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Fronde

(1 syl.). A political squabble during the ministry of Cardinal Mazarin, in the minority of Louis XIV. (1648-1653). The malcontents were called Frondeurs, from a witty illustration of a councillor, who said that they were “like schoolboys who sling stones about the streets. When no eye is upon them they are bold as bullies; but the moment a `policeman' approaches, away they scamper to the ditches for concealment”

(Montglat). The French for a sling is fronde, and for slingers, frondeurs.

“It was already true that the French government was a despotism ... and as speeches and lampoons were launched by persons who tried to hide after they had shot their dart, some one compared them to children with a sling (fronde), who let fly a stone and run away.” —C. M. Yonge: History of France, chap. viii. p.136.

Source: Dictionary of Phrase and Fable, E. Cobham Brewer, 1894
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