From Late Middle English abaishen, abashen, abaisse, abassen, abesse, abessen (“to be upset; to embarrass; to surprise; to confound; to bend down, stoop; to abase, degrade, disgrace”), from Middle French abaisser, from Old French abaissier, abessier (“to prostrate oneself; to lower, reduce”) (also compare Old French esbahir (“to amaze”), Vulgar Latin abbassiāre (“to lower”)), from a- (“prefix indicating movement towards something”) (from Latin ad (“toward, to”), ultimately from Proto-Indo-European *h₂éd (“at, to”)) + baissier (“to lower”) (from Medieval Latin bassus (“short of stature, low; base”), possibly from Ancient Greek βᾰ́σῐς (básis, “foot; base, foundation”), ultimately from Proto-Indo-European *gʷem- (“to step”)). The spelling of the English word has been influenced by base. Cognate with Spanish abajo (“down, downstairs; below”).
- (transitive) To lower, as in condition in life, office, rank, etc., so as to cause pain or hurt feelings; to degrade, to depress, to humble, to humiliate. [from c. 1350–1470]
- 1657, John Ball, “By Faith a True Believer may be Certain and Infallibly Assured of the Remission of His Sins and Eternal Salvation”, in A Treatise of Faith: Divided into Two Parts: The First Shewing the Nature, the Second, the Life of Faith. […], 3rd corrected and enlarged edition, London: Printed for Edward Brewster, […], OCLC 951968144, page 106:
- Our adverſaries object againe, that by praying that Chriſts merits may be made ours in particular, we greatly abaſe them. As though the Prophet David did abaſe God in making him his in particular, ſaying, the Lord is my rock, my fortreſſe, my God, and my ſtrength, my ſhield, the horne of my ſalvation, and my refuge: […]
- 1868 December, T. W., “Lao-Tzu. 老子: A Study in Chinese Philosophy.”, in The Chinese Recorder and Missionary Journal, volume I, number 8, Foochow: Printed by Rozario, Marçal & Co., OCLC 974475719, chapter VI (Politics), page 158, column 2:
- When a large kingdom abases itself to a small principality, it acquires that principality, and when a small state abases itself to a large one, it obtains service (or protection) under the large one. It is for this purpose that the small state submits, and the large kingdom annexes the small states for the purpose of uniting and maintaining the people.
- (transitive, archaic) To lower physically; to depress; to cast or throw down; to stoop. [from c. 1350–1470]
- to abase the eye
- 1590, Edmund Spenser, The Faerie Qveene. […], London: Printed [by John Wolfe] for VVilliam Ponsonbie, OCLC 960102938, book II, canto II, stanza 32, page 214:
- Her gracious words their rancour did appall, / And ſuncke ſo deepe into their boyling breſts, / That downe they lett their cruel weapons fall, / And lowly did abaſe their lofty creſts, / To her faire preſence, and diſcrete beheſts.
- 1612, [Miguel de Cervantes]; Thomas Shelton, transl., “Of that which Befell to Our Knight, after He had Departed from the Inne”, in The History of the Valorovs and Wittie Knight-errant Don-Qvixote of the Mancha. […], London: Printed by William Stansby, for Ed[ward] Blount and W. Barret, OCLC 84747867, part 1, page 30:
- [A]ll of you together ſhall pay for the great blaſphemy thou haſt ſpoken againſt ſo immenſe a beautie, as is that of my Miſtreſſe. And ſaying ſo, he abaſed his Launce againſt him that had anſwered with ſuch furie and anger, as if good fortune had not ſo ordayned it, that Rozinante ſhould ſtumble, and fal in the midst of the Carrier, it had gone very ill with the bold Merchant.
- (transitive, obsolete) To lower in value, in particular by altering the content of alloys in coins; to debase. [from mid 16th – mid 18th c.]
- 1629 February 12, John Donne, “Sermon CXXXVI. A Lent Sermon Preached to the King, at Whitehall, February 12, 1629”, in Henry Alford, editor, The Works of John Donne, D.D., Dean of St. Paul’s, 1621–1631. […] In Six Volumes, volume V, London: John W[illiam] Parker, […], published 1839, OCLC 23805845, page 450:
- Though in the nature thereof, that with which a purer metal is mixed, be not base; yet, it abases the purer metal. […] [T]hough silver be a precious metal, yet it abases gold. Grace, and peace, and faith, are precious parts of our treasure here; yet, if we mingle them, that is, compare them with the joys, and glory of heaven; […] we abase, and over-alloy these joys, and that glory.
- 1840, Rogers Ruding, “Elizabeth”, in Annals of the Coinage of Great Britain and Its Dependencies; from the Earliest Period of Authentic History to the Reign of Victoria, 3rd corrected and enlarged edition, London: Printed for John Hearne, […], by Manning and Mason, […], OCLC 317419051, page 341:
- [H]er majesty [Elizabeth I of England] let them all to understand, that she never intended (God's grace assisting her) to leese the fruit of so famous an act, by abasing the coin of the realm, which she found to be for the more part copper, and had now recovered it to be as fine, or rather finer, sterling silver, than ever it was in the realm by the space of two hundred years or more; a matter worth marking and memory.
- (to lower so as to cause pain or hurt feelings): degrade, disgrace, humble, humiliate
- (to lower physically): bring down
- (to lower in value): downgrade
- ^ “abaishen, v.” in MED Online, Ann Arbor, Mich.: University of Michigan, 2007, retrieved 28 May 2018.
- ^ Elliott K. Dobbie, C. William Dunmore, Robert K. Barnhart, et al. (editors), Chambers Dictionary of Etymology (Chambers Harrap Publishers Ltd, 2004 , →ISBN), page 2
- Lesley Brown (editor), The Shorter Oxford English Dictionary, 5th edition (Oxford University Press, 2003 , →ISBN), page 2
- ^ “abase” (US) / “abase” (UK) in Oxford Dictionaries, Oxford University Press.
- abase (disambiguation) on Wikipedia.Wikipedia
- abase in The Century Dictionary, The Century Co., New York, 1911
- abase in Webster’s Revised Unabridged Dictionary, G. & C. Merriam, 1913