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pyx definition


This page has 7 definitions of pyx in English. Pyx is a noun and verb. Also define these 49 related words and terms: Christianity, small, round, container, use, hold, host, consecrated, bread, wafer, Eucharist, bring, communion, sick, unable, attend, Mass, pyxis, altar, fashion, box, casket, coffret, mint, place, deposit, sample, coin, intend, fineness, metal, weight, test, issue, public, coinage, nautical, compass, sailor, pyx, enclose, deceased, person, body, coffin, encoffin, decretal, Paris, and France.



A 15th-century silver pyx (sense 1) from southern France or Spain.[n 1]

The noun is derived from Late Middle English pix, pixe (vessel for holding a host, pyx; hip bone socket, pyxis) [and other forms],[1] from Late Latin pyxis (vessel for holding a host), Latin pyxis (small box for medicines or toiletries; box holding sample coins for testing; hip bone socket; sailor's compass), from Koine Greek πυξίς (puxís), Ancient Greek πῠξῐ́ς (puxís, box; box or tablet made of boxwood; cylinder), from πῠ́ξος (púxos, box tree; boxwood) + -ῐς (-is, suffix forming feminine nouns).[2]

The verb is derived from the noun.[3]



pyx (plural pyxes)

  1. (Christianity, also figuratively) A small, usually round container used to hold the host (consecrated bread or wafer of the Eucharist), especially when bringing communion to the sick or others unable to attend Mass.
    Synonym: (rare) pyxis
    • 1509 April 20 (Gregorian calendar), Henry VII of England, [Thomas Astle], editor, The Will of King Henry VII, London: Printed for the editor; and sold by T[homas] Payne, []; and B[enjamin] White, [], published 1775, OCLC 1091582984, pages 37–38:
      [F]oraſmuche as we have often and many tymes, to our inwarde regrete and diſpleaſure, ſeen at oure Jen, in diverſe and many Churches of our Realme, the holie Sacrament of the Aulter kept in ful simple and inhoneſt Pixes, ſpecially Pixes of copre and tymbre: we have appointed and commaunded the Treſourer of our Chambre, and Maiſtre of our Juellhouſe, to cauſe to be made furthwith Pixes of ſilver and gilte, in a greate nombre, for the keping of the holie Sacrament of th'Aultre, after the faction of a Pixe that we have cauſed to be delivered to theim, []
    • 1678, [Samuel Butler], “[The Third Part of Hudibras]”, in Hudibras. The Third and Last Part, London: [] Simon Miller, [], OCLC 123206337, canto I, page 86:
      With Croſſes, Relicks, Crucifixes, / Beads, Pictures, Roſaries and Pixes: / The Tools of working out Salvation, / By meer Mechanick Operation.
    • 1702, [William Bromley], “[In Italy]”, in Several Years Travels through Portugal, Spain, Italy, Germany, Prussia, Sweden, Denmark and the United Provinces. [], London: [] A[bel] Roper, [], R. Basset [], and W. Turner [], OCLC 731610574, page 52:
      They have Pixes and Chalices for the Bleſſed Sacrament five hundred and fifty, ſome of pure Gold, others of Silver and Criſtal; and among them, is one that was offer'd to our Bleſſed Saviour, by one of the three Kings, when they came to Worſhip him, and brought Preſents.
    • 1820, [Charles Robert Maturin], chapter V, in Melmoth the Wanderer: A Tale. [], volume I, Edinburgh: [] Archibald Constable and Company, and Hurst, Robinson, and Co., [], OCLC 1202978654, page 273:
      The slight breach was fortunately committed by a distant relation of the Archbishop of Toledo, and consisted merely in his entering the church intoxicated, (a rare vice in Spaniards), attempting to drag the matin preacher from the pulpit, and failing in that, getting astride as well as he could on the altar, dashing down the tapers, overturning the vases and the pix, and trying to scratch out, as with the talons of a demon, the painting that hung over the table, uttering all the while the most horrible blasphemies, and even soliciting the portrait of the Virgin in language not to be repeated.
    • 1820, Walter Scott, chapter III, in Ivanhoe; a Romance. [], volume III, Edinburgh: [] Archibald Constable and Co.; London: Hurst, Robinson, and Co. [], OCLC 230694662, page 69:
      [W]here am I to find such a sum? If I sell the very pyx and candlesticks on the altar at Jorvaulx, I shall scarce raise the half; []
    • 1851, John Ruskin, “[Appendix] 12. Romanist Modern Art.”, in The Stones of Venice, volume I (The Foundations), London: Smith, Elder, and Co., [], OCLC 982204244, page 373:
      He [Augustus Pugin] has a most sincere love for his profession, a hearty honest enthusiasm for pixes and piscinas; and though he will never design so much as a pix or piscina thoroughly well, yet better than most of the experimental architects of the day.
    • 1870 March 26, “Reviews. Ecclesiastical Art in Germany during the Middle Ages. By Dr. Wilhelm Lübke. London: Simpkin & Marshall.”, in The Architect. A Weekly Illustrated Journal of Art, Civil Engineering, and Building, volume III, London: Gilbert Wood; [], OCLC 5855033, page 152, column 2:
