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" Vous savez le latin, sans doute ? " 

" Oui, mais faites comme si je ne le savais pas." 

(MOLIKRE, Le Bourgeois Gentilhommt, ii. 6.) 





A LONG and somewhat varied experience in language 
teaching has convinced me that there are still, in spite 
of the march of science, many people who are capable 
of getting intellectual pleasure from word-history. I 
hope that to such people this little book, the amusement 
of occasional leisure, will not be unwelcome. It differs, 
I believe, from any other popular book on language in 
that it deals essentially with the origins of words, and 
makes no attempt to enforce a moral. My aim has 
been to select especially the unexpected in etymology, 
" things not generally known," such as the fact that 
Tammany was an Indian chief, that assegai occurs in 
Chaucer, that jilt is identical with Juliet, that brazil 
wood is not named from Brazil, that to curry favour 
means to comb down a horse of a particular colour, and 
so forth. The treatment is made as simple as possible, 
a bowing acquaintance with Latin and French being 
all that is assumed, though words from many other 
languages are necessarily included. In the case of each 
word I have traced the history just so far back as it is 
likely to be of interest to the reader who is not a philo- 
logical specialist. 

I have endeavoured to state each proposition in its 
simplest terms, without enumerating all the reserva- 
tions and indirect factors which belong to the history 
of almost every word. 



The chapter headings only indicate in a general way 
the division of the subject matter, the arrangement of 
which has been determined rather by the natural associa- 
tion which exists between words. The quotations are, 
with few exceptions, drawn from my own reading. They 
come from very varied sources, but archaic words are 
exemplified, when possible, from authors easily acces- 
sible, generally Shakespeare or Milton, or, for revived 
archaisms, Scott. In illustrating obsolete meanings I 
have made much use of the earliest dictionaries 1 

It seemed undesirable to load a small work of this 
kind with references. The writer on word-lore must of 
necessity build on what has already been done, happy if 
he can add a few bricks to the edifice. But philologists 
will recognise that this book is not, in the etymological 
sense, a mere compilation, 2 and that a considerable 
portion of the information it contains is here printed for 
the first time in a form accessible to the general reader. 3 
Chapter VII., on Semantics, is, so far as I know, the 
first attempt at a simple treatment of a science which 
is now admitted to an equality with phonetics, and 
which to most people is much more interesting. 

Throughout I have used the New English Dictionary ; 
in the etymological part of which I have for some years 
had a humble share, for purposes of verification. With- 
out the materials furnished by the historical method of 
that great national work, which is now complete from 
A to R, this book would not have been attempted. 
For words in S to Z, I have referred chiefly to 

1 For a list Of these see p. xii. 

2 Compilation "pillage, polling, robbing" (Cooper). 

3 Among words on which the reader will find either entirely new 
information or a modification of generally accepted views are akimbo, anlace, 
brants, caulk, cockney, felon (a whitlow), foil, kestrel, lugger, mulligrubs, 
mystery (a craft), oriel, patch, petronel, salet, sentry, sullen, tret, etc. 


Professor Skeat's Etymological Dictionary (4th ed., 
Oxford, 1910). 

It is not many years since what passed for etymology 
in this country was merely a congeries of wild guesses 
and manufactured anecdotes. The persistence with 
which these crop up in the daily paper and the class- 
room must be my excuse for " slaying the slain " in 
Chapter XIII. Some readers may regret the disap- 
pearance of these fables, but a little study will convince 
them that in the life of words, as in that of men, truth 
is stranger than fiction. 


NOTTINGHAM, January 1912. 







VII. SEMANTICS ...... 79 

VIII. METAPHOR ...... 97 

IX. FOLK-ETYMOLOGY . . . . .104 

X. DOUBLETS . . . . . .128 

XI. HOMONYMS ...... 144 

XII. FAMILY NAMES . . . . *57 


INDEX ....... 191 

The following dictionaries are quoted without further 
reference : 

Palsgrave, French and English (1530). 
Cooper, Latin and English (1573). 
Percyvall, Spanish and English (1591). 
Florio, Italian and English (1598). 
Cotgrave, French and English (161 1). 
Hexham, Dutch and English (1660). 
Ludwig, German and English (1716). 




THE bulk of our literary language is Latin, and consists 
of words either borrowed directly or taken from 
" learned " French forms. The every-day vocabulary of 
the less educated is of Old English, commonly called 
Anglo-Saxon, origin ; and from the same source comes 
what we may call the machinery of the language, i.e., its 
inflexions, numerals, pronouns, prepositions, and con- 
junctions. Along with Anglo-Saxon, we find a con- 
siderable number of words from the related Norse 
languages, this element being naturally strongest in the 
dialects of the north and east of England. The third 
great element of our working vocabulary is furnished by 
Old French, i.e., the language naturally developed from 
the spoken Latin of the Roman soldiers and colonists, 
generally called Vulgar Latin. To its composite char- 
acter English owes its unequalled richness in expression. 
For most ideas we have three separate terms, or groups 
of terms, which, often starting from the same metaphor, 
serve to express different shades of meaning. Thus a 
deed done with malice prepense (an Old French com- 
pound from Lat. pensare, to weigh), is deliberate or 
pondered, both Latin words which mean literally 



" weighed " ; but the four words convey four distinct 
shades of meaning. The Gk. sympathy is Lat com- 
passion, rendered in English \yy fellow-feeling. 

Sometimes a native word has been completely sup- 
planted by a loan word, e.g., Anglo-Sax, here, army (cf. 
Ger. Heer}, has given way to Fr. armte, a past parti- 
ciple like Span, armada, and host (see p. 147). Here has 
survived in Hereford, harbour (p. 122), harbinger (p. 83), 
etc., and in the verb harry (cf. Ger. verheeren, to harry). 
Or a native word may persist in some special sense, e.g., 
weed, a general term for garment in Shakespeare 

" And there the snake throws her enamel'd skin, 
Weed wide enough to wrap a fairy in." 

(Midsummer Nighfs Dream, ii. 2.) 

survives in " widow's weeds" Chare, a turn of work 

" the maid that milks 
And does the meanest chares" 

(Antony and Cleopatra, iv. 15.) 

survives in charwoman, and in American chore 

" Sharlee was . . . concluding the post-prandial chores." 
(H. S. HARRISON, Queed, Ch. 17.) 

Sake, cognate with Ger. Sache, thing, cause, and origin- 
ally meaning a contention at law, has been replaced by 
cause, except in phrases beginning with the preposition 
for. See also bead (p. 68). Unkempt, uncombed, and 
uncouth, unknown, are fossil remains of obsolete verb 

In addition to these main constituents of our 
language, *we have borrowed words, sometimes in 
considerable numbers, sometimes singly and accident- 
ally, from almost every tongue known to mankind, and 
every year sees new words added to our vocabulary. 
The following chapters deal especially with words 


borrowed from Old French and from the other 
Romance languages, their origins and journeyings, 
and the various accidents that have befallen them in 
English. It is in such words as these that the romance 
of language is best exemplified, because we can usually 
trace their history from Latin to modern English, while 
the earlier history of Anglo-Saxon words is a matter 
for the philologist. 

Words borrowed directly from Latin or Greek lack 
this intermediate experience, though the study of their 
original meanings is full of surprises. This, however, 
is merely a question of opening a Latin or Greek 
dictionary, if we have not time for the moment's 
reflexion which would serve the same purpose. Thus, 
to take a dozen examples at hazard, to abominate is to 
turn shuddering from the evil omen, a generous man is a 
man of " race " (genus\ an innuendo can be conveyed 
"by nodding," to insult is to "jump on," a legend is 
something " to be read," a manual is a " hand-book." an 
obligation is essentially "binding," to relent is to "go 
slow" rivals are people living by the same stream 
(rivus), a salary is an allowance for "salt" (sal), a 
supercilious man is fond of lifting his eyebrows (super- 
ciliu-ni), and a trivial matter is so commonplace that it 
can be picked up at the meeting of "three ways" 
(triviuni). Dexterity implies skill with the " right" hand 
(dexter), while sinister preserves the superstition of the 
ill-omened " left." 

It may be remarked here that the number of 
Latin words used in their unaltered form in every-day 
English is larger than is generally realised. Besides 
such phrases as bona-fide, post-mortem, viva-voce, or such 
abbreviations as A.M., ante meridiem, D.V., Deo volente, 
and L. s. d., for libra, solidi, denarii, we have, without 
including scientific terms, many Latin nouns, e.g., 


animal, genius, index, odium, omen, premium, radius, 
scintilla, stimulus, tribunal, and adjectives, e.g., complex, 
lucifer, miser, pauper, maximum, senior, and the un- 
grammatical bonus. The Lat veto, I forbid, has been 
worked hard of late. The stage has given us exit, he 
goes out, and the Universities exeat, let him go out, 
while law language contains a number of Latin verb 
forms, e.g., affidavit (late Latin), he has testified, caveat, 
let him beware, cognovit, he has recognised 

" You gave them a cognovit for the amount of your costs after 
the trial, I'm told." 

(Pickwick, Ch. 46.) 

due to the initial words of certain documents. Similarly 
item, also, is the first word in each paragraph of an 
inventory. With this we may compare the purview of 
a statute, from the Old Fr. pourveu {pourvu}, provided, 
with which it used to begin. A tenet is what one 
"holds." Fiat means "let it be done." When Mr 
Weller lamented, " Vy worn't there a alleybi?" it is safe 
to say that he was not consciously using a Latin adverb, 
nor is the printer who puts in a vis. always aware that 
this is an old abbreviation for videlicet, i.e., videre licet, 
it is permissible to see. A nostrum is " our " unfailing 
remedy, and tandem, at length, instead of side by side, 
is a university joke. 

Sometimes we have inflected forms of Latin words. 
A rebus 1 is a word or phrase represented " by things." 
Requiem, accusative of requies, rest, is the first word of 
an antiphon used in the mass for the dead, "Requiem 
aeternam dona eis, Domine," while dirge is the Latin 
imperative dirige, in another antiphon, " Dirige, Dominus 

1 But the word comes to us from French. In the i6th century such 
puzzles were called rebus de Picardie, because of their popularity in that 


meus, in conspectu tuo vitam meam." The spelling 
dirige was once common 

"Also I byqwethe to eche of the paryshe prystys beying at my 
dyryge and masse xiid." 

(Will of John Perfay, of Bury St. Edmunds, 1509.) 

Query was formerly written qucere, seek, and plaudit is 
for plaudite, clap your hands. Debenture is for debentur, 
there are owing. Dominie is the Latin vocative domine, 
formerly used by schoolboys in addressing their master, 
while pandy, a stroke on the hand with a cane, is from 
pande palmam, hold out your hand. Parse is the Lat. 
pars, occurring in the question QUCK pars orationis? 
What part of speech? Omnibus, for all, is a dative 
plural. Limbo is the ablative of Lat. limbus, an edge, 
hem, in the phrase " in limbo patrum," where limbus 
is used for the abode of the Old Testament saints on 
the verge of Hades. It is already jocular in Shake- 

" I have some of 'em in limbo patrum, and there they are like 
to dance these three days." 

(Henry VHL, v. 3.) 

Folio, quarto, etc., are ablatives, from the phrases in folio, 
in quarto, etc., still used in French. Premises, earlier 
premisses, is a slightly disguised Lat. prcemissas, the 
aforesaid, lit. sent before, used in deeds to avoid 
repeating the full description of a property. It is thus 
the same word as logical premisses, or assumptions. 
Quorum is from a legal formula giving a list of persons 
"of whom" a certain number must be present. A 
teetotum is so called because it has, or once had, on one 
of its sides, a T standing for totum, all. It was also 
called simply a totum. The other three sides also bore 
letters to indicate what share, if any, of the stake they 
represented. Cotgrave has totum (tototi), " a kind of 

A 2 


game with a whirle-bone." In spite of the interesting 
anecdote about the temperance orator with an 
impediment in his speech, it was probably teetotum 
that suggested teetotaller. 

We have also a few words unaltered from Greek, 
e.g., analysis, aroma, atlas, the world-sustaining demi- 
god whose picture used to decorate map-books, colon, 
comma, dogma, epitome, miasma, nausea, lit. sea-sickness, 
nectar, whence the fruit called a nectarine 

" Nectarine fruits which the compliant boughs 
Yielded them, sidelong as they sat recline." 

(Paradise Lost, iv., 332.) 

pathos, python, pyx, synopsis, etc. ; but most of our Greek 
words have passed through French via Latin, or 
are newly manufactured scientific terms, often most 
unscientifically constructed. 

Gamut contains the Gk. gamma and the Latin 
conjunction ut. Guy d'Arezzo, who flourished in the 
nth century, is said to have introduced the method 
of indicating the notes by the letters a to g. For the 
note below a he used the Gk. gamma. To him is attri- 
buted also the series of monosyllables by which the 
notes are also indicated. They are supposed to be 
taken from a Latin hymn to St John 

Ut queant laxis r^sonare fibris 
Aftrs. gestorum/mnuli tuorum 
Solve polluti /#bii reatum 
Sancte /ohannes. 

Do is sometimes substituted for ut in French, and 
always in modern English. 

