oration in Latin, by Sir Meigs.
Poetical Composition in English, by Sir Barlow.
Dialogue, English, by Sir Miller, Sir Chaplin, Sir Ely.
Cliosophic Oration, English, by Sir Webster.
Disputation, English, by Sir Wolcott, Sir Swift, Sir Smith.
Valedictory Oration, English, by Sir Tracy.
An Anthem. Exercises two hours."--p. 121.
PRESIDENT. In the United States, the chief officer of a college or
university. His duties are, to preside at the meetings of the
Faculty, at Exhibitions and Commencements, to sign the diplomas or
letters of degree, to carry on the official correspondence, to
address counsel and instruction to the students, and to exercise a
general superintendence in the affairs of the college over which
At Harvard College it was formerly the duty of the President "to
inspect the manners of the students, and unto his morning and
evening prayers to join some exposition of the chapters which they
read from Hebrew into Greek, from the Old Testament, in the
morning, and out of English into Greek, from the New Testament, in
the evening." At the same College, in the early part of the last
century, Mr. Wadsworth, the President, states, "that he expounded
the Scriptures, once eleven, and sometimes eight or nine times in
the course of a week."--_Harv. Reg._, p. 249, and _Quincy's Hist.
Harv. Univ._, Vol. I. p. 440.
Similar duties were formerly required of the President at other
American colleges. In some, at the present day, he performs the
duties of a professor in connection with those of his own office,
and presides at the daily religious exercises in the Chapel.
The title of President is given to the chief officer in some of
the colleges of the English universities.
PRESIDENT'S CHAIR. At Harvard College, there is in the Library an
antique chair, venerable by age and association, which is used
only on Commencement Day, when it is occupied by the President
while engaged in delivering the diplomas for degrees. "Vague
report," says Quincy, "represents it to have been brought to the
College during the presidency of Holyoke, as the gift of the Rev.
Ebenezer Turell of Medford (the author of the Life of Dr. Colman).
Turell was connected by marriage with the Mathers, by some of whom
it is said to have been brought from England." Holyoke was
President from 1737 to 1769. The round knobs on the chair were
turned by President Holyoke, and attached to it by his own hands.
In the picture of this honored gentleman, belonging to the
College, he is painted in the old chair, which seems peculiarly
adapted by its strength to support the weight which fills it.
Before the erection of Gore Hall, the present library building,
the books of the College were kept in Harvard Hall. In the same
building, also, was the Philosophy Chamber, where the chair
usually stood for the inspection of the curious. Over this domain,
from the year 1793 to 1800, presided Mr. Samuel Shapleigh, the
Librarian. He was a dapper little bachelor, very active and
remarkably attentive to the ladies who visited the Library,
especially the younger portion of them. When ushered into the room
where stood the old chair, he would watch them with eager eyes,
and, as soon as one, prompted by a desire of being able to say, "I
have sat in the President's Chair," took this seat, rubbing his
hands together, he would exclaim, in great glee, "A forfeit! a
forfeit!" and demand from the fair occupant a kiss, a fee which,
whether refused or not, he very seldom failed to obtain.
This custom, which seems now-a-days to be going out of fashion, is
mentioned by Mr. William Biglow, in a poem before the Phi Beta
Kappa Society, recited in their dining-hall, August 29, 1811.
Speaking of Commencement Day and its observances, he says:--
"Now young gallants allure their favorite fair
To take a seat in Presidential chair;
Then seize the long-accustomed fee, the bliss
Of the half ravished, half free-granted kiss."
The editor of Mr. Peirce's History of Harvard University publishes
the following curious extracts from Horace Walpole's Private
Correspondence, giving a description of some antique chairs found
in England, exactly of the same construction with the College
chair; a circumstance which corroborates the supposition that this
also was brought from England.
HORACE WALPOLE TO GEORGE MONTAGU, ESQ.
"_Strawberry Hill, August_ 20, 1761.
"Dickey Bateman has picked up a whole cloister full of old chairs
in Herefordshire. He bought them one by one, here and there in
farm-houses, for three and sixpence and a crown apiece. They are
of wood, the seats triangular, the backs, arms, and legs loaded
with turnery. A thousand to one but there are plenty up and down
Cheshire, too. If Mr. and Mrs. Wetenhall, as they ride or drive
out, would now and then pick up such a chair, it would oblige me
greatly. Take notice, no two need be of the same
pattern."--_Private Correspondence of Horace Walpole, Earl of
Orford_, Vol. II. p. 279.
HORACE WALPOLE TO THE REV. MR. COLE.
"_Strawberry Hill, March_ 9, 1765.
"When you go into Cheshire, and upon your ramble, may I trouble
you with a commission? but about which you must promise me not to
go a step out of your way. Mr. Bateman has got a cloister at old
Windsor furnished with ancient wooden chairs, most of them
triangular, but all of various patterns, and carved and turned in
the most uncouth and whimsical forms. He picked them up one by
one, for two, three, five, or six shillings apiece, from different
farm-houses in Herefordshire. I have long envied and coveted them.
There may be such in poor cottages in so neighboring a county as
Cheshire. I should not grudge any expense for purchase or
carriage, and should be glad even of a couple such for my cloister
here. When you are copying inscriptions in a churchyard in any
Village, think of me, and step into the first cottage you see, but
don't take further trouble than that."--_Ibid._, Vol. III. pp. 23,
24, from _Peirce's Hist. Harv. Univ._, p. 312.
An engraving of the chair is to be found in President Quincy's
History of Harvard University, Vol. I. p. 288.
PREVARICATOR. A sort of an occasional orator; an academical phrase
in the University of Cambridge, Eng.--_Johnson_.
He should not need have pursued me through the various shapes of a
divine, a doctor, a head of a college, a professor, a
_prevaricator_, a mathematician.--_Bp. Wren, Monarchy Asserted_,
It would have made you smile to hear the _prevaricator_, in his
jocular way, give him his title and character to face.--_A.
Philips, Life of Abp. Williams_, p. 34.
PREVIOUS EXAMINATION. In the English universities, the University
examination in the second year.
Called also the LITTLE-GO.
The only practical connection that the Undergraduate usually has
with the University, in its corporate capacity, consists in his
_previous examination_, _alias_ the "Little-Go," and his final
examination for a degree, with or without honors.--_Bristed's Five
Years in an Eng. Univ._, Ed. 2d, p. 10.
PREX. A cant term for President.
After examination, I went to the old _Prex_, and was admitted.
_Prex_, by the way, is the same as President.--_The Dartmouth_,
Vol. IV. p. 117.
But take a peep with us, dear reader, into that _sanctum
sanctorum_, that skull and bones of college mysteries, the
_Prex's_ room.--_The Yale Banger_, Nov. 10, 1846.
Good old _Prex_ used to get the students together and advise them
on keeping their faces clean, and blacking their boots,
&c.--_Amherst Indicator_, Vol. III. p. 228.
PRINCE'S STUFF. In the English universities, the fabric of which
the gowns of the undergraduates are usually made.
[Their] every-day habit differs nothing as far as the gown is
concerned, it being _prince's stuff_, or other convenient
material.--_Oxford Guide_, Ed. 1847, p. xv.
PRINCIPAL. At Oxford, the president of a college or hall is
sometimes styled the Principal.--_Oxf. Cal._
PRIVAT DOCENT. In German universities, a _private teacher_. "The
so-called _Privat Docenten_," remarks Howitt, "are gentlemen who
devote themselves to an academical career, who have taken the
degree of Doctor, and through a public disputation have acquired
the right to deliver lectures on subjects connected with their
particular department of science. They receive no salary, but
depend upon the remuneration derived from their
classes."--_Student Life of Germany_, Am. ed., p. 29.
PRIVATE. At Harvard College, one of the milder punishments is what
is called _private admonition_, by which a deduction of thirty-two
marks is made from the rank of the offender. So called in
contradistinction to _public admonition_, when a deduction is
made, and with it a letter is sent to the parent. Often
abbreviated into _private_.
"Reckon on the fingers of your mind the reprimands, deductions,
parietals, and _privates_ in store for you."--_Oration before H.L.
of I.O. of O.F._, 1848.
