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sconce1

[skons]
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noun
  1. a bracket for candles or other lights, placed on a wall, mirror, picture frame, etc.
  2. the hole or socket of a candlestick, for holding the candle.

Origin of sconce1

1350–1400; Middle English sconce, sconse (< Old French esconce) < Medieval Latin scōnsa, aphetic variant of abscōnsa, noun use of feminine past participle of abscondere to conceal; see abscond

sconce2

[skons]
noun
  1. Fortification. a small detached fort or defense work, as to defend a pass, bridge, etc.
  2. a protective screen or shelter.
verb (used with object), sconced, sconc·ing.
  1. Fortification. to protect with a sconce.
  2. Obsolete. to protect; shelter.

Origin of sconce2

1565–75; < Dutch schans < German Schanze, orig. bundle of wood; compare ensconse

sconce3

[skons]
verb (used with object), sconced, sconc·ing.
  1. (at English universities, especially formerly) to fine (an undergraduate) for a breach of rules or etiquette.
noun
  1. a fine so imposed.

Origin of sconce3

First recorded in 1610–20; origin uncertain

sconce4

[skons]
noun
  1. the head or skull.
  2. sense or wit.

Origin of sconce4

First recorded in 1560–70; origin uncertain
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Examples from the Web for sconce

Historical Examples

  • She cleared the sconce and took down the flitches that hung from the rannel-tree to dry.

    The Shadow of a Crime

    Hall Caine

  • He placed the candle in a sconce on the wall, and then turned to the three.

  • A thousand pities that so fine a fellow should have a sconce like a cocoanut!

    Rookwood

    William Harrison Ainsworth

  • The shutters were closed, and the sconce on the table had two lighted candles.

  • The candle in the sconce was six paces away from the guards.


British Dictionary definitions for sconce

sconce1

noun
  1. a bracket fixed to a wall for holding candles or lights
  2. a flat candlestick with a handle

Word Origin

C14: from Old French esconse hiding place, lantern, or from Late Latin sconsa, from absconsa dark lantern

sconce2

noun
  1. a small protective fortification, such as an earthwork

Word Origin

C16: from Dutch schans, from Middle High German schanze bundle of brushwood

sconce3

verb (tr)
  1. to challenge (a fellow student) on the grounds of a social misdemeanour to drink a large quantity of beer without stopping
  2. obsolete to fine (a student) for some minor misdemeanour
noun
  1. the act of sconcing
  2. a mug or tankard used in sconcing

Word Origin

C17: of obscure origin

sconce4

noun archaic
  1. the head or skull
  2. sense, brain, or wit

Word Origin

C16: probably jocular use of sconce 1
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012

Word Origin and History for sconce

n.

late 14c., "candlestick with a screen," a shortening of Old French esconse "lantern, hiding place," from Medieval Latin sconsa, from Latin absconsa, fem. past participle of abscondere "to hide" (see abscond). Meaning "metal bracket-candlestick fastened to a wall" is recorded from mid-15c.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper