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Withe

(1 syl.). When Delilah asked Samson what would effectually bind him he told her “green withes,” but when she called in the Philistines he snapped his bonds like tow. Also spelt with. A boy, being asked what part of speech is with, replied a noun, and being reproved for ignorance made answer: “Please, sir, Samson was bound with seven withs.”

“It seems impossible that Samson can be held by such green withes [i.e. that a great measure can be carried by such petty shifts].” —The Times.

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