blee

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English[edit]

Etymology[edit]

From Middle English blee, ble (colour, hue), from Old English blēo, bleoh (colour, hue; complexion, form), from Proto-Germanic *blīwą (colour, blee; glad, light), from Proto-Indo-European *bʰley-, *bʰlew- (light, pleasant; fair (of weather)). Cognate with Scots ble, blee, blie (colour, complexion), Old Frisian blī, blie (colour, hue; complexion) (whence North Frisian bläy), Old Saxon blī (colour, hue; complexion), Old High German blīo(h) (colour, hue), blīo (metallic lead) (modern German Blei), Danish bly (lead), Icelandic blý (lead). Perhaps related to Old English blīþe (joyous) (whence blithe). See also bly.

Pronunciation[edit]

Noun[edit]

blee (countable and uncountable, plural blees)

  1. (rare, chiefly poetic) Colour, hue. [from 9th to early 17th c.]
  2. (archaic) Colour of the face, complexion. [from 9th to early 17th c.]
  3. Consistency, form, texture. [from 9th to early 17th c.]
    • 1880, Algernon Charles Swinburne, “The Poet and the Woodlouse”, in The Heptalogia, or, The Seven against Sense: A Cap with Seven Bells (Specimens of Modern Poets), London: Chatto & Windus, Piccadilly, OCLC 70377726, page 46:
      I am thrilled half cosmically through by cryptophantic surgings / Till the rhythmic hills roar silent through a spongious kind of blee: / And earth's soul yawns disembowelled of her pancreatic organs, / Like a madrepore if mesmerized, in rapt catalepsy.
  4. (East Anglia) General resemblance, likeness; appearance, aspect, look.
    • [1830, Robert Forby, “BLEE”, in The Vocabulary of East Anglia; an Attempt to Record the Vulgar Tongue of the Twin Sister Counties, Norfolk and Suffolk, as It Existed in the Last Twenty Years of the Eighteenth Century, and still Exists; with Proof of Its Antiquity from Etymology and Authority. [...] In Two Volumes, volume I, London: Printed by and for J[ohn] B[oyer] Nichols and Son, 25, Parliament Street, OCLC 156094369, pages 27–28:
      BLEE, s[ubstantive] general resemblance, not "colour and complexion," as the dictt. [dictionaries in general] give it; Mr. Nares asserts that it was obsolete in the reign of Queen Elizabeth. If so, we have a very extraordinary instance of the renascence of a word; for it is in use every day in the sense here given to it. Ex. "That boy has a strong blee of his father." br. [Brockett's Glossary] in the sense of complexion. ch. p. g. [Chaucer; Percy's Glossary]]

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