      In the twelfth century Germany was at the head of artistic movement, and even France sent to her for skilled workmen in the industrial arts. Her treasuries are still rich in the various beautiful objects comprehended under the name of altar furniture, such as chalices, pyxes and monstrances, missals, reliquaries, and so on.
    • 1888 July, “Art and Religion. Annual Lecture of Sir [Frederic] Leighton, President of the Royal Academy. London. The Decline of Art. By Francis Turner Palgrave, Professor of Poetry at Oxford.”, in The American Catholic Quarterly Review, volume XIII, number 51, Philadelphia, Pa.: Hardy and Mahony, [], OCLC 977127847, page 412:
      Let chalice, pyx and paten, lamp and candelabrum, crozier and mitre be studded with diamonds, rubies, sapphires and emeralds, and further enriched with figured representations of divine persons and things.
    • 1893, Thomas Thomson; Charles Annandale, “Reign of Robert Bruce Continued (1318–1326)”, in A History of the Scottish People from the Earliest Times. [], divisional volume I (Earliest Times till Death of Robert Bruce, 1329), London; Glasgow: Blackie & Son, [], OCLC 633688305, page 259, column 1:
      They plundered the abbey of Holyrood at their departure, and afterwards the abbeys of Melrose and Dryburgh in their retreat, venting their rage by slaying the prior of Melrose and a few old monks who were too frail to take to flight, and carrying off a pyx from the altar after they had contemptuously thrown away the host.
    • 1922 February, James Joyce, Ulysses, London: The Egoist Press, published October 1922, OCLC 2297483, page 40:
      And at the same instant perhaps a priest round the corner is elevating it. Dringdring! And two streets off another locking it into a pyx. Dringadring! And in a ladychapel another taking housel all to his own cheek. Dringdring!
    • 1996, “IV. Limoges in Transition (1190–1230)”, in John P. O’Neill, editor, Enamels of Limoges 1100–1350, New York, N.Y.: Metropolitan Museum of Art, →ISBN, entry 74 (Pyx), page 258:
      Inventory references and examples preserved to this day attest to the fact that pyxes were among the objects most frequently made by Limousin workshops. [] It is likely that, as early as the ninth century, pyxes containing the body of Christ (cum corpore Domini) were placed on the altar and used for the Communion of the sick. [] The pyx from the former Côte Collection is among the oldest and most beautiful examples.
    • 2009, Claire Leimbach; Trypheyna McShane; Zenith Virago, “Talking about Death”, in The Intimacy of Death and Dying: Simple Guidance to Help You Through, Crows Nest, N.S.W.: Inspired Living, Allen & Unwin, →ISBN, pages 6–7:
      On one of these visits she asked me to get her pyx, a beautiful, golden, highly decorated container used to carry the hosts for Holy Communion. She gave this to her fellow church worker who gave Mum her last Holy Communion.
    • Host definition
      One which receives or entertains a guest, socially, commercially, or officially. (1 of 8 host definitions)
    • Consecrated definition
      simple past tense and past participle of consecrate
    • Fashion definition
      A current (constantly changing) trend, favored for frivolous rather than practical, logical, or intellectual reasons. (1 of 5 fashion definitions)
  2. (by extension, rare) A (small) box; a casket, a coffret.
    Synonym: pyxis
    • 1648, Joseph Beaumont, “Canto X. The Marveils.”, in Psyche: Or Loves Mysterie, [], London: [] George Boddington, [], published 1651, OCLC 1227528801, stanza 1, page 156, column 1:
      It is not Beauty, which its Bluſh doth owe / Unto the Pixe and Pencill.
    • 1840 March, Robert Browning, Sordello, London: Edward Moxon, [], OCLC 1000880475, book the first, page 26:
      [M]eantime some pyx to screen / The full-grown pest, some lid to shut upon / The goblin!
    • Box definition
      Senses relating to a three-dimensional object or space.
      1. A cuboid space; a cuboid container, often with a hinged lid. (1 of 30 box definitions)
  3. (chiefly Britain) A box used in a mint as a place to deposit sample coins intended to have the fineness of their metal and their weight tested before the coins are issued to the public.
    • 16th–17th century, Rogers Ruding, “Of the Trial of the Pix”, in [John Yonge Akerman], editor, Annals of the Coinage of Great Britain and Its Dependencies; from the Earliest Period of Authentic History to the Reign of Victoria. [], volume I, London: Printed for John Hearne, []; by Manning and Mason, [], published 1840, OCLC 1114850650, page 73:
      [T]he said Tresurer and other Officers of the sayd Mynts, to bring with them, at that tyme and place, all ther Pixes, and ther severall Indentures of Coynag, by and for the holle tyme the said Assaye shall be taken.
