Loom - Lungwort

Dictionary of Traded Goods and Commodities 1550-1820. Originally published by University of Wolverhampton, Wolverhampton, 2007.

This free content was born digital. All rights reserved.


In this section


[loume; looms to weave bindings; loome; loombe; lomme; lome; lombe; lomb; loame]

The name of Loom was first attached to an implement or tool of any kind. In this sense the term is virtually obsolete, but it has been noted occasionally in probate inventories, like the one of a seventeenth-century saddler, who had 'workeloomes in the Shoppe' [Inventories (1627)], or the pin maker with 'Work looms belonging to ye trade' [Inventories (1718)].

OED earliest date of use in this sense: c900

Subsequently the term acquired a number of meanings of which only two are of importance in the Dictionary.

The first, and most common, is the WEAVERS LOOM, a machine in which YARN or THREAD is woven by the crossing of threads called respectively WARP and WEFT. By the early modern period, the horizontal treadle loom was almost universally used in this country. Since the treadle-operated HARNESS produced greater control, it could be used to weave longer lengths of cloth. Further more, the WARP threads could be stretched more tautly and with even tension, whilst the WEFT could be beaten up more uniformly than on the old vertical looms. The horizontal loom was narrow, with a seat in front for the weaver. The warps were stretched horizontally from the warp beam at the back to the cloth beam in the front. Each beam consisted of a roller on a ratchet operated by a lever. This type of loom used HEDDLE - HARNESSes suspended from pulleys hooked to the upper cross beam and operated by treadles. Each weaving 'shed' (that is the opening made between the threads of the warp by the motion of the heddles for the shuttle to pass through) had its own heddle harness, pulley and treadle. For a simple weave, where the shuttle passed over and then under alternate threads, two harnesses were needed, but for a TWILL three or four sets. The chief limitation of this type of loom was that it could only weave a NARROW CLOTH limited to the arm stretch of the weaver, a limitation resolved by the introduction of the BROAD LOOM [Munro (1994)].

OED earliest date of use in this sense: 1404

The term 'Loom' was also applied to a vessel similar in use to a BUCKET or TUB, made by a cooper of LOOM STAVEs and a LOOM BOTTOM, by the same technique as that used for making a BARREL. It was often distinguished from other similar vessels, which were listed alongside it as 'ij lomes ij payles and a churne iijs' [Inventories (1551)]. Looms of this type were also often differentiated by a descriptor indicating specific use, hence BREWING LOOM, BUCKING LOOM, DRINK LOOM.

Although it is not always straightforward to distinguish the types of loom, value and context may be a guide as in: 'a loome viijd' listed among the COOPERY WARE [Inventories (1543)], while weaving looms were often associated with other distinctive items as in 'a lombe w'th heavill & sla vs' [Inventories (1602)].

Loom as an item of coopery was very much a Midlands term; being uncommon elsewhere after 1660.

OED earliest date of use in this sense: 1300

As a weaver's loom: Found described as ENGLISH

Sources: Acts, Houghton, Inventories (early), Inventories (mid-period), Inventories (late), Newspapers, Patents, Tradecards.
References: Munro (1994).

Loom bottom

[lome bottom]

A circular piece of shaped WOOD for fitting inside a set of LOOM STAVEs to make a LOOM and comparable with a BARREL HEAD.

Not found in the OED

Found in units of DOZEN, HUNDRED

Sources: Inventories (early).

Loom embroidery


A term that appears only once in the Dictionary Archive, and one that has been noted not at all in the dictionaries. It was used in a patent which protected a method of producing 'Loom-embroidery, manufactured in gold or silver, on silk ribbon and woollen, linen, cotton, or mohair' [Patents (1770)]. It suggests that a process had been developed of applying EMBROIDERY mechanically to RIBBON. It thus may have been, the mechanization involved apart, similar to the LOOM LACE and LOOM WORK found a century earlier.

Sources: Patents.

Loom lace

[loumlace; loome lace; lome lace]

The OED suggests a LACE made in a LOOM. However, this cannot mean lace produced on a modified stocking frame, as was the case in the second half of the eighteenth century, because all loom lace found in the Dictionary Archive dates to the seventeenth century and earlier. The supporting quotation in the OED of 'A Wastcoat lac'd with broad Silver knotted Loom-lace' is dated 1689 and so fits in time with the Dictionary Archive examples. It also fits with the '8 oz & a q'rter of silver & silver & go loome lace' noted in the stock of one retailer [Inventories (1668)]. Given that LOOM EMBROIDERY, noted only in the eighteenth century, seems to have been a way of mechanizing the application of EMBROIDERY to RIBBON, it seems probably that loom lace was similar, but simpler in technique. The portrait of the 'Homme de qualité' by J.D. de St Jean dated 1687 may show an example of loom lace, with bands of ribbon woven with alternating horizontal stripes of fabric and metal work [Cumming (1984, reprint 1987)], though judging by the descriptors noted, some loom lace was less ornate.

