strick, n.

The OED’s “Word of the Day” today is “strick.” Among its other definitions:

1. A bundle of broken hemp, flax, jute, etc. for heckling. Cf. STRIKE n. 2.

14.. Nom. in Wr.-Wülcker 696/12 Hic linipolus, a stric of lyne. c1440 Promp. Parv. 479/2 Streek, of flax (Kylw. A.P. linipulus). 1616 SURFL. & MARKHAM Country Farm V. xviii. 568 So you shall beate this flaxe till it handle as soft as any silke, then vnplat the strickes againe, and heckle it through the second heckle. 1673 A. WALKER Lees Lachrymans 8 The Blaze, a lock or strik of Flax, which gives but one flash, and dyes. 1688 HOLME Armoury III. 106/2 A Head of Flax, is twelve Stricks tied up to make a Bunch. A Strick, is about ten handfulls [of hemp or flax] made up together in a head. 1847 Jrnl. R. Agric. Soc. VIII. II. 385 It is considered best to divide the labour of cleaning each strick of flax among three different stands. 1852 A. ROBB Poems & Songs 115 A streek o’ lint I canna pu’. 1881 Spons’ Encycl. Industr. Arts etc. IV. 1243 Each stone [of 14 lb.] contains 5-8 ‘stricks’ or handfuls of finished flax, and each strick is composed of two ‘fingers’, two of the small lots that have been treated at one operation in the scutching-process.
Heckling, here, not meaning “to taunt or make fun of,” but rather “to comb flax to straighten the fibers.”
This is the challenge/genius of the free “word of the day” on the OED. You can’t fall down the rabbit hole of definitions and etymologies, trying to get a handle on how these things are related, without paying for a sub. Fortunately, you can still fall down the rabbit hole of the Internet for free, and this was a cool find. I’ve never had a good grasp on ye olde fairy tale description “flaxen-haired” until now.

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