Last modified on 18 May 2015, at 19:14

fence

EnglishEdit

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A fence (barrier)

EtymologyEdit

The original meaning is "the act of defending", from Middle French defens (see defence), adopted in the 14th century. The sense "enclosure" arises in the mid 15th century. Also from the 15th century is use as a verb in the sense "to enclose with a fence". The generalized sense "to defend, screen, protect" arises ca. 1500. The sense "to fight with swords (rapiers)" is from the 1590s (Shakespeare).

PronunciationEdit

NounEdit

fence (plural fences)

  1. A thin, human-constructed barrier which separates two pieces of land or a house perimeter.
    • 1865, Horatio Alger, Paul Prescott's Charge, Ch.XVII:
      There was a weak place in the fence separating the two inclosures
    • 2013 June 8, “The new masters and commanders”, The Economist, volume 407, number 8839, page 52: 
      From the ground, Colombo’s port does not look like much. Those entering it are greeted by wire fences, walls dating back to colonial times and security posts. For mariners leaving the port after lonely nights on the high seas, the delights of the B52 Night Club and Stallion Pub lie a stumble away.
  2. A middleman for transactions of stolen goods.
    • 1920, Mary Roberts Rinehart, Avery Hopwood, The Bat, chapterI:
      The Bat—they called him the Bat. []. He'd never been in stir, the bulls had never mugged him, he didn't run with a mob, he played a lone hand, and fenced his stuff so that even the fence couldn't swear he knew his face.
    1. The place whence such a middleman operates.
  3. Skill in oral debate.
  4. The art or practice of fencing.
  5. A guard or guide on machinery.
  6. (figuratively) A barrier, for example an emotional barrier.
  7. (computing, programming) A memory barrier.

SynonymsEdit

  • (middleman): pawn
  • (place where a middleman operates): pawn shop

Derived termsEdit

TranslationsEdit

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See alsoEdit

VerbEdit

fence (third-person singular simple present fences, present participle fencing, simple past and past participle fenced)

  1. (transitive) To enclose, contain or separate by building fence.
  2. (transitive) To defend or guard.
    • John Milton (1608-1674)
      To fence my ear against thy sorceries.
  3. (transitive) To engage in the selling or buying of stolen goods.
    • 1920, Mary Roberts Rinehart, Avery Hopwood, The Bat, chapterI:
      The Bat—they called him the Bat. []. He'd never been in stir, the bulls had never mugged him, he didn't run with a mob, he played a lone hand, and fenced his stuff so that even the fence couldn't swear he knew his face.
  4. (intransitive, sports) To engage in (the sport) fencing.
    • 1921, Rafael Sabatini, Scaramouche,
      Challenges are flying right and left between these bully-swordsmen, these spadassinicides, and poor devils of the robe who have never learnt to fence with anything but a quill.
  5. (intransitive, equestrianism) To jump over a fence.

SynonymsEdit

  • (to sell or buy stolen goods): pawn

TranslationsEdit