Job’s coffin n
1 The diamond-shaped group of four stars that form the head of the constellation Delphinus; rarely, the Pleiades.
1836 Burritt Geog. Heavens 127, It [=Delphinus] is easily distinguished from all others, by means of the four principal stars in the head. . . To many, this cluster is known by the name of Job’s Coffin; but from whom, or from what fancy, it first obtained this appellation, is not known. 1856 Weekly NC Standard (Raleigh) 8 Oct /5, He went to Bawltymore and made a speech about the seven stars, moon, ellen-yard, Job’s coffin, the milky way and fiery tailed comics, and so forth. 1883 Wilder Sister Ridnour 133 MA, Or if . . I chanced to get a glimpse of the stars in “Job’s coffin,” then the dreams would be of rest at last in the one narrow home provided alike for rich and poor. 1896 DN 1.419 nOH, Job’s Coffin: for Pleiades. 1912 Green VA Folk-Speech 245, Job’s-coffin. . . A group of four stars in the shape of a coffin not far to the eastward of the seven stars. The constellation Dolphin. 1915 [see 2 below]. 1930 Shoemaker 1300 Words 33 cPA Mts (as of c1900), Job’s coffin—A heavenly constellation, the seven stars. 1931 Randolph Enterprise (Elkins, W.Va.) 12 Nov. 2/2 (DA), We watch the Great Dipper, the Seven Stars, Jobs coffin and several others. [1938 in 1970 Hyatt Hoodoo 2.942 ceVA, Then we have a star . . that is called Job, repisent Job in his coffin. It’s complete—you kin see the shape of the coffin an’ you kin [see] the form of Job.] c1943 Weslager DE Forgotten Folk 177, The Big Dipper and Little Dipper are known to all. Constellations known as Job’s Coffin, Four Runners, and Milkmaid’s Path could also be readily recognized. 1953 PA Game News Aug 9/2, Just to the northeast of Altair is a little diamond-shaped cluster of stars known as Job’s Coffin. The countryman peers at this odd-shaped casket and wonders how Job ever got inside. 2012 FL Today (Cocoa) 13 Jan sec B 7/3, After another 15 seconds the satellite will pass into the middle of Delphinis [sic], near the head of the Dolphin. The four stars of the head also comprise the asterism called Job’s Coffin.
2 also Job in his coffin: A string-figure made on the hands. Sth, S Midl Cf Jacob’s ladder n 12
1873 Columbia Herald (TN) 15 Aug /2, Some of our young beaux, when they get short for something to say to young ladies, amuse them by making “Job’s Coffin,” “Crow’s feet” etc., with their fingers and strings. 1908 DN 3.325 eAL, wGA, Job’s coffin. . . A form made on the fingers with a string. 1909 DN 3.399 nwAR, Job’s coffin. . . A game. [DARE Ed: This quot may belong rather at 3 below.] 1915 Speck Nanticoke Comm. DE 28, Another [string figure] is Job’s Coffin; and is regarded as symbolic of the constellation of that name. String-figures in general among the Nanticoke . . are regarded as representations of star groups. 1955 Henley Home Place 132 csNC (as of 1880s–1890s), I learned how to make a “crow’s foot ” with string, looping it over the fingers of each hand in various ways. . . Some people could make “Job’s coffin” with finger strings, but I never learned. 1968 Haun Hawk’s Done Gone 310 TN, Jamie I miss. . . Always talking his baby talk. . . “Make me Job in his coffin,” he’d say. “ . . Make me Jacob’s ladder.” 1974 Beckley Post–Herald (WV) 22 Mar 6/3, Children used to carry a string about a yard long in their pockets. They would tie the ends of the string together and loop a section over the fingers of each hand until they make what they called “Job’s coffin.”
3 A particular pattern of moves in playing with jacks.
1900 Condit Hist. Early Terre Haute 184 cwIN, The game [of Jackstones] begins with tossing the stones up and catching them on the back of the hand, and then follows a variety of movements such as: Pigs in the pen, Job’s coffin, One span, Two span, which are quite bewildering to witness.