Are the following expressions in bold still relevant?

  1. "made good spare of"

    But then againe ther arose Strong and Great Windes from the South, with a Point East ; which carried us up, (for all that we could doe) towards the North : By which time our Victualls failed us, though we had made good spare of them. So that finding ourselves, in the Midst of the greatest Wildernesse of Waters in the World, without Victuall, we gave our Selves for lost Men, and prepared for Death.

    — Francis Bacon, New Atlantis (1627)

  2. "can make choice of"

     Kent. I thought the king had more affected the Duke of Albany than Cornwall.
     Glo. It did always seem so to us; but now, in the division of the kingdom, it appears not which of the dukes he values most, for equalities are so weighed that curiosity in neither can make choice of either's moiety.

    — William Shakespeare, King Lear (1606)

Have they already fallen into expiry?

  • 1
    "Respectively" means you are referring to one expression from Shakespeare, and one from Bacon. Which is which? I would think that if your everyday language includes sentences like "fallen into expiry", you can certainly make use of the sentence that you are questioning - it feels about as old...
    – oerkelens
    Jun 15, 2014 at 11:25

2 Answers 2


The only uses of make/made/making spare of I can find on Google Books date from the 17th century, except for one historical novel which is set in that century.

Make choice of lasted longer, but has been in steady decline for three hundred years. It seems always to have had a formal ring, and by 1900 it appears almost entirely in legal and theological contexts. I think it may be regarded today as a curious fossil.

  • The reasons for the respective declines are different though. On the semantic level, spare = [the exercise of] frugality, has been pretty much consigned to the dustbin of linguistic history, but all that's happened with choice is that for the last century and more we've discarded the old "article-less" syntax in favour of make a choice. Jun 15, 2014 at 14:00
  • @FumbleFingers Right - but as make choice of was actually used I think in most cases we're replaced it with the verb choose. Jun 15, 2014 at 14:23
  • I'm not too hot on using arithmetical expressions in NGrams, but I think this chart is telling us that the ratio between make a choice between and choose between has remained relatively constant for a couple of centuries. The big change is that make choice with no article has practically vanished. Jun 15, 2014 at 15:25
  • @FumbleFingers I'm speaking of make choice of X versus choose X. A choice was never in play in that context: see this Ngram. Jun 15, 2014 at 15:37
  • Well you'll obviously be more familiar with the exact "parsing" of Shakespeare's usage there. But to me it seems at least as much reminiscent of make a meaningful choice [as to which "half" is better] as it is of meaningfully choose [which is better]. I freely admit I find it hard to distinguish whether/how much of the sense is choose A or B (emphasis on the act of choosing?) as opposed to make a choice (emphasis on which is or may be chosen?). Jun 15, 2014 at 16:24

Both usages are effectively obsolete. OED doesn't specifically say that...

spare - the exercise of economy, frugality, or moderation.
Chiefly in the phrase to make (no, etc.) spare

...is archaic or obsolete, but their last citation for the usage is 1891, so draw your own conclusion.

The last citation for to make choice of = to choose, select is 1887, but that's under a definition which also includes to make a choice of. The most recent citation without an article is 1660.

Related usages which are still in common use include make [good] use of, make fun of, make light of. Variants which are "dated, but not excessively so" include make sport of.

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