1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Pounce

POUNCE. (1) To drop upon and seize: properly said of a bird of prey seizing its victim in its claws. The substantive “pounce,” from which the verb is formed, was the technical name in falconry for the claws on the three front toes of a hawk’s claws, and so The Book of St Albans (1486) “Fryst the grete Clees behynde . . . ye shall call from talons. . . . The Clees within the, fote ye shall call of right her Pownces.” (2) To decorate metal by driving or punching a design into it from the under or back part of the surface, also to decorate cloth or other fabrics by punching or “pinking” holes, scalloping the edges, &c. Both these words seem to be variants of “punch” (q.v.), which comes ultimately from the Latin pungere, punctum, to prick, pierce. From them must be distinguished (3) “pounce,” a preparation of powdered cuttle-fish or sandarach, the resin of the sandarach-tree, formerly used for drying ink on the roughened surface of vellum, parchment or paper where an erasure had been made; later, the word was also given to the black sand used generally as a dusting-powder for drying ink before the invention of blotting-paper. The “pounce-box” or “pouncet-box” was a familiar object on all writing-tables till that time. A similar box with pierced lid for holding perfumes or aromatic vinegar also bore the name. This word is formed from the Lat. pumex, pumice-stone, which was employed for securing a smooth surface on vellum, parchment, &c. The term “pounce” is also applied to a finely powdered gum of the juniper or to pipe-clay darkened with charcoal used in transferring designs to fabrics, wall-surfaces, &c., through holes pricked in the original drawing.