Definitions

from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

  • n. Confinement or restraint by force; imprisonment: "There should be a durance vile for justices who use an argument as weak as the one the majority used” ( George F. Will).

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • n. Duration.
  • n. Endurance.
  • n. Imprisonment; forced confinement.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • n. Continuance; duration. See endurance.
  • n. Imprisonment; restraint of the person; custody by a jailer; duress. Shak.
  • n.
  • n. A stout cloth stuff, formerly made in imitation of buff leather and used for garments; a sort of tammy or everlasting.
  • n. In modern manufacture, a worsted of one color used for window blinds and similar purposes.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • n. Duration; continuance; endurance.
  • n. Imprisonment; restraint of the person; involuntary confinement of any kind.
  • n. Any material supposed to be of remarkable durability, as buff-leather; especially, a strong cloth made to replace and partly to imitate buff-leather; a variety of tammy. Sometimes written durant, and also called ererlasting.
  • n. A kind of apple.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • n. imprisonment (especially for a long time)

Etymologies

Middle English duraunce, duration, from Old French durance, from durer, to last, from Latin dūrāre; see deuə- in Indo-European roots.
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
From Old French durance, from durer ("to last"). (Wiktionary)

Examples

  • As Murk languishes in durance vile, someone decides to change the game.

    October « 2009 « Maria Lectrix

  • This means an approximately 90% reduction in durance vile and also in repetitive injuries.

    More technical notes on the All the Windwracked Stars revision

  • Not only are you willing to let a guilty terrorist sit in durance vile with no assurance that her commission would ever convene, you stated baldly that the only reason to convene such a commission would be to render a death sentence.

    Balkinization

  • I'm afraid I disagree: the threat of putting Paadilla back in durance vile hangs over any plea bargain, so the case is very much live.

    Is That Legal?: Pulling the Plug on Padilla

  • Then said Musa, “Ask him why he is in durance of this column?”

    The Book of The Thousand Nights And A Night

  • But a servant commonly is less free in mind than in condition; his very will seems to be in bonds and shackles, and desire itself under a kind of durance and captivity.

    Sermons Preached Upon Several Occasions. Vol. I.

  • She would not act on her own, without her brother's counsel and support, and Olivier had been in durance long enough.

    A River So Long

  • Pooh! pooh! they dared not keep me a week of days in durance.

    The Bride of Lammermoor

  • “I hope,” continued her ladyship, addressing Matilda, “that you, dear Miss Trevanion, will not undergo such durance vile; but that we shall often see you at Richmond in the course of the summer.”

    The Curate and His Daughter, a Cornish Tale

  • Old Nandy had been several times to the Marshalsea College, communicating with his son – in – law during his short durance there; and had happily acquired to himself, and had by degrees and in course of time much improved, the patronage of the Father of that national institution.

    Little Dorrit

Comments

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  • I found this: "restraint by or as if by physical force". I think this adds something to the extent definitions. It suggests that durance covers both being kept from leaving but also the threat that if you do try and leave that force will be used. In the 1550's, Queen Mary kept the future Queen Elizabeth in durance ... I take this to mean that she was free to do anything she like, except leave.

    See http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/durance

    August 17, 2013

  • I could not answer him so glibly as I wished, not so much for want of words as of breath; for he hugged me so tight that I began to be alarmed for my wind pipe. As soon, however, as I had got my head out of durance, I replied, Signor cavalier, I had not the least conception that my name was known at Pegnaflor.

    - Lesage, The Adventures of Gil Blas of Santillane, tr. Smollett, bk 1 ch. 2

    September 12, 2008

  • Citation on peeler.

    June 30, 2008