Definitions

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • adv. According to the rules of an old drinking game in which the drinker upturned the empty cup and had to drink more if the remaining droplets spilled beyond the edge of his fingernail.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • adv. A kind of mock Latin term intended to mean, upon the nail; -- used formerly by topers.
  • adv. Good liquor, of which not enough is left to wet one's nail.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • On the nail: used of drinking, with reference to the custom of turning the glass over the thumb to show that there was only a drop left small enough to rest on the nail: as, to drink supernaculum.
  • n. Wine good enough to be worth drinking to the bottom; good liquor; hence, anything very fine or enjoyable.

Etymologies

Sham Latin, intended to mean upon the nail. (Wiktionary)

Examples

  • And the picture of the banquet "when they fell to the chat of the afternoon's collation and began great goblets to ring, great bowls to ting, great gammons to trot; pour me out the fair Greek wine, the extravagant wine, the good wine, Lacrima Christi, supernaculum!"

    Visions and Revisions A Book of Literary Devotions

  • With agony he had observed that supernaculum was his miserable lot.

    Vivian Grey

  • The cup was in Vivian's hand, Rudesheimer was roaring supernaculum louder than all; Vivian saw that the covetous

    Vivian Grey

  • One pull, a gasp, another desperate draught; it was done! and followed by a supernaculum almost superior to the exulting

    Vivian Grey

  • "Look at this precious phial, the incomparable elixir, the pabulum of life, the grand arcanum, the supernaculum, the mother and regenerator of nature, the source and the womb of all existence, past, present, and to come!"

    Traditions of Lancashire, Volume 2 (of 2)

  • To drink _supernaculum_ is to empty the cup so thoroughly that the last drop or "pearl," drained on to the nail, retains its shape, and does not run.

    The Works of Lord Byron. Vol. 5 Poetry

  • The custom of drinking _supernaculum_, consisted in turning down the cup upon the thumb-nail of the drinker after his pledge, when, if duly quaffed off, no drop of liquor ought to appear upon his nail.

    The works of John Dryden, $c now first collected in eighteen volumes. $p Volume 06

  • He drank thy health five times, _supernaculum_, [2] to my son Brain-sick; and dipt my daughter Pleasance's little finger, to make it go down more glibly: [3] And, before George, I grew tory rory, as they say, and strained a brimmer through the lily-white smock, i'faith.

    The works of John Dryden, $c now first collected in eighteen volumes. $p Volume 06

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