In considering the Old French element in English, 
one has to bear in mind a few elementary philological 
facts. Nearly all French nouns and adjectives are 
derived from the accusative. I give, for simplicity, 


the nominative, adding the stem in the case of 
imparisyllabic words. The foundation of French is 
Vulgar Latin, which differs considerably from that 
we study at school. I only give Vulgar Latin forms 
where it cannot be avoided. For instance, in dealing 
with culverin (p. 34), I connect Fr. couleuvre, adder, 
with Lat. coliiber, a snake. Every Romance philologist 
knows that it must represent Vulgar Lat * colobra ; but 
this form, which, being conjectural, is marked with an 
asterisk, had better be forgotten by the general 

Our modern English words often preserve a French 
form which no longer exists, or they are taken from 
dialects, especially those of Normandy and Picardy, 
which differ greatly from that of Paris. The word 
caudle illustrates both these points. It is the same 
word as modern Fr. chaudeau, "a caudle; or, warme 
broth " (Cotgrave), but it preserves the Old French x -el 
and the Picard c- for ch-. An uncomfortable bridle 
which used to be employed to silence scolds was called 
the branks. It is a Scottish word, originally applied 
to a bridle improvised from a halter with a block 
of wood each side to prevent it from slipping. These 
blocks .correspond to the two parallel levers called 
the " branches " of a bridle, and brank is the Norman 
branque, branch. All the meanings of patch answer to 
those of Fr. piece. It comes from the Old French 
dialect form peche, as match comes from meche, and 
cratch, a manger, from creche, of German origin, and 
ultimately the same word as crib. Pew is from Old Fr. 
puy, a stage, eminence, Lat. podium, which survives in 
Puy de Ddme, the mountain in Auvergne on which 
Pascal made his experiments with the barometer. Dupuy 

1 For simplicity the term Old French is used here to include all words 
not in modern use. Where a modern form exists it is given in parenthesis. 


is a common family name in France, but the Depews 
of the West Indies have kept the older pronunciation. 

Many Old French words which live on in England 
are obsolete in France. Chime is Old Fr. chimbe from 
Greco-Lat. cymbalum. Minsheu (1617) derived dismal 
from Lat dies malt, evil days. This, says Trench, 
"is exactly one of those plausible etymologies which 
one learns after a while to reject with contempt." But 
Minsheu is substantially right, if we substitute Old 
Fr. dis mal, which is found as early as 1256. Old Fr. 
di, a day, also survives in the names of the days of the 
week, lundi, etc. In remainder and remnant we have the 
infinitive and present participle of an obsolete Old French 
verb derived from Lat. remanere. Manor and power are 
also Old French infinitives, the first now only used 
as a noun (nianoir), the second represented by pouvoir. 
Misnomer is the Anglo-French infinitive, " to misname." 

In some cases we have preserved meanings now 
obsolete in French. Trump, in cards, is Fr. triomphe, 
"the card game called ruffe, or trump; also, the ruffe, 
or trump at it" (Cotgrave), but the modern French 
word for trump is atout, to all. Rappee is for obsolete 
Fr. (tabac) rdpe, pulverised, rasped. Fr. talon, heel, 
from Vulgar Lat * talo, talon-, for talus, was applied by 
falconers to the heel claw of the hawk. This meaning, 
obsolete in French, has persisted in English. The mizen 
mast is the rearmost of three, but the Fr. mat de misaine 
is the fore- mast, and both come from Ital. mezzana, 
which means " middle." 

As in the case of Latin, we have some inflected 
French forms in English. Lampoon is from the 
archaic Fr. lampon, "a drunken song" (Miege, French 
Diet., 1688). This is coined from the imperative 
lampons, let us drink, regularly used as a refrain 
in seditious and satirical songs. We may compare 


American vamoose, from Span, vamos, let us go. The 
military revelly is the French imperative reveilles, wake 
up, but in the French army it is called the diane. The 
gist of a matter is the point in which its importance 
really "lies." Ci-git for ci-gist, Lat. jacet, here lies, 
is seen on old tombstones. Tennis, says Minsheu, 
is so called from Fr. tenez, hold, "which word the 
Frenchmen, the onely tennis-players, use to speake 
when they strike the ball." This etymology, for a 
long time regarded as a wild guess, has been shewn 
by recent research to be quite correct. The game was 
played by French knights in Italy a century before we 
find record of it in English. Erasmus tells us that the 
server called out accipe, to which his opponent replied 
tnitte, and as French, and not Latin, was certainly the 
language of the earliest tennis-players, we may infer 
that the spectators named the game from the foreign 
word with which each service began. The French 
name is paume, palm of the hand ; cf. fives, also a slang 
name for the hand. The archaic assoil, Scot, assoilzie 

" ' God assoilzic her,' ejaculated old Elspeth." 

(Antiquary, Ch. 26.) 

is the present subjunctive of the Old Fr. asoldre 
(absoudre), to absolve, used in the stereotyped phrase 
Dieus vos asoile, may God absolve you. 

A linguistic invasion such as that of English by Old 
French is almost unparalleled. We have instances of 
the expulsion of one tongue by another, e.g., of the 
Celtic dialects of Gaul by Latin and of those of Britain 
by Anglo-Saxon. But a real blending of two languages 
can only occur when a large section of the population 
is bilingual for centuries. This, as we know, was the 
case in England. The Norman dialect, already familiar 
through inevitable intercourse, was transplanted to 


England in 1066. It developed further on its own 
lines into Anglo-Norman, and then, mixed with other 
French dialects, for not all the invaders were Normans, 
and political events brought various French provinces 
into relation with England, it produced Anglo-French, 
a somewhat barbarous tongue which was the official 
language till 1362, and with which our legal jargon 
is saturated. We find in Anglo - French many words 
which are unrecorded in continental Old French, among 
them one which we like to think of as essentially 
English, viz., duett, duty, an abstract formed from the 
past participle of Fr. devoir. 

No dictionary can keep up with the growth of a 
language. The New English Dictionary had done the 
letter C before the cinematograph arrived, but got it 
in under K. Words of this kind are manufactured in 
such numbers that the lexicographer is inclined to wait 
and see whether they will catch on. In such cases it is 
hard to prophesy. The population of this country may 
be divided into those people who have been operated 
for appendicitis and those who are going to be. Yet 
this word was considered too rare and obscure for in- 
sertion in the first volume of the New English Dictionary 
(1888), the greatest word-book that has ever been pro- 
jected. Sabotage looks, unfortunately, as if it had come 
to stay. It is a derivative of saboter, to scamp work, 
from sabot, a wooden shoe, used contemptuously of an 
inferior article. The great French dictionaries do not 
know it in this sense, and the New English Dictionary, 
which finished Sa- last year, has just missed it. 
Hooligan is not recorded by the New English Dictionary. 
The original Hooligans were a spirited Irish family of 
that name whose proceedings enlivened the drab mono- 
tony of life in Southwark about fourteen years ago. 
The word is younger than the Australian larrikin, of 


doubtful origin (see p. 177), but older than Fr. apache. 
The adoption of the Red Indian name Apache for a 
modern Parisian street ruffian is a curious parallel to 
the 18th-century use of Mohock (Mohawk) for an aristo- 
cratic London ruffler. 

Heckle is first recorded in its political sense for 1880. 
The New English Dictionary quotes it from Punch in con- 
nection with the Fourth Party. In Scottish, however, it 
is old in this sense, so that it is an example of a dialect 
word that has risen late in life. Its southern form hatchell 
is common in Mid. English in its proper sense of 
"teasing" hemp or flax, and the metaphor is exactly 
the same. Tease, earlier toose, means to pluck or pull 
to pieces, hence the name teasel for the thistle used by 
wool-carders. The older form is seen in the derivative 
tousle, the family name Tozer, and the dog's name 
Towser. Feckless, a common Scottish word, was hardly 
literary English before Carlyle. It is now quite familiar 
" Thriftless, shiftless, feckless? (Mr Lloyd George, in 
the House, ist November 1911). There is a certain 
appropriateness in the fact that almost the first writer 
to use it was James I. It is for effectless. I never heard 
of a week-end till I paid a visit to Lancashire in 1883. 
It has long since invaded the whole island. An old 
geezer has a modern sound, but it is the medieval guiser t 
guisard, mummer, which has persisted in dialect and re- 
entered the language. 

The fortunes of a word are sometimes determined 
by accident. Glamour (see p. 134) was popularised by 
Scott, who found it in old ballad literature. Grail 
would be much less familiar but for Tennyson. Mascot^ 
from a Provencal word meaning sorcerer, dates from 
Audran's operetta La Mascotte (1880). Jingo first 
appears in conjurors' jargon of the I7th century. It 
has been conjectured to represent Basque jinko, God, 


picked up by sailors. If this is the case, it is probably 
the only pure Basque word in English. The Ingoldsby 
derivation from St Gengulphus, "sometimes styled 
'The Living Jingo,' from the great tenaciousness of 
vitality exhibited by his severed members," is of course 
a joke. In 1878, when war with Russia seemed im- 
minent, a music-hall singer, the great Macdermott, 
delighted large audiences with 

" We don't want to fight, but, by Jingo, if we do, 
We've got the ships, we've got the men, we've got the 
money too." 

Hence the name jingo applied to that ultra-patriotic 
section of the population which, in war-time, attends to 
the shouting. Fr. diauvin, a jingo, is the name of 
a real Napoleonic veteran introduced into Scribe's play 
Le Soldat Laboureur. Barracking is known to us only 
through the visits of English cricket teams to Australia. 
It is said to come from a native Australian word 
meaning derision. The American caucus was first 
applied (1878) by Lord Beaconsfield to the Birming- 
ham Six Hundred. In 1 8th -century American it 
means meeting or discussion. It is probably connected 
with a North American Indian (Algonkin) word mean- 
ing counsellor, an etymology supported by that of pow- 
wow, a palaver or confab, the Algonkin for a medicine- 
man. With these words may be mentioned Tammany, 
now used of a corrupt political body, but, in the i8th 
century, of a society named after the patron saint of 
Pennsylvania. The original Tammany was an Indian 
chief with whom William Penn negotiated for grants 
of land about the end of the I7th century. Littoral 
first became familiar in connection with Italy's ill- 
starred Abyssinian adventure, and hinterland marks 
the appearance of Germany as a colonial power 


"'Let us glance a moment,' said Mr Queed, 'at Man, as we 
see him first emerging from the dark hinterlands of history.'" 

(H. S. HARRISON, Queed, Ch. 17.) 

Sometimes the blunder of a great writer has 
enriched the language. Scott's bartisan 

" Its varying circle did combine 
Bulwark, and bartisan, and line 
And bastion, tower ..." 

(Marmion, vi. 2.) 

is a mistake for bratticing, timber-work, a word of 
obscure origin. It is rather a favourite with writers of 
" sword and feather " novels. Other sham antiques are 
slug-horn, Chatterton's absurd perversion of the Gaelic 
slogan, war-cry, copied by William Morris, and Scott's 
extraordinary misuse of warison, security, a doublet of 
garrison, as though it meant " war sound " 

" Or straight they sound their ivarison, 
And storm and spoil thy garrison." 

(Lay, iv. 21.) 

Scott also gave currency to niddering, a coward " faith- 
less, mansworn, 1 and niddering" (Ivanhoe, Ch. 43), 
which has been copied by Lytton and Kingsley, and 
elaborated into nidderling by Mr Crockett. It is a 
misprint in an early edition of William of Malmesbury 
for niding or nithing, cognate with Ger. Neid, envy. 
This word, says Camden, is mightier than Abracadabra? 
for "it hath levied armies and subdued rebellious 
enemies." Derring-do is used several times by Spenser, 

1 From Anglo-Sax, man, deceit, cognate with the first syllable of Ger. 
Meineid, perjury. 

2 This word, which looks like an unsuccessful palindrome, belongs to 
the language of medieval magic. It seems to be artificially elaborated from 
d;3/3cids, a word of Persian origin used by a sect of Greek gnostics. Its 
letters make up the magic number 365, supposed to represent the number 
of spirits subject to the supreme being. 


who explains it as " manhood and chevalrie." It is due 
to his misunderstanding of a passage in Lidgate, in 
which it is an imitation of Chaucer, complicated by a 
misprint. Scott took it from Spenser 

" ' Singular,' he again muttered to himself, ' if there be two who 
can do a deed of such derring-do? " (Ivanhoe, Ch. 29.) 

and from him it passed to Bulwer Lytton and later 

Such words as these, the illegitimate offspring of 
genius, are to be distinguished from the " ghost words " 
which dimly haunt the dictionaries without ever having 
lived (see p. 188). Speaking generally, we may say that 
no word is ever created de novo. The names invented 
for commercial purposes are not exceptions to this law. 
Bovril is compounded of Lat bos, ox, and vril, the 
mysterious power which plays so important a part in 
Lytton's Coming Race, while Tono-Bungay suggests tonic. 
The only exception to this is gas, the arbitrary coinage 
of the Belgian chemist Van Helmont in the I7th 
century. But even this is hardly a new creation, 
because we have Van Helmont's own statement that 
the word chaos was vaguely present to his mind. 
Chortle has, however, secured a limited currency, and is 
admitted by the New English Dictionary 

" O frabjous day ! Callooh ! callay ! 
He chortled in his joy." 

(Through the Looking-Glass.) 

and, though an accurate account of the boojum is lacking, 
most people know it to be a dangerous variety of snark. 



IN assigning to a word a foreign origin, it is necessary 
to show how contact between the two languages has 
taken place, or the particular reasons which have 
brought about the borrowing. A Chinese word cannot 
suddenly make its appearance in Anglo-Saxon, though 
it may quite well do so in modern English. No 
nautical terms have reached us from the coast of 
Bohemia ( Winters Tale, iii. 3), nor is the vocabulary of 
the wine trade enriched by Icelandic words. Although 
we have words from all the languages of Europe, our 
direct borrowings from some of them have been small. 
The majority of High German words in English have 
passed through Old French, and we have taken little 
from modern German. On the other hand, commerce 
has introduced a great many words from the old Low 
German dialects of the North Sea and the Baltic. 