What are parietals, parts, _privates_ now,
To the still calmness of that placid brow?
_Class Poem, Harv. Coll._, 1849.
PRIVATISSIMUM, _pl._ PRIVATISSIMI. Literally, _most private_. In
the German universities, an especially private lecture.
To these _Privatissimi_, as they are called, or especially private
lectures, being once agreed upon, no other auditors can be
admitted.--_Howitt's Student Life of Germany_, Am. ed., p. 35.
Then my _Privatissimum_--(I've been thinking on it
For a long time--and in fact begun it)--
Will cost me 20 Rix-dollars more,
Please send with the ducats I mentioned before.
_The Jobsiad_, in _Lit. World_, Vol. IX. p. 281.
The use of a _Privatissimum_ I can't conjecture,
When one is already ten hours at lecture.
_Ibid._, Vol. IX. p. 448.
PRIZEMAN. In universities and colleges, one who takes a prize.
The Wrangler's glory in his well-earned fame,
The _prizeman's_ triumph, and the plucked man's shame.
_The College_, in _Blackwood's Mag._, _May_, 1849.
PROBATION. In colleges and universities, the examination of a
student as to his qualifications for a degree.
2. The time which a student passes in college from the period of
entering until he is matriculated and received as a member in full
standing. In American colleges, this is usually six months, but
can be prolonged at discretion.--_Coll. Laws_.
PROCEED. To take a degree. Mr. Halliwell, in his Dictionary of
Archaic and Provincial Words, says, "This term is still used at
the English universities." It is sometimes used in American
In 1605 he _proceeded_ Master of Arts, and became celebrated as a
wit and a poet.--_Poems of Bishop Corbet_, p. ix.
They that expect to _proceed_ Bachelors that year, to be examined
of their sufficiency,... and such that expect to _proceed_ Masters
of Arts, to exhibit their synopsis of acts.
They, that are approved sufficient for their degrees, shall
_proceed_.--_Quincy's Hist. Harv. Univ._, Vol. I. p. 518.
The Overseers ... recommended to the Corporation "to take
effectual measures to prevent those who _proceeded_ Bachelors of
Arts, from having entertainments of any kind."--_Ibid._, Vol. II.
When he _proceeded_ Bachelor of Arts, he was esteemed one of the
most perfect scholars that had ever received the honors of this
seminary.--_Holmes's Life of Ezra Stiles_, p. 14.
Masters may _proceed_ Bachelors in either of the Faculties, at the
end of seven years, &c.--_Calendar Trin. Coll._, 1850, p. 10.
Of the surviving graduates, the oldest _proceeded_ Bachelor of
Arts the very Commencement at which Dr. Stiles was elected to the
Presidency.--_Woolsey's Discourse, Yale Coll._, Aug. 14, 1850, p.
PROCTOR. Contracted from the Latin _procurator_, from _procuro_;
_pro_ and _curo_.
In the University of Cambridge, Eng., two proctors are annually
elected, who are peace-officers. It is their especial duty to
attend to the discipline and behavior of all persons _in statu
pupillari_, to search houses of ill-fame, and to take into custody
women of loose and abandoned character, and even those _de malo
suspectcae_. Their other duties are not so menial in their
character, and are different in different universities.--_Cam.
At Oxford, "the proctors act as university magistrates; they are
appointed from each college in rotation, and remain in office two
years. They nominate four pro-proctors to assist them. Their chief
duty, in which they are known to undergraduates, is to preserve
order, and keep the town free from improper characters. When they
go out in the evening, they are usually attended by two servants,
called by the gownsmen bull-dogs.... The marshal, a chief officer,
is usually in attendance on one of the proctors.... It is also the
proctor's duty to take care that the cap and gown are worn in the
University."--_The Collegian's Guide_, Oxford, pp. 176, 177.
At Oxford, the proctors "jointly have, as has the Vice-Chancellor
singly, the power of interposing their _veto_ or _non placet_,
upon all questions in congregation and convocation, which puts a
stop at once to all further proceedings in the matter. These are
the 'censores morum' of the University, and their business is to
see that the undergraduate members, when no longer under the ken
of the head or tutors of their own college, behave seemly when
mixing with the townsmen and restrict themselves, as far as may
be, to lawful or constitutional and harmless amusements. Their
powers extend over a circumference of three miles round the walls
of the city. The proctors are easily recognized by their full
dress gown of velvet sleeves, and bands-encircled neck."--_Oxford
Guide_, Ed. 1847, p. xiii.
At Oxford, "the two proctors were formerly nearly equal in
importance to the Vice-Chancellor. Their powers, though
diminished, are still considerable, as they administer the police
of the University, appoint the Examiners, and have a joint veto on
all measures brought before Convocation."--_Lit. World_, Vol. XII.
The class of officers called Proctors was instituted at Harvard
College in the year 1805, their duty being "to reside constantly
and preserve order within the walls," to preserve order among the
students, to see that the laws of the College are enforced, "and
to exercise the same inspection and authority in their particular
district, and throughout College, which it is the duty of a
parietal Tutor to exercise therein."--_Quincy's Hist. Harv.
Univ._, Vol. II. p. 292.
I believe this is the only college in the United States where this
class of academical police officers is established.
PROF, PROFF. Abbreviated for _Professor_.
The _Proff_ thought he knew too much to stay here, and so he went
his way, and I saw him no more.--_The Dartmouth_, Vol. IV. p. 116.
For _Proffs_ and Tutors too,
Who steer our big canoe,
Prepare their lays.
_Yale Lit. Mag._, Vol. III. p. 144.
PROFESSOR. One that publicly teaches any science or branch of
learning; particularly, an officer in a university, college, or
other seminary, whose business is to read lectures or instruct
students in a particular branch of learning; as a _professor_ of
theology or mathematics.--_Webster_.
PROFESSORIATE. The office or employment of a professor.
It is desirable to restore the _professoriate_.--_Lit. World_,
Vol. XII. p. 246.
PROFESSOR OF DUST AND ASHES. A title sometimes jocosely given by
students to the person who has the care of their rooms.
Was interrupted a moment just now, by the entrance of Mr. C------,
the gentleman who makes the beds, sweeps, takes up the ashes, and
supports the dignity of the title, "_Professor of Dust and
Ashes_."--_Sketches of Williams College_, p. 77.
The South College _Prof. of Dust and Ashes_ has a huge bill
against the Society.--_Yale Tomahawk_, Feb. 1851.
PROFICIENT. The degree of Proficient is conferred in the
University of Virginia, in a certificate of proficiency, on those
who have studied only in certain branches taught in some of the
schools connected with that institution.
PRO MERITIS. Latin; literally, _for his merits_. A phrase
customarily used in American collegiate diplomas.
Then, every crime atoned with ease,
_Pro meritis_, received degrees.
_Trumbull's Progress of Dullness_, Part I.
PRO-PROCTOR. In the English universities, an officer appointed to
assist the proctors in that part of their duty only which relates
to the discipline and behavior of those persons who are _in statu
pupillari_.--_Cam. and Oxf. Cals._
More familiarly, these officers are called _pro's_.
They [the proctors] are assisted in their duties by four
pro-proctors, each principal being allowed to nominate his two
"_pro's_."--_Oxford Guide_, 1847, p. xiii.
The _pro's_ have also a strip of velvet on each side of the
gown-front, and wear bands.--_Ibid._, p. xiii.
PRO-VICE-CHANCELLOR. In the English universities a deputy
appointed by the Vice-Chancellor, who exercises his power in case
of his illness or necessary absence.
PROVOST. The President of a college.
Dr. Jay, on his arrival in England, found there Dr. Smith,
_Provost_ of the College in Philadelphia, soliciting aid for that
institution.--_Hist. Sketch of Columbia Coll._, p. 36.
At Columbia College, in 1811, an officer was appointed, styled
_Provost_, who, in absence of the President, was to supply his
place, and who, "besides exercising the like general
superintendence with the President," was to conduct the classical
studies of the Senior Class. The office of Provost continued until
1816, when the Trustees determined that its powers and duties
should devolve upon the President.--_Ibid._, p. 81.
