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The very best wine. The word is Low Latin for “upon the nail,” meaning that the wine is so good the drinker leaves only enough in his glass to make a bead on his nail. The French say of first-class wine, “It is fit to make a ruby on the nail” (faire rubis sur lʹongle), referring to the residue left which is only sufficient to make a single drop on the nail. Tom Nash says, “After a man has drunk his glass, it is usual, in the North, to turn the bottom of the cup upside down, and let a drop fall upon the thumb-nail. If the drop rolls off, the drinker is obliged to fill and drink again.” Bishop Hall alludes to the same custom: “The Duke Tenterbelly … exclaims … ‘Let never this goodly-formed goblet of wine go jovially through me;ʹ and then he set it to his mouth, stole it off every drop, save a little remainder, which he was by custom to set upon his thumb-nail and lick off.”

“ʹTis here! the supernaculum! twenty years

Of age, if ʹtis a day.”

Byron: Werner, i. 1.

Supernaculum. Entirely. To drink supernaculum is to leave no heel-taps; to drink so as to leave just enough not to roll off one’s thumb-nail if poured upon it, but only to remain there as a wine-bead.

“This is after the fashion of Switzerland. Clear off neat, supernaculum.”—Rabelais: Gargantua and Pantagruel, bk. i. 5.

“Their jests were supernaculum,

I snatched the rubies from each thumb,

And in this crystal have them here.

Perhaps youʹll like it more than beer.”

King: Orpheus and Eurydice.

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Entry taken from Dictionary of Phrase and Fable, edited by the Rev. E. Cobham Brewer, LL.D. and revised in 1895.

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Sunday Saint
Sunflower (The)
Sunna or Sonna
Suo Jure (Latin)
Suo Marte (Latin)
Super, Supers
Supped all his Porridge (He has)
Supper of Trimalchio (A)
Sure as Demoivre
“Surest Way to Peace is a constant Preparation for War.”
Surfeit Water
Surloin of Beef

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