    • 1837 June 1, J. W. Morrison, witness, “Report from the Select Committee on the Royal Mint; together with the Minutes of Evidence, Appendix and Index. []”, in Reports from Committees: [], volume 12, [London: Her Majesty’s Stationery Office], OCLC 6071448, paragraph 2028, page 142:
      When His Majesty is pleased to call for the money in the pyx to be tried, by order of his Council, the same is signified to the Lord Chancellor and Lords of the Treasury. The Lord Chancellor summons a jury of goldsmiths for the trial. The Treasury order the Mint officers to produce their pyx, and the King's Remembrancer to swear the jury.
    • 1868 December 19, “Plenty of Money”, in E[neas] S[weetland] Dallas, editor, Once a Week, volume II, number 51 (New Series), London: Bradbury, Evans, and Co., [], OCLC 824962022, page 515, column 1:
      There is also opened in their presence the Mint pyx—or rather two pyxes, one filled with sample gold coin, the other with silver. The three officials produce their three keys; the two pyxes are unlocked and opened; the jury unwrap the papers in which the coins have been placed, and count and weigh all the gold and silver.
    • 1891 November 21, Charles Elton, “Literature. Some Historical Books.”, in [James Sutherland Cotton], editor, The Academy. A Weekly Review of Literature, Science, and Art, volume XL, number 1020 (New Series), London: Alexander and Shepheard, [], OCLC 955782620, page 447, column 3:
      The readers of the work will learn [] the proper methods of the survey of green-wax, and the trial of the pyx.
    • 1983, C[hristopher] E[velyn] Blunt, “Privy-marking and the Trial of the Pyx”, in C[hristopher] N[ugent] L[awrence] Brooke, B[ernard] H[arold] I[an] H[adley] Stewart, J[ohn] G[raham] Pollard, and T[erence] R[odney] Volk, editors, Studies in Numismatic Method: Presented to Philip Grierson, Cambridge, Cambridgeshire: Cambridge University Press, →ISBN, page 225:
      [I]n the indentures of this period a clause is always inserted providing for the trial of the pyx. The master is instructed to place specimens of each day's production (the journey-weight) of coins in a pyx, which is to be sealed at the end of every three months and sent for trial.
    • Mint definition
      A building or institution where money (originally, only coins) is produced under government licence. (1 of 3 mint definitions)
    • Deposit definition
      Sediment or rock that is not native to its present location or is different from the surrounding material. Sometimes refers to ore or gems. (1 of 7 deposit definitions)
    • Metal definition
      Chemical elements or alloys, and the mines where their ores come from.
      1. Any of a number of chemical elements in the periodic table that form a metallic bond with other metal atoms; generally shiny, somewhat malleable and hard, often a conductor of heat and electricity.
      2. Any material with similar physical properties, such as an alloy.
      3. An element which was not directly created after the Big Bang but instead formed through nuclear reactions; any element other than hydrogen and helium.
      4. Crushed rock, stones etc. used to make a road.
      5. The ore from which a metal is derived.
      6. A mine from which ores are taken.
      (1 of 14 metal definitions)
    • Weight definition
      The force on an object due to the gravitational attraction between it and the Earth (or whatever astronomical object it is primarily influenced by). (1 of 20 weight definitions)
    • Public definition
      Able to be seen or known by everyone; open to general view, happening without concealment. (1 of 6 public definitions)
  4. (nautical, obsolete, rare) A compass used by sailors.
    • 1686, J[ohn] Goad, chapter XII, in Astro-meteorologica, or, Aphorisms and Large Significant Discourses of the Natures and Influences of the Cœlestial Bodies; [], 2nd edition, London: [] O[badiah] B[lagrave] and sold by John Sprint, [], published 1699, OCLC 165733172, book I, § 56, page 61:
      Here I lament I had not the accomodation[sic] of the Pyxis, or any Horizontal Plate divided into more points of the Compaſs, though I ſee not that Natural Knowledge requires ſo exact a Pyx as Navigation uſeth; becauſe I boggle at this, that I find the North Cardinal point gives more inſtances than the Weſt.
    • c. 1710, [Richard] Bentley, “A Reply to a Copy of Verses Made in Imitation of Book III. Ode 2. of Horace. Angustam amice pauperium pati, &c. And Sent by Mr. [Walter] Titley to Dr. Bentley.”, in R[obert] Dodsley, editor, A Collection of Poems in Six Volumes. [], volume VI, London: [] J. Hughs, for J[ames] Dodsley, [], published 1765, OCLC 863240144, page 189:
      Who travels in religious jars, / (Truth mixt with error, ſhade with rays,) / Like Whiſton wanting pyx or ſtars, / In ocean wide or ſinks or ſtrays.
    • Sailor definition
      A person in the business of navigating ships or other vessels (1 of 5 sailor definitions)

