A judge; an arbiter. (Greek, krino, to judge.)
“ `And what of this new book the whole world makes such a rout about?' `Oh, it is out of all plumb, my lord; quite an irregular thing! not one of the angles at the four corners is a right angle. I had my rule and compasses in my pocket.' `Excellent critic!'”
“ `And for the epic poem your lordship bade me look at, upon taking the length, breadth, height, and depth of it, and trying them at home upon an exact scale of Bossu's [Bossut's], 'tis out, my lord, in every one of its dimensions.' `Admirable connoisseur!' ” —Sterne: Tristram Shandy, vol. iii. chap. xii.
The abbé Charles Bossut (1730-1814) was a noted mathematician and geometer.
“ `And how did Garrick speak the soliloquy last night?' `Oh, against all rule, my lord, most ungrammatically. Betwixt the substantive and the adjective, which should agree together in number, case, and gender, he made a breach, thus—stopping as if the point wanted settling; and betwixt the nominative case, which, your lordship knows, should govern the verb, he suspended his voice in the epilogue a dozen times, three seconds and three-fifths by a stop-watch, my lord, each time.' `Admirable grammarian!' `But in suspending his voice was the sense suspended likewise? Did no expression of attitude or countenance fill up the chasm? Was the eye silent? Did you narrowly look?' `I looked only at the stop-watch, my lord.'”
“ `Excellent observer!”' —Sterne: Tristram Shandy, vol. iii. chap. xii.
Croaker (2 syl.). A raven, so called from its croak; one who takes a desponding view of things. Goldsmith, in his Good-natured Man, has a character so named.
Source: Dictionary of Phrase and Fable, E. Cobham Brewer, 1894