|And whilst the eager dogs upon the Start doe draw,|
|Shee riseth from her seat, as though on earth she flew,|
|Forc’d by some yelping *Cute to give the Greyhounds view, (23.338–40)||*A Curre.|
Poly-Olbion is the OED’s first recorded use of the word ‘cute’. Drayton, however, uses this familiar word in an unfamiliar way: as a noun, meaning a cur, or dog. Ironically the word ‘cur’ has become, almost exclusively, a term of contempt, distancing Drayton’s use of ‘cute’ even further from our modern sense of its meaning. As with ‘ballow’, Drayton recognizes the word’s novelty, and provides a marginal gloss.
One has to wonder why Drayton elects to use a word for which he he will have to provide an explanation, especially when ‘curre’ would not change the line’s metre and is much more consistent sonically. Perhaps Drayton invents ‘cute’ because he wants a word with a more highly pitched vowel sound to reflect the fact that the dog is yelping, or maybe it is a word local to Northamptonshire, where the greyhound coursing is taking place. Either way, the word cute is not used in this way anywhere else and provides another instance of Poly-Olbion’s idiosyncrasy.