In the course of my bible study, I came across the following verse (Judges 1.19 in the King James/Authorised Version):

And the LORD was with Judah; and he drave out the inhabitants of the mountain; but could not drive out the inhabitants of the valley, because they had chariots of iron.


Apparently so. It’s perfectly clear in the context, and many online dictionaries include drave as an archaic past simple form of drive. By 1611 it was being replaced by drove, maybe completely so outside the KJV, which deliberately adopted many archaic forms, and dialectical speech. Cruden’s Concordance lists 11 occurrences of drave alongside eight of drove, with no obvious reason why one was used instead of the other. Modern translations use drove or recast the sentence, for example ‘They took possession of the hill country’ (NIV). Note that the second half of that verse uses ‘could not drive’, which was standard then and is now. Wiktionary cites Rudyard Kipling writing in 1888: ‘I do not know its name, but the Sahib sat in the midst of three silver wheels that made no creaking, and drave them with his legs’ (the narrator is ‘a Delhi Pathan’) (the whole story is here).

Drive/drove/driven, ride/rode/ridden, rise/rose/risen and write/wrote/written are used often enough to remain irregular. Stride/strode/?stridden-strid-strode and strive/?strove-strived/?striven-strived are rarely used enough that many speakers and writers are uncertain about what the past forms actually are (about which, see Language Log). As far as I know, none of these has ever had a past simple form using <a>.

I am wondering why I have never encountered drave before, either in bible study (I don’t habitually use the KJV/Authorised Version) or in reading about English irregular verbs. On the other hand, my life wasn’t significantly poorer not knowing this verb form, and isn’t significantly richer now that I do. I’m not going to introduce it into my active vocabulary.

(A contributor the Urban Dictionary suggests that drave means: ‘driving down to an event, location or similar, listening to a selection of some ‘quality tuuunes’ on the stereo and as a result recreating the atmosphere of the rave in your vehicle’ (a portmanteau of drive and rave).)


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