Patrick O'Brian Discussion Forum

Re: The Thousand and One Nights


On Tue Feb 6, Bob Bridges wrote
>Christo's post about the Barmecide feast is gone now, but it got me thinking.  I was a big fan of the One Thousand and One Nights when I was a teenager . . I don't recall a Barmecide, though.  Must be further on.

OED offers:

'Barmecide, n.: the patronymic of a family of princes ruling at Bagdad just before Haroun-al-Raschid, concerning one of whom the story is told in the Arabian Nights, that he put a succession of empty dishes before a beggar, pretending that they contained a sumptuous repast—a fiction which the beggar humorously accepted.

One who offers imaginary food or illusory benefits. Often attrib.
1713   J. Addison in Guardian 16 Sept. 2/1   The Barmecide was sitting at his Table that seemed ready covered for an Entertainment.
1842   Dickens Amer. Notes I. viii. 282   It is a Barmecide Feast; a pleasant field for the imagination to rove in.
1855   Thackeray Newcomes II. x. 103   My dear Barmecide friend.
1863   Reader II. 506   Sharing the boundless hospitality of a Barmecide.'

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