Offspring - Vocabulary Activator

Vocabulary | English in Use


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English in Use

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We have quite a number of words for offspring, or children, and this lesson aims to show you all the common ones and help you to use them correctly. As well as the names for the young of various common animals, the lessons looks at the words: child, children, baby, young, little one, issue, nipper, fruit of your loins, heir, progeny, offspring, and kids.

From The OED on CD-ROM

offspring (ˈɒfsprɪŋ, ɔː-) 

Forms: 1–7 ofspring, 1 -sprincg, 1–2 -sprinc, 2 -sprinke, 2–4 -spreng(e, 2–6 -springe, 3 of sprench, ofsprung, 3–6 -spryng(e, 3–7 of-spring, 5–6 offsprynge, 6–7 -springe, 3 (Orm.), 5– offspring, (7–8 off-spring). β. 3–5 ospring(e, (3–4 osspringe, 4 ospreng, hospring, oxspring, oxpring). 

[OE. ofspring, f. of prep. adv. of, off + spring-an to spring.] 

1.1 The progeny which springs or is descended from some one; children or young (or, more widely, descendants) collectively; progeny, issue. Applied without indef. art. to a number, or to one; with indef. art. always collective, and usually with an adj., as a numerous offspring. (Rarely of plants.) 

   c 949 in Kemble Cod. Dipl. II. 300 Þis sy gedon for Siferð and for his ofsprincg.    c 1000 Ælfric On O. & N. Test. (Grein 1872) 3 Eall heora ofspring ðe him of com.    c 1175 Lamb. Hom. 75 On adam and on eue and on al heore ofsprinke.    c 1200 Ormin 16446 Þatt all hiss offspring shollde ben Todrifenn and toskeȝȝredd Inn all þiss middellærd.    c 1275 Duty Christians 21 in O.E. Misc. 142 We beoþ alle his of-sprung.    1297 R. Glouc. (Rolls) 499 To him and to his of spring [v.rr. ospryng, osprynge].    a 1300 Cursor M. 135 (Cott.) Siþen i will of adam tell, Of hys oxspring [Gött. hospring; Trin. ospringe], and of noe.    c 1400 Mandeville (Roxb.) vii. 24 Whare Iacob þe patriarc and his offspring dwelt.    a 1547 Surrey Æneid iv. (1557) D iij, Of Goddish race some ofspring shold he be.    a 1577 Sir T. Smith Commw. Eng. (1609) 14 Any of his sonnes or of spring.    1632 J. Hayward tr. Biondi's Eromena 187 Not onely a mother of a numerous off-spring, but also likely to be shortly a grand-mother.    1712 Steele Spect. No. 263 ⁋1 The Son endeavouring to appear the worthy Offspring of such a Father.    1770 Goldsm. Des. Vill. 168 To tempt its new-fledg'd offspring to the skies.    a 1814 Forgery iii. ii. in New Brit. Theatre I. 474 The joyful promise of an off⁓spring from thee.    1875 Bennett & Dyer Sachs' Bot. 820 In the variety-hybrids [of plants]‥some of the non-essential characters of the parents sometimes present themselves in the offspring uncombined side by side.    1881 J. Owen Even. w. Skeptics I. 446 The modern hereditarian regards himself as the offspring mentally as well as physically of a long line of ancestors.

b.1.b Rarely in pl.: †(a) in individual sense = children or descendants (obs.); (b) in collective sense = progenies, broods, families. 

   a 1548 Hall Chron., Edw. IV, 237 The erle of Richemond, one of the ofsprynges, of the bloud of kyng Henry the sixte.    1675 Traherne Chr. Ethics 300 As the woman was the glory of man, so were their off-springs the glory of both.    1686 Plot Staffordsh. 277 The Naturalists took care to transmit to Posterity the birth-places‥of all numerous Off⁓springs.    1756 W. Toldervy Hist. 2 Orphans IV. 209 The widows, and the offsprings of the poorer, the indigent clergy.    1808 Mem. Female Philos. I. 73 How much do these beloved offsprings add to our love and our happiness!

c.1.c fig. Of persons in relation to place of birth, or origin. 

   1695 Tryon Dreams iii. 27 Man‥is an Abridgment or Epitome thereof [the World], or if you please, its Son, or Off-Spring.    1697 Dryden Virg. Georg. i. 685 And there Euphrates her soft Off-spring arms.    a 1839 Praed Poems (1864) II. 300 Beautiful Athens, we will weep for thee; For thee and for thine offspring!

