• (RP) IPA: /fɔː(ɹ)ˈspiːk/, /fə(ɹ)ˈspiːk/

forspeak (forspeaks, present participle forspeaking; past forspoke, past participle forspoken)

  1. (transitive, dialectal, Northern England and Scotland) To injure or cause bad luck through immoderate praise#Noun|praise or flattery; to affect#Verb|affect with the curse#Noun|curse of an evil tongue, which brings ill luck upon all object#Noun|objects of its praise.
    • [1808, John Jamieson, “To FORSPEAK ↗”, in An Etymological Dictionary of the Scottish Language: […] In Two Volumes, volume I (A–K), Edinburgh: Printed at the University Press; for W[illiam] Creech, A[rchibald] Constable & Co., and W[illiam] Blackwood; London: Longman, Hurst, Rees, & Orme, T[homas] Cadell & W. Davies, and H. D. Symonds, OCLC 946611778 ↗, column 2:
      One is said to forspeak another, when he so commends him as to have a supposed influence in making him practically belie the commendation. If one highly praises a child for sweetness of temper, and the child soon after betrays ill humour; the person, who bestowed the praise, is said to have forspokin the bairn.]
  2. (transitive, obsolete) To bewitch, to charm#Verb|charm.
    • 1619, “The Examination of Anne Baker of Bottesford in the County of Leicester Spinster", in The Wonderfvl Discoverie of the Witchcrafts of Margaret and Phillip[a] Flower, Daughters of Joan Flower neere Beuer Castle: Executed at Lincolne, March 11. 1618, London: Printed at London by G[eorge] Eld for I. Barnes, dwelling in the long walke neere Christ-Church, OCLC 613937578 ↗; republished in A Collection of Rare and Curious Tracts, Relating to Witchcraft in the Counties of Kent, Essex, Suffolk, Norfolk, and Lincoln, between the Years 1618 and 1664, London: John Russell Smith, 1838, OCLC 24439978 ↗, page 15 ↗:
      This Examinat confesseth that shee came to Ioane Gylles house, her Child being sicke, and that shee intreated this Examinat to look on the Child, and to tell her whether it was forspoken or no, and this Examinat said it was forspoken; but when the said Child died she cannot tell.
    • 1658 (first performed 1623), William Rowley; Thomas Dekker (poet); John Ford, The Witch of Edmonton, London: Printed by J. Cottrel for Edward Blackmore [...], Act II, scene i, OCLC 606668964 ↗; republished in William Gifford and Alexander Dyce, editors, The Works of John Ford, volume III, new edition, London: James Toovey, 1869, OCLC 468932337 ↗, pages 196–197 ↗:
      Some call me witch, / And being ignorant of myself, they go / About to teach me how to be one; urging / That my bad tongue—by their bad usage made so— / Forspeaks their cattle, doth bewitch their corn, / Themselves, their servants, and their babes at nurse.
    • 1971, Keith Thomas, Religion and the Decline of Magic: Studies in Popular Beliefs in 16th and 17th Century England, London: Weidenfeld & Nicolson, OCLC 71368859 ↗; republished as Religion and the Decline of Magic: Studies in Popular Beliefs in Sixteenth- and Seventeenth-century England, London: Folio Society, 2012, OCLC 805007047 ↗, page 180:
      Perhaps the most distinctive feature of the cunning man’s medical dealings was his readiness to diagnose a supernatural cause for the patient’s malady by saying that he was haunted by an evil spirit, a ghost, or ‘fairy’, or that he had been ‘overlooked’, ‘forspoken’, or, in plainer language, bewitched. Thus if any inhabitant of mid-sixteenth-century Maidstone suspected that he had been forspoken, he would go off for advice to one Kiterell, a sorcerer who lived at Bethersden, and specialised in such things: […]
  3. (transitive, obsolete) To forbid, to prohibit; to oppose. [15th–19th c.]
  4. (transitive, obsolete) To say bad things about; to slander#Verb|slander.

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