At Oxford, the chief officer of some of the colleges bears this
title. At Cambridge, it is appropriated solely to the President of
King's College. "On the choice of a Provost," says the author of a
History of the University of Cambridge, 1753, "the Fellows are all
shut into the ante-chapel, and out of which they are not permitted
to stir on any account, nor none permitted to enter, till they
have all agreed on their man; which agreement sometimes takes up
several days; and, if I remember right, they were three days and
nights confined in choosing the present Provost, and had their
beds, close-stools, &c. with them, and their commons, &c. given
them in at the windows."--_Grad. ad Cantab._, p. 85.
PRUDENTIAL COMMITTEE. In Yale College, a committee to whom the
discretionary concerns of the College are intrusted. They order
such repairs of the College buildings as are necessary, audit the
accounts of the Treasurer and Steward, make the annual report of
the state of the College, superintend the investment of the
College funds, institute suits for the recovery and preservation
of the College property, and perform various other duties which
are enumerated in the laws of Yale College.
At Middlebury College, similar powers are given to a body bearing
the same name.--_Laws Mid. Coll._, 1839, pp. 4, 5.
PUBLIC. At Harvard College, the punishment next higher in order to
a _private admonition_ is called a _public admonition_, and
consists in a deduction of sixty-four marks from the rank of the
offender, accompanied by a letter to the parent or guardian. It is
often called _a public_.
See ADMONITION, and PRIVATE.
PUBLIC DAY. In the University of Virginia, the day on which "the
certificates and diplomas are awarded to the successful
candidates, the results of the examinations are announced, and
addresses are delivered by one or more of the Bachelors and
Masters of Arts, and by the Orator appointed by the Society of the
Alumni."--_Cat. of Univ. of Virginia_.
This occurs on the closing day of the session, the 29th of June.
PUBLIC ORATOR. In the English universities, an officer who is the
voice of the university on all public occasions, who writes,
reads, and records all letters of a public nature, and presents,
with an appropriate address, those on whom honorary degrees are
conferred. At Cambridge, this it esteemed one of the most
honorable offices in the gift of the university.--_Cam. and Oxf.
PUMP. Among German students, to obtain or take on credit; to
Und hat der Bursch kein Geld im Beutel,
So _pumpt_ er die Philister an.
PUNY. A young, inexperienced person; a novice.
Freshmen at Oxford were called _punies of the first
year_.--_Halliwell's Dict. Arch. and Prov. Words_.
PUT THROUGH. A phrase very general in its application. When a
student treats, introduces, or assists another, or masters a hard
lesson, he is said to _put_ him or it _through_. In a discourse by
the Rev. Dr. Orville Dewey, on the Law of Progress, referring to
these words, he said "he had heard a teacher use the
characteristic expression that his pupils should be '_put
through_' such and such studies. This, he said, is a modern
practice. We put children through philosophy,--put them through
history,--put them through Euclid. He had no faith in this plan,
and wished to see the school teachers set themselves against this
2. To examine thoroughly and with despatch.
First Thatcher, then Hadley, then Larned and Prex,
Each _put_ our class _through_ in succession.
_Presentation Day Songs_, June 14, 1854.
Q. See CUE.
QUAD. An abbreviation of QUADRANGLE, q.v.
How silently did all come down the staircases into the chapel
_quad_, that evening!--_Collegian's Guide_, p. 88.
His mother had been in Oxford only the week before, and had been
seen crossing the _quad_ in tears.--_Ibid._, p. 144.
QUADRANGLE. At Oxford and Cambridge, Eng., the rectangular courts
in which the colleges are constructed.
Soon as the clouds divide, and dawning day
Tints the _quadrangle_ with its earliest ray.
_The College_, in _Blackwood's Mag._, May, 1849.
QUARTER-DAY. The day when quarterly payments are made. The day
that completes three months.
At Harvard and Yale Colleges, quarter-day, when the officers and
instructors receive their quarterly salaries, was formerly
observed as a holiday. One of the evils which prevailed among the
students of the former institution, about the middle of the last
century, was the "riotous disorders frequently committed on the
_quarter-days_ and evenings," on one of which, in 1764, "the
windows of all the Tutors and divers other windows were broken,"
so that, in consequence, a vote was passed that "the observation
of _quarter-days_, in distinction from other days, be wholly laid
aside, and that the undergraduates be obliged to observe the
studying hours, and to perform the college exercises, on
quarter-day, and the day following, as at other times."--_Peirce's
Hist. Harv. Univ._, p. 216.
QUESTIONIST. In the English universities, a name given to those
who are in the last term of their college course, and are soon to
be examined for honors or degrees.--_Webster_.
In the "Orders agreed upon by the Overseers, at a meeting in
Harvard College, May 6th, 1650," this word is used in the
following sentence: "And, in case any of the Sophisters,
_Questionists_, or Inceptors fail in the premises required at
their hands,... they shall be deferred to the following year"; but
it does not seem to have gained any prevalence in the College, and
is used, it is believed, only in this passage.
QUILLWHEEL. At the Wesleyan University, "when a student," says a
correspondent, "'knocks under,' or yields a point, he says he
_quillwheels_, that is, he acknowledges he is wrong."
RAG. This word is used at Union College, and is thus explained by
a correspondent: "To _rag_ and _ragging_, you will find of very
extensive application, they being employed primarily as expressive
of what is called by the vulgar thieving and stealing, but in a
more extended sense as meaning superiority. Thus, if one declaims
or composes much better than his classmates, he is said to _rag_
all his competitors."
The common phrase, "_to take the rag off_," i.e. to excel, seems
to be the form from which this word has been abbreviated.
RAKE. At Williams and at Bowdoin Colleges, used in the phrase "to
_rake_ an X," i.e. to recite perfectly, ten being the number of
marks given for the best recitation.
RAM. A practical joke.
---- in season to be just too late
A successful _ram_ to perpetrate.
_Sophomore Independent_, Union Coll., Nov. 1854.
RAM ON THE CLERGY. At Middlebury College, a synonyme of the slang
RANTERS. At Bethany College, in Virginia, there is "a band," says
a correspondent, "calling themselves '_Ranters_,' formed for the
purpose of perpetrating all kinds of rascality and
mischievousness, both on their fellow-students and the neighboring
people. The band is commanded by one selected from the party,
called the _Grand Ranter_, whose orders are to be obeyed under
penalty of expulsion of the person offending. Among the tricks
commonly indulged in are those of robbing hen and turkey roosts,
and feasting upon the fruits of their labor, of stealing from the
neighbors their horses, to enjoy the pleasure of a midnight ride,
and to facilitate their nocturnal perambulations. If detected, and
any complaint is made, or if the Faculty are informed of their
movements, they seek revenge by shaving the tails and manes of the
favorite horses belonging to the person informing, or by some
RAZOR. A writer in the Yale Literary Magazine defines this word in
the following sentence: "Many of the members of this time-honored
institution, from whom we ought to expect better things, not only
do their own shaving, but actually _make their own razors_. But I
must explain for the benefit of the uninitiated. A pun, in the
elegant college dialect, is called a razor, while an attempt at a
pun is styled a _sick razor_. The _sick_ ones are by far the most
numerous; however, once in a while you meet with one in quite
respectable health."--Vol. XIII. p. 283.
The meeting will be opened with _razors_ by the Society's jester.
--_Yale Tomahawk_, Nov. 1849.
Behold how Duncia leads her chosen sons,
All armed with squibs, stale jokes, _dull razors_, puns.
_The Gallinipper_, Dec. 1849.
READ. To be studious; to practise much reading; e.g. at Oxford, to
_read_ for a first class; at Cambridge, to _read_ for an honor. In
America it is common to speak of "reading law, medicine," &c.
We seven stayed at Christmas up to _read_;
We seven took one tutor.
_Tennyson, Prologue to Princess_.
In England the vacations are the very times when you _read_ most.
_Bristed's Five Years in an Eng. Univ._, Ed. 2d, p. 78.
This system takes for granted that the students have "_read_," as
it is termed, with a private practitioner of medicine.--_Cat.
Univ. of Virginia_, 1851, p. 25.
