from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia
- n. A long knife with the blade set at right angles to the handle, or a spade-like cutting-tool with a blade, foot-rest, and curved handle, used to cut hay from the side of a haystack or haymow.
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When it has settled into shape and solidity it is both frost and rain proof, and often requires a hay-knife to get into it.
At the last instant, as the mare was making her spring, a second man appeared on the farther side of the jump, yelling, and brandishing a wide-bladed hay-knife.
At his back he carried by a looped strap a rush basket, from which protruded at one end the crutch of a hay-knife, a wimble for hay-bonds being also visible in the aperture.
During the day he had bought a new tool-basket, cleaned up his old hay-knife and wimble, set himself up in fresh leggings, kneenaps and corduroys, and in other ways gone back to the working clothes of his young manhood, discarding for ever the shabby-genteel suit of cloth and rusty silk hat that since his decline had characterized him in the Casterbridge street as a man who had seen better days.
Up the slippery ladder in the dark morning, one knee out upon the snow-covered thatch, he plunges the broad hay-knife in and cuts away an enormous truss -- then a great prong is stuck into this, a prong made on purpose, with extra thick and powerful handle, and the truss, well bound round with a horse-hair rope, is hoisted on the head and shoulders.
The thatch of the sheds drips continually; the haystack drips; the thatch of the stack, which has to be pulled off before the hay-knife can be used, is wet; the old decaying wood of the rails and gates is wet.
He draws out the broad hay-knife -- a vast blade, wide at the handle, the edge gradually curving to