surfeit

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English[edit]

Etymology[edit]

From Middle English surfeite, surfet, a borrowing from Anglo-Norman surfet, surfeit and Old French sorfet, sorfait, past participle of surfaire (to augment, exaggerate, exceed), from sur- (over) + faire (to do).

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Noun[edit]

surfeit (countable and uncountable, plural surfeits)

  1. (countable) An excessive amount of something.
    A surfeit of wheat is driving down the price.
    • 2019 January 26, Kitty Empire, “The Streets review – the agony and ecstasy of a great everyman”, in The Guardian[1]:
      With what could be a surfeit of candour, Skinner has described DJing as more creative than playing his own songs, because, to paraphrase, of the “stress” and “creativity” of not knowing what he’ll be doing in three minutes’ time.
  2. (uncountable) Overindulgence in either food or drink; overeating.
  3. (countable) A sickness or condition caused by overindulgence.
    King Henry I is said to have died of a surfeit of lampreys.
    • (Can we find and add a quotation of Bunyan to this entry?)
      to prevent surfeit and other diseases that are incident to those that heat their blood by travels
  4. Disgust caused by excess; satiety.
    • (Can we find and add a quotation of Burke to this entry?)
      Matter and argument have been supplied abundantly, and even to surfeit.
    • (Can we find and add a quotation of Sir Philip Sidney to this entry?)
      Now for similitudes in certain printed discourses, I think all herbalists, all stories of beasts, fowls, and fishes are rifled up, that they may come in multitudes to wait upon any of our conceits, which certainly is as absurd a surfeit to the ears as is possible.

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Verb[edit]

surfeit (third-person singular simple present surfeits, present participle surfeiting, simple past and past participle surfeited)

  1. (transitive) To fill to excess.
    • 1610, The Tempest, by Shakespeare, act 3 scene 3
      You are three men of sin, whom Destiny,
      That hath to instrument this lower world
      And what is in't,—the never-surfeited sea
      Hath caused to belch up you;
  2. (transitive) To feed someone to excess.
    She surfeited her children on sweets.
  3. (intransitive, reflexive) To overeat or feed to excess.
    • 1906, O. Henry, The Furnished Room
      To the door of this, the twelfth house whose bell he had rung, came a housekeeper who made him think of an unwholesome, surfeited worm that had eaten its nut to a hollow shell and now sought to fill the vacancy with edible lodgers.
  4. (intransitive, reflexive) To sicken from overindulgence.

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