A term in chivalry, meaning to strike the helmet and shield of
an antagonist so firstly with the lance, held in a direct line, as
either to break the lance or overthrow the person struck. Hence to
“attaint of treason,” etc.
“Attaint was a term of tilting, used to express the champion's having
attained his mark, or in other words, struck his lance straight and
fair against the helmet or breast of his adversary.” —Sir Walter Scott: The Monastery (note).
Source: Dictionary of Phrase and Fable, E. Cobham Brewer, 1894
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