The Dutch 1 element in English supplies a useful 
object lesson on the way in which the borrowing of 
words naturally takes place. As a great naval power, 
the Dutch have contributed to our nautical vocabulary 
a number of words, many of which are easily recognised 
as near relations ; such are boom (beam), skipper 

1 This includes Flemish, spoken in a large part of Belgium and in the 
North East of France. 



(shipper), orlop (over leap). Yacht, properly a " hunt- 
ing " ship, is cognate with Ger. Jagd, hunting, but has 
no English kin. Hexham \\asjaght, zee-roovers schip, 
" pinace, or pirats ship." The modern Dutch spelling is 
jacht. We should expect to find art terms from the 
country of Hobbema, Rubens, Vandyke, etc. See easel 
(p- 35). etch (P- I2 3)> lay-figure (p. 154), sketch (p. 20). 
Landscape, earlier landskip, has the suffix which in 
English would be -ship. In the i6th century Camden 
speaks of " a landskip, as they call it." The Low 
Countries were for two centuries the cockpit of Europe, 
and many military terms were brought back to England 
by Dugald Dalgetty and the armies which "swore 
terribly in Flanders." Such are cashier (p. 146), forlorn 
hope (p. 119), tattoo (p. 150). Other interesting military 
words are leaguer (lair), recently re-introduced from 
South Africa as laager, and furlough, formerly pro- 
nounced to rime with cough, from Du. verlof(for leave) ; 
cf. archaic Ger. Verlaub, now replaced by Urlaub. 
Knapsack} a food sack, comes from colloquial Du. knap, 
food, or what the Notts colliers call snap. We also 
find it called a snapsack. Roster (roaster) is the Dutch 
for gridiron ; for a somewhat similar metaphor c cancel 
(p. 80). The pleasant fiction that 

" The children of Holland take pleasure in making 
What the children of England take pleasure in breaking," 

confirms the derivation of toy from Du. tuig, implement, 
thing, stuff, etc., a word, like its German cognate Zeug, 
with an infinity of meanings. We now limit toy to the 
special sense represented by Du. speel-tuig, play-thing. 

Our vocabulary dealing with war and fortification is 
chiefly French, but most of the French terms come from 
Italian. Addison wrote an article in No. 165 of TJte 

1 Haversack, oat sack, comes through French from German. 


Spectator ridiculing the Frenchified character of the 
military language of his time, and, in the i6th century, 
Henri Estienne, patriot, printer, and philologist, 
lamented that future historians would believe, from the 
vocabulary employed, that France had learnt the art of 
war from Italy. As a matter of fact she did. The 
earliest writers on the new tactics necessitated by 
villainous saltpetre were Italians trained in condottiere 
warfare. They were followed by the great French 
theorists and engineers of the i6th and i/th centuries, 
who naturally adopted a large number of Italian terms 
which thus passed later into English. 

A considerable number of Spanish and Portuguese 
words have reached us in a very roundabout way (see 
pp. 20-4). This is not surprising when we consider how 
in the I5th and i6th centuries the world was dotted with 
settlements due to the Portuguese and Spanish adven- 
turers who had a hundred years' start of our own. 

There are very few Celtic words either in English or 
French. In each country the result of conquest was, 
from the point of view of language, complete. A few 
words from the Celtic languages have percolated into 
English in comparatively recent times, but many terms 
which we associate with the picturesque Highlanders 
are not Gaelic at all. 1 Tartan comes through French 
from the Tartars (see p. 43) ; kilt is a Scandinavian 
verb, " to tuck up," and dirk? of unknown origin, first 
appears about 1600. For trews see p. 109. 

A very interesting part of our vocabulary, the 
canting, or rogues', language, dates mostly from the i/th 

1 This applies also to some of the clan names, e.g., Macpherson, son of the 
parson, Macnab, son of the abbot. 

2 My own conviction is that it is identical with Dan. dirik, dirk, a pick- 
lock. See dietrich (p. 38). An implement used for opening an enemy may 
well have been named in this way. C/. Du. opsteeker (up sticker), " a pick- 
lock, a great knife, or a dagger " (Sewel, 1727). 



and 1 8th centuries, and includes contributions from most 
of the European languages, together with a large Romany 
element. The early dictionary makers paid great atten- 
tion to this aspect of the language. Elisha Coles, who 
published a fairly complete English dictionary in 1676, 
says in his preface, "Tis no disparagement to understand 
the canting terms : it may chance to save your throat from 
being cut, or (at least), your pocket from being pick'd." 

Words often go long journeys. Boss is in English 
a comparatively modern Americanism. But, like many 
American words, it belongs to the language of the Dutch 
settlers who founded New Amsterdam (New York). It 
is Du. baas, master, which has thus crossed the Atlantic 
twice on its way to England. A number of Dutch 
words have become familiar to us in recent years in 
consequence of the South African war. One of them, 
slim, 'cute, seems to have been definitely adopted. It is 
cognate with Ger. scklimm, bad, and Eng. slim, slender, 
and the latter word has for centuries been used in the 
Eastern counties in the very sense in which it has now 
been re-introduced. 

Apricot is a very travelled word. It comes to us 
from Fr. abricot, while the Shakespearean apricock 
(Richard II., iii. 4) represents the Spanish or Portu- 
guese form. Ger. Aprikose comes, via Dutch, from the 
French plural. The word was adopted into the 
Romance languages from Arab, al-barkok, where al is 
the definite article (cf. examples on p. 106), while barkok 
comes, through medieval Greek, from Vulgar Lat. 
prcecoquum, for prcecox, early-ripe. Thus the word first 
crossed the 1 Adriatic, passed on to Asia Minor or the 
North coast of Africa, and then travelling along the 
Mediterranean re-entered Southern Europe. 

Many other Arabic trade words have a similar history. 
Carat comes to us, through French, from Italian carato, 


"a waight or degree called a caract" (Florio). The 
Italian word is from Arabic, but the latter is a corrup- 
tion of Gk. Kepdriov, fruit of the locust tree, lit. little 
horn, also used of a small weight. The verb to garble, 
now used only of confusing or falsifying, 1 meant origin- 
ally to sort or sift, especially spices 

" Garbler of spices is an officer of great antiquity in the city of 
London, who may enter into any shop, warehouse, etc., to view 
and search drugs, spices, etc., and to garble the same and make 
them clean." (Cowel's Interpreter.} 

It represents Span, garbellar, from garbello, a sieve. 
This comes from Arab, garbil, a sieve, borrowed 
from LaL cribellum, diminutive of cribrum. Quintal, 
an old word for hundredweight, looks as if it had 
something to do with five. Fr. and Span, quintal are 
from Arab, qintar, hundredweight, which is Lat. cen- 
tenarium (whence directly Ger. Zentner, hundredweight). 
The French word passed into Dutch, and gave, with a 
diminutive ending, kindekijn, now replaced by kinnetje, 
a firkin. 2 We have adopted it as kilderkin. With these 
examples of words that have passed through Arabic may 
be mentioned talisman, not a very old word in Europe, 
from Arab, telsam, magic picture, ultimately from Gk. 
reXelv, to initiate into mysteries, lit to accomplish, and 
effendi, a Turkish corruption of Gk. avdevrjjs, a master, 
cognate with authentic. 

Hussar seems to be a late Latin word which 
passed into Greece and then entered Central Europe 
via the Balkans: It comes into 16th-century German 
from Hungar. hussar, freebooter. This is from a 

1 "It was a wholly garbled version of what never took place" (Mr 
Birrell, in the House, 26th Oct. 1911). The bull appears to be a laudable 
concession to Irish national feeling. 

2 Formerly ferdekin, a derivative of Du. vierde, fourth ; cf. farthing, a 
little fourth. 


Servian word which means also pirate. It represents 
medieval Gk. Kovpardpios, a transliteration of Vulgar Lat. 
cursarius, from currere, to run, which occurs also 
with the sense of pirate in medieval Latin. Hussar 
is thus a doublet of corsair. The immediate source 
of sketch is Du. schets, " draught of any picture " 
(Hexham), from ItaL schizzo, "an ingrosement or 
first rough draught of anything " (Florio), whence also 
Fr. esquisse and Ger. Skizze. The Italian word 
represents Greco-Lat schedium, an extempore effort. 

Assassin and slave are of historic interest. 
Assassin, though not very old in English, dates from 
the Crusades. Its oldest European form is Ital. 
assassino, and it was adopted into French in the 
i6th century. Henri Estienne, whose fiery patriotism 
entered even into philological questions, reproaches his 
countrymen for using foreign terms. They should 
only adopt, he says, Italian words which express 
Italian qualities hitherto unknown to the French, such 
as assassin, charlatan, poltron ! Assassin is really a 
plural, from the hacJtaschin, eaters of Jiaschish, who 
executed the decrees of the Old Man of the Mountains. 
It was one of these who stabbed Edward Longshanks 
at Acre. The first slaves were captive Slavonians. We 
find the word in most of the European languages. 
The fact that none of the Western tribes of the race 
called themselves Slavs or Slavonians shows that 
the word could not have entered Europe via Germany, 
where the Slavs were called Wends. It must have 
come from the Byzantine empire via Italy. 

Some Spanish words have also come to us by the 
indirect route. The cocoa, which is grateful and com- 
forting, was formerly spelt cacao, as in French and 
German. It is a Mexican word. The cocoa of cocoa-nut 
is for coco, a Spanish baby word for an ugly face or 


bogie-man. The black marks at one end of the nut 
give it, especially before the removal of the fibrous 
husk, some resemblance to a ferocious face. Stevens 
(1706) explains coco as " the word us'd to fright children ; 
as we say the Bulbeggar." 

Mustang seems to represent two words, mestengo 
y mostrenco, " a straier " (Percy vail). The first appears 
to be connected with mesta, " a monthly fair among 
herdsmen ; also, the laws to be observed by all that 
keep or deal in cattle " (Stevens), and the second with 
moslrar, to show, the finder being expected to advertise 
a stray. The original mustangs were of course 
descended from the strayed horses of the Spanish 
conquistadors. Ranch, Span, rancho, a row (of huts), is 
a doublet of rank, from Fr. rang, old Fr. reng, Old 
High Ger. hring, a ring. Thus what is now usually 
straight was once circular, the ground idea of dxrange- 
ment surviving. Another doublet is Fr. harangue, due 
to the French inability to pronounce hr (see p. 50), a 
speech delivered in the ring. Cf. also Ital. aringo, " a 
riding or carreering place, a liste for horses, or feates 
of armes : a declamation, an oration, a noise, a common 
loud speech " (Florio), in which the " ring " idea is also 

Other "cow-boy" words of Spanish origin are the 
less familiar cinch, girth of a horse, Span, cincha, from 
Lat. cingula, also used metaphorically 

"The state of the elements enabled Mother Nature 'to get a 
cinch,' on an honourable asstheticism." (Snaith, Mrs Fitz, Ch. I.) 

and the formidable riding-whip called a quirt, Span. 
cuerda, cord. We have the same transference of mean- 
ing in Span, reata, a rope, from the verb reatar, to bind 
together, Lat. re-aptare. This means a tethering rope 
in Bret Harte, but in contemporary novels of Californian 

B 2 


life it is used for a whip. Combined with the definite 
article, la reata, it has given lariat, a familiar word in 
literature of the Buffalo Bill character. Lasso, Span. 
lazo, Lat. laqueus, snare, is a doublet of Eng. lace. 
When, in the Song of Hiawatha 

" Gitche Manito, the mighty, 
Smoked the calumet, the Peace-pipe, 
As a signal to the nations," 

he was using an implement with a French name. 
Calumet is an Old Norman word for chalumeau, reed, 
pipe, a diminutive from Lat. calamus. It was naturally 
applied by early French voyagers to the "long reed 
for a pipe stem." English shawm is the same word 
without the diminutive ending. Another Old French 
word, once common in English, but now found only 
in dialect, is felon, a whitlow. It is used more than 
once by Mr Hardy 

" I've been visiting to Bath because I had a felon on my 
thumb." (Far from the Madding Crowd, Ch. xxxiii.) 

This is still an everyday word in Canada and the 
United States. It is a metaphorical use of felon, a fell 
villain. A whitlow was called in Latin furunculus, " a 
little theefe; a sore in the bodie called a fellon" 
(Cooper), whence Fr. furoncle, or froncle, " the hot and 
hard bumpe, or swelling, tearmed, a fellon " (Cotgrave). 
Another Latin name for it was lagax, " a felon on a 
man's finger" (Cooper), lit thievish. One of its 
Spanish names is padrastro, lit. step-father. I am told 
that an " agnail " was formerly called a " step-mother " 
in Yorkshire. This is a good example of the semantic 
method in etymology (see pp. 92-6). 

Some of the above instances show how near to home 
we can often track a word which at first sight appears 


to belong to another continent. This is still more 
strikingly exemplified in the case of Portuguese words, 
which have an almost uncanny way of pretending to 
be African or Indian. Some readers will, I think, be 
surprised to hear that assegai occurs in Chaucer, though 
in a form not easily recognisable. It is a Berber word 
which passed through Spanish and Portuguese into 
French and English. We find Fr. archegaie in the 
1 4th century, azagaie in Rabelais, and the modern form 
zagaie in Cotgrave, who describes it as " a fashion of 
slender, long, and long-headed pike, used by the 
Moorish horsemen." In Mid. English F archegaie was 
corrupted by folk etymology (see p. 106) into lancegay, 
launcegaye, the form used by Chaucer. The use of this 
weapon was prohibited by statute in 1406, hence the 
early disappearance of the word. 

