nonsion (1349)

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nonsion (1349)

[ gdw]

[ FEW: ; Gdf: ; GdfC: ; TL: ; DEAF:  none 2 (nonsion); DMF: ; TLF: ; OED:  nuncheon n. / shench n.; MED:  nonshench n. / shenche n.; DMLBS: 1928c nonschenchus ]
noncien,  noncion,  noncyen,  nonsench;  nounschenche;  nunsens  
ls(loanword: compound with M.E.)

The OED’s suggested etymology links the word’s second half -sion with Old English shench ('a cupful, drink (of liquor)’) and its related verb scencean (‘to pour a liquid’). As a result the word is usually interpreted as a ‘drink taken in the afternoon’. The fact that in these Anglo-Norman attestations the nonsion seems to be listed as part payment included in the working days of workmen raises the possibility that it might have been a more substantial snack or even small meal eaten at work.

What is clearly an English or Old English word first emerges in Latin documents as a ‘foreign’ vernacular loanword in the thirteenth century. We then see it appearing in mid-fourteenth-century Anglo-Norman texts, where it is used as a ‘normal’ French word, and a few decades later in Latin in the same way. It is only half a century later (around 1422-23) that we have the first surviving fully English documents that use the word.

The English word luncheon (OED luncheon n.), which is similar in form (and perhaps etymology?), is considered post-medieval.


1culin.timenuncheon, afternoon or midday refreshment (possibly a small meal in the middle of a working day)
( 1349 )  Item en .iiij. carpenters tote la semaygne et lour nonsench; .vij. s. .viij. [d.]  vc
( 1411-12 )  pur un carpenter par .iij. jours et nonsions  13 Henry IV
( 1412-13 )  Item payé a .ij. carpounters pur amender lé benchez et lez fenesteres et auteres necessaryis de lez rentes de Wamfforde par .vij. jours pernaunt checun par le jour .viij. d. et checun jour a leur nounschenche checun .j. d.  93
( 1421-22 ) Item pur un dauber et soun servant un jour et nonciens - .xiij. d.  300 (9 Henry V)
This is an AND2 Phase 4 (N-O/U-P-Q) entry. © 2013-17 The Anglo-Norman Dictionary. All rights reserved. Funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council of the United Kingdom.