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Having had occasion recently to examine the N. T. usage of the 
expressions for my sake, for fesus' sake, for Christ's sake, &c, 
especially with a view to their historical origin and the force of the 
word sake, I determined to push the investigation further, and 
search for examples of this use in Early English, which I have 
thrown together below as a contribution to the history of the 
expressions. It was very soon ascertained that the locution did not 
occur in the Anglo-Saxon Gospels, nor in Wycliffe's New Testa- 
ment, judging by a careful examination of all the references given by 
Cruden, but first came in with Tyndale, and then as a translation 
usually of svsxa or did, though in 2 Cor. xii. 10, 3 John iii. 7, of 
6-i/>, and in Eph. iv. 32 of iv, — but here Coverdale has in Christ, 
following Wycliffe, and the Revised Version adopts it also. 

A very few examples of this usage will suffice. They are taken 
from Bosworth and Waring's Gothic, Anglo-Saxon, Wycliffe and 
Tyndale Gospels, 2d ed., 1874, Skeat's reprint of Forshall and 
Madden's Wycliffe and Purvey's New Testament, 1879, and Dab- 
ney's reprint from Bagster's edition of Tyndale's New Testament, 

Matt. xiv. 3. A. S And sette on cwertern for Sam wife Herodiaden 

Philippes hys broker ; 

W. — And putte [puttide] him in to prisoun for Erodias, the wit; of his 
brother ; 

T And put hym in preson ffor Herodias sake, hys brother Phips wife. 

John xii. 9. A. S. — And hig comon, naes na for "Saes Haalendes pingou 
synderlice ; 

\V. — And thei camen, not oonly for Jhesu ; 

T. — And they cam, nott for Jesus sake only. 

1 Cor. iv. 10. W. — We foolis for Crist ; T We are foles for Christes 

sake. 2 Cor. iv. 5. W. — And vs joure seruantis bi Jhesu ; T. — Oure selves 
youre servauntes for Jesus sake. Phil. i. 29. W. — But also that je suffren 
for him; T. — But also suffre for his sake. 

These examples might easily be multiplied, but the above are 
sufficient to show the N. T. usage. 

"FOR SAKE." 73 

The A. S. sacu is defined by Grein contentio, hostilitas, lis, rixa, 
pugna, and Bosworth has also " A cause or suit in law, process, 
accusation." Stratmann (Dictionary of Old English, XII-XV 
Centuries) defines sake, lis, rixa, causa, injuria, and amongst 
other references we have withouten sake=" sine causa," Psalms iii. 
8, the earliest reference for the modern usage being for hire sake : 
Ancren Riwle, p. 4 (Morton's ed.) 

In transmitting to Dr. J. A. H. Murray, editor of the Philo- 
logical Society's Dictionary, slips of the second volume of Gower's 
Confessio Amantis, I inquired if he could give me the earliest 

references for the expression, for 's sake. I append his reply, 

and am indebted to his kindness for the first four quotations given 

below. He says : " For 's sake I am not able to carry back 

beyond the Ancren Riwle, though it occurs in several works of 
that age. But this sense of sake does not once occur in Ormin 
nor in Layamon, both about 1200 ; it does not occur in the 
Hatton Gospels, c. 1160 (which I have examined with the con- 
cordance), and I have no record of it from the Lambeth or Trinity 
Homilies of 1 175-1200. We may, therefore, say that it appears 
in the first third of the thirteenth century, I presume first in a 
transferred use of the legal sense of sacu, to speak for one's cause 
or behalf. I enclose some of the earliest quotations we have for 

Thus it appears that the meaning pugna, lis, rixa, the common 
A. S. sense, which we find in Layamon and Orm, passes to causa, 
and thence to the modern meaning for my cause or behalf, on my 
account, most probably as Dr. Murray suggests. The four quota- 
tions enclosed by Dr. Murray are as follows : 

(1) "Ancren Riwle, p. 4, c. 1220-30. South Western. Dorsetshire. 
Me aski je hwat riwle je ancren schullen holden ? je schullen alle-weis, 
mid alle mihte, and mid alle strencfie wel witen pe inre [riwle], and pe uttre 
vor hire sake. 

