"shoot arrows at a mark selected at pleasure or at random"


English - Britain
rove (v.)
"to wander with no fixed destination," 1530s (earliest sense was "to shoot arrows at a mark selected at pleasure or at random," late 15c.); possibly a Midlands dialectal variant of northern English and Scottish rave "to wander, stray," from Middle English raven, probably from Old Norse rafa "to wander, rove" (compare rave (v.)). Influenced by rover, if not a back-formation from it. Related: Roved; roving.

Would 'pleasure' here mean something like setting the mark at a distance one feels comfortable with?
  • Unoverwordinesslogged

    English - Britain
    Thanks. Seems an interesting slight turn of phrase. Wouldn't mind a bit more though for safe keeping. Would be a shame not to fully grasp it.


    Senior Member
    British English (Sussex)
    It's not all that remarkable is it? "At pleasure" = "as one pleases". It's similar to "at will".
    "Selected at pleasure" would mean "chosen because they liked it" - a bird sitting on a branch, perhaps. I wouldn't expect "mark" there to mean a fixed target of the sort used for target practise, but rather something suitable that happened to catch their eye.
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