Online Encyclopedia

COUNTER

Online Encyclopedia
Originally appearing in Volume V07, Page 315 of the 1911 Encyclopedia Britannica.
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COUNTER. (1) (Through the O. Fr. conteoir, modern comptoir, from Lat. computare, to reckon), a round piece of metal, wood or other material used anciently in making calculations, and now for reckoning points in games of cards, &c., or as tokens representing actual coins or sums of money in gambling games such as roulette. The word is thus used, figuratively, of something of no real value, a sham. In the original sense of " a means of counting money, or keeping accounts," " counter " is used of the table or flat-topped barrier in a bank, merchant's office or shop, on which money is counted and goods handed to a customer. The term was aiso applied, usually in the form " compter," to the debtors' prisons attached to the mayor's or sheriff's courts in London and some other boroughs in England. The " compters " of the sheriff's courts of the city of London were, at various times, in the Poultry, Bread St., Wood St. and Giltspur St.; the Giltspur St. compter was the last to be closed, in 1854. (2) (From Lat. contra, opposite, against), a circular parry in fencing, and in boxing, a blow given as a parry to a lead of an opponent. The word is also used of the stiff piece of leather at the back of a boot or shoe, of the rounded angle at the stern of a ship, and, in a horse, of the part lying between the shoulder and the under part of the neck. In composition, counter is used to express contrary action, as in " countermand," " counterfeit," &c.
End of Article: COUNTER
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