If a lady or gentleman is willing to marry, but not engaged, a ring should be worn on the index finger of the left hand; if engaged, on the second finger; if married, on the third finger; but if either has no desire to marry, on the little finger. (Mme, C. de la Tour.)
“In the Roman espousals, the man gave the woman a ring by way of
pledge, and the woman put it on the third finger of her left hand,
because it was believed that a nerve ran from that finger to the
The Ring and the Book. An idyllic epic by Robert Browning, founded on a cause célèbre of Italian history (1698). Guido Franceschini, a Florentine nobleman of shattered fortune, by the advice of his brother, Cardinal Paulo, marries Pompilia, an heiress, to repair his state. Now Pompilia was only a supposititious child of Pietro, supplied by Violante for the sake of preventing certain property from going to an heir not his own. When the bride discovered the motive of the bridegroom, she revealed to him this fact, and the first trial occurs to settle the said property. The count treats his bride so brutally that she quits his roof under the protection of Caponsacchi, a young priest, and takes refuge in Rome. Guido follows the fugitives and arrests them at an inn; a trial ensues, and a separation is permitted. Pompilia pleads for a divorce, but, pending the suit, gives birth to a son at the house of her putative parents. The count, hearing thereof, murders Pietro, Violante, and Pompilia; but, being taken red-handed, is executed.
(The). The space set apart for prize-fighters, horse-racing, etc. So called because the spectators stand round in a ring.
To make a ring. To combine in order to control the price of a given article. Thus, if the chief merchants of any article (say salt, flour, or sugar) combine, they can fix the selling price, and thus secure enormous profits.
It has the true ring- has intrinsic merit; bears the mark of real talent. A metaphor taken from the custom of judging genuine money by its “ring” or sound. Ring, a circlet, is the Anglo-Saxon hring; ring, to sound a bell, etc., is the verb hring-an.
Source: Dictionary of Phrase and Fable, E. Cobham Brewer, 1894