1) A knife or dagger used to deliver a coup de grace; the word was also used for a particularly slender knife designed specifically to pass through the gaps in a knight's visor. [< Lat. misereor = to have pity] -
2) In pre-11c English churches, it was forbidden to sit down: there were no seats in the part of the church or *cathedral for the lay congregation; nor were there any for monks or canons. However, this practice eased during the 12c. Initially, *leaning staffs were permitted for the frail. Later, seats were added to the stalls. In time a further act of mercy was allowed by adding to the underside of the raised choir seat a small ledge, which gave some support. Misericord in this context was taken to mean an 'indulgence seat'. The earliest surviving misericords are to be found at Exeter Cathedral, dating from 1255-79. [< Lat. misereor = have pity]
3) Monks were forbidden meat, except in the infirmary. By the 13c, a kind of half-way house emerged between *frater and infirmary where meat could be eaten, i.e. the misericord or chamber of mercy. At Peterborough it was called the 'seyny house' (seyny < seynen = to make the sign of the cross, to bless). Later, this arrangement was further amended so that half the members of a monastery were permitted meat and the others not. It marked the waning of the fervour of the original revival of faith and the softening of the order's rules. -

Dictionary of Medieval Terms and Phrases. .

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  • misericord — ► NOUN ▪ a ledge projecting from the underside of a hinged seat in a choir stall, giving support to someone standing when the seat is folded up. ORIGIN from Latin misericors compassionate , from misereri to pity + cor heart …   English terms dictionary

  • misericord — or misericorde [mi zer′i kôrd΄; ] also [ miz′ər ikôrd΄] n. [ME misericorde < OFr < L misericordia < misericors, merciful < base of misereri (see MISERERE) + cor,HEART] 1. a narrow ledge on the underside of a hinged seat, as in a choir …   English World dictionary

  • Misericord — This article is about the church ornament. For the weapon, see Misericorde (weapon). Misericord and choir stall at Chester Cathedral A misericord (sometimes named mercy seat, like the Biblical object) is a small wooden shelf on the underside of a …   Wikipedia

  • misericord — also misericorde noun Etymology: Medieval Latin misericordia seat in church, from Latin, mercy, from misericord , misericors merciful, from misereri + cord , cor heart more at heart Date: circa 1515 a small projection on the bottom of a hinged… …   New Collegiate Dictionary

  • misericord — /miz euhr i kawrd , mi zer i kawrd /, n. 1. a room in a monastery set apart for those monks permitted relaxation of the monastic rule. 2. Also, subsellium. a small projection on the underside of a hinged seat of a church stall, which, when the… …   Universalium

  • misericord — noun a) relaxation of monastic rules. b) The room in a monastery for monks granted such relaxation …   Wiktionary

  • misericord — ledge in church to lean against while standing; forgiveness or mercy Ecclesiastical Terms …   Phrontistery dictionary

  • misericord — n. special room for monks who are granted relaxation from monastery rule; short dagger used during the Middle Ages for striking a blow of mercy; support on the underside of hinged church seats …   English contemporary dictionary

  • misericord — [mɪ zɛrɪkɔ:d] noun 1》 a ledge projecting from the underside of a hinged seat in a choir stall, giving support to someone standing when the seat is folded up. 2》 historical an apartment in a monastery in which some relaxations of discipline were… …   English new terms dictionary

  • Misericord — Small projecting ledge on the underside of a hinged seat in the choir stall of a church. When the seat is hinged up, this ledge gives some support to a standing person until they fall asleep. 1) a swing up seat in the choir of a major church,… …   Medieval glossary

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