Alternative forms

  • pix (obsolete, Late Middle English–19th c.)



pyx (third-person singular simple present pyxes, present participle pyxing, simple past and past participle pyxed) (transitive)

  1. (obsolete) To place (the host) in a pyx.
  2. (figuratively) To enclose (something) in a box or other container; specifically, to place (a deceased person's body) in a coffin; to coffin, to encoffin.
    • a. 1814, George Shaw, “In Humulum Artedi”, in Theodore W[ells] Pietsch [III], The Curious Death of Peter Artedi: A Mystery in the History of Science, New York, N.Y.: Scott & Nix, published 2010, →ISBN:
      Here lies poor Artedi, in foreign land pyx'd / Not a man nor a fish, but something betwixt, / Not a man, for his life amongst fishes he past, / Not a fish, for he perished by water at last.
      Based on a Latin epitaph by Anders Celsius, Shaw’s English translation was inscribed on the back flyleaf of Carl Linnaeus’s copy of Peter Artedi’s work Ichthyologica. Artedi, a Swedish naturalist known as the “father of ichthyology”, fell into a canal in Amsterdam and drowned.
    • 1888, James Saunders, “Raygarth’s Gladys”, in Raygarth’s Gladys: And Other Poems, London: Thomas Laurie, [], OCLC 503725336, stanza VI, page 37:
      There pyxed in alabastrine cell, / All uncorrupt his shade shall dwell, / While waves his memory chime; []
    • Encoffin definition
      To place or enclose in a coffin.
  3. (chiefly Britain) To deposit (sample coins) in a pyx; (by extension) to test (such coins) for the fineness of metal and weight before a mint issues them to the public.
    • 1578 October 7 (Gregorian calendar), “Commission to Richard Martyn”, in Calendar of the Patent Rolls Preserved in the Public Record Office: Elizabeth I, volume VII (1575–1578), London: Her Majesty’s Stationery Office, published 1982, →ISBN, part IV (20 Elizabeth I, C. 66/1167), paragraph 2885, page 437:
      After the said moneys shall be by the said warden and the assaymaster tried and pyxed as ordered by the said indenture, the said master worker shall make true deliverance and payment of the same to every person by weight by the same balance and weight whereof he shall receive the same bullion, taking again his said bills; []
    • 1842, “ASSA′Y”, in W[illiam] T[homas] Brande, assisted by Joseph Cauvin, editors, A Dictionary of Science, Literature, & Art: [], London: Longman, Brown, Green, and Longmans, [], OCLC 946611697, page 95, column 2:
      [W]hen the money is coined it is not allowed to go out of the mint until pixed; that is, until it had been ascertained, by the assay of one piece taken out of each journeyweight of coin, that it is of standard purity: []
    • 1891, Henry Campbell Black, “PIX”, in A Dictionary of Law [], St. Paul, Minn.: West Publishing Co., OCLC 44750255, page 899:
      The ascertaining whether coin is of the proper standard is in England called "pixing" it; and there are occasions on which resort is had for this purpose to an ancient mode of inquisition called the "trial of the pix," before a jury of members of the Goldsmiths' Company.