READER. In the University of Oxford, one who reads lectures on
2. At the English universities, a hard student, nearly equivalent
to READING MAN.
Most of the Cantabs are late _readers_, so that, supposing one of
them to begin at seven, he will not leave off before half past
eleven.--_Bristed's Five Years in an Eng. Univ._, Ed. 2d, p. 21.
READERSHIP. In the University of Oxford, the office of a reader or
lecturer on scientific subjects.--_Lyell_.
READING. In the academic sense, studying.
One would hardly suspect them to be students at all, did not the
number of glasses hint that those who carried them had impaired
their sight by late _reading_.--_Bristed's Five Years in an Eng.
Univ._, Ed. 2d, p. 5.
READING MAN. In the English universities, a _reading man_ is a
hard student, or one who is entirely devoted to his collegiate
The distinction between "_reading men_" and "_non-reading men_"
began to manifest itself.--_Alma Mater_, Vol. I. p. 169.
We might wonder, perhaps, if in England the "[Greek: oi polloi]"
should be "_reading men_," but with us we should wonder were they
not.--_Williams Quarterly_, Vol. II. p. 15.
READING PARTY. In England, a number of students who in vacation
time, and at a distance from the university, pursue their studies
together under the direction of a coach, or private tutor.
Of this method of studying, Bristed remarks: "It is not
_impossible_ to read on a reading-party; there is only a great
chance against your being able to do so. As a very general rule, a
man works best in his accustomed place of business, where he has
not only his ordinary appliances and helps, but his familiar
associations about him. The time lost in settling down and making
one's self comfortable and ready for work in a new place is not
inconsiderable, and is all clear loss. Moreover, the very idea of
a reading-party involves a combination of two things incompatible,
--amusement and relaxation beyond the proper and necessary
quantity of daily exercise, and hard work at books.
"Reading-parties do not confine themselves to England or the
island of Great Britain. Sometimes they have been known to go as
far as Dresden. Sometimes a party is of considerable size; when a
crack Tutor goes on one, which is not often, he takes his whole
team with him, and not unfrequently a Classical and Mathematical
Bachelor join their pupils."--_Five Years in an Eng. Univ._, Ed.
2d, pp. 199-201.
READ UP. Students often speak of _reading up_, i.e. preparing
themselves to write on a subject, by reading the works of authors
who have treated of it.
REBELLION TREE. At Harvard College, a large elm-tree, which stands
to the east of the south entry of Hollis Hall, has long been known
by this name. It is supposed to have been planted at the request
of Dr. Thaddeus M. Harris. His son, Dr. Thaddeus W. Harris, the
present Librarian of the College, says that his father has often
told him, that when he held the office of Librarian, in the year
1792, a number of trees were set out in the College yard, and that
one was planted opposite his room, No. 7 Hollis Hall, under which
he buried a pewter plate, taken from the commons hall. On this
plate was inscribed his name, the day of the month, the year, &c.
From its situation and appearance, the Rebellion Tree would seem
to be the one thus described; but it did not receive its name
until the year 1807, when the famous rebellion occurred among the
students, and perhaps not until within a few years antecedent to
the year 1819. At that time, however, this name seems to have been
the one by which it was commonly known, from the reference which
is made to it in the Rebelliad, a poem written to commemorate the
deeds of the rebellion of that year.
And roared as loud as he could yell,
"Come on, my lads, let us rebel!"
* * * * *
With one accord they all agree
To dance around _Rebellion Tree_.
_Rebelliad_, p. 46.
But they, rebellious rascals! flee
For shelter to _Rebellion Tree_.
_Ibid._, p. 60.
Stands a tree in front of Hollis,
Dear to Harvard over all;
But than ---- desert us,
Rather let _Rebellion_ fall.
Other scenes are sometimes enacted under its branches, as the
following verses show:--
When the old year was drawing towards its close,
And in its place the gladsome new one rose,
Then members of each class, with spirits free,
Went forth to greet her round _Rebellion Tree_.
Round that old tree, sacred to students' rights,
And witness, too, of many wondrous sights,
In solemn circle all the students passed;
They danced with spirit, until, tired, at last
A pause they make, and some a song propose.
Then "Auld Lang Syne" from many voices rose.
Now, as the lamp of the old year dies out,
They greet the new one with exulting shout;
They groan for ----, and each class they cheer,
And thus they usher in the fair new year.
_Poem before H.L. of I.O. of O.F._, p. 19, 1849.
RECENTES. Latin for the English FRESHMEN. Consult Clap's History
of Yale College, 1766, p. 124.
RECITATION. In American colleges and schools, the rehearsal of a
lesson by pupils before their instructor.--_Webster_.
RECITATION-ROOM. The room where lessons are rehearsed by pupils
before their instructor.
In the older American colleges, the rooms of the Tutors were
formerly the recitation-rooms of the classes. At Harvard College,
the benches on which the students sat when reciting were, when not
in use, kept in piles, outside of the Tutors' rooms. When the hour
of recitation arrived, they would carry them into the room, and
again return them to their places when the exercise was finished.
One of the favorite amusements of the students was to burn these
benches; the spot selected for the bonfire being usually the green
in front of the old meeting-house, or the common.
RECITE. Transitively, to rehearse, as a lesson to an instructor.
2. Intransitively, to rehearse a lesson. The class will _recite_
at eleven o'clock.--_Webster_.
This word is used in both forms in American seminaries.
RECORD OF MERIT. At Middlebury College "a class-book is kept by
each instructor, in which the character of each student's
recitation is noted by numbers, and all absences from college
exercises are minuted. Demerit for absences and other
irregularities is also marked in like manner, and made the basis
of discipline. At the close of each term, the average of these
marks is recorded, and, when desired, communicated to parents and
guardians." This book is called the _record of merit_.--_Cat.
Middlebury Coll._, 1850-51, p. 17.
RECTOR. The chief elective officer of some universities, as in
France and Scotland. The same title was formerly given to the
president of a college in New England, but it is not now in
The title of _Rector_ was given to the chief officer of Yale
College at the time of its foundation, and was continued until the
year 1745, when, by "An Act for the more full and complete
establishment of Yale College in New Haven," it was changed, among
other alterations, to that of _President_.--_Clap's Annals of Yale
College_, p. 47.
The chief officer of Harvard College at the time of its foundation
was styled _Master_ or _Professor_. Mr. Dunster was chosen the
first _President_, in 1640, and those who succeeded him bore this
title until the year 1686, when Mr. Joseph Dudley, having received
the commission of President of the Colony, changed for the sake of
distinction the title of _President of the College_ to that of
_Rector_. A few years after, the title of _President_ was resumed.
--_Peirce's Hist. of Harv. Univ._, p. 63.
REDEAT. Latin; literally, _he may return_. "It is the custom in
some colleges," says the Gradus ad Cantabrigiam, "on coming into
residence, to wait on the Dean, and sign your name in a book, kept
for that purpose, which is called signing your _Redeat_."--p. 92.
REFECTORY. At Oxford, Eng., the place where the members of each
college or hall dine. This word was originally applied to an
apartment in convents and monasteries, where a moderate repast was
In Oxford there are nineteen colleges and five halls, containing
dwelling-rooms for the students, and a distinct _refectory_ or
dining-hall, library, and chapel to each college and hall.--_Oxf.
Guide_, 1847, p. xvi.
At Princeton College, this name is given to the hall where the
students eat together in common.--Abbreviated REFEC.
REGENT. In the English universities, the regents, or _regentes_,
are members of the university who have certain peculiar duties of
instruction or government. At Cambridge, all resident Masters of
Arts of less than four years' standing and all Doctors of less
than two, are Regents. At Oxford, the period of regency is
shorter. At both universities, those of a more advanced standing,
who keep their names on the college books, are called
_non-regents_. At Cambridge, the regents compose the upper house,
and the non-regents the lower house of the Senate, or governing
body. At Oxford, the regents compose the _Congregation_, which
confers degrees, and does the ordinary business of the University.
The regents and non-regents, collectively, compose the
_Convocation_, which is the governing body in the last
2. In the State of New York, the member of a corporate body which
is invested with the superintendence of all the colleges,
academies, and schools in the State. This board consists of
twenty-one members, who are called _the Regents of the University
of the State of New York_. They are appointed and removable by the
legislature. They have power to grant acts of incorporation for
colleges, to visit and inspect all colleges, academies, and
schools, and to make regulations for governing the
same.--_Statutes of New York_.
3. At Harvard College, an officer chosen from the _Faculty_, whose
duties are under the immediate direction of the President. All
weekly lists of absences, monitor's bills, petitions to the
Faculty for excuse of absences from the regular exercises and for
making up lessons, all petitions for elective studies, the returns
of the scale of merit, and returns of delinquencies and deductions
by the tutors and proctors, are left with the Regent, or deposited
in his office. The Regent also informs those who petition for
excuses, and for elective studies, of the decision of the Faculty
in regard to their petitions. Formerly, the Regent assisted in
making out the quarter or term bills, of which he kept a record,
and when students were punished by fining, he was obliged to keep
an account of the fines, and the offences for which they were
imposed. Some of his duties were performed by a Freshman, who was
appointed by the Faculty.--_Laws Harv. Coll._, 1814, and
The creation of the office of Regent at Harvard College is noticed
by Professor Sidney Willard. In the year 1800 "an officer was
appointed to occupy a room in one of the halls to supply the place
of a Tutor, for preserving order in the rooms in his entry, and to
perform the duties that had been discharged by the Butler, so far
as it regarded the keeping of certain records. He was allowed the
service of a Freshman, and the offices of Butler and of Butler's
Freshman were abolished. The title of this new officer was
Regent."--_Memories of Youth and Manhood_, Vol. II. p. 107.
See FRESHMAN, REGENT'S.
REGISTER. In Union College, an officer whose duties are similar to
those enumerated under REGISTRAR. He also acts, without charge, as
fiscal guardian for all students who deposit funds in his hands.
REGISTRAR, REGISTRARY. In the English universities, an officer who
has the keeping of all the public records.--_Encyc._
At Harvard College, the Corporation appoint one of the Faculty to
the office of _Registrar_. He keeps a record of the votes and
orders passed by the latter body, gives certified copies of the
same when requisite, and performs other like duties.--_Laws Univ.
at Cam., Mass._, 1848.
REGIUS PROFESSOR. A name given in the British universities to the
incumbents of those professorships which have been founded by
REGULATORS. At Hamilton College, "a Junior Class affair," writes a
correspondent, "consisting of fifteen or twenty members, whose
object is to regulate college laws and customs according to their
own way. They are known only by their deeds. Who the members are,
no one out of the band knows. Their time for action is in the
RELEGATION. In German universities, the _relegation_ is the
punishment next in severity to the _consilium abeundi_. Howitt
explains the term in these words: "It has two degrees. First, the
simple relegation. This consists in expulsion [out of the district
of the court of justice within which the university is situated],
for a period of from two to three years; after which the offender
may indeed return, but can no more be received as an academical
burger. Secondly, the sharper relegation, which adds to the simple
relegation an announcement of the fact to the magistracy of the
place of abode of the offender; and, according to the discretion
of the court, a confinement in an ordinary prison, previous to the
banishment, is added; and also the sharper relegation can be
extended to more than four years, the ordinary term,--yes, even to
perpetual expulsion."--_Student Life of Germany_, Am. ed., p. 33.
RELIG. At Princeton College, an abbreviated name for a professor
RENOWN. German, _renommiren_, to hector, to bully. Among the
students in German universities, to _renown_ is, in English
popular phrase, "to cut a swell."--_Howitt_.
The spare hours of the forenoon and afternoon are spent in
fencing, in _renowning_,--that is, in doing things-which make
people stare at them, and in providing duels for the
morrow.--_Russell's Tour in Germany_, Edinburgh ed., 1825, Vol.
II. pp. 156, 157.
We cannot be deaf to the testimony of respectable eyewitnesses,
who, in proof of these defects, tell us ... of "_renowning_," or
wild irregularities, in which "the spare hours" of the day are
spent.--_D.A. White's Address before Soc. of the Alumni of Harv.
Univ._, Aug. 27, 1844, p. 24.
REPLICATOR. "The first discussions of the Society, called
Forensic, were in writing, and conducted by only two members,
styled the Respondent and the Opponent. Subsequently, a third was
added, called a _Replicator_, who reviewed the arguments of the
other two, and decided upon their comparative
merits."--_Semi-centennial Anniversary of the Philomathean
Society, Union Coll._, p. 9.
REPORT. A word much in use among the students of universities and
colleges, in the common sense of _to inform against_, but usually
spoken in reference to the Faculty.
Thanks to the friendly proctor who spared to _report_ me.
_Harvardiana_, Vol. III. p. 79.
If I hear again
Of such fell outrage to the college laws,
Of such loud tumult after eight o'clock,
Thou'lt be _reported_ to the Faculty.--_Ibid._, p. 257.
RESIDENCE. At the English universities, to be "in residence" is to
occupy rooms as a member of a college, either in the college
itself, or in the town where the college is situated.
Trinity ... usually numbers four hundred undergraduates in
_residence_.--_Bristed's Five Years in an Eng. Univ._, Ed. 2d, p.
At Oxford, an examination, not always a very easy one, must be
passed before the student can be admitted to
_residence_.--_Westminster Rev._, Am. ed., Vol. XXXV. p. 232.
RESIDENT GRADUATE. In the United States, graduates who are
desirous of pursuing their studies in a place where a college is
situated, without joining any of its departments, can do so in the
capacity of _residents_ or _resident graduates_. They are allowed
to attend the public lectures given in the institution, and enjoy
the use of its library. Like other students, they give bonds for
the payment of college dues.--_Coll. Laws_.
RESPONDENT. In the schools, one who maintains a thesis in reply,
and whose province is to refute objections, or overthrow
This word, with its companion, _affirmant_, was formerly used in
American colleges, and was applied to those who engaged in the
syllogistic discussions then incident to Commencement.
But the main exercises were disputations upon questions, wherein
the _respondents_ first made their theses.--_Mather's Magnalia_,
B. IV. p. 128.
The syllogistic disputes were held between an _affirmant_ and
_respondent_, who stood in the side galleries of the church
opposite to one another, and shot the weapons of their logic over
the heads of the audience.--_Pres. Woolsey's Hist. Disc., Yale
Coll._, p. 65.
In the public exercises at Commencement, I was somewhat remarked
as a _respondent_.--_Life and Works of John Adams_, Vol. II. p. 3.
RESPONSION. In the University of Oxford, an examination about the
middle of the college course, also called the
RETRO. Latin; literally, _back_. Among the students of the
University of Cambridge, Eng., used to designate a _behind_-hand
account. "A cook's bill of extraordinaries not settled by the
Tutor."--_Grad. ad Cantab._
REVIEW. A second or repeated examination of a lesson, or the
lesson itself thus re-examined.
He cannot get the "advance," forgets "the _review_."
_Childe Harvard_, p. 13.
RIDER. The meaning of this word, used at Cambridge, Eng., is given
in the annexed sentence. "His ambition is generally limited to
doing '_riders_,' which are a sort of scholia, or easy deductions
from the book-work propositions, like a link between them and
problems; indeed, the rider being, as its name imports, attached
to a question, the question is not fully answered until the rider
is answered also."--_Bristed's Five Years in an Eng. Univ._, Ed.
2d, p. 222.
ROLL A WHEEL. At the University of Vermont, in student parlance,
to devise a scheme or lay a plot for an election or a college
spree, is to _roll a wheel_. E.g. "John was always _rolling a big
wheel_," i.e. incessantly concocting some plot.
ROOM. To occupy an apartment; to lodge; _an academic use of the
Inquire of any student at our colleges where Mr. B. lodges, and
you will be told he _rooms_ in such a building, such a story, or
up so many flights of stairs, No. --, to the right or left.
The Rowes, years ago, used to _room_ in Dartmouth Hall.--_The
Dartmouth_, Vol. IV. p. 117.
_Rooming_ in college, it is convenient that they should have the
more immediate oversight of the deportment of the
students.--_Scenes and Characters in College_, p. 133.
