varlet

Definitions

  • WordNet 3.6
    • n varlet in medieval times a youth acting as a knight's attendant as the first stage in training for knighthood
    • n varlet a deceitful and unreliable scoundrel
    • ***
Webster's Revised Unabridged Dictionary
    • Varlet A servant, especially to a knight; an attendant; a valet; a footman.
    • Varlet Hence, a low fellow; a scoundrel; a rascal; as, an impudent varlet . "What a brazen-faced varlet art thou !"
    • Varlet In a pack of playing cards, the court card now called the knave, or jack.
    • ***
Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia
    • n varlet Originally, a very young man of noble or knightly birth, serving an apprenticeship in knightly exercises and accomplishments while awaiting elevation to the rank of knight; hence (because such youths served as pages or personal servants to the knights who had charge of them), a body-servant or attendant. (See valet.) The name was also given to the city bailiffs or Serjeants.
    • n varlet Hence, one in a subordinate or menial position; a low fellow; a scoundrel; a rascal; a rogue: a term of contempt or reproach.
    • n varlet The coat-card now called the knave or jack (in French, valet).
    • ***
Chambers's Twentieth Century Dictionary
    • n Varlet vär′let a footman: a low fellow: a scoundrel
    • ***

Etymology

Webster's Revised Unabridged Dictionary
OF. varlet, vaslet, vallet, servant, young man, young noble, dim. of vassal,. See Vassal, and cf. Valet
Chambers's Twentieth Century Dictionary
O. Fr. varlet, formerly vaslet, from a dim. of Low L. vassalis.

Usage

In literature:

Lo, these the varlets who our wives demand!
"The Aeneid of Virgil" by Virgil
At one time he took service with a minstrel and was his varlet.
"The Red Romance Book" by Various
The deck-hand is away with the varlet.
"The Lady and the Pirate" by Emerson Hough
Varlet, go out and wash his mouth, dry him down, and don't give him water until he has cooled off.
"The Ghost Breaker" by Charles Goddard
Through this crowd came two stout varlets leading the culprit between them.
"The Last of the Legions and Other Tales of Long Ago" by Arthur Conan Doyle
Up to your chamber, little varlet, and learn thy chapter.
"The Strange Adventures of Captain Dangerous, Vol. 1 of 3" by George Augustus Sala
This varlet, Wellborn, lives too long, to upbraid me With my close cheat put upon him.
"The Mirror of Taste, and Dramatic Censor, Vol. I, No. 4, April 1810" by Various
Every man to his trade, and the scholar may learn from the varlet and the wise man from the fool.
"The Canterbury Puzzles" by Henry Ernest Dudeney
The varlet sent his lead within whistle of your ears, Sagamore.
"The Last of the Mohicans" by James Fenimore Cooper
But, Rebecca, I've a mind to see what observance these people will give the varlet.
"The Panchronicon" by Harold Steele Mackaye
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In poetry:

Long petticoats to hide the feet,
Silk hose with clocks of scarlet ;
A load of perfume, sick'ning sweet,
Bought of PARISIAN VARLET.
"Female Fashions for 1799" by Mary Darby Robinson
While all were anxious, and all fear'd,
A horrid voice within was heard--
"Thou dismal varlet, most impure,
I tell thee I'll have thee for sure."
"The Jack Daw" by William Hutton
'When to kennels and liveried varlets
You have cast your daughter's bread,
And, worn out with liquor and harlots,
Your heir at your feet lies dead;
"The Bad Squire" by Charles Kingsley
Yet even now it is good to think,
While my few poor varlets grumble and drink
In my desolate hall, where the fires sink,—
Ah! qu'elle est belle La Marguerite,—
"The Eve of Crecy" by William Morris
Where are thy children? At play on the street;
Romping and shouting the varlets I meet;
Ah, my soul it is sad, and my heart it is pained,
For children neglected and Sabbaths profaned!
"The Demon Drink!" by Janet Hamilton
What, varlet! cried Croquard, Dost thou refuse me?
By heaven, proud cur, you shall see
And feel the weight of my hand before you are much older:
Then he instantly sprang up, and seized the minstrel by the shoulder.
"Jack o' the Cudgel" by William Topaz McGonagall