Loom lace was probably synonymous with LOOM WORK, a term noted at roughly the same period, and one that attracted similar descriptors and units of measure. Both also seem to have been imported, in the case of loom lace from France [Acts (1700)].

OED earliest date of use: 1689

Found described as BLACK, BROAD, GOLD AND SILVER, ragged, SILVER, WHITE
Found in units of DOZEN, OZ, YARD

Sources: Acts, Inventories (early), Inventories (mid-period).
References: Cumming (1984, reprinted 1987).

Loom stave

[loome staffe; loom staff; lome staue; lome staffe; lome staf]

A STAVE, a set of which may be fitted together round a LOOM BOTTOM to make a LOOM, and comparable with BARREL STAVE

Not found in the OED

Found in units of HUNDRED

Sources: Inventories (early), Inventories (mid-period), Inventories (late).

Loom work

[loomworke; loomeworke; loome worke; loom worke; lomeworke; lome worke; lome work; lome woork]

Defined by the OED as the process of weaving, which well fits one of its quotations. However, the other of 'clothes ... being verie costly wrought with Loome-worke' dated 1598 suggests a form of decorative TEXTILE like a RIBBON or LACE that could be applied to clothing or made up into a garment. Loom work in this sense was probably synonymous with LOOM LACE.

OED earliest date of use: 1598

Found in units of DOZEN, GROSS, PIECE, ROLL, YARD Found rated by the YARD

Sources: Inventories (early), Inventories (mid-period), Rates.

Loose flax

Possibly FLAX from the FLEMISH town of Liège (in Flemish Luik), but more likely flax that had not been bundled up, unlike FADGE FLAX, KIRTLE FLAX, etc.

Found in units of HUNDRED, LB

Sources: Inventories (mid-period).

Love apple

The fruit of the tomato, Lycopersicum esculentum. This is a native of the lower Andes in South America, introduced into this country via Italy in the sixteenth century [Masefield et al (1969)]. Although it was recognized as edible, it does appear not to have been used as such until well after 1800. The name indicates the widespread belief of its efficacy as a love philtre. Its seed have been noted listed under 'Seeds in the Kitchen Garden' [Tradecards (n.d.)].

OED earliest date of use: 1578

Sources: Tradecards.
References: Masefield et al. (1969).


A small CAKE or tablet, originally diamond-shaped, mostly of medicated or flavoured SUGAR, often bound together with GUM ARABIC or the like. Lozenges were meant to be held and dissolved in the mouth. Some were intended as a SWEETMEAT like those made of CHOCOLATE [Recipes (Recusant)], others were a form of condensed MEAT broth like the LOZENGES DE SANTE. However, most had a medicinal use and in these the sugar, if present at all, was there to mask what would otherwise have been an unpleasant taste. Medicinal lozenges were variously labelled. Some were named after their principal active ingredient, for example CAMOMILE LOZENGES, CARDAMOM LOZENGES, CURRANT LOZENGES, GINGER LOZENGES, LEMON LOZENGES, LIQUORICE LOZENGES, MAGNESIA LOZENGES, NITRE LOZENGES, PEPPERMINT LOZENGES, SULPHUR LOZENGES, TAMARIND LOZENGES, etc., while other names indicated the conditions to be cured, like PAREGORIC LOZENGES, PECTORAL LOZENGES and STOMACHIC LOZENGES. A few were given proprietary names such as DAWSON'S LOZENGES and Swinfens ANTIACID LOZENGES. One of the better known maker of proprietary medicines Thomas Greenough made a range of medicinal lozenges [Tradecards (1790s)].

The lozenge was not a form of medicament much used in the pharmacopoeias; Pemberton, for example, had only one, 'Cardialgic lozenges [Pemberton (1746)], but these have not been noted in the Dictionary Archive. Similar products were found under the name of TROCHEs. These are found fairly frequently among APOTHECARY WARE before 1700, but the term seems to have lost popularity thereafter in favour of the lozenge, which served the same purpose, and had the added advantage that it could appeal to those with a sweet tooth as well as those seeking relief from discomfort. A description of the modern manufacture of lozenges, whether as a CONFECTIONERY or medicated, is given in the Complete Grocer. The methods described, apart from the mechanization, are unlikely to be greatly at variance with those employed in the early-modern period [Simmonds (1906)].