Seven years ago, I _roomed_ in this room where we are now.--_Yale
Lit. Mag._, Vol. XII. p. 114.
When Christmas came again I came back to this room, but the man
who _roomed_ here was frightened and ran away.--_Ibid._, Vol. XII.
Rent for these apartments is exacted from Sophomores, about sixty
_rooming_ out of college.--_Burlesque Catalogue_, Yale Coll.,
1852-53, p. 26.
ROOT. A word first used in the sense given below by Dr. Paley. "He
[Paley] held, indeed, all those little arts of underhand address,
by which patronage and preferment are so frequently pursued, in
supreme contempt. He was not of a nature to _root_; for that was
his own expressive term, afterwards much used in the University to
denote the sort of practice alluded to. He one day humorously
proposed, at some social meeting, that a certain contemporary
Fellow of his College [Christ's College, Cambridge, Eng.], at that
time distinguished for his elegant and engaging manners, and who
has since attained no small eminence in the Church of England,
should be appointed _Professor of Rooting_."--_Memoirs of Paley_.
2. To study hard; to DIG, q.v.
Ill-favored men, eager for his old boots and diseased raiment,
torment him while _rooting_ at his Greek.--_Harv. Mag._, Vol. I.
ROT. Twaddle, platitude. In use among the students at the
University of Cambridge, Eng.--_Bristed_.
ROWES. The name of a party which formerly existed at Dartmouth
College. They are thus described in The Dartmouth, Vol. IV. p.
117: "The _Rowes_ are very liberal in their notions. The Rowes
don't pretend to say anything worse of a fellow than to call him a
_Blue_, and _vice versa_."
ROWING. The making of loud and noisy disturbance; acting like a
Flushed with the juice of the grape,
all prime and ready for _rowing_.
When from the ground I raised
the fragments of ponderous brickbat.
_Harvardiana_, Vol. III. p. 98.
The Fellow-Commoners generally being more disposed to _rowing_
than reading.--_Bristed's Five Years in an Eng. Univ._, Ed. 2d. p.
ROWING-MAN. One who is more inclined to fast living than hard
study. Among English students used in contradistinction to
When they go out to sup, as a reading-man does perhaps once a
term, and a _rowing-man_ twice a week, they eat very moderately,
though their potations are sometimes of the deepest.--_Bristed's
Five Years in an Eng. Univ._, Ed. 2d, p. 21.
ROWL, ROWEL. At Princeton, Union, and Hamilton Colleges, this word
is used to signify a good recitation. Used in the phrase, "to make
a _rowl_." From the second of these colleges, a correspondent
writes: "Also of the word _rowl_; if a public speaker presents a
telling appeal or passage, he would _make a perfect rowl_, in the
language of all students at least."
ROWL. To recite well. A correspondent from Princeton College
defines this word, "to perform any exercise well, recitation,
speech, or composition; to succeed in any branch or pursuit."
RUSH. At Yale College, a perfect recitation is denominated a
I got my lesson perfectly, and what is more, made a perfect
_rush_.--_Yale Lit. Mag._, Vol. XIII. p. 134.
Every _rush_ and fizzle made
Every body frigid laid.
_Ibid._, Vol. XX. p. 186.
This mark [that of a hammer with a note, "hit the nail on the
head"] signifies that the student makes a capital hit; in other
words, a decided _rush_.--_Yale Banger_, Nov. 10, 1846.
In dreams his many _rushes_ heard.
_Ibid._, Oct. 22, 1847.
This word is much used among students with the common meaning;
thus, they speak of "a _rush_ into prayers," "a _rush_ into the
recitation-room," &c. A correspondent from Dartmouth College says:
"_Rushing_ the Freshmen is putting them out of the chapel."
Another from Williams writes: "Such a man is making a _rush_, and
to this we often add--for the Valedictory."
The gay regatta where the Oneida led,
The glorious _rushes_, Seniors at the head.
_Class Poem, Harv. Coll._, 1849.
One of the Trinity men ... was making a tremendous _rush_ for a
Fellowship.--_Bristed's Five Years in an Eng. Univ._, Ed. 2d, p.
RUSH. To recite well; to make a perfect recitation.
It was purchased by the man,--who 'really did not look' at the
lesson on which he '_rushed_.'--_Yale Lit. Mag._, Vol. XIV. p.
Then for the students mark flunks, even though the young men may
be _rushing_.--_Yale Banger_, Oct., 1848.
So they pulled off their coats, and rolled up their sleeves,
And _rushed_ in Bien. Examination.
_Presentation Day Songs, Yale Coll._, June 14, 1854.
RUSTICATE. To send a student for a time from a college or
university, to reside in the country, by way of punishment for
See a more complete definition under RUSTICATION.
And those whose crimes are very great,
Let us suspend or _rusticate_.--_Rebelliad_, p. 24.
The "scope" of what I have to state
Is to suspend and _rusticate_.--_Ibid._, p. 28.
The same meaning is thus paraphrastically conveyed:--
By my official power, I swear,
That you shall _smell the country air_.--_Rebelliad_, p. 45.
RUSTICATION. In universities and colleges, the punishment of a
student for some offence, by compelling him to leave the
institution, and reside for a time in the country, where he is
obliged to pursue with a private instructor the studies with which
his class are engaged during his term of separation, and in which
he is obliged to pass a satisfactory examination before he can be
reinstated in his class.
It seems plain from his own verses to Diodati, that Milton had
incurred _rustication_,--a temporary dismission into the country,
with, perhaps, the loss of a term.--_Johnson_.
Take then this friendly exhortation.
The next offence is _Rustication_.
_MS. Poem_, by John Q. Adams.
RUST-RINGING. At Hamilton College, "the Freshmen," writes a
correspondent, "are supposed to lose some of their verdancy at the
end of the last term of that year, and the 'ringing off their
rust' consists in ringing the chapel bell--commencing at midnight
--until the rope wears out. During the ringing, the upper classes
are diverted by the display of numerous fire-works, and enlivened
by most beautifully discordant sounds, called 'music,' made to
issue from tin kettle-drums, horse-fiddles, trumpets, horns, &c.,
SACK. To expel. Used at Hamilton College.
SAIL. At Bowdoin College, a _sail_ is a perfect recitation. To
_sail_ is to recite perfectly.
SAINT. A name among students for one who pretends to particular
sanctity of manners.
Or if he had been a hard-reading man from choice,--or a stupid
man,--or a "_saint_,"--no one would have troubled themselves about
him.--_Blackwood's Mag._, Eng. ed., Vol. LX. p. 148.
SALTING THE FRESHMEN. In reference to this custom, which belongs
to Dartmouth College, a correspondent from that institution
writes: "There is an annual trick of '_salting the Freshmen_,'
which is putting salt and water on their seats, so that their
clothes are injured when they sit down." The idea of preservation,
cleanliness, and health is no doubt intended to be conveyed by the
use of the wholesome articles salt and water.
SALUTATORIAN. The student of a college who pronounces the
salutatory oration at the annual Commencement.--_Webster_.
SALUTATORY. An epithet applied to the oration which introduces the
exercises of the Commencements in American colleges.--_Webster_.
The oration is often called, simply, _The Salutatory_.
And we ask our friends "out in the world," whenever they meet an
educated man of the class of '49, not to ask if he had the
Valedictory or _Salutatory_, but if he takes the
Indicator.--_Amherst Indicator_, Vol. II. p. 96.
SATIS. Latin; literally, _enough_. In the University of Cambridge,
Eng., the lowest honor in the schools. The manner in which this
word is used is explained in the Gradus ad Cantabrigiam, as
follows: "_Satis disputasti_; which is at much as to say, in the
colloquial style, 'Bad enough.' _Satis et bene disputasti_,
'Pretty fair,--tolerable.' _Satis et optime disputasti_, 'Go thy
ways, thou flower and quintessence of Wranglers.' Such are the
compliments to be expected from the Moderator, after the _act is
S.B. An abbreviation for _Scientiae Baccalaureus_, Bachelor in
Science. At Harvard College, this degree is conferred on those who
have pursued a prescribed course of study for at least one year in
the Scientific School, and at the end of that period passed a
satisfactory examination. The different degrees of excellence are
expressed in the diploma by the words, _cum laude_, _cum magna
laude_, _cum summa laude_.
