A dagger. (Welsh, bodegy a small dagger.)
When he himself might his quietus make with a bare bodkin. (Hamlet, iii. 1). A stiletto worn by ladies in the hair, not a dagger. In the Seven Champions, Castria took her silver bodkin from her hair, and stabbed to death first her sister and then herself. Prexida stabbed herself in a similar manner. Shakespeare could not mean that a man might kill himself with a naked dagger, but that even a hair-pin would suffice to give a man his quietus.
To ride bodkin. To ride in a carriage between two others, the accommodation being only for two. Dr. Payne says that bodkin in this sense is a contraction of bodykin, a little body, which may be squeezed into a small space.
“If you can bodkin the sweet creature into the coach.” —Gibbon.
“There is hardly room between Jos and Miss Sharp, who are on the front seat, Mr. Osborne sitting bodkin opposite, between Captain Dobbin and Amelia.” —Thackeray: Vanity Fair.
Source: Dictionary of Phrase and Fable, E. Cobham Brewer, 1894
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