Throwback Thursday – “margent,” adj.

Throwback Thursday

This time for Throwback Thursday I’m looking at a word that may not be entirely extinct, but is definitely unfamiliar.

Margent is listed by only as a noun, with the following definition:

1. margin

It feels rather anticlimactic to be the basis of a post, doesn’t it?

The Oxford English Dictionary gives several definitions for this noun, and they are at least a little more interesting.

1. The space on a page, etc., between its extreme edge and the main body of written or printed matter

2. A commentary, summary, or annotation in the margin of a text

3. An outline, edge, or border of something; a river bank

4. The exposed face of a stile or rail in a door, etc.

Some of these definitions have been used at least as late as 1988. I like the second definition, last listed in 1733, but for me the use of the noun is too close to marginalia to be entirely necessary.

What I really see as useful, though, is margent used as an adjective. The OED lists this as

Marginal; on the margin or edge.

It lists only four usages of the word, the last in 1916:

1555   R. Eden tr. Peter Martyr of Angleria Decades of Newe Worlde sig. AAAAavv,   Reade the margente notes of the same.
1643   R. Saltonstall et al. in Saltonstall Papers (1972) I. 133   Margent notes upon a French text.
1811   W. R. Spencer Poems 113   The margent thistles of the Tweed.
1916   E. Pound Lustra (1917) 188   Joios we have, by such a margent stream.
I know, in some ways it overlaps with marginal, but I find the connotation quite different.  Marginal, to me, means cast aside or somehow unimportant, where as something noted in the margin of a page is an much more neutral thing. Really, it could be used to refer to people, too; something like fringe groups, but, again, with a less negative connotation.
  • “My daughter has a horrible habit of making margent doodles in all of my books.”
  • “I like this cupcake. It has some lovely margent notes of almond.”
  • “The margent lines in this design add structure to the piece.”
  • “It may be a margent opinion, but it’s still a valid one.”


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