In Samuel Johnson's dictionary of 1755, he defined pastern as the knee of a horse, while it is actually part of the foot. He claimed to have made this error out of "sheer ignorance."

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From the 1755 edition of Samuel Johnson's Dictionary :

PA'STERN n. s. [pasturon, French.]

  1. The knee of a horse.
    I will not change my horse with any that treads on four pasterns.
    --- Shakespeare's Henry V.
    The colt that for a stallion is design'd,
    Upright he walks on pasterns firm and straight,
    His motions easy, prancing in his gait.
    --- Dryden.
    Being heavy, he should not tread stiff, but have a pastern made him, to break the force of his weight : by this his body hangs on the hoof, as a coach doth by the leathers.
    --- Grew.
  2. The legs of a human creature in contempt.
    So straight she walk'd, and on her pasterns high.
    If seeing her behind, he lik'd her pace,
    Now turning short, he better lik'd her face.
    --- Dryden

Pas"tern (?), n. [Of. pasturon, F. paturon, fr. OF. pasture a tether, for beasts while pasturing; prop., a pasturing. See Pasture.]


The part of the foot of the horse, and allied animals, between the fetlock and the coffin joint. See Illust. of Horse.

⇒ The upper bone, or phalanx, of the foot is called the great pastern bone; the second, the small pastern bone; and the third, in the hoof, the coffin bone.

Pastern joint, the joint in the hoof of the horse, and allied animals, between the great and small pastern bones.


A shackle for horses while pasturing.



A patten.




© Webster 1913.

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