Antonette diPaolo Healey reminds us that “we determine the meaning of a word primarily through analysis of its context.”1 It follows that the use of a word in different contexts may imply for that single term a range of possible denotations. In the partially complete Dictionary of Old English,2 sense subdivisions within word entries reveal the frequency and breadth of this polysemy: a word will often carry a long list of possible denotations, arising from differences in the grammatical or semantic environment in which the word is deployed across the surviving corpus. Thus a term may carry a certain meaning only with the dative, or only in military sense—in the latter case, it falls to the audience to recognize the martial context and so infer the relevant sense of the word. Each different semantic context (which may be as specific as the referent of a...

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