One of the mysteries of the English language finally explained.
1A ledge projecting from the underside of a hinged seat in a choir stall which, when the seat is turned up, gives support to someone standing.
- ‘The sixty-two misericords or priests' seats, carved with everything from lions to scenes of everyday life, are believed to be of 1390.’
- ‘These appear in the stained glass windows, stone column capitals, decorated ends of pews, or even the misericords carved on the bottom of hinged church seats.’
- ‘A misericord in St. George's Chapel, Windsor, shows four enormous hounds piling into a cauldron, indifferent to the cook just poised to hurl his ladle.’
- ‘Naturalistic animals were carved on misericords in the early 14th century, and individualized facial features appeared on the small human heads that decorated keystones and arch mouldings.’
- ‘Weak light filters in through stained glass and creates deep shadows among the pews and misericords.’
2historical An apartment in a monastery in which some relaxations of the monastic rule were permitted.
3historical A small dagger used to deliver a death stroke to a wounded enemy.
Middle English (denoting pity): from Old French misericorde, from Latin misericordia, from misericors ‘compassionate’, from the stem of misereri ‘to pity’ + cor, cord- ‘heart’.
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