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Origin unknown, but first attested in Middle English.
suggested origins and context
- Attestations in Shakespeare's time seem to suggest it was intended as mildly vulgar (compare zit) and metaphorical; see more at this Open Literature article.
- Compare Welsh cibi, cibwst (“chilblain(s)”), although this itself may borrow from Middle English, and we may be dealing with some ancient unknown term.
- Assuming the origin English or Welsh derived from is pre-Celtic, some have suggested a link to an Old European word from a British Vasconic substrate, in this case related to Basque gibiztin (“knot, bow”), compounded from a lost root *gibi, *kibi (“lump?”). If this is so, it could be distantly related to Latin gibbus (“hump”).
kibe (plural kibes)
- (rare, archaic, now poetic or dialectal) A chilblain (often ulcerated), especially on the heel of the foot (also afflictive to some animals).
- c. 1599–1602 (date written), William Shakespeare, “The Tragedie of Hamlet, Prince of Denmarke”, in Mr. William Shakespeares Comedies, Histories, & Tragedies […] (First Folio), London: […] Isaac Iaggard, and Ed[ward] Blount, published 1623, →OCLC, [Act V, scene i]:
- By the Lord, Horatio, this three years I have took note of it, the age is grown so picked that the toe of the peasant comes so near the heel of the courtier he galls his kibe.
kibe m (plural kibes)
- Alternative spelling of quibe
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