THE ENCYCLOPÆDIA BRITANNICA

A DICTIONARY OF ARTS, SCIENCES, LITERATURE AND GENERAL INFORMATION

ELEVENTH EDITION 1911

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CAST (from the verb meaning “to throw”; the word is Scand. in origin, cf. Dan. kaste, and Swed. kasta; “cast” in Middle Eng. took the place of the A.S. weorpan, cf. Ger. werfen), a throw, or that which is thrown, or that into which something is thrown. From these three meanings come the main uses of the word; for the throwing of dice, with the figurative sense of a chance or opportunity, as in “at the last cast”; for the throwing of a fisherman’s line in fly-fishing; for hounds spreading out in search of a lost scent; or, with the further meaning of a twisted throw or turn, for a slight squint in the eye. “Cast” is applied to a measure of herrings or other fish, being the amount taken in two hands to be thrown into a vessel, and similarly to a potter’s measure for a certain quantity of clay; in fishing, to the casting line of gut with fly attached; to the hard refuse thrown out of the crop of a bird of prey, and to the coils of earth thrown up by earth-worms. From the old method, in making calculations, of using counters, which were thus “thrown” up into a heap, is probably derived the meaning of “cast” for the “casting up” of figures in an account. Further, the word is found for a mould for the casting of metals, and more particularly for the copy of an original statue or relief taken from a mould; similarly, of fossils, for the mineral filling of the empty mould left by the organism. Special uses of the word are also found in the theatrical term for the assignment of particular parts to the actors and actresses in a play, and in the many figurative senses of a type or stamp, as of features or characters.
Transcriber's note: A few typographical errors have been corrected. They appear in the text like this, and the explanation will appear when the mouse pointer is moved over the marked passage. Sections in Greek will yield a transliteration when the pointer is moved over them, and words using diacritic characters in the Latin Extended Additional block, which may not display in some fonts or browsers, will display an unaccented version.

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