| Share
 

Supernaculum

The very best wine. The word is Low Latin for “upon the nail,” meaning that the wine is so good the drinker leaves only enough in his glass to make a bead on his nail. The French say of first-class wine, “It is fit to make a ruby on the nail” (faire rubis sur l'ongle), referring to the residue left which is only sufficient to make a single drop on the nail. Tom Nash says, “After a man has drunk his glass, it is usual, in the North, to turn the bottom of the cup upside down, and let a drop fall upon the thumb-nail. If the drop rolls off, the drinker is obliged to fill and drink again.” Bishop Hall alludes to the same custom: “The Duke Tenterbelly exclaims `Let never this goodly-formed goblet of wine go jovially through me; ' and then he set it to his mouth, stole it off every drop, save a little remainder, which he was by custom to set upon his thumb-nail and lick off.”

`Tis here! the supernaculuin! twenty years
Of age, if't is a day.

Byron: Werner, i. 1.

Supernaculum.
Entirely. To drink supernaculum is to leave no heel-taps; to drink so as to leave just enough not to roll off one's thumb-nail if poured upon it, but only to remain there as a wine-bead.

“This is after the fashion of Switzerland. Clear Off neat, supernaculum.” —Rabelais: Gargantua and Pantagruel, bk. i. 5.

Their jests were supernaculum,
I snatched the rubies from each thumb,
And in this crystal have them here.
Perhaps you'll like it more than beer.

King: Orpheus and Eurydice.

Source: Dictionary of Phrase and Fable, E. Cobham Brewer, 1894
A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z

More on Supernaculum from Infoplease:

  • Supernaculum - Supernaculum The very best wine. The word is Low Latin for “upon the nail,” meaning ...
  • Nab - Nab The fairy which offers Orpheus for food in the infernal regions a roasted ant, a flea's ...
  • Nail - Nail Down on the nail, Pay down on the nail. In ready money. In Latin: “Super unguem;” ...
  • Dictionary of Phrase and Fable: S - Definitions, origins, and illustrative excerpts for words, phases, and literary allusions starting with "S"

Related Content


24 X 7

Private Tutor

Click Here for Details
24 x 7 Tutor Availability
Unlimited Online Tutoring
1-on-1 Tutoring