He hadde a thombe of gold

from Geoffrey Chaucer – The Canterbury Tales (General Prologue) on Rap Genius


Norton editions translate this line as “An honest miller has a golden thumb” and annotate the line to suggest that it means an honest miller is a rarity. Instead, the line probably refers to the method by which the miller could steal corn: by applying the weight of his thumb to the scales, he could make the weight of the grain (and thus his share) greater than was true.

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