(2) St. Katherine (Abbotsford Club), p. 6, 1. 98, c. 1220. West Midland, 
c. Herefordshire (considered by some to be by same author as A. R.) 

Bus lo for hure sake 

Ane dale hu atheld 
Of hire eldrene god 

And spende al that other 
In nedfule and in nakede. 

(3) Genesis and Exodus (E. E. T. Soc), 1. 3731, c. 1250. East Midland, 

Oc for is benes and_/i>?- is sake[n\ 
Yet he sal wiS hem milche maken. 


Editor supplies [n]. One might also suggest sake : -make. 

(4) Wright's Lyric Poetry, VI. 28, c. 1300. 

Levedi, Hi. for thine sake 
longinge is y-lent me on." 

To these I add the following from the literature of the thirteenth 
and fourteenth centuries, with occasional comments : 

(5) Owl and Nightingale (Stratmann's ed.), c. 1225. 

1 160. Oper pu bodest cheste and sake. 
1430. And mai eft habbe to make 
Hire leofmon wipute sake. 

Here sake still preserves its original sense. 

(6) Creed. (Maetzner's A. E. Sprachproben, p. 50, 8). 1st half 13th cent. 

On rode nailedd for mannes sake. 

(7) Hymn to the Virgin. Maetzner, p. 54, 39. 1st half 13th cent. 

That ich nevere for feondes sake 

furgo thin eche liht. 

(8) p. 55, 47. Lavedi, for thine sake 

(9) P- 55' 69. Thu do that ich for hire sake 

beo i-maked so clene. 

Here add two other Hymns to the Virgin. The first is printed 
by Mr. Furnivall in Academy, No. 503, Dec. 24, 1881, entitled by 
him The Hymn of Chaucer's Oxford Clerk, " Angelus ad Vir- 
ginem," from Arundel MS. 284, leaf 154, lines 58-60, c. 1250-60. 

(10) hus giue for pine sake 

him so her for to seruen 
pat pe [=he] us to him take. 

The second is found in the Appendix to Old English Homilies, 
2d series (E. E. T. Soc, ed. Morris), p. 257, 1. 58. 

(11) po godes sune alijte wolde 
On eorpe aXfor ure sake. 

This Hymn belongs to the thirteenth century. 
Genesis and Exodus (E. E. T. S., ed. Morris), c. 1250. 

(12) p. 16, 551. For swilc sinful dedes sake 

So cam on werlde wreche and wrake. 

(13) p. 40, 1392. Askede here if ?he migte taken 

Herberge/i??' hire frendes sake\n\. 

(14) p. 80, 2806. And wurS sone an uglike snake 

And Moyses Aegfor dredes sake. 
The B'ox and the Wolf (Maetzner, p. 133, 40-44), c. 1275. 

(15) I have leten thine hennen blod 

That I do for aimes sake. 

»for sake:' 75 

(16) King Horn (E. E. T. S., ed. Lumby), 1453-4. 2d half 13th cent. 

pis tur he let make 
Al for pine sake. 
Legend of St. Gregory (Zupitza's A. E. Uebungsbuch, p. 53). Before 
1300. XX, 37-8. 

(17) pabot bad pe fischers bope ten mark & the cradel take 
& bad pai schuld noujt be wrop/i»- pat litel childes sake. 

Sir Tristrem (Maetzner, p. 238). End of 13th cent. 81st stanza, 1-4. 

(18) To prisoun thai gun take 
Erl, baroun, and knight, 
For Douke Morgan sake, 
Many on dyd doun right. 

Here we have a proper name without inflection used with sake. 

