sconce

1
[skons]

noun

a bracket for candles or other lights, placed on a wall, mirror, picture frame, etc.
the hole or socket of a candlestick, for holding the candle.

Origin of sconce

1
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

sconce

2
[skons]

noun

Fortification. a small detached fort or defense work, as to defend a pass, bridge, etc.
a protective screen or shelter.

verb (used with object), sconced, sconc·ing.

Fortification. to protect with a sconce.
Obsolete. to protect; shelter.

Origin of sconce

2
1565–75; < Dutch schans < German Schanze, orig. bundle of wood; compare ensconse

sconce

3
[skons]

verb (used with object), sconced, sconc·ing.

(at English universities, especially formerly) to fine (an undergraduate) for a breach of rules or etiquette.

noun

a fine so imposed.

Origin of sconce

3
First recorded in 1610–20; origin uncertain

sconce

4
[skons]

noun

the head or skull.
sense or wit.

Origin of sconce

4
First recorded in 1560–70; origin uncertain
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019


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Historical Examples of sconce


British Dictionary definitions for sconce

sconce

1

noun

a bracket fixed to a wall for holding candles or lights
a flat candlestick with a handle

Word Origin for sconce

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

sconce

2

noun

a small protective fortification, such as an earthwork

Word Origin for sconce

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

sconce

3

verb (tr)

to challenge (a fellow student) on the grounds of a social misdemeanour to drink a large quantity of beer without stopping
obsolete to fine (a student) for some minor misdemeanour

noun

the act of sconcing
a mug or tankard used in sconcing

Word Origin for sconce

C17: of obscure origin

sconce

4

noun archaic

the head or skull
sense, brain, or wit

Word Origin for sconce

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