SCARLET DAY. In the Church of England, certain festival days are
styled _scarlet days_. On these occasions, the doctors in the
three learned professions appear in their scarlet robes, and the
noblemen residing in the universities wear their full
dresses.--_Grad. ad Cantab._
SCHEME. The printed papers which are given to the students at Yale
College at the Biennial Examination, and which contain the
questions that are to be answered, are denominated _schemes_. They
are also called, simply, _papers_.
See the down-cast air, and the blank despair,
That sits on each Soph'more feature,
As his bleared eyes gleam o'er that horrid _scheme_!
_Songs of Yale_, 1853, p. 22.
Olmsted served an apprenticeship setting up types,
For the _schemes_ of Bien. Examination.
_Presentation Day Songs_, June 14, 1854.
Here's health to the tutors who gave us good _schemes_,
Vive la compagnie!
_Songs, Biennial Jubilee_, 1855.
SCHOLAR. Any member of a college, academy, or school.
2. An undergraduate in English universities, who belongs to the
foundation of a college, and receives support in part from its
SCHOLAR OF THE HOUSE. At Yale College, those are called _Scholars
of the House_ who, by superiority in scholarship, become entitled
to receive the income arising from certain foundations established
for the purpose of promoting learning and literature. In some
cases the recipient is required to remain at New Haven for a
specified time, and pursue a course of studies under the direction
of the Faculty of the College.--_Sketches of Yale Coll._, p. 86.
_Laws of Yale Coll._
2. "The _scholar of the house_," says President Woolsey, in his
Historical Discourse,--"_scholaris aedilitus_ of the Latin
laws,--before the institution of Berkeley's scholarships which had
the same title, was a kind of aedile appointed by the President and
Tutors to inspect the public buildings, and answered in a degree
to the Inspector known to our present laws and practice. He was
not to leave town until the Friday after Commencement, because in
that week more than usual damage was done to the buildings."--p.
The duties of this officer are enumerated in the annexed passage.
"The Scholar of the House, appointed by the President, shall
diligently observe and set down the glass broken in College
windows, and every other damage done in College, together with the
time when, and the person by whom, it was done; and every quarter
he shall make up a bill of such damages, charged against every
scholar according to the laws of College, and deliver the same to
the President or the Steward, and the Scholar of the House shall
tarry at College until Friday noon after the public Commencement,
and in that time shall be obliged to view any damage done in any
chamber upon the information of him to whom the chamber is
assigned."--_Laws of Yale Coll._, 1774, p. 22.
SCHOLARSHIP. Exhibition or maintenance for a scholar; foundation
for the support of a student--_Ainsworth_.
SCHOOL. THE SCHOOLS, _pl._; the seminaries for teaching logic,
metaphysics, and theology, which were formed in the Middle Ages,
and which were characterized by academical disputations and
subtilties of reasoning; or the learned men who were engaged in
discussing nice points in metaphysics or theology.--_Webster_.
2. In some American colleges, the different departments for
teaching law, medicine, divinity, &c. are denominated _schools_.
3. The name given at the University of Oxford to the place of
examination. The principal exercises consist of disputations in
philosophy, divinity, and law, and are always conducted in a sort
of barbarous Latin.
I attended the _Schools_ several times, with the view of acquiring
the tact and self-possession so requisite in these public
contests.--_Alma Mater_, Vol. II. p. 39.
There were only two sets of men there, one who fagged
unremittingly for the _Schools_, and another devoted to frivolity
and dissipation.--_Bristed's Five Years in an Eng. Univ._, Ed. 2d,
S.C.L. At the English universities, one who is pursuing law
studies and has not yet received the degree of B.C.L. or D.C.L.,
is designated S.C.L., _Student_ in or of _Civil Law_.
At the University of Cambridge, Eng., persons in this rank who
have kept their acts wear a full-sleeved gown, and are entitled to
use a B.A. hood.
SCONCE. To mulct; to fine. Used at the University of Oxford.
A young fellow of Baliol College, having, upon some discontent cut
his throat very dangerously, the Master of the College sent his
servitor to the buttery-book to _sconce_ (i.e. fine) him 5s.; and,
says the Doctor, tell him the next time he cuts his throat I'll
_sconce_ him ten.--_Terrae-Filius_, No. 39.
Was _sconced_ in a quart of ale for quoting Latin, a passage from
Juvenal; murmured, and the fine was doubled.--_The Etonian_, Vol.
II. p. 391.
SCOUT. A cant term at Oxford for a college servant or
My _scout_, indeed, is a very learned fellow, and has an excellent
knack at using hard words. One morning he told me the gentleman in
the next room _contagious_ to mine desired to speak to me. I once
overheard him give a fellow-servant very sober advice not to go
astray, but be true to his own wife; for _idolatry_ would surely
bring a man to _instruction_ at last.--_The Student_, Oxf. and
Cam., 1750, Vol. I. p. 55.
An anteroom, or vestibule, which serves the purpose of a _scout's_
pantry.--_The Etonian_, Vol. II. p. 280.
_Scouts_ are usually pretty communicative of all they
know.--_Blackwood's Mag._, Eng. ed., Vol. LX. p. 147.
Sometimes used in American colleges.
In order to quiet him, we had to send for his factotum or _scout_,
an old black fellow.--_Yale Lit. Mag._, Vol. XI. p. 282.
SCRAPE. To insult by drawing the feet over the floor.--_Grose_.
But in a manner quite uncivil,
They hissed and _scraped_ him like the devil.
_Rebelliad_, p. 37.
"I do insist,"
Quoth he, "that two, who _scraped_ and hissed,
Shall be condemned without a jury
To pass the winter months _in rure_."--_Ibid._, p. 41.
They not unfrequently rose to open outrage or some personal
molestation, as casting missiles through his windows at night, or
"_scraping him_" by day.--_A Tour through College_, Boston, 1832,
SCRAPING. A drawing of, or the act of drawing, the feet over the
floor, as an insult to some one, or merely to cause disturbance; a
shuffling of the feet.
New lustre was added to the dignity of their feelings by the
pathetic and impressive manner in which they expressed them, which
was by stamping and _scraping_ majestically with their feet, when
in the presence of the detested tutors.--_Don Quixotes at
The morning and evening daily prayers were, on the next day
(Thursday), interrupted by _scraping_, whistling, groaning, and
other disgraceful noises.--_Circular, Harvard College_, 1834, p.
This word is used in the universities and colleges of both England
SCREW. In some American colleges, an excessive, unnecessarily
minute, and annoying examination of a student by an instructor is
called a _screw_. The instructor is often designated by the same
Haunted by day with fearful _screw_.
_Harvard Lyceum_, p. 102.
_Screws_, duns, and other such like evils.
_Rebelliad_, p. 77.
One must experience all the stammering and stuttering, the
unending doubtings and guessings, to understand fully the power of
a mathematical _screw_.--_Harv. Reg._, p. 378.
The consequence was, a patient submission to the _screw_, and a
loss of college honors and patronage.--_A Tour through College_,
Boston, 1832, p. 26.
I'll tell him a whopper next time, and astonish him so that he'll
forget his _screws_.--_Yale Lit. Mag._, Vol. XI. p. 336.
What a darned _screw_ our tutor is.--_Ibid._
Apprehension of the severity of the examination, or what in after
times, by an academic figure of speech, was called screwing, or a
_screw_, was what excited the chief dread.--_Willard's Memories of
Youth and Manhood_, Vol. I. p. 256.
Passing such an examination is often denominated _taking a screw_.
And sad it is to _take a screw_.
_Harv. Reg._, p. 287.
2. At Bowdoin College, an imperfect recitation is called a
You never should look blue, sir,
If you chance to take a "_screw_," sir,
To us it's nothing new, sir,
To drive dull care away.
_The Bowdoin Creed_.
We've felt the cruel, torturing _screw_,
And oft its driver's ire.
_Song, Sophomore Supper, Bowdoin Coll._, 1850.
