from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • adj. An unexplained epithet used by Chaucer in reference to ships. By some it is defined as “dancing (on the wave)”; by others as “opposing,” “warlike.”

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • n. A woman who dances.
  • n. [That is, literally, ‘Further I saw burnt the dancing ships, the hunter strangled by the wild bears.’ The true explanation appears on comparing the original bellatrices carinæ (Statius, Thebaid, vii. 57), lit. ‘warlike ships,’ bellatrices being misread as *ballatrices, fem. of LL. ballator, a dancer (⟩ Sp. Pg. bailador, a dancer: see bayadere), ⟨ ballare, dance: see ball.]


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  • 'dancing on a wave' Chaucer...a truly paradoxical word

    July 14, 2010