Courser - animals which draw a sleigh

Tales_fromThe_ViennaWoods

Senior Member
Argentinian and European Spanish
Hi people,

I've been reading "'Twas the Night Before Christmas", that well-known poem and there's a word I'm puzzled by.

Here's part of the stanza:

...
More rapid than eagles his coursers they came,
And he whistled, and shouted, and called them by name.
...

Here's the moment when Santa Claus's arrival at a household takes places. There's a glossary at the end of the poem and "courser" is defined as "an animal which pulls a sleigh". However, the word seems non-existent in dictionaries -at least the ones I've looked it up in. Could someone confirm that for me, please?

Thanks a lot in advance.
Tales

PS: If more context is needed, I'll gladly provide it.
 
  • Juhasz

    Senior Member
    English - United States
    The definition given in that glossary is not quite right, but it's good enough in the context. The WR dictionary offers this definition: "A swift horse," which is more or less how I'd define the word. Wikipedia's entry is probably closer to my understanding. This is all to say, I'd usually use courser to describe a horse, but it's not too unnatural to extend the meaning to include reindeer.
     

    PaulQ

    Senior Member
    UK
    English - England
    A courser is generally a horse or a dog used in hunting. The essential attributes of a courser are that it is fast and powerful.

    In "More rapid than eagles his coursers they came," coursers means "fast and powerful animals", and is a metaphor. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Metaphor

    In this case the fast and powerful animals are reindeer.
     

    Tales_fromThe_ViennaWoods

    Senior Member
    Argentinian and European Spanish
    I thought the word was being used metaphorically, given that it's usually not reindeer the ones that draw sleighs. I knew it meant dogs used in hunting but couldn't come up with a proper definition. Thanks a lot for your help. Highly appreciated.

    Regards,
    Tales
     
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