Another " Zulu " word which has travelled a long 
way is kraal. This is a contracted Dutch form from 
Port, curral, a sheepfold (cf. Span, corral, a pen, enclosure). 
Both assegai and kraal were taken to South East Africa 
by the Portuguese and then adopted by the Boers and 
Kafirs. 1 Sjambok occurs in 17th-century accounts of 
India in the form chawbuck. It is a Persian word, 
spelt chabouk by Moore, in Lalla Rookh. It was 
adopted by the Portuguese as chabuco, " (in the 
Portuguese India) a whip or scourge " 2 (Vieyra, Port. 
Diet., 1794). Fetish, an African idol, first occurs in the 
records of the early navigators, collected and published 
by Purchas and Hakluyt. It is the Port, feitiqo, Lat. 
factitius, artificial, applied by the Portuguese explorers 

1 Kafir (Arab.) means infidel. 

- Eng. chawbuck is used in connection with the punishment we call the 
bastinado. This is a corruption of Span, liastonada, "a stroke with a club 
or staff" (Stevens, 1706). On the other hand, we extend the meaning of 
drub, the Arabic word for bastinado, to a beating of any kind. 


to the graven images of the heathen. The correspond- 
ing Old Fr. faitis is rather a complimentary adjective, 
and everyone remembers the lady in Chaucer who 
spoke French fairly and fetousli. Palaver, also a 
travellers' word from the African coast, is Port, palavra, 
word, speech, Greco-Lat. parabola. It is thus a doublet 
of parole and parable, and is related to parley. Ayah, an 
Indian nurse, is Port aia, nurse, of unknown origin. 
Caste is Port casta, pure, and a doublet of chaste. Tank, 
an Anglo-Indian word of which the meaning has 
narrowed in this country, is Port tanque, a pool or 
cistern, Lat stagnum, whence Old Fr. estang (ttang) 
and provincial Eng. stank, a dam, or a pond banked 
round. Cobra is the Portuguese for snake, cognate 
with Fr. couleuvre, Lat coluber (see p. 7). We use it 
as an abbreviation for cobra de capello, hooded snake, 
the second part of which is identical with Fr. chapeau 
and cognate with cape, chapel (p. 141), chaplet, a garland, 
and chaperon, a " protecting " hood. From still further 
afield than India comes joss, a Chinese god, a corruption 
of Port, deos, Lat deus. Even mandarin comes from 
Portuguese, and not Chinese, but it is of Eastern origin, 
probably Malay. 

The word 'gorilla is perhaps African, but more than 
two thousand years separate its first appearance from 
its present use. In the 5th or 6th century, B.C., a 
Carthaginian navigator named Hanno sailed beyond 
the Pillars of Hercules along the west coast of Africa. 
He probably followed very much the same route as Sir 
Richard Dalyngridge and Saxon Hugh when they 
voyaged with Witta the Viking. He wrote in Punic a 
record of his adventures, which was received with 
the incredulity usually accorded to travellers' tales. 
Among the wonders he encountered were some hairy 
savages called gorillas. His work was translated into 

SILK 25 

Greek and later on into several European languages, 
so that the word became familiar to naturalists. In 
1847 it was applied to the giant ape, which had recently 
become known to naturalists. 

The origin of the word silk is a curious problem. 
It is usually explained as from Greco-Lat. sericum, a 
name derived from an Eastern people called the Seres, 
presumably the Chinese. It appears in Anglo-Saxon 
as seolc. Now, at that early period, words of Latin 
origin came to us by the overland route and left traces 
of their passage. But all the Romance languages use 
for silk a name derived from Lat. s<zta, bristle, and 
this name has penetrated even into German (Seide) and 
Dutch (zijde). The derivatives of sericum stand for 
another material, serge. Nor can it be assumed that 
the r of the Latin word would have become in English 
always /and never r. There are races which cannot 
sound the letter r, but we are not one of them. As the 
word silk is found also in Old Norse, Swedish, Danish, 
and Old Slavonian, the natural inference is that it must 
have reached us along the north of Europe, and, if 
derived from sericum, it must, somewhere in Asia, have 
passed through a language which had no r. 



IN a sense, all nomenclature, apart from purely scientific 
language, is popular. But real meanings are often so 
rapidly obscured that words become mere labels and 
cease to call up the image or the poetic idea with which 
they were first associated. To take a simple instance, 
how many people realise that the daisy is the "day's 
eye ? " In studying that part of our vocabulary which 
especially illustrates the tendencies shown in popular 
name-giving, one is struck by the keen observation and 
imaginative power shown by our far-off ancestors, and 
the lack of these qualities in later ages. 

Perhaps in no part of the language does this appear 
so clearly as in the names of plants and flowers. The 
most primitive way of naming a flower is from some 
observed resemblance, and it is curious to notice the 
parallelism of this process in various languages. Thus 
our crowfoot, crane's bill, larkspur, monkshood, snap- 
dragon, are in German Hahmnfuss (cock's foot), Storch- 
schnabel(stof\Cs bill), Rittersporn (knight's spur), Eisenhut 
(iron hat), Lb'wenmaul (lion's mouth). I have purposely 
chosen instances in which the correspondence is not 
absolute, because examples like Lb'wenzahn (lion's 
tooth), dandelion (Fr. dent de lion) may be suspected 



of being mere translations. I give the names in most 
general use, but the provincial variants are numerous, 
though usually of the same type. The French names of 
the flowers mentioned are still more like the English. 
The more learned words which sometimes replace the 
above are, though now felt as mere symbols, of similar 
origin, e.g., geranium and pelargonium, used for the 
cultivated crane's bill, are derived from the Greek for 
crane and stork respectively. So also in chelidonium, 
whence our celandine or swallow-wort, we have the Greek 
for swallow. 

In the English names of plants we observe various 
tendencies of the popular imagination. We have the 
crudeness of cowslip for earlier cowslop, cow-dung, and 
many old names of unquotable coarseness, the quaint- 
ness of Sweet William, lords and ladies, bachelors' buttons, 
dead men's fingers, and the exquisite poetry of forget-me- 
not, hearfs ease, love in a mist, traveller's joy. There is 
also a special group named from medicinal properties, 
such as feverfew, a doublet of febrifuge, tansy, Fr. 
tanaisie, from Greco-Lat. athanasia, immortality. We 
may compare the learned saxifrage, stone-breaker, of 
which the Spanish doublet is sassafras. The German 
name is Steinbrech. 

There must have been a time when a simple 
instinct for poetry was possessed by all nations, as it 
still is by uncivilised races and children. Among 
European nations this instinct appears to be dead for 
ever. We can name neither a mountain nor a flower. 
Our Mount Costigan, Mount Perry, Mount William cut 
a sorry, figure beside the peaks of the Bernese Oberland, 
the Monk, the Maiden, the Storm Pike, the Dark Eagle 
Pike. Occasionally a race which is accidentally brought 
into closer contact with nature may have a happy 
inspiration, such as the Drakenberg (dragon mountain) 


or Weenen 1 (weeping) of the old vortrekkers. But the 
Cliff of the Falling Flowers, the name of a precipice over 
which the Korean queens cast themselves to escape 
dishonour, represents an imaginative realm which is 
closed to us. 2 The botanist who describes a new flower 
hastens to join the company of Messrs Dahl, Fuchs, 
Lobel, Magnol and Wister, while fresh varieties are used 
to immortalise a florist and his family. 

The names of fruits, perhaps because they lend 
themselves less easily to imaginative treatment, are even 
duller than modern names of flowers. The only English 
names are the apple and the berry. New fruits either 
retained their foreign names (cherry, peach, pear, quince} 
or were violently converted into apples or berries, 
usually the former. This practice is common to the 
European languages, the apple being regarded as the 
typical fruit Thus the orange is usually called in 
North Germany Apfelsine> apple of China, with which 
we may compare our " China orange." In South 
Germany it was called Pomeranze (now used especially 
of the Seville orange), from Ital. porno, apple, arancia, 
orange. Fr. orange is folk-etymology (or, gold) for 
* arange, from Arab, narandf, whence Span, naranja. 
Melon is simply the Greek for "apple," and has also 
given us marmalade, which comes, through French, from 
Port marmelada, quince jam, a derivative of Greco- Lat. 
melimelum, quince, lit. honey-apple. Pine-apple meant 
" fir-cone" as late as the I7th century, as Ttr.pomme de 
pin still does. The fruit (Fr. ananas] was named from 
its shape, which closely resembles that of a fir-cone. 

1 A place where a large number of settlers with their wives and children 
were massacred by the Zulus. 

3 "Two mountains near Dublin, which we, keeping in the grocery line, 
have called the Great and the Little Sugarloaf, are named in Irish the 
Golden Spears." (Trench, On the Study of Words.") 


Pomegranate means " apple with seeds." We also find 
the apricot, lemon (pomcitron), peach, and quince all 
described as apples. 

At least one fruit, the greengage, is named from a 
person, Sir William Gage, a gentleman of Suffolk, who 
popularised its cultivation early in the i8th century. 
It happens that the French name of the fruit, reine- 
claude (pronounced glaude], is also personal, from the 
wife of Francis I. 

Animal nomenclature shows some strange vagaries. 
The resemblance of the hippopotamus, lit. river-horse, 
to the horse, hardly extends beyond their common 
possession of four legs. The lion would hardly recognise 
himself in the ant-lion or the sea-lion, still less in the 
chameleon, lit. earth-lion, the first element of which 
occurs also in camomile, earth-apple. The guinea-pig is 
not a pig, nor does it come from Guinea (see p. 47). 
Porcupine means " spiny pig." It has an extraordinary 
number of early variants, and Shakespeare wrote it por- 
pentine. One Mid. English form was porkpoint. The 
French name has hesitated between spine and spike. The 
modern form is porc-e'pic, but Palsgrave has " porkepyn a 
beest, pore espin" Porpoise is from Old Fr. porpeis, for 
pore pets ( piscts\ pig-fish. The modern French 
name is marsouin, from Ger. Meerschwein, sea-pig ; cf. 
the name sea-hog, formerly used in English. Old Fr. 
peis survives also in grampus, Anglo-Fr. grampais for 
grand peis, big fish, but the usual Old French word is 
craspeis or graspeis, fat fish. 

The caterpillar seems to have suggested in turn a cat 
and a dog. Our word is corrupted by folk-etymology 
from Old Fr. chatepeleuse, " a corne-devouring mite, or 
weevell " (Cotgrave). This probably means " woolly 
cat," just as a common species is popularly called woolly 
bear, but it was understood as being connected with the 


French verbfeter, "to pill, pare, barke, unrinde, unskin" 
(Cotgrave). The modern French name chenille is a 
derivative of chien, dog. It has also been applied to a 
fabric of a woolly nature ; cf. the botanical catkin, which 
is in Fr. chaton, kitten. 

Some animals bear nicknames. Dotterel means 
" dotard," and dodo is from the Port, doudo, mad. Ferret 
is from Fr. furet, a diminutive from Lat. fur, thief. 
Shark was used of a sharper or greedy parasite before 
it was applied to the fish. This, in the records of the 
Elizabethan voyagers, is more often called by its 
Spanish name tiburon, whence Cape Tiburon, in Haiti. 
The origin of shark is unknown, but it appears to be 
identical with shirk, for which we find earlier sherk. 
We find Ital. scrocco (whence Fr. escroc), Ger. Schurke, 
Du. schurk, rascal, all rendered "shark" in early 
dictionaries, but the relationship of these words is not 
clear. The palmer, i.e. pilgrim, worm is so called from 
his wandering habits. Ortolan means "gardener" 
(Lat. hortus, garden). It comes to us through French 
from Ital. ortolano, " a gardener, an orchard keeper. Also 
a kinde of daintie birde in Italic, some take it to be 
the linnet" (Florio). We may compare Fr. bouvreuil, 
bull-finch, a diminutive of bouvier, ox-herd. This is 
called in German Dompfaffe, a contemptuous name for 
a cathedral canon. Fr. moineau, sparrow, is a diminu- 
tive of moine, monk. The wagtail is called in French 
lavandiere, laundress, from the up and down motion 
of its tail suggesting the washerwoman's beetle, and 
bergeronnette, little shepherdess, from its habit of follow- 
ing the sheep. Adjutant, the nickname of the solemn 
Indian stork, is clearly due to Mr Atkins, and the 
secretary bird is so named because some of his head 
feathers suggest a quill pen behind an ear. 

The converse process of people being nicknamed 


from animals is also common and the metaphor is 
usually pretty obvious. An interesting case is shrew, 
a libel on a very inoffensive little animal, the shrew- 
mouse, Anglo- Sax. screawa. Cooper describes mus 
araneus as " a kinde of mise called a shrew, which if he 
go over a beastes backe he shall be lame in the chyne ; 
if he byte it swelleth to the heart and the beast dyeth." 
This " information " is derived from Pliny, but the 
superstition is found in Greek. The epithet was, up to 
Shakespeare's time, applied indifferently to both sexes. 
From shrew is derived shrewd, earlier shrewed, the 
meaning of which has become much milder than when 
Henry VIII. said to Cranmer 

"The common voice I see is verified 
Of thee which says, 'Do my lord of Canterbury 
A shrewd turn, and he's your friend for ever.' " 

(Henry VJJI., v. 2.) 

The title Dauphin, lit. dolphin, commemorates the 
absorption into the French monarchy, in 1349, of the 
lordship of Dauphine, the cognisance of which was three 

The application of animals' names to diseases is a 
familiar phenomenon, e.g., cancer (and canker], crab, and 
lupus, wolf. To this class belongs mulligrubs, for which 
we find in the i/th century also mouldy grubs. Its 
oldest meaning is stomach-ache, still given in Hotten's 
Slang Dictionary (1864). Mully is still used in dialect 
for mouldy, earthy, and grub was once the regular word 
for worm. The Latin name for the same discomfort 
was verminatio. For the later transition of meaning we 
may compare megrims, from Fr. migraine, head-ache, 
Greco-Lat. hemicrania, lit half skull, because supposed 
to affect one side only of the head. 

