[a. OF. queste (F. quête) = Prov. questa, quista, Sp. cuesta, It. chiesta: pop. L. *questa, pa. pple. of qu{emac}r{ebreve}re, L. quærere to seek, inquire: cf. INQUEST n.

I. 1. An official or judicial inquiry. = INQUEST n. 1. Obs. exc. dial. (cf. CROWNER2).

303 R. BRUNNE Handl. Synne 5508 {Th}erof shal Gode take a quest. c1330 {emem} Chron. (1810) 238 Of clippers, of roungers, of suilk takes he questis. 1377 LANGL. P. Pl. B. xx. 161 Her syre was a sysour..ateynte at vch a queste. c1440 Gesta Rom. I. lxx. 387 (Addit. MS.) When the Iustice was comyn, he ordeyned a false queste. 1545 BRINKLOW Lament. (1874) 91 There is a custome in the Cytie, ones a yeare to haue a quest called the warnmall queste, to redresse vices. a1577 SIR T. SMITH Commw. Eng. (1609) 73 Enquest or quest is called this lawfull kinde of triall by twelue men. 1694 LUTTRELL Brief Rel. (1857) III. 417 The lord mayor and aldermen of London have forbid feasting at the quests. 1876- In dial. glossaries (Yks., Chesh., Som., etc.).

    2. The body of persons appointed to hold an inquiry. = INQUEST n. 2. Now rare.

13.. Evang. Nicod. 243 in Archiv neu. Spr. LIII. 396 He chesed a quest, on him to pas. c1440 Jacob's Well 257 {Th}ou schalt..aftyrward be pourgyd out wyth a quest of clerkys. 1470-85 MALORY Arthur III. viii, By ordenaunce of the quene ther was set a quest of ladyes on syr gauayn. 1549 LATIMER 5th Serm. bef. Edw. VI (Arb.) 153 The quest commes in and sayes not guilty. 1579 FULKE Heskins' Parl. 499 He shoulde haue twelue which make a quest, to giue verdict in this matter. 1612 T. TAYLOR Comm. Titus iii. 1 Which is as if a theife should be tried by a quest of cut-purses. a1661 FULLER Worthies (1840) II. 483 One quest of gentlemen, another of yeomen passed upon him. 1706 [see QUESTMAN 1]. a1845 HOOD To Tom Woodgate vi, Twelve brave mermen for a 'quest. 1884 St. James's Gaz. 4 Jan. 3/2 The coroner's quest pronounces ‘in accordance with the evidence’.
fig. c1600 SHAKES. Sonn. xlvi, To side this title is impannelled A quest of thoughts, all tennant to the heart.

    {dag}b. transf. A dozen (cf. quot. 1579 above). Obs.

1589 Almond for Parrat 14 Ile haue a spare fellowe shall make mee a whole quest of faces for three farthinges.

    3. Any inquiry or investigation made in order to discover some fact; also, the object of such inquiry.

1598 FLORIO Dict. Ep. Ded. 3, I in this search or quest of inquirie haue spent most of my studies. 1627 Lisander & Cal. III. 39 The quest ended with no more knowledge than it began. 1727 SWIFT To Earl of Oxford, In quest, who might this parson be. 1831 CARLYLE Sart. Res. II. viii, Let us not forget the great generality, which is our chief quest here. 1878 Masque Poets 101 The guest Half paused to ask in idle quest.

    II. 4. Search or pursuit, made in order to find or obtain something. Const. of, for.

13.. E.E. Allit. P. B. 39 Hit arn fettled in on forme..& by quest of her quoyntyse enquylen on mede. 1526 Pilgr. Perf. (W. de W. 1531) 96b, Peace & brotherly concorde dissolueth this quest & assaute of enuy. 1605 SHAKES. Lear I. i. 196 What..Will you require in present Dower with her, Or cease your quest of Loue? 1655 H. VAUGHAN Silex Scint. I. Search (1858) 34 My Quest is vaine, Hee'll not be found where he was slaine. 1704 F. FULLER Med. Gymn. (1711) 138 To rouse People into a Quest of Health. 1816 BYRON Ch. Har. III. lxxvi, Whose desire Was to be glorious; 'twas a foolish quest. 1874 GREEN Short Hist. viii. §4. 491 Luckily the quest of gold proved a vain one.

    b. Freq. in phr. in quest of ({dag}after, or inf.).

