Dane - deign

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Do not confuse the homophones Dane and deign. Both are pronounced to rhyme with 'pain' and 'sane' (IPA: /deɪn/).

  • A Dane (always with an initial capital letter) is a person from Denmark. Shakespeare's Hamlet challenges Laertes with the words "This is I, Hamlet the Dane." (Historically, the word has been more generally used to mean 'Scandinavian': the area of England over which the Vikings ruled in the ninth century, and where the common, or customary, law was largely based on their own practice even afterwards, when they recognized the authority of the kings of Wessex. 'Danelaw', or Danish law, continued to hold in northern England until after the Norman Conquest. The word is also used by historians to mean that part of England ruled under Danish law by Danes
    • A 'Great Dane' is a breed of dog. 'Lesser Dane' is an obsolete name for the breed now called 'Dalmatian'.
  • The verb 'to deign' means 'to condescend', 'to lower oneself to a level beneath one's [own sense of one's] dignity', 'to stoop'. A Christian might say that "God deigned to live on earth as a man"; a famous person might deign to acknowledge the cheers of fans.
Etymological note: the spelling of deign is the result of its root, the Latin word dignus (worthy), which is also the root of the word 'dignity'.