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Guillotine

(3 syl.). So named from Joseph Ignace Guillotin, a French physician, who proposed its adoption to prevent unnecessary pain (1738-1814).

It was facetiously called “Mdlle. Guillotin” or “Guillotin's daughter.” It was introduced April 25th, 1792, and is still used in France. A previous instrument invented by Dr. Antoine Louis was called a Louisette (3 syl.).

The Maiden (q.v., introduced into Scotland (1566) by the Regent Morton, when the laird of Pennicuick was to be beheaded, was a similar instrument. Discontinued in 1681.

“It was but this very day that the daughter of M. de Guillotin was recognised by her father in the National Assembly and it should properly be called `Mademoiselle Guillotin.'” —Dumas: The Countess de Charny, chap. xvii.

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