Definitions

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • adv. Some time ago; formerly.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • A Scotch form of umwhile.

Etymologies

Sorry, no etymologies found.

Examples

  • When the Sacristan had announced to the Lord Abbot, that the Lady of the umquhile Walter de Avenel was in very weak health in the Tower of

    The Monastery

  • The pedlar looked at him with a very doubtful air, when the old dame, who perhaps thought her young guest resembled the umquhile Saunders, not only in his looks, but in a certain pretty turn to sleight-of-hand, which the defunct was supposed to have possessed, tipped him the wink, and assured the pedlar he need have no doubt that her young cousin was a true man.

    The Monastery

  • But, ere he guessed where he was going, the leech was hurried into the house of the late Oliver Proudfute, from which he heard the chant of the women as they swathed and dressed the corpse of the umquhile bonnet maker for the ceremony of next morning, of which chant the following verses may be received as a modern imitation:

    The Fair Maid of Perth

  • Over the low-arched gateway which led into the yard there was a carved stone, exhibiting some attempt at armorial bearings; and above the inner entrance hung, and had hung, for many years, the mouldering hatchment, which announced that umquhile Laurence Dumbie of Dumbiedikes had been gathered to his fathers in Newbattle kirkyard.

    The Heart of Mid-Lothian

  • Now, there is a thing I fain wad ken, in the way of philosophical inquiry — Did you ever hear of the umquhile Lady

    The Fortunes of Nigel

  • She had been the widow of Jonathan Golightly, Esq., umquhile sheriff of the city of London, and stockbroker, and when she gave herself and her jointure up to Captain Val, she also brought with her, to enliven the house, a daughter Clementina, the only remaining pledge of her love for the stockbroker.

    The Three Clerks

  • “His uncle, as well as his umquhile father, is a roundhead, I presume,” said Lady Margaret.

    Old Mortality

  • He went about experiencing a new aloofness in his umquhile friends, and finally concluded that it was due to his poor performance in front of the foreigner on the morning of the ball, and that but made him the more venomously ruminant upon revenge.

    Doom Castle

  • He listened at the narrow corridor leading to Olivia's room and that adjoining of her umquhile warder, Annapla; he paused, too, for a second, at Montaiglon's door.

    Doom Castle

  • Margaret Dowglas, [330] of whome was borne Hary, umquhile husband to our

    The Works of John Knox, Vol. 1 (of 6)

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Comments

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  • Why not rant at the burghers over on World Wide Words who made the claim? whichbe's citation is clearly stated as being sourced from there.

    May 26, 2009

  • Re:
    "As early as 1832, Frances Trollope was noting it as obsolete, in her Domestic Manners of the Americans ... "

    Wrong.
    In that book, Frances Trollope uses the word "umquhile" exactly once -- in Chapter 7, quoted below -- with (as the citation reveals) no reference whatsoever to the word's having passed out of use:

    "I was also told of a gentleman of High Cincinnati, _ton_ and critical of his taste for the fine arts, who, having a drawing put into his hands, representing Hebe and the bird, umquhile sacred to Jupiter, demanded in a satirical tone, 'What is this?' 'Hebe,' replied the alarmed collector. 'Hebe,' sneered the man of taste, 'What the devil has Hebe to do with the American eagle?' "

    Can you find anything there -- in DOMESTIC MANNERS OF THE AMERICAN's sole use of "umquhile" -- which identifies the word as obsolete?

    May 26, 2009

  • Formerly, previously; former, late. As you can tell from its alternative spelling of umwhile, the q isn’t pronounced. It’s a nice word for Scrabble, but not one to be found in everyday prose.

    It’s from the Old English ymb hwíle, which progressively changed to umbewhitle and hence to umwhile or umquhile. The last of these is the Scots spelling, which is why it so often turns up in the works of Sir Walter Scott. One appearance was in The Heart of Midlothian of 1818: "Above the inner entrance hung, and had hung, for many years, the mouldering hatchment, which announced that umquhile Laurence Dumbie of Dumbiedikes had been gathered to his fathers in Newbattle kirkyard". Another was in The Fair Maid of Perth (1828): "The Lady of the umquhile Walter de Avenel was in very weak health in the Tower of Glendearg".

    As early as 1832, Frances Trollope was noting it as obsolete, in her Domestic Manners of the Americans (she didn’t like them). It has been recorded a few times in the twentieth century, but always in a self-consciously archaic context.
    (from World Wide Words)

    May 21, 2008