Cursor Mundi (E. E. T. S., ed. Morris), 6833, c. 1320. 

{19) Sle pou nan wip-outen sake (vv. 11.). 

Cursor Mundi in Morris's Specimens of Early English : 

(20) p. 132, 181-2. For he moght find nan wit sak[e] 

On the sakles he suld ta wrake. 

(21) p. 137, 325-6. Mak us a welle, for mine sake, 

pat alle mai plente o water take. 

These examples from the Cursor Mundi are interesting, as show- 
ing the three meanings of sake, and the second containing also 
sakle.s=\xmocoxti., as in the Ormulum and Ancren Riwle. 

Stabat Mater (Wulcker's A. E. Lesebuch.I, p. 47), 31-33. No date, but 
as it follows Hampole, c. 1350. 

(22) Moder, now y shal the telle, 

jef y ne de^e, thou gost to helle, 
Y thole ded for thine sake. 

St. Andrew. Alt-Englische Legenden, ed. Horstmann, c. 1350. 

(23) p. 5, 75-7. And unto my goddes offrand make 

Or els I sail for pi god sake 
Ger hang pe right on swilk a tre. 

(24) T °3"4. I wold be wurthi/br his sake 

Opon a cross my dede to take. 

St. Laurentius. Barbour's Legenden-Sammlung, ed. Horstmann, I, p. 
191, c. 1350-1400. 

(25) Quhare-of mene wont war to mak 
In old tyme cronis for "pe sak 

Of victory pat gudmene wane. 

Interesting as the first example I have met with oifor the sake of. 

The Lay-Folks' Mass-Book (E. E. T. S., ed. Simmons), Text B. 453-7 
(Royal MS. 17 B XVII), c. 1375. 


(26) Make pi prayeres in pat stede 
for alle pi frendes pat are dede, 
And/or alle cristen soules sake 
swilk prayere shal pou make. 

The examples of the use of sake in Gower are not numerous, 
only four in the last half of the second volume ; but in Chaucer 
they are much more frequent. It is strange that the expression 
should not be found in the New Testament of Wycliffe, when both 
of his contemporaries make use of it. 

A couple of examples apiece from Chaucer and Gower must 
suffice : 

Chaucer's Clerkes Tale. (Skeat's C. P. ed.) 

(27) 135. And tak a wyf, for hye goddes sake. 

(28) 560. For this nyght shaltow deyen for my sake ; also lines 7, 255, 
and 975. 

Gower's Confessio Amantis (ed. Pauli), II. 

(29) p. 217. For lucre and nought for loves sake. 

(30) p. 229. And for Thetis his moder sake. 

Other examples may be found on pp. 226, 314. 

An examination of Morris's Old English Homilies, 2d series, 
which belong to the twelfth century, shows us that the expression 
for God's love was then used where for God's sake was more com- 
mon later. An example of this is found on p. 83, 1. 21, 22 : " Hie 
giuen here elmesse noht for godes luue ac for neheboreden ofter 
for kinraden," translated by the editor, " they give their alms not 
for God's sake, but for the sake of their neighbors or kinsmen." 
See also p. 157, 1. 24, and p. 159, 1. 10. This expression continued 
in use, as is seen in Lives of Saints : Thomas Beket (Maetzner, p. 
177), c. 1300. 1807. A sire! he seide, for Godes love, ne passe 
no^t ^ut the see. Also lines 1975, 2094, and in 2273, And bad 
him, for the love of God, in such angusse him rede. 

A hundred years later Chaucer would probably have used for 
Goddes sake. 

These examples show the use of sake with the possessive ad- 
jectives and genitive during the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries, 
while the language was forming, and from the rareness with which 
the form for the sake of is met with, this expression was evidently 
of later origin, and possibly originated in the North. It deserves 
notice that this form is not found in the Authorized Version, as 
quoted by Cruden, but the Revisers have occasionally made use 

of it. 

James M. Garnett.