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In Greek mythology, Artemis transformed Actaeon into a stag with horns on his head. In European folklore, horns were considered the sign of a cuckold.


Acteon (plural Acteons)

  1. (archaic, slang) A cuckold.
    • 1814, Commentaries on the laws of Moses, volume 4, a translation of Johann David Michaelis' German text by Alexander Smith: a footnote on page 127:
      [] but I had the story from some French officers of distinction, who mentioned the name of the injured and prudent husband, and that he was a person of very high rank. That name, however, even if I had not forgotten it, I should not think it fair to repeat, because it would seem to be a matter of some moment to the gentleman though he was an Acteon, not to be thought so.
    • 1819, The Hermit in London, published in The Literary Gazette and Journal of Belles Lettres, number 126 (published on June 19, and reprinted in the compilation of Gazette issues printed at the end of the year by William Pople):
      He once lost a friend by kindly inquiring after his wife, who had made an Acteon of him, first by the head ornament presented, and secondly by sending him to the dogs in the way of pecuniary circumstances.


  • [Francis] Grose [et al.] (1811), “Acteon”, in Lexicon Balatronicum. A Dictionary of Buckish Slang, University Wit, and Pickpocket Eloquence. [], London: Printed for C. Chappell, [], OCLC 23927885.