    • 1911, Thomas Kirke Rose, “MINT”, in Hugh Chisholm, editor, The Encyclopædia Britannica [], volume XVIII (Medal to Mumps), 11th edition, New York, N.Y.: The Encyclopædia Britannica Company, OCLC 427263397, page 559, column 2:
      Among the incidental operations [in manufacturing coins] are [] "pyxing" the finished coin, or selecting specimens to be weighed and assayed; []
    • 1837 June 27, Henry Labouchère, “Select Committee on the Royal Mint”, in Reports from Committees: [], volume 12, [London: Her Majesty’s Stationery Office], OCLC 6071448, paragraph 2564, page 178:
      It appears that, in this instance, the coin had to wait a certain time for what is called the regular pyxing day; would it not be possible for you to fix the time for pyxing as soon as the coin was delivered to you, without waiting for the regular days?
    • 1859 July 15, “Money-making at the Royal Mint. No. VI.”, in R. J. Brooman and E[dward] J[ames] Reed, editors, The Mechanics’ Magazine and Journal of Engineering, Agricultural Machinery, Manufactures, and Shipbuilding, volume 2, number 29, London: Richard Archibald Brooman, [], OCLC 183222409, pages 38–39:
      Arrived per tramway before alluded to, they [the coins] are now "pyxed" by the senior officers. [] The pyxing at the Mint is a short operation, and after it the coins are ready for delivery to the Bank.
    • 1915, T. K. E. [pseudonym; attributed to Le Roy Bliss Peckham], W. G. Sette, editor, Sin, Original and Actual: The Plain People’s Plaint, Boston, Mass.: Richard G. Badger; Toronto, Ont.: The Copp Clark Co., OCLC 9782562, stanza XXXV, page 46:
      From hence arises myriad serpent brood / Of varied shape,—men, snakes and devils mixed. / Persuade or hiss according to their mood, / But inward grovel all, decretal-pyxed.
      Pyxed is apparently used here to mean “tested”; in an editor’s note on page 53, the term decretal-pyxed is explained as “[s]ettled by authoritative letter or decree”.
    • 1981, George C. Boon, Cardiganshire Silver and the Aberystwyth Mint in Peace & War, Cardiff: Amgueddfa Genedlaethol Cymru = National Museum of Wales, →ISBN, page 75:
      If the random sample pyxed passed the tests, all was well, and the Master was entitled without charge to a quittance under the great seal of England; but if the moneys did not pass, then he was liable to an unlimited fine.
    • 1986, Joe Cribb, editor, Money: From Cowrie Shells to Credit Cards: [], London: British Museum Publications for the Trustees of the British Museum, →ISBN, page 62:
      Coins marked '2' were pyxed on 7 June 1603.
    • Decretal definition
      Pertaining to a decree.

Alternative forms

Derived terms


  1. ^ From the collection of the Musée de Cluny in Paris, France.


  1. ^ pix(e, n.”, in MED Online, Ann Arbor, Mich.: University of Michigan, 2007.
  2. ^ pyx, n.1”, in OED Online , Oxford, Oxfordshire: Oxford University Press, December 2007; “pyx, n.”, in Lexico, Dictionary.com; Oxford University Press, 2019–present.
  3. ^ pyx, v.”, in OED Online , Oxford, Oxfordshire: Oxford University Press, December 2007

Further reading