When the English word ‘addict’ emerged in the sixteenth century, it did not mean the same as addiction today. This article uses the language of early modern addiction to not only determine the meaning and use of ‘addict’, but also as a means of tracing a particular readership network in reformation England. It focuses initially on the first printed appearances in the work of two evangelical writers; the three meanings they applied to the word; and the etymology behind those meanings. Next, it traces appearances of the word in the writing of early protestant reformers in England, who made almost exclusive use of the term in printed sources before 1550. This is particularly notable because there was nothing conceptually unique about the word: non-reformers expressed the same ideas, in similar contexts, but using different words. In examining uses of the word ‘addict’ within the religious context of early sixteenth century England, this article suggests the existence of a discrete evangelical vocabulary, and thus a means of tracing a reformist readership network. More than this, it potentially reveals one means by which a persecuted and suppressed group created a sense of shared identity and community.

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