OED earliest date of use: 1530

Sources: Houghton, Inventories (late), Newspapers, Recipes, Tradecards.
References: Pemberton (1746), Simmonds (1906).

Lozenges de sante

[restorative lozenges; lozenge de sante]

The lozenges de sante were of an uncommon type of LOZENGE, being similar to PORTABLE SOUP, though with the additional claims of being 'restorative'. The preservation of health, and its restoration when damaged, was a major preoccupation of the age, and one that was amply addressed by quacks and physicians alike. Most such medicaments were at least ostensibly medicinal and prepared by medics. Some made exaggerated claims, including one quoted by Roy Porter, which even declared it had revived 'great Numbers of people supposed to be dead' [Porter (1989)]. Unusually, the lozenges de sante were not made by a medical man, supposed or real, but by a 'Purveyor General and Oilman' and the owner of 'Fish Sauce and Portable Soup Manufactories'. But his claims were similar; his lozenges would give 'Vigour to the Weak', were 'Admirably adapted for Debilitated People (Young or Old)', and 'of the highest Importance in Consumptive Cases, and for Loss of Appetite, Inward Decay, etc'. They were made from a concentrated essence of VEAL or CHICKEN, both accepted as suitable for those in poor health [Tradecards (1800)].

Not found in the OED online

Found in units of BOX

See also LOZENGE.
Sources: Tradecards.
References: Porter (1989).

Lozenges of blois

The only example of these LOZENGEs in the Dictionary Archive appears among a list of QUACK MEDICINEs [Newspapers (1790)]. Apart from that there are no clues to ingredients or use.

Sources: Newspapers.


The coarser, darker TOBACCO LEAF taken from the lower part of the stalk.

OED earliest date of use: 1859, though one quotation given suggests that the term was known as early as 1686

Found described as black leaf

Sources: Acts.


[lumb'r; lumbare; lomber; lombar; lomb']

A collective term with several nuances of meaning. It would appear that WOOD was usually involved and that the items were of small worth, as in 'too olde plunkes wyth lumber' valued at 10d [Inventories (1583)]. It is in this sense that lumber was used in probate inventories to denote WOODEN - HOUSEHOLD FURNITURE not worth itemizing separately. However, in the Gloucester Coastal Port Books the term was apparently used on occasion to describe any cumbrous BAGGAGE of small worth [Gloucester Coastal Port Books (1988)]. The connection with WOOD is strongly made in one act, where the term seems to be applied quite widely [Acts (1720)], although there is no precise definition.

In the Dictionary Archive's collection of probate inventories, lumber was an uncommon term for the period before 1660, but thereafter it is used with much greater frequency. Presumably, this to some extent reflects the increasing quantity and variety of goods found in the home, and a corresponding reluctance on the part of the appraisers to list all of them in detail.

OED earliest date of use: 1552 as furniture;1649 as a cumbersome load

Found described as OLD Found describing PAPER, WOOD

Sources: Acts, Inventories (early), Inventories (mid-period), Inventories (late), Rates.
References: Gloucester Coastal Port Books (1998).

Lump sugar

[lump loafe sugar]

LOAF SUGAR broken into lumps or cut into cubes rather than as POWDER SUGAR. However, the lumps could be large and comparable in size to a SUGAR LOAF, hence 'To 4 lumps of sugar bought for me, weight 1 cwt. 0 qr. 15 lb. at 73s [Diaries (Turner)].

OED earliest date of use: 1657

Found in units of CWT, LB, QUARTER

Sources: Diaries, Inventories (mid-period), Inventories (late), Newspapers.


The name of lungwort is now generally applied to the boraginaceous plant Pulmonaria officinalis (Common Lungwort), having leaves with white spots thought to resemble the spots in a diseased lung. Hence, following the theory of signatures, it was used medicinally for the treatment of illness relating to the lungs.

However, several other plants were also thus labelled including BLACK HELLEBORE and a lichen now called Sticta pulmonacea or pulmonaria. Nicholas Culpeper claimed this was good against coughs and 'shortness of breath, which it cureth both in man and beast' [Culpeper (1792)]. He used it as one of the ingredients in his recipe for SNAIL WATER [Recipes (Culpeper)].

OED earliest date of use: c1265 as Black Hellebore; 1538 as Pulmonaria; 1578 as a lichen

Sources: Recipes.
References: Culpeper (1792).