2.2 fig. That which springs from or is produced by something; produce, product; issue, outcome, result; ‘fruit’. a.2.a usually collective. 

   1609 Bible (Douay) Lev. xix. 25 The fifth yeare you shal eate the fruites, gathering the ofspring, that they bring forth.    1666 Boyle Orig. Formes & Qual. Wks. 1772 III. 72 The prolific buds that are the genuine ofspring of the stock.    1669 Sturmy Mariner's Mag. Ded., Accept‥this Off-spring of some spare Hours.    1725 N. Robinson Th. Physick 209 Whey is the Offspring of Milk.    1826 Kent Comm. (1858) I. 4 The law of nations‥is the offspring of modern times.    1856 Froude Hist. Eng. (1858) I. i. 69 The discoveries of Newton were the offspring of those of Copernicus.

†b.2.b with an and pl. in individual sense. Obs. 

   1609 Bible (Douay) Ezek. xxxvi. 30, I wil multiplie the fruite of the tree, and the offsprings of the filde.    1748 Hartley Observ. Man ii. iii. §1. 200 Almost all Kinds of Vice are the Excesses and monstrous Offsprings of Natural Appetites.    1760–72 H. Brooke Fool of Qual. (1809) IV. 44 Our spirits are the offsprings of his divine spirit.    a 1814 Forgery iii. ii. in New Brit. Theatre I. 465 These dark engender'd looks,‥offsprings of detestable despair.

†3.3 A generation (sense 5). Obs. 

   a 1300 Cursor M. 11415 (Cott.) Þar þai offerd, praid, and suank, Thre dais noþer ete ne dranc, Þus thoru ilk oxspring [Gött., Trin. ospring, Laud ofspryng] þai did.    1587 Golding De Mornay vi. 63 Ye begetting, ingendring and spreading foorth of al things from offspring to offspring.

†4.4 The fact of springing or descending from some ancestor or source; descent, origination, derivation, origin. Obs. 

   c 1420 Sir Amadas (Weber) 48 Y-comen of hye ospryng.    c 1510 Barclay Mirr. Gd. Manners (1570) D ij b, Eacus‥Of whom this saide Pyrrus had his birth and ofspring.    1551 T. Wilson Logike 10 b, These vertues, though their ofspryng bee from God, yet tyme maketh theim perfecte in the iyes of man.    1644 J. Berkenhead Serm. 4 All the armies upon earth were to deduce their offspring from that one Adam, by generation.    1698 J. Crull Muscovy 3 The‥Duina owes its name and off-spring to a Lake of the same Name.    1715 M. Davies Athen. Brit. I. 283 A great inlet into the offspring of those Deluding Antiquities.

†b.4.b transf. Family, race, stock; ancestry. Obs. 

   a 1300 Cursor M. 13598 (Cott.) Þe neist men of his oxspring Did þai þan be-for þam bring.    c 1300 Harrow. Hell 20 And so wes seid to Davyd the kyng, That wes of Christes oune ofspryng.    c 1440 Promp. Parv. 372/1 Osprynge‥idem quod kynrede.    1560 J. Daus tr. Sleidane's Comm. 12 b, The Frenchmen come of the same ofspringe that we do.    1582 Stanyhurst Æneis ii. (Arb.) 46, I may not, I wyl not deny my Greecian ofspring.    1612 Brerewood Lang. & Relig. xiii. 117 What if the innumerable people of‥the huge continent of America, be also of the same off-spring?

†5.5 That from which anything springs or originates: spring, fountain, source, original. Obs. 

   1538 Leland Itin. V. 64 Wher as the very Hed of Isis ys in a great Somer Drought apperith very litle or no water, yet is the stream servid with many Ofspringes resorting to one Botom.    1597 A. M. tr. Guillemeau's Fr. Chirurg. 22 b/1 Having discovered and denudatede the Polipum vnto his roote or first offspringe and originalle.    1604 Parsons 3rd Pt. Three Convers. Eng. 85 The fountaines or offsprings, from whence this diuersity hath taken her beginninge.

¶The alleged sense ‘Propagation, generation’, repeated in Dicts. from J., appears to be an error, J.'s quot. being app. in sense 1. 

   1594 Hooker Eccl. Pol. i. v. §2 That which cannot hereunto [to eternal existence] attain personally, doth seek to continue itself another way, that is by offspring and propagation.

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