SCREW. To press with an excessive and unnecessarily minute
Who would let a tutor knave
_Screw _him like a Guinea slave!
_Rebelliad_, p. 53.
Have I been _screwed_, yea, deaded morn and eve,
Some dozen moons of this collegiate life?
_Harvardiana_, Vol. III. p. 255.
O, I do well remember when in college,
How we fought reason,--battles all in play,--
Under a most portentous man of knowledge,
The captain-general in the bloodless fray;
He was a wise man, and a good man, too,
And robed himself in green whene'er he came to _screw_.
_Our Chronicle of '26_, Boston, 1827.
In a note to the last quotation, the author says of the word
_screw_: "For the information of the inexperienced, we explain
this as a term quite rife in the universities, and, taken
substantively, signifying an intellectual nonplus."
At last the day is ended,
The tutor _screws_ no more.
_Knick. Mag._, Vol. XLV. p. 195.
SCREWING UP. The meaning of this phrase, as understood by English
Cantabs, may be gathered from the following extract. "A
magnificent sofa will be lying close to a door ... bored through
from top to bottom from the _screwing up_ of some former unpopular
tenant; "_screwing up_" being the process of fastening on the
outside, with nails and screws, every door of the hapless wight's
apartments. This is done at night, and in the morning the
gentleman is leaning three-fourths out of his window, bawling for
rescue."--_Westminster Rev._, Am. Ed., Vol. XXXV. p. 239.
SCRIBBLING-PAPER. A kind of writing-paper, rather inferior in
quality, a trifle larger than foolscap, and used at the English
universities by mathematicians and in the lecture-room.--_Bristed.
Grad. ad Cantab._
Cards are commonly sold at Cambridge as
"_scribbling-paper_."--_Westminster Rev._, Am. ed., Vol. XXXV. p.
The summer apartment contained only a big standing-desk, the
eternal "_scribbling-paper_," and the half-dozen mathematical
works required.--_Bristed's Five Years in an Eng. Univ._, Ed. 2d,
SCROUGE. An exaction. A very long lesson, or any hard or
unpleasant task, is usually among students denominated a
SCROUGE. To exact; to extort; said of an instructor who imposes
difficult tasks on his pupils.
It is used provincially in England, and in America in some of the
Northern and Southern States, with the meaning _to crowd, to
squeeze_.--_Bartlett's Dict. of Americanisms_.
SCRUB. At Columbia College, a servant.
2. One who is disliked for his meanness, ill-breeding, or
vulgarity. Nearly equivalent to SPOON, q.v.
SCRUBBY. Possessing the qualities of a scrub. Partially synonymous
with the adjective SPOONY, q.v.
SCRUTATOR. In the University of Cambridge, England, an officer
whose duty it is to attend all _Congregations_, to read the
_graces_ to the lower house of the Senate, to gather the votes
secretly, or to take them openly in scrutiny, and publicly to
pronounce the assent or dissent of that house.--_Cam. Cal._
SECOND-YEAR MEN. In the University of Cambridge, Eng., the title
of _Second-Year Men_, or _Junior Sophs_ or _Sophisters_, is given
to students during the second year of their residence at the
SECTION COURT. At Union College, the college buildings are divided
into sections, a section comprising about fifteen rooms. Within
each section is established a court, which is composed of a judge,
an advocate, and a secretary, who are chosen by the students
resident therein from their own number, and hold their offices
during one college term. Each section court claims the power to
summon for trial any inhabitant within the bounds of its
jurisdiction who may be charged with improper conduct. The accused
may either defend himself, or select some person to plead for him,
such residents of the section as choose to do so acting as jurors.
The prisoner, if found guilty, is sentenced at the discretion of
the court,--generally, to treat the company to some specified
drink or dainty. These courts often give occasion for a great deal
of fun, and sometimes call out real wit and eloquence.
At one of our "_section courts_," which those who expected to
enter upon the study of the law used to hold, &c.--_The Parthenon,
Union Coll._, 1851, p. 19.
SECTION OFFICER. At Union College, each section of the college
buildings, containing about fifteen rooms, is under the
supervision of a professor or tutor, who is styled the _section
officer_. This officer is required to see that there be no
improper noise in the rooms or corridors, and to report the
absence of students from chapel and recitation, and from their
rooms during study hours.
SEED. In Yale College this word is used to designate what is
understood by the common cant terms, "a youth"; "case"; "bird";
"b'hoy"; "one of 'em."
While tutors, every sport defeating,
And under feet-worn stairs secreting,
And each dark lane and alley beating,
Hunt up the _seeds_ in vain retreating.
_Yale Banger_, Nov. 1849.
The wretch had dared to flunk a gory _seed_!
_Ibid._, Nov. 1849.
One tells his jokes, the other tells his beads,
One talks of saints, the other sings of _seeds_.
_Ibid._, Nov. 1849.
But we are "_seeds_," whose rowdy deeds
Make up the drunken tale.
_Yale Tomahawk_, Nov. 1849.
First Greek he enters; and with reckless speed
He drags o'er stumps and roots each hapless _seed_.
_Ibid._, Nov. 1849.
Each one a bold _seed_, well fit for the deed,
But of course a little bit flurried.
_Ibid._, May, 1852.
SEEDY. At Yale College, rowdy, riotous, turbulent.
And snowballs, falling thick and fast
As oaths from _seedy_ Senior crowd.
_Yale Gallinipper_, Nov. 1848.
A _seedy_ Soph beneath a tree.
_Yale Gallinipper_, Nov. 1848.
2. Among English Cantabs, not well, out of sorts, done up; the
sort of feeling that a reading man has after an examination, or a
rowing man after a dinner with the Beefsteak Club. Also, silly,
easy to perform.--_Bristed_.
The owner of the apartment attired in a very old dressing-gown and
slippers, half buried in an arm-chair, and looking what some young
ladies call interesting, i.e. pale and _seedy_.--_Bristed's Five
Years in an Eng. Univ._, Ed. 2d, p. 151.
You will seldom find anything very _seedy_ set for
Iambics.--_Ibid._, p. 182.
SELL. An unexpected reply; a deception or trick.
In the Literary World, March 15, 1851, is the following
explanation of this word: "Mr. Phillips's first introduction to
Curran was made the occasion of a mystification, or practical
joke, in which Irish wits have excelled since the time of Dean
Swift, who was wont (_vide_ his letters to Stella) to call these
jocose tricks 'a _sell_,' from selling a bargain." The word
_bargain_, however, which Johnson, in his Dictionary, defines "an
unexpected reply tending to obscenity," was formerly used more
generally among the English wits. The noun _sell_ has of late been
revived in this country, and is used to a certain extent in New
York and Boston, and especially among the students at Cambridge.
I sought some hope to borrow, by thinking it a "_sell_"
By fancying it a fiction, my anguish to dispel.
_Poem before the Iadma of Harv. Coll._, 1850, p. 8.
SELL. To give an unexpected answer; to deceive; to cheat.
For the love you bear me, never tell how badly I was
_sold_.--_Yale Lit. Mag._, Vol. XX. p. 94.
The use of this verb is much more common in the United States than
that of the noun of the same spelling, which is derived from it;
for instance, we frequently read in the newspapers that the Whigs
or Democrats have been _sold_, i.e. defeated in an election, or
cheated in some political affair. The phrase _to sell a bargain_,
which Bailey defines "to put a sham upon one," is now scarcely
ever heard. It was once a favorite expression with certain English
Where _sold he bargains_, Whipstitch?--_Dryden_.
No maid at court is less ashamed,
Howe'er for _selling bargains_ famed.--_Swift_.
Dr. Sheridan, famous for punning, intending _to sell a bargain_,
said, he had made a very good pun.--_Swift, Bons Mots de Stella_.
SEMESTER. Latin, _semestris_, _sex_, six, and _mensis_, month. In
the German universities, a period or term of six months. The
course of instruction occupies six _semesters_. Class distinctions
depend upon the number of _semesters_, not of years. During the
first _semester_, the student is called _Fox_, in the second
_Burnt Fox_, and then, successively, _Young Bursch_, _Old Bursch_,
_Old House_, and _Moss-covered Head_.
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