1575 CHURCHYARD Chippes (1817) 24 In quest of solace, he retired to Bath. c1600 SHAKES. Sonn. cxxix, Had, hauing, and in quest to haue. 1663 BUTLER Hud. I. iii. 233 He went in quest of Hudibras. 1705 HEARNE Collect. 6 Oct. (O.H.S.) I. 52 He is in quest after other Pieces. 1820 W. IRVING Sketch Bk. II. 349 The ghost rides forth to the scene of battle in nightly quest of his head. 1862 GOULBURN Pers. Relig. IV. i. (1873) 256 Eager running to and fro in quest of worldly wealth.

    {dag}c. A person (or set of persons) employed in searching. Obs. rare{em}1.

1604 SHAKES. Oth. I. ii. 46 The Senate hath sent about three seuerall Quests, To search you out.

    5. In mediæval romance: An expedition or adventure undertaken by a knight to procure some thing or achieve some exploit; the knights engaged in such an enterprise. Also transf.

c1384 CHAUCER H. Fame III. 648 They that have do noble jestes And acheved all hir questes. c1450 Merlin 503 Thei entered in to many questes forto knowe which was the beste knyght. 1470-85 MALORY Arthur XVI. xii, They supposed he was one of the quest of the Sancgreal. 1590 SPENSER F.Q. III. viii. 53 Her well beseemes that Quest. 1813 SCOTT Trierm. I. xi, Rather he chose, that Monarch bold, On vent'rous quest to ride. 1850 KINGSLEY Alt. Locke xl, You are my servant now, by the laws of chivalry, and you must fulfil my quest. 1876 GREEN Stray Stud. 262 The Quest of Æneas is no self-sought quest.

    6. a. The search for game made by hounds.    b. The baying of hounds in pursuit of game; a peculiar barking uttered by dogs when in sight of game. Obs. exc. dial.

13.. Gaw. & Gr. Knt. 1150 At {th}e fyrst quethe of {th}e quest quaked {th}e wylde. c1420 Anturs of Arth. 49 Withe gret questes and quelles Bothe in frethes and felles. 1513 DOUGLAS Æneis V. v. 26 For hundis quest it semyt the lift rife wald. 1589 R. ROBINSON Gold. Mirr. (Chetham Soc.) 12 Thus as I stood to heare this merry quest I heard the names of houndes that hunted best. 1649 G. DANIEL Trinarch., Hen. IV, lxxiv, 'Twas soe resolu'd; vpon the doubtfull Quest The Game gets to safe Covert. 1688 HOLME Armoury III. 188/2 Quest,..the first opening, or cry, of the Dogs when they have found the scent. 1876 SWINBURNE Erechtheus 1306 Lo, night is arisen on the noon, and her hounds are in quest by day. 1878 Cumbld. Gloss., Quest, the early morning search for a hare by the scent of the hounds. 1886 ELWORTHY W. Somerset Word-bk. s.v., He don't never give no quest 'thout he's right 'pon it.
transf. 13.. S. Erkenwolde 133 in Horstmann Altengl. Leg. (1881) 269 {Th}e masse he begynnes..With queme questis of {th}e quere with ful quaynt notes. a1633 G. HERBERT Temple, Content ii, Gad not abroad at ev'ry quest and call Of an untrained hope or passion.

    7. R.C.Ch. The collection of alms or donations for religious purposes.

1528 ROY Rede me (Arb.) 76 The observauntis no people do spare, Makynge their quest every wheare With most importunate cravynge. 1691 tr. D'Emilliane's Frauds Romish Monks 262 The Farmer [of Purgatory money] sends some of his Emissaries into the Fields, to carry on the Quest there for the said Souls. 1748 Earthquake Peru i. 85 If we consider the extraordinary Product of the Quest [of the Franciscans]. 1873 BROWNING Red Cotton Night-Cap Country 971 When Marquise jokes ‘My quest, forsooth? Each doit I scrape together goes for Peter-pence.’

    8. Comb., as {dag}quest-ale, prob. ale of special quality (cf. audit-ale); {dag}quest-diter, -ganger, = QUEST-MONGER. Also QUEST-HOUSE, -MAN.

c1460 Towneley Myst. xxii. 24 All fals endytars, Quest-gangars, and Iurars,..Ar welcome to me. Ibid. xxx. 185 Thise rolles Ar of bakbytars And fals quest-dytars. a1704 T. BROWN Pleas. Epistle Wks. 1730 I. 110 Private deliberations over brawn and quest-ale.