A good many names of plants and animals have a 


religious origin. Hollyhock is for holy hock, from Anglo- 
Sax, hoc, mallow: for the pronunciation cf. holiday. 
Halibut means holy butt, the latter word being an old 
name for flat fish ; for this form of holy, cf. halidom. 
Lady in names of flowers such as lady's bedstraw, lady's 
garter, lady's slipper, is for Our Lady. So also in lady- 
bird, called in French bete a bon Dieu and in German 
Marienkafer, Mary's beetle. Here may be mentioned 
samphire, from Old Fr. Jterbe de Saint Pierre, " sampire, 
crestmarin " (Cotgrave). The filbert, earlier philibert, is 
named from St Philibert, the nut being ripe by St 
Philibert's day (22nd Aug.). We may compare Ger. 
Lambertsnuss, filbert, originally "Lombard nut," but 
popularly associated with St Lambert's day (i7th Sept.). 

The application of baptismal names to animals is a 
very general practice, though the reason for the selection 
of the particular name is not always clear. The most 
famous of such names is Renard the Fox. The Old 
French for fox is goupil, a derivative of Lat. vulpes, fox. 
The hero of the great beast epic of the Middle Ages is 
Renard le goupil, and the fact that renard\&& now com- 
pletely supplanted goupil shows how popular the Renard 
legends must have been. Renard is from Old High 
Ger. regin-hart, strong in counsel ; cf. our names 
Reginald and Reynold, and Scot Ronald, of Norse origin. 
From the same source come Chantecler, lit. sing clear, 
the cock, and Partlet, the hen, while Bruin, the bear, lit 
" brown," is from the Dutch version of the epic. In the 
Low German version, Reinke de Vos, the ape's name is 
Moneke, a diminutive corresponding to Ital. monicchio, 
" a pugge, a munkie, an ape " (Florio), the earlier history 
of which is much disputed. The cat was called Tibert, 
whence the allusions to Tybalt's nine lives in Romeo 
and Juliet (iii. i). 

The fact that the donkey was at one time regularly 


called Cuddy made Cuthbert for a long period unpopular 
as a baptismal name. He is now often called Neddy. 
The hare was called Wat ( Walter) in Tudor times. In 
the Roman de Renard he is Couard, whence coward, a 
derivative of Old Fr. coue (queue}, tail, from Lat. cauda. 
The idea is that of the tail between the legs, so that the 
name is etymologically not very appropriate to the 
hare. Parrot, for earlier perrot, means " little Peter." 
Fr. pierrot is still used for the sparrow. The family 
name Perrot is sometimes a nickname, "the chat- 
terer," but can also mean literally "little Peter," just 
as Emmot means "little Emma," and Marriot "little 
Mary." The extension Poll Parrot is thus a kind 
of hermaphrodite. Petrel is of cognate origin, with 
an allusion to St Peter's walking upon the sea ; cf. 
its German name, Sankt Peters Vogel. Sailors call 
the petrel Mother Carey's chicken, probably a nautical 
corruption of some old Spanish or Italian name. 
But in spite of ingenious guesses, this lady's genealogy 
remains as obscure as that of Davy Jones or the Jolly 

Robin has practically replaced red-breast. The 
martin is in French martinet, and the name may have 
been given in allusion to the southward flight of this 
swallow about Martinmas; but the king-fisher, not a 
migrant bird, is called martin-pecheur, formerly also 
martinet pfaheur or oiseau de Saint-Martin, so that 
martin may be due to some other association. Some- 
times the double name survives. We no longer say 
Philip sparrow, but Jack ass, Jack daw, Jenny wren, 
Tom tit (see p. 113), and the inclusive Dicky bird, are still 
familiar. With these we may compare Hob (i.e. Robert) 
goblin. Madge owlet, or simply Madge, was once 
common. For Mag pie we find also the diminutive 
Maggot pie. Cotgrave has pie, " a pye, pyannat, meg- 



gatapie." In Old French it was also called jaquette, 
" a proper name for a woman ; also, a piannat, or 

The connection of this word, Fr. pie, Lat. pica, with 
the comestible pie is uncertain, but it seems likely that 
the magpie's habit of collecting miscellaneous trifles 
caused its name to be given to a dish of uncertain 
constituents. It is a curious coincidence that the 
obsolete chuet or chewet meant both a round pie and a 
jackdaw. It is uncertain in which of the two senses 
Prince Hal applies the name to Falstaff (i Henry IV., 
v. i). Fr. chouette, screech-owl, formerly meant also "a 
chough, daw, jack-daw " (Cotgrave). 

A piebald horse is one balled like a magpie. 
Ball is a Celtic word for a white mark, especially on 
the forehead ; hence the tavern sign of the Baldfaced 
Stag. Our adjective bald is thus a past participle. 

Things are often named from animals. Crane, kite, 
donkey-engine, monkey-wrench, pig-iron, etc., are simple 
cases. The crane picture is so striking that we are not 
surprised to find it literally reproduced in many other 
languages. For kite we have Fr. cerf-volant, flying stag, 
a name also applied to the stag-beetle, and Ger. Drachen, 
dragon. It 'is natural that terrifying names should 
have been given to early fire-arms. Many of these, 
e.g., basilisk, serpent, falconet, saker (from Fr. sacre, a 
kind of hawk), are obsolete. More familiar is cul- 
verin, Fr. couleuvrine, a derivative of couleuvre, adder, 
Lat coluber 

" And thou hast talk'd 
pf sallies and retires, of trenches, tents, 
Of palisadoes, frontiers, parapets, 
Of basilisks, of cannon, culverin." 

(i Henry IV., ii. 3.) 

One name for a handgun was dragon, whence our 


dragoon, originally applied to a kind of mounted infantry 
or carbineers. Musket was the name of a small hawk. 
Mistress Ford uses it playfully to her page 

" How now, my eyas l -musket, what news with you ?" 

(Merry Wives, iii. 3.) 

But the hawk was so nicknamed from its small size. 
Fr. mousquet, now replaced in the hawk sense by 
e"mouchet, is from Ital. moschetto, a diminutive from 
Lat. musca, fly. Thus mosquito (Spanish) and musket 
are doublets. 

Porcelain comes, through French, from l\.a.\.porcellana, 
" a kinde of fine earth ca\\zdporcelane, whereof they make 
fine china dishes, called porcellan dishes " (Florio). This 
is, however, a transferred meaning, porcellana being the 
name of a particularly glossy shell called the "Venus 
shell." It is a derivative of Lat. porous, pig. Easel 
comes, with many other painters' terms, from Holland. 
It is Du. ezel, ass, which, like Ger. Esel, comes from 
Lat. asinus. For its metaphorical application we may 
compare Fr. chevalet, easel, lit. " little horse," and Eng. 
" clothes horse? 

Objects often bear the names of individuals. Such 
are albert chain, brougham, victoria, Wellington boot. 
Middle aged people can remember fadies wearing a 
red blouse called a garibaldi?- Sometimes an inventor 
is immortalised, e.g., mackintosh and shrapnel, both 
due to 19th-century inventors. The more recent 
maxim is named from one who, according to the 
late Lord Salisbury, has saved many of his fellow- 
men from dying of old age. Other benefactors are 
commemorated in derringer, first recorded in Bret 

1 For eyas, see p. 105. 

* To the same period belongs the colour magenta, from the victory of 
the French over the Austrians at Magenta in 1859. 


Harte, and bowie, which occurs in Dickens' Ameri- 
can Notes. Sandwich and sper.cer are coupled in an 
old rime 

" Two noble earls, whom, if I quote, 
Some folks might call me sinner ; 
The one invented half a coat, 
The other half a dinner." 

An Earl Spencer (1782-1845) made a short overcoat 
fashionable for some time. An Earl of Sandwich 
(1718-1792) invented a form of light refreshment which 
enabled him to take a meal without leaving the gaming 
table. It does not appear that Billy Cock is to be 
classed with the above, or with Chesterfield, Chippendale 
& Co. The New English Dictionary quotes (from 1721) 
a description of the Oxford " blood " in his " bully-cocked 
hat," worn aggressively on one side. Pinchbeck was a 
London watchmaker (fi. c. 1700), and doily is from 
Doyley, a linen-draper of the same period. Etienne de 
SilJiouette was French finance minister in 1759, but 
the application of his name to a black profile portrait 
is variously explained. Negus was first brewed in 
Queen Anne's reign by Colonel Francis Negus. 

The first orrery was constructed by the Earl of 
Orrery (c. 1700). Galvani and Volta were Italian 
scientists of the i8th century. Mesmer was a German 
physician of the same period. Nicotine is named from 
Jean Nicot, French ambassador at Lisbon, who sent 
some tobacco plants to Catherine de Medicis in 1560. 
He also compiled the first Old French dictionary. The 
gallows-shaped contrivance called a derrick perpetuates 
the name of a famous hangman who officiated in 
London about 1600. It is a Dutch name, identical 
with, Dietrich, Theodoric, and Dirk (Hatteraick). Con- 
versely the Fr. potence, gallows, meant originally a 


bracket or support, Lat. potentia, power. The origin 
of darbies, handcuffs, is unknown, but the line 

" To bind such babes in father Derbies bands," 

(GASCOIGNE, The Steel Glass, 1576.) 

suggests connection with some eminent gaoler or thief- 

Occasionally a verb is formed -from a proper name. 
On the model of tantalise, from the punishment of 
Tantalus, we have, bowdlerize, from Bawdier, who 
published an expurgated " family Shakespeare " in 
1818; cf. macadamise. Burke and boycott commemorate 
a scoundrel and a victim. The latter word, from the 
treatment of Captain Boycott of Co. Mayo in 1880, 
seems to have supplied a want, for Fr. boycotter and 
Ger. boycottieren are already every-day words. Burke 
was hanged at Edinburgh in 1829 for murdering 
people by suffocation in order to dispose of their 
bodies to medical schools. We now use the verb only 
of "stifling" discussion, but in the Ingoldsby Legends 
it still has the original sense 

" But, when beat on his knees, 

That confounded De Guise 

Came behind with the ' fogle ' that caused all this breeze, 

Whipp'd it tight round his neck, and, when backward he'd jerk'd 

The rest of the rascals jump'd on him and BurKd\\\m? 

(The Tragedy.) 

Jarvey, the slang name for a coachman, was in the 
1 8th century Jervis or Jarvis, but history is silent as to 
this English Jehu. A pasquinade was originally an 
anonymous lampoon affixed to a statue of a gladiator 
which still stands in Rome. The statue is said to 
have been nicknamed from a scandal-loving cobbler 
named Pasquino. Florio has pasquino, "a statue in 

C 2 


Rome on whom all libels, railings, detractions, and 
satirical invectives are fathered." Pamphlet is an 
extended use of Old Fr. Pamphilet, the name of a 
Latin poem by one Pamphilus which was popular in 
the Middle Ages. The suffix -et was often used in this 
way, e.g., the translation of ^Esop's fables by Marie de 
France was called Ysopet, and Cato's moral maxims had 
the title Catonet, or Parvus Cato. Modern Fr. pamphlet, 
borrowed back from English, has always the sense of 
polemical writing. In Eng. libel, lit. "little book," we 
see a converse development of meaning. A three- 
quarter portrait of fixed dimensions is called a kitcat 

" It is not easy to see why he should have chosen to produce a 
replica, or rather a kitcat" {Journal of Education, Oct. 1911.) 

The name comes from the portraits of members 
of the Kitcat Club, painted by Kneller. Kit Kat, 
Christopher Kat, was a pastrycook at whose shop the 
club used to dine. 

Implements and domestic objects sometimes bear 
Christian names. We may mention spinning-jenny, and 
the innumerable meanings of jack. Davit, earlier 
daviot, is a diminutive of David. Fr. davier, formerly 
daviet, is used of several mechanical contrivances, 
including a pick-lock. A kind of davit is called in 
Ger. Jutte, a diminutive of Judith. The implement 
by which the burglar earns his daily bread is now 
called a jemmy, but in the I7th century we also find 
bess and betty. The French name is rossignol, nightin- 
gale. The German burglar calls it Dietrich, Peterchen, 
or Klaus, and the contracted forms of the first name, 
dyrk and dirk, have passed into Swedish and Danish 
with the same meaning. In Italian a pick-lock is called 
grimaldello, a diminutive of the name Grimaldo. 

A kitchen wench was once called a malkin 


(Coriolanus, ii. i). This is a diminutive of Matilda or 
Mary, possibly of both. Grimalkin, applied to a fiend 
in the shape of a cat, is for gray malkin 

"I come, Graymalkin" {Macbeth, i. I.) 

Malkin was also the regular name for a mop. Cotgrave 
has escouillon (Jcouvillon), " a wispe, or dish-clowt ; a 
maukin, or drag, to cleanse, or sweepe an oven." 
Ecouvillon is a derivative of Lat. scopa, broom. Now 
another French word which means both " kitchen 
servant" and "dish-clout" is souillon, from souiller, to 
soil. What share each of these words, the sense 
development of which has been the converse of that 
of malkih t has in Eng. scullion is hard to say. The only 
thing certain is that scullion is not related to scullery, 
Old Fr. escuelerie, a collective from Old Fr. escuelle 
(tcuelle], dish, from Lat. scutella. 

A doll was formerly called a baby or puppet. It is 
the abbreviation of Dorothy, for we find it called a 
doroty in Scottish. We may compare Fr. marionnette, a 
double diminutive of Mary, explained by Cotgrave as 
" little Marian or Mai ; also, a puppet." Little Mary, in 
another sense, has been recently, but perhaps definitely, 
adopted into our language. Another old name for 
doll is mammet. Capulet uses it contemptuously to his 

" And then to have a wretched puling fool, 
A whining mammet, in her fortune's tender, 
To answer : ' I'll not wed,' ' I cannot love.' " 

(Romeo and Juliet, iii. 5.) 

Its earlier form is maumet, meaning " idol," and it is a 
contraction of Mahomet. 

The derivation ofjugls not capable of proof, but a 
17th-century etymologist regards it as identical with the 


female name/a^, 1 for Joan or Jane. This is supported 
by jack used in a similar sense, and by toby jug and demi- 
john. The latter word is in French dame-jeanne, but 
both forms are probably due to folk-etymology. A coat 
of mail was called in English a jack and in French 
jaque, " a. jack, or coat of maile " (Cotgrave) ; hence the 
diminutive jacket. The German miners gave to an ore 
which they considered useless the name kobalt, from 
kobold, a goblin, gnome. This has given Eng. cobalt. 
Much later is the similarly formed nickel, a diminutive 
of Nicholas. It comes to us from Sweden, but appears 
earliest in the German compound Kupfernickel. Appar- 
ently nickel here means something like goblin ; cf. Old 
Nick and, probably, the dickens 

" I cannot tell what the dickens his name is my husband had 
him ol What do you call your knight's name, sirrah?" 

(Merry Wives, iii. 2.) 

Pantaloons come, via France, from Venice. A great 
many Venetians bore the name of Pantaleone, one of 
their favourite saints. Hence the application of the 
name to the characteristic Venetian hose. The "lean 
and slippered pantaloon " was originally one of the stock 
characters of the old Italian comedy. Torriano (1659) has 
pantalone, " a pantalone, a covetous and yet amorous old 
dotard, properly applyed in comedies unto a Venetian." 
Knickerbockers take their name from Diedrich Knicker- 
bocker, the pseudonym under which Washington Irving 
wrote his History of Old New York, in which the early 
Dutch inhabitants are depicted in loose knee-breeches. 

Certain Christian names are curiously associated 
with stupidity. In modern English we speak of a 

1 For extraordinary perversions of baptismal names see Chap. XII. It is 
possible that the rather uncommon family name Juggins is of the same 


silly Johnny, while the Germans say ein dummer Peter 
and French uses Colas (Nicolas'), Nicodeme and Claude, 
the reason for the selection of the name not always 
being clear. English has, or had, in the sense of " fool," 
the words ninny, nickum, noddy, zany. Ninny is for 
Innocent, " Innocent, Ninny, a proper name for a man " 
(Cotgrave). With this we may compare French ben$t 
(i.e. Benedict), "a simple, plaine, doltish fellow; a noddy 
peake, a ninny hammer, a peagoose, a coxe, a silly 
companion" (Cotgrave). Nickum and noddy are pro- 
bably for Nicodemus or Nicholas, both of which are 
used in French for a fool. The reader will remember 
that Noddy Boffin was christened Nicodemus. Noddy- 
peak, ninny -hammer, nickumpoop, now nincompoop, seem 
to be arbitrary elaborations. Zany, formerly a con- 
juror's assistant, is sanni, an Italian diminutive of 
Giovanni, John. With the degeneration of Innocent 
and Benedict we may compare Fr. cretin, idiot, an 
Alpine patois form of chre'tien, Christian, and Eng. silly, 
which once meant blessed, a sense preserved by its 
German cognate selig. Dimce is a libel on the disciples 
of the great medieval schoolman John Duns Scotus, 
born at Dunse in Berwickshire. 

Dago, now usually applied to Italians, was used by 
the Elizabethans, in its original form Diego, of the 
Spaniards. The derivation of guy and bobby (peeler) is 
well known. Jockey is a diminutive of the north 
country Jock, for Jack. The history of jackanapes is 
obscure. The earliest record of the name is in a 
satirical song on the unpopular William de la Pole, 
Duke of Suffolk, who was beheaded at sea in 1450. 
He is called Jack Napes, the allusion being apparently 
to his badge, an ape's clog and chain. But there also 
seems to be association with Naples ; cf. fustian-anapes 
for Naples fustian. A poem of the i$th century tells 


us that from Italy came " apes and japes and marmus- 
ettes tayled." Dandy is Scottish for Andrew; cf. 
Dandie Dinmont. 

Jilt was once a stronger epithet than at present. It 
is for earlier jillet, which is a diminutive of Jill, the 
companion of Jack. Jill, again, is short for Gillian, i.e. 
Juliana, so that jilt is a doublet of Shakespeare's 
sweetest heroine. Termagant, like shrew (p. 31), was 
formerly used of both sexes. In its oldest sense of 
a Saracen god it regularly occurs with Mahmind 

" Marsilies fait porter un livre avant : 
La lei i fut Mahum e Tervagan." a 

(Chanson de Roland, 11. 610-11.) 

Ariosto has Trivigante. Being introduced into the 
medieval drama, the name became synonymous with a 
stage fury 

" I would have such a fellow whipped for o'erdoing Termagant" 

(Hamlet, iii. 2.) 

Falstaff calls Douglas "that hot termagant Scot" 
(i Henry IV., v. 4). The origin of the word is un- 
known, but its sense development is strangely different 
from that of Mahomet (p. 39). 

1 " Marsil has a book brought forward : the law of Mahomet and 
Termagant was in it." 



A VERY large number of wares are named from the 
places from which they come. This is especially 
common in the case of woven fabrics, and the origin 
is often obvious, e.g., arras, cashmere (by folk-etymology, 
kerseymere) damask, holland. The following are perhaps 
not all so evident -frieze from Friesland; x fustian, Old 
Fr. fustaine (futaine), from Fustat, a suburb of Cairo ; 
muslin, Fr. mousseline, from Mosul in Kurdistan ; shalloon 
from CMfons-sur-Marne ; lawn from Laon \jean, formerly 
/<7,from Genoa (French Genes 2 ) ; cambric from Kamerijk, 
the Dutch name of Cambrai (cf. the obsolete dornick, 
from the Dutch name of Tournay) ; tartan from the 
Tartars (properly Tatars], used vaguely for Orientals ; 
sarcenet from the Saracens ; sendal, ultimately from India 
(cf. Greco-Lat. sindon, Indian cloth) ; tabby, Old Fr. 
atabis, from the name of a suburb of Bagdad, now 
chiefly used of a cat marked something like the 
material in question. 

1 Whence also cheval de /rise, a contrivance used by the Frieslanders 
against cavalry. The German name is die spanischen Reiter, explained by 
Ludwig as " a bar with iron-spikes ; cheval de /rise, a warlick instrument, 
to keep off the horse." 

2 The form jeans appears to be usual in America, e.g., " His hands were 
thrust carelessly into the side pockets of a gray jeans coat." (Meredith 
Nicholson, War of the Carolina*, Ch. 15.) 



Brittany used to be famous for hempen fabrics, and 
the villages of Locrenan and Daoulas gave their names 
to lockram (Coriolanus, ii. i) and dowlas 

Hostess. You owe me money, Sir John ; and now you pick a 
quarrel to beguile me of it : I bought you a dozen of shirts to your 

Falstaff. Dowlas, filthy dowlas; I have given them away to 
bakers' wives, and they have made bolters of them. 

(i Henry IV., iii. 3.) 

Duffel is a place near Antwerp 

" And let it be of duffil gray, 
As warm a cloak as man can sell." 

(WORDSWORTH, Alice Fell.) 

and Worstead is in Norfolk. Of other commodities 
majolica comes from Majorca, called in Spanish Mallorca, 
and in medieval Latin Majolica; bronze from Brun- 
dusium (Brindisi), delf from Delft, the magnet from 
Magnesia, the shallot, Fr. tchalotte, in Old French also 
escalogne, whence archaic Eng. scallion, from Ascalon ; 
the sardine from Sardinia. A milliner, formerly milaner, 
dealt in goods from Milan. Cravat dates from the 
Thirty Years' War, in which the Croats, earlier Cravats, 
played a part. Ermine is in medieval Latin mus 
Armenius, Armenian mouse, but comes, through Fr. 
hermine, from Old High Ger. Jiarmo, weasel. Buncombe, 
more usually bunkum, is the name of a county in 
North Carolina. To make a speech "for Buncombe" 
means, in American politics, to show your constituents 
that you are doing your best for your ^400 a year or 
its American equivalent Cf. Billingsgate and Limehouse. 
The adjective spruce was formerly pruce and meant 
Prussia. Todd quotes from Holinshed, " Sir Edward 
Howard then admirall, and with him Sir Thomas Parre 
in doubletts of crimsin velvett, etc., were apparelled 


after the fashion of Prussia or Spruce" Of similar 
origin are spruce-leather, spruce-beer, and the spruce-fir, 
of which Evelyn says, " Those from Prussia (which we 
call spruce] and Norway are the best." 

Among coins the bezant comes from Byzantium, the 
florin from Florence, and Shylock's ducat, chiefly a 
Venetian coin, from the ducato d'Apuglia, the Duchy 
of Apulia, where it was first coined in the I2th century. 
The dollar is the Low Ger. daler, for Ger. Taler, 
originally called a Joachimstaler, from the silver-mine of 
Joachimstal, Joachim's dale, in Bohemia. Cotgrave 
registers a curious Old French perversion jocondale, "a 
daller, a piece of money worth about 33. sterl." Some 
fruits may also be mentioned, e.g., the damson from 
Damascus, through Old Fr. damaisine, "a damascene or 
damsen plum" (Cotgrave); the currant from Corinth,&nd 
the peach, Fr. peche, from Vulgar Lat. pessica, for Persica. 

A polony was originally a Bolonian sausage, from 
Bologna. Parchment, Fr. parchemin, is the adjective 
pergamenus, from Pergamus, in Asia Minor. Spaniel 
is the Old Fr. espagneul (tpagneul'), lit. Spanish. We 
have the adjective Moorish in morris pike 

" He that sets up his rest to do more exploits with his mace 
than a morris pike" (Comedy of Errors, iv. 3.) 

In morris dance, Fr. danse mauresque, the same adjective 
is used with something of the vagueness to be noticed 
in connection with India and Turkey (p. 47). Shake- 
speare uses the Spanish form 

" I have seen him 

Caper upright, like to a wild morisco, 
Shaking the bloody darts as he his bells." 

(2 Henry VL, iii. I.) 

Other "local" dances are the polka, which means 
" Polish woman " ; mazurka, woman of Massovia ; and 


the obsolete polonaise, cracovienne, from Cracow, and 
varsovienne, from Warsaw. The tarantella, like the 
tarantula spider, takes its name from Taranto, in Italy, 
Lat Tarentum. There is said to be some pathological 
connection between the spider and the dance, e.g., 
Florio has tarantola, "a serpent called an eft or an 
evet Some take it to be a flye whose sting is perillous 
and deadly, and nothing but divers sounds of musicke 
can cure the patient." 

The town of Troyes has given its name to troy 
weight. The armourers of Bilbao, in Spain, made 
swords of such perfect temper that they could be 
bent point to hilt. Hence Falstaff describes himself 
in the buck-basket as 

" Compassed, like a good bilbo, in the circumference of a peck, 
hilt to point, heel to head." (Merry Wives, iii. 5.) 

The Andrea Ferrara, or Scottish broadsword, carried 
by Fergus M'lvor, bears, according to some authorities, 
the name of an armourer of Ferrara, in Italy. Accord- 
ing to others, Andrea Ferrara was a swordmaker at 
Belluno. I have heard it affirmed by a Scottish drill- 
sergeant that this genius, whose real name was Andrew 
Ferrars, belonged to the same nationality as other 
great men. 

An argosy, formerly also ragusye, was named from 
the Adriatic port of Ragusa, and a lateen sail is a Latin, 
i.e. Mediterranean, sail; gamboge is the Fr. Cambotge, 
Cambodia, and indigo is from Span, indico, Indian. 
Of wines, malmsey, chiefly remembered in connection 
with George of Clarence, and malvoisie are doublets, 
from Monemvasia in the Morea. Port is named from 
Oporto, i.e. o porto, the harbour (cf. le Havre], and sherry 
(see p. 107) from Xeres, Lat. Ccesaris (urbs) ; cf. Sara- 
gossa, from Casarea Augusta. 


But it is possible to be mistaken in connecting 
countries with products. Brazil wood is not named 
from the country, but vice versa. It was known as 
a dye-wood as early as the I2th century, and the name 
is found in many of the European languages. The 
Portuguese navigators found large quantities of it in 
South America and named the country accordingly. 
They christened an island Madeira, timber, Lat. materia, 
for a similar reason. The canary comes from the 
Canary Islands, but its name is good Latin. The 
largest of these islands, Canaria, was so called by the 
Romans from the dogs found there. The guinea-fowl 
and guinea gold came first from the west coast of 
Africa, but the guinea-pig is a native of Brazil. The 
name probably came from the Guinea-men, or slave- 
ships, which regularly followed a triangular course. 
They sailed outward to the west coast of Africa with 
English goods. These they exchanged for slaves, whom 
they transported to the West Indies, the horrible 
"middle passage," and finally they sailed homeward 
with New World produce, including, no doubt, guinea- 
pigs brought home by sailors. The turkey is also 
called guinea-fowl in the iyth century, probably to be 
explained in the same way. The German name for 
guinea-pig, Meerschweinchen, seems to mean little pig 
from over the sea. 

Guinea was a vague geographical expression in the 
I7th century, but not so vague as India or Turkey. 
Indian ink comes from China (Fr. encre de Chine], and 
Indian corn from America. The names given to the 
turkey are extraordinary. We are not surprised that, 
as an American bird, it should be naturally connected 
with India ; cf. West Indies, Red Indian, etc. Turk 
was in the i6th and 1 7th centuries a vague term for 
non-Christians, "Jews, Turks, infidels, and hereticks" 


(Collect for Good Friday), and we find also Turkey 
wheat for maize. The following names for the turkey, 
given in a Nomenclator in eight languages, published 
in Germany in 1602, do not exhaust the list : 

German. Indianisch oder Kalekuttisch x oder 
Welsch* Hun. 

Dutch. Cakoensche oft Turckische Henne. 

French. Geline ou poulle ftlnde, ou d'Africgue. 

Italian. Gallina $ India. 

Spanish. Pavon (peacock) de las Indias. 

English. Cok off Inde ! 

No doubt the turkey was confused with other birds, for 
we find Yr.geline a" Inde before the discovery of America. 
Ulnde has become dinde, whence a new masculine 
dindon has been formed. 

The early etymologists were fond of identifying 
foreign wares with place-names. They connected diaper 
with Ypres, gingham with Guingamp (in Brittany), 
drugget with Drogheda, and the sedan chair with Sedan. 
Such guesses are almost always wrong. The origin of 
diaper is doubtful, that of drugget quite unknown, and 
gingham is Malay. As far as we know at present, the 
sedan came from Italy in the i6th century, and it is 
there, among derivatives of Lat. sedere, to sit, that its 
origin must be sought, unless indeed the original Sedan 
was some mute, inglorious Hansom. 

1 Calicut, not Calcutta. 2 See walnut (p. 140). 



THE history of a word has to be studied from the 
double point of view of sound and sense, or, to use more 
technical terms, phonetics and semantics. In the 
logical order of things it seems natural to deal first with 
the less interesting aspect, phonetics, the physical 
processes by which sounds are gradually transformed. 
Speaking generally, it may be said that phonetic 
changes are governed by the law of least resistance, a 
sound which presents difficulty being gradually and 
unconsciously modified by a whole community or race. 
With the general principles of phonetics I do not propose 
to deal, but a few simple examples will serve to illus- 
trate the great general law on which this science is based. 
The population of this country is educationally 
divided by the letter h into three classes, which we 
may describe as the confident, the anxious, and the 
indifferent. The same division existed in imperial 
Rome, where educated people sounded the aspirate, 
which completely disappeared from the everyday 
language of the lower classes, the so-called Vulgar Latin 
from which the Romance languages are descended, 
so far as their working vocabulary is concerned. The 
anxious class was also represented. A Latin epigram- 



matist 1 remarks that since Arrius, prophetic name, has 
visited the Ionic islands, they will probably be hence- 
forth known as the Hionic islands. To the disappear- 
ance of the h from Vulgar Latin is due the fact that 
the Romance languages have no aspirate. French still 
writes the initial h in some words by etymological 
reaction, e.g., homme for Old Fr. ome, and also at one 
time really had an aspirate in the case of words of 
Germanic origin, e.g., la honte, shame. But this h is no 
longer sounded, although it still, by tradition, prevents 
elision and liaison, mistakes in which are regarded much 
in the same way as a misplaced aspirate in English. 
The " educated " h of modern English is largely an 
artificial restoration ; cf. the modern /zote/-keeper with 
the older word ostler (see p. 152), or the family name 
Armitage with the restored hermitage, 

We have dropped the k sound in initial kn, as in 
knave, still sounded in German Knabe, boy. French gets 
over the difficulty by inserting a vowel between the two 
consonants, e.g., canif is a Germanic word cognate with 
Eng. knife. This is a common device in French when a 
word of Germanic origin begins with two consonants. 
Cf. Fr. derive, drift, Eng. drive ; Fr. varech, sea-weed, 
Eng. wrack. 'Harangue, formerly harengue, is Old High 
Ger. hring, Eng. ring, the allusion being to the circle 
formed by the audience. Fr. chenapan, rogue, is Ger. 
Schnapphahn, robber, lit fowl-stealer. The shallop that 
" flitteth silken-sail'd, skimming down to Camelot," is 
Fr. chaloupe, from Du. sloep, sloop. 

The general dislike that French has for a double 

1 " Nee sibi postilla metuebant talia verba, 

Cum subito adfertur nuntius horribilis, 
lonios Suctus, postquam illuc Arrius isset, 
lam non lonios esse, sed Htonios" 

(Catullus, 84.) 


consonant sound at the beginning of a word appears also 
in the transformation of all Latin words which began 
with sc, sp, st, e.g., scola> escole (faole), spongia > esponge 
(/ponge), stabulum > estable (/table). English words 
derived from French generally show the older form, 
but without the initial vowel, school, sponge, stable. The 
above are very simple examples of sound change. 
There are certain less regular changes, which appear to 
work in a more arbitrary fashion and bring about more 
picturesque results. Three of the most important of 
these are assimilation, dissimilation, and metathesis. 

Assimilation is the tendency of a sound to imitate 
its neighbour. The tree called the lime was formerly 
the line, and earlier still the lind. We see the older 
form in linden and in such place-names as Lyndhurst, 
lime wood. Line often occurred in such compounds as 
line-bark, line-bast, line-wood, where the second com- 
ponent began with a lip consonant. The n became 
also a lip consonant because it was easier to pronounce, 
and by the i/th century we generally find lime instead 
of line. We have a similar change in Lombard for 
Ger. lang-bart, long-beard. For Liverpool we find also 
Litherpool in early records. If the reader attempts to 
pronounce both names rapidly, he will be able to form 
his own opinion as to whether it is more natural for 
Liverpool to become Litherpool or vice versa, a vexed 
question with philologists. Fr. vtlin, a derivative of 
Old Fr. veel (veau], calf, and venin, Lat. venenum, 
have given Eng. vellum and venom, the final consonant 
being in each case assimilated 1 to the initial labial. 
So also mushroom, Mid. Eng. muscheron, Fr. mousseron, 
from mousse, moss. 

i Apart from assimilation, there is a tendency in English to substitute 
-m for -n, e.g. grogram for grogran (see p. 62). In the family name Hansom, 
for Hanson, the son of Hans, we have dissimilation of (see p. 52). 


Vulgar Lat circare (from circa, around) gave Old 
Fr. cerchier, Eng. search. In modern Fr. chercher the 
initial consonant has been influenced by the medial ch. 
The m of the curious word ampersand, variously spelt, 
is due to the neighbouring /. It is applied to the 
sign &. I thought it obsolete till I came across it on 
successive days in two contemporary writers 

" One of my mother's chief cares was to teach me my letters, 
which I learnt from big A to Ampersand in the old hornbook at 
Lantrig." (QuiLLER COUCH, Dead Man's Rock, Ch. ii.) 

"Tommy knew all about the work. Knew every letter in it 
from A to Emperzan." (PETT RlDGE, In the Wars.} 

Children used to repeat the alphabet thus "A per 
se A, B per se B," and so on to " and per se and'' The 
symbol & is an abbreviation of Lat. et, written &. 

Dissimilation is the opposite process. The archaic 
word pomander 

" I have sold all my trumpery ; not a counterfeit stone, not a 
riband, glass, pomander, brooch, ... to keep my pack from 
fasting." (Winter's Tale, iv. 3.) 

was formerly spelt pomeamber. It comes from Old Fr. 
pome ambre, apple of amber, a ball of perfume once 
carried by the delicate. In this case one of the two 
lip consonants has been dissimilated. A like change 
has occurred in Fr. nappe, cloth, from Latin mappa, 
whence our napkin, apron (p. 104), and the family name 

The sounds most frequently affected by dissimilation 
are those represented by the letters /, n, and r. Fr. 
gonfalon is for older gonfanon. Chaucer uses the 
older form, Milton the newer 

" Ten thousand thousand ensigns high advanc'd, 
Standards and gonfalons, 'twixt van and rear, 
Stream in the air." 

(Paradise Lost, v. 589.) 


Gonfanon is of Germanic origin. It means literally 
"battle-flag," and the second element is cognate with 
English fane or vane (Ger. Fahne). Eng. pilgrim 
and Fr. pelerin, from Lat peregrinus, illustrate the 
change from r to /, while the word frail, an osier 
basket for figs, is due to a change from / to r, which 
goes back to Roman times. A grammarian of imperial 
Rome named Probus compiled, about the 3rd or 4th 
century, A.D., a list of cautions as to mispronunciation. 
In this list we find "flagellum, non fragellum? In 
the sense of switch, twig, fragellum gave Old Fr. 
freel, basket made of twigs, whence Eng. frail ; while 
the correct flagdlum gave Old Yr.fleel (Jttau}, whence 
Eng. flail. A Vulgar Lat. *)iwra, mulberry, from 
Lat. morus, mulberry tree, has given Fr. mure. The 
r of berry has brought about dissimilation in Eng. 
mulberry and Ger. Maulbeere. Colonel has the spelling 
of Fr. colonel, but its pronunciation points rather to 
the dissimilated Spanish form coronel which is common 
in Elizabethan English. Cotgrave has colonel, "a 
colonell, or coronell; the commander of a regiment." 

Sometimes dissimilation leads to the disappearance 
of a consonant, e.g., Eng. feeble, Fr. faible, represents 
Lat flebilis, lamentable, from flere, to weep. Fugleman 
was once fluglelman, from Ger. Fliigelmann, wing man, 
i.e., a tall soldier on the right wing who exaggerated the 
various movements of musketry drill for the guidance 
of the rest. The female name Annabel 'is a dissimilation 
of Amabel, whence Mabel. By an irregular change, of 
which, however, we have other examples, Annabel has 
become Arab el or Arabella. Our level Is Old Fr. livel, 
Vulgar Lat. *libellum, for libella, a plummet, diminutive 
of libra, scales. Old Fr. livel became by dissimilation 
nivel, now niveau. Many conjectures have been made 
as to the etymology of oriel. It is from Old Fr. oriol, a 

D 2 


recess, or sanctum, which first occurs in a Norman 
French poem of the I2th century on Becket. This is 
from a late Latin diminutive aulaolum, a small chapel 
or shrine, which was dissimilated into auraolum. 

Metathesis is the transposition of two sounds. A 
simple case is our trouble, Fr. troubler, from Lat. turbulare. 
Maggot is for Mid. Eng. maddok, a diminutive of Anglo- 
Sax, mafya; cf. Ger. Made, maggot. Kittle, in the 
phrase "kittle cattle," is identical with tickle; cf. Ger. 
kitzeln, to tickle. The only reasonable theory for the 
origin of tankard is that it stands for *cantar, from Lat. 
canttiarus, with which it corresponds exactly in meaning ; 
e.g., cantharus, " a pot, a jugge, a tankerd" (Cooper) ; 
cantharo, " a tankard or jug that houldeth much " (Florio) ; 
canthare, " a great jugge, or tankard" (Cotgrave). 

Fr. mousttque, from Span. mosquito t is for earlier 
mousquite. Tinsel is Fr. ttincelle, spark, earlier estincele, 
which supposes a Lat. *stincilla for scintilla. The old 
word anlace, dagger, common in Mid. English and 
revived by Byron and Scott 

" His harp in silken scarf was slung, 
And by his side an anlace hung." 

(Rokeby, v. 15.) 

has provoked many guesses. Its oldest form, anelas, is 
a metathesis of the common Old Fr. alenas, dagger. 
This is formed from atine, of Germanic origin, cognate 
with awl; cf. cutlass, Fr. coutelas (p. 116). Beverage is 
from Old Fr. bevrage, or beuvrage, now breuvage, Vulgar 
Lat. *biberaticum, from bibere, to drink. Here, as in 
the case of level (p. 53), and search (p. 52), English 
preserves the older form. 

In Martello tower, from a fort taken by the British 
(1794) in Mortella, i.e., Myrtle, Bay, Corsica, we have 
vowel metathesis. Wattle and wallet are used 
indifferently in Mid. English for a little bag. Shake- 


speare no doubt had in mind the wattles of a cock or 
turkey when he made Gonzalo speak of mountaineers 

" Dew-lapp'd like bulls, whose throats had hanging at them 
Wallets of flesh." (Tempest, iii. 3.) 

It goes without saying that such linguistic 
phenomena are often observed in the case of children 
and uneducated people. Not long ago the writer was 
urged by a gardener to embellish his garden with a 
ruskit arch. When metathesis extends beyond one 
word we have what is known as a spoonerism, the 
original type of which is said to be " Kinquerings congs 
their titles take." 

We have seen (p. 52) that the letters /, n, r are 
particularly subject to dissimilation and metathesis. 
But we sometimes find them alternating without 
apparent reason. Thus banister is a modern form for 
the correct baluster?- This was not at first applied to 
the rail, but to the bulging colonets on which it rests. 
Fr. balustre comes, through Italian, from Greco-Lat. 
balaustium, a pomegranate flower, the shape of which 
resembles the supports of a balustrade. Cotgrave 
explains balustres as " ballisters ; little, round and short 
pillars, ranked on the outside of cloisters, terraces, 
galleries, etc." Glamour is a doublet of grammar 
(see p. 1 34), and flounce was formerly frounce, from Fr. 
froncer, now only used of "knitting" the brows 

" Till civil-suited morn appear, 
Not trickt andfrounc't as she was wont 
With the Attic boy to hunt." 

(MlLTON, Penseroso, 123.) 

^t.flibustier, whence our filibuster, was earlier fribustier^ 

1 Cf. the similar change in the family name Banister (p. 166). 


a corruption of Du. vrijbuiter, whence directly the Eng. 

All words tend in popular usage to undergo a 
certain amount of shrinkage. The reduction of Lat. 
digitate, from digitus, finger, to Fr. de", thimble (little 
thumb) is a striking example. The strong tonic accent 
of English, which is usually on the first, or root, syllable, 
brings about a kind of telescoping which makes us very 
unintelligible to foreigners. This is seen in the 
pronunciation of names such as Cholmondeley and 
Marjoribanks. Bethlehem hospital, for lunatics, becomes 
bedlam; Mary Magdalene, taken as a type of tearful 
repentance, gives us maudlin, now generally used of the 
lachrymose stage of intoxication. Sacristan is con- 
tracted into sexton. Fr. paralysie becomes palsy, and 
hydropisie becomes dropsy. The fuller form of the word 
usually persists in the literary language, or is artificially 
introduced at a later period, so that we get such 
doublets as proctor and procurator. 

In the case of French words which have a prefix, 
this prefix is almost regularly dropped in English, e.g., 
raiment for arrayment ; while suffixes, or final syllables, 
often disappear, e.g., treasure trove, for Old Fr. trovt 
(trouv/), or become assimilated to some familiar English 
endmg,e.g., Paris h,r.paroisse; skirmish, Fr. escarmouche; 
cartridge, Fr. cartouche ; partridge, Fr. perdrix. A good 
example of such shrinkage is the word vamp, part of a 
shoe, Old Fr. avant-pie (pied], which became Mid. Eng. 
vampey, and then lost its final syllable. We may 
compare vambrace, armour for the forearm, Fr. avant- 
bras, vanguard, Fr. avant-garde, often reduced to van 

1 It may be noted here that a buccaneer was not originally a pirate, but 
a man whose business was the smoking of beef in the West Indies. The 
name comes from a native word baucan, adopted into French, and explained 
by Cotgrave as a " woodden-gridiron whereon the cannibals broile pieces of 
men, and other flesh." 


" Go, charge Agrippa 
Plant those that have revolted in the van; 
That Antony may seem to spend his fury 
Upon himself." 

{Antony and Cleopatra^ iv. 6.) 

and the obsolete vaunt-courier, forerunner 

" You sulphurous and thought-executing fires, 
Vaunt-couriers of oak-cleaving thunderbolts." 

(Lear, iii. 2.) 

When the initial vowel is a-, its loss may have been 
helped by confusion with the indefinite article. Thus 
for anatomy we find atomy, for a skeleton or scarecrow 
figure, applied by Mistress Quickly to the constable (2 
Henry IV., v. 4). Peal is for appeal, call ; mend for amend, 
lone for alone, i.e., all one. Peach, used by Falstaff 

" If I be ta'en, \\\ peach for this." 

(i Henry IV., ii. 2.) 

is for older appeach, related to impeach. Size, in all its 
senses, is for assize, Fr. assise, with a general meaning of 
allowance or assessment, from Fr. asseoir, to put, lay. 
Sizars at Cambridge are properly students in receipt 
of certain allowances called sizings. With painters' size 
we may compare Ital. assisa, "size that painters use" 
(Florio). We use the form assize in speaking of the 
sitting of the judges, but those most familiar with this 
tribunal speak of being tried at the 'sizes. The obsolete 
word cate, on which Petruchio plays 

" For dainties are all cafes and therefore, Kate, 
Take this of me, Kate of my consolation." 

(Taming of the Shrew, ii. I.) 

is for earlier acate, an Old French dialect form corre- 
sponding to m6dern Fr. ackat, purchase. The man 
entrusted with purchasing was called an acatour or 


catour (whence the name Cator\ later cater, now 
extended to caterer, like poulterer for poulter and 
upholsterer for upholdster or upholder?- 

Limbeck has been squeezed out by the orthodox 

" Memory the warder of the brain, 
Shall be a fume, and the receipt of reason 
A limbeck only." 

(Macbeth^ i. 7.) 

and prentice has given way to apprentice. Tire and 
attire both survive, and maze persists by the side of 
amaze with the special sense which I have heard a Notts 
collier express by puzzle-garden (cf. Ger. Irrgarteri). 
Binnacle is a corruption, perhaps due to association with 
bin, of earlier bittacle, from Lat. habitaculum, a little 
dwelling. It may have come to us through Fr. habitacle 
or Port, bitacola, " the bittacle, a frame of timber in the 
steerage, where the compass is placed on board a ship " 
(Vieyra, Port. Diet., 1794). As King of Scotland, King 
George has a household official known as the limner, or 
painter. For limner' 2 - we find in the I5th century 
lumner and luminour, which is aphetic for alluminour, or 
enlumineur. Cotgrave, s.v. enlumineur de livres, says, 
" we call one that coloureth, or painteth upon, paper, or 
parchment, an alluminer" 

But confusion with the article is not necessary in 
order to bring about aphesis. It occurs regularly in 
the case of words beginning with esc, esp, est, borrowed 
from Old French (see p. 51). Thus we have squire 
from 'escuyer (ecuyer}, skew from Old Fr. eschuer, to 

1 Cf., for the specialised sense, undertaker, and stationer, properly a 
tradesman with a station or stall. Costermonger illustrates the converse 
process. It meant originally a dealer in costards, i.e. apples. 

2 English i often occurs as an attempt at the French and Celtic ; cf. 
brisk from brusque, periwig (p. 64), and -whisky (p. 63). 


dodge, " eschew," ultimately cognate with Eng. shy, spice 
from espice (epice], sprite from esprit, stage from estage 
(etage), etc. In some cases we have double forms, e.g., 
esquire, eschew ; cf. sample and example. Fender ; 
whether before a fireplace or slung outside a ship, is 
for defender ; fence is always for defence, either in the 
sense of a barrier or in allusion to the noble art of self- 
defence. 1 The tender of a ship or of a locomotive is 
the attender, and taint is aphetic for attaint, Fr. atteinte, 

" I will not poison thee with my attaint" 

(Lucrece, L 1072.) 

Puzzle was in Mid. Eng. opposaile, i.e., something put 
before one. We still speak of " a poser." 

Spital, for hospital, survives in Spitalfields, and 
Spittlegate at Grantham and elsewhere. Crew is for 
accrewe (Holinshed). It meant properly a reinforcement, 
lit. on-growth, from Fr. accroitre, to accrue. In recruit, 
we have a later instance of the same idea. Fr. recrue, 
recruit, from recroitre, to grow again, is still feminine, 
like many other military terms which were originally 
abstract or collective. Cotgrave has recreue, " a supplie, 
or filling up of a defective company of souldiers, etc." 
We have possum for opossum, and coon for racoon, and 
this for arrahacoune, which I find in a 16th-century 
record of travel ; cf. American skeeter for mosquito. In 
these two cases we perhaps have also the deliberate 
intention to shorten (see p. 61), as also in the obsolete 

1 Our ancestors appear to have been essentially pacific. With fence, for 
defence, we may compare Ger. schirmen, to fence, from Schirm, screen (cf. 
Regenschirm, umbrella), which, passing through Italian and French, has 
given usskirmish, scrimmage, scaramouch (see p. 131), and Shakespearean 
scrimer, fencer {Hamlet, iv. 7)- So also Ger. Gewehr, weapon, is cognate 
with Eng. weir, and means defence 

" Get animal est tres mediant ; 
Quand on 1'attaque, il se defend." 


Australian tench, for the aphetic 'tentiary, i.e., peni- 
tentiary. With this we may compare 'tec for detective. 

Drawing-room is for withdrawing room, and only 
the final / of saint is left in Tooley St., famed for its 
three tailors, formerly Saint Olave Street, and tawdry. 
This latter word is well known to be derived from Saint 
Audrey's fair. It was not originally depreciatory 

" Come, you promised me a tawdry lace, and a pair of sweet 
gloves." ( Winter's Tale, iv. 3.) 

and the full form is recorded by Palsgrave, who has 
Seynt Andries (read AudriJs) lace, "cordon." 

In drat, formerly 'od rot, zounds, for Gods wounds, 
'sdeath, odsbodikins, etc., there is probably a deliberate 
avoidance of profanity. The same tendency is seen in 
Gogs (Shrew, iii. 2), Fr. parbleu, and Ger. Pots in Potztau- 
send, etc. The verb vie comes from Fr. envi, Lat. invitus, 
unwilling, in the phrase a Fenvi Fun de Vautre, " in 
emulation one of the other " (Cotgrave) ; cf. gin (trap), 
Fr. engin, Lat. ingenium. The prefix dis or des is lost 
in Spencer (see p. 153), spite, splay, sport, stain, etc. 

This English tendency to aphesis is satirised by 
a French song of the I4th century, intentionally 
written in bad French. Thus, in the line 

" Or sont il vint le tans que Glais voura vauchier." 

Glais is for Anglais and vauchier is for cJievauchier 
(cJievaucher), to ride on a foray. The literary language 
runs counter to this instinct, though Shakespeare 
wrote haviour for behaviour and longing for' belonging, 
while billiments for habiliments is regular up to 
the 1 7th century. Children keep up the national prac- 
tice when they say member for remember and zamint 
for examine. It is quite certain that baccy and tater would 
be recognised literary forms if America had been 


discovered two centuries sooner or printing invented 
two centuries later. 

Many words are shortened, not by natural and 
gradual shrinkage, but by deliberate laziness. The 
national distaste for many syllables appears in wire for 
telegram, the Artful Dodger's wipe for the clumsy pocket 
handkerchief, soccer for association, and such portmanteau 
words as squarson, an individual who is at once squire 
and parson, or Bakerloo for Baker St. and Waterloo. 

The simplest way of reducing a word is to take the 
first syllable and make it a symbol for the rest. Of com- 
paratively modern formation zxtpub and Zoo, with which 
we may compare Barfs, for Saint Bartholomew's, Cri, 
Pav, " half a mo'" bike, and even paj, for pageant. 

This method of shortening words was very popular 
in the i?th century, from which period date V(izen), 
mob(\\Q vulgus) and /##(digrion). We often find the 
fuller mobile used for mob. The origin of pundigrion is 
uncertain. It may be an illiterate attempt at Ital. 
puntiglio, which, like Fr. pointe, was used of a verbal 
quibble or fine distinction. Most of these clipped forms 
are easily identified, e.g., m^(riolet), ^/(leman), 
hack(r\Qy\ veterinary surgeon). Cad is for Scot, caddie, 
errand boy, now familiar in connection 'with golf, and 
caddie is from Fr. cadet. The word had not always the 
very strong meaning we now associate with it Among 
Sketches by Boz is one entitled, " The last Cab driver 
and the first Omnibus Cad" where cad means conductor. 
On tick, for on ticket, is found in the i/th century. 
We may compare the more modern biz and spec. Brig 
is for brigantine, Ital. brigantino, " a kinde of pinnasse or 
small barke called a brigantine" (Florio). The original 
meaning is pirate ship ; cf. brigand. IVaghas improved 
in meaning. It is for older waghalter. Cotgrave has 
baboin (babouin), " a trifling, busie, or crafty knave ; a 


crackrope, waghalter, etc." The older sense survives in 
the phrase " to play the wag" i.e. truant. For the " rope " 
figure we may compare Scot. hempie, a minx, and 
obsolete ItaL cavestrolo, a diminutive from Lat. capistrum, 
halter, explained by Florio as " a wag, a haltersacke." 
Modern Ital. capestro is used in the same sense. Crack- 
rope is shortened to crack. Justice Shallow remembered 
Falstaff breaking somebody's head " when he was a 
crack, not thus high" (2 Henry IV., iii. 2). 

Chap is for chapman, once in general use for a 
merchant and still a common family name. It is 
cognate with cheap, chaffer, and Ger. kaufen, to buy, and 
probably also with Lat. caupo, tavern keeper. We have 
the Dutch form in Jwrse-couper, and also in the word 
coopering, the illicit sale of spirits by Dutch boats to 
North Sea fishermen. MercJtant was used by the 
Elizabethans in the same way as our chap. Thus the 
Countess of Auvergne calls Talbot a "riddling merchant" 
(i Henry VI., ii. 3). We may also compare Scot. 
callant, chap, from the Picard form of Fr. chaland, 
customer, and our own expression "a rum customer" 
reduced in America to "a rum cuss" Hock, for Hoch- 
heimer, wine from Hochheim, occurs as early as 
Beaumont and Fletcher ; and rum, spirit, is for earlier 
rumbullion, of obscure origin. Gin is for geneva, a 
corruption of Fr. genievre, Lat. juniperus, from the 
berries of which it is distilled. The history of grog is 
more complicated. The stuff called grogram, earlier 
grograyne, is from Fr. gros grain, coarse grain. Admiral 
Vernon (i8th century) was called by the sailors "Old 
Grog" from his habit of wearing grogram breeches. 
When he issued orders that the regular allowance 
of rum was henceforth to be diluted with water, the 
sailors promptly baptized the mixture with his nick- 


Sometimes the two first syllables survive. We have 
navvy for navigator, brandy for brandy wine, from Du. 
brandewyn, lit burnt wine, and whisky for usquebaugh, 
Gaelic uisge-beatha, water of life (cf. eau-de-vie), so that 
the literal meaning of whisky is very innocent. Before 
the 1 8th century usquebaugh is the regular form. " The 
prime is usquebaugh, which cannot be made anywhere 
in that perfection ; and whereas we drink it here in 
aqua vita measures, it goes down there by beer-glassfuls, 
being more natural to the nation." Canter is for 
Canterbury gallop, the pace of pilgrims riding to the 
shrine of St Thomas. John Dennis, known as Dennis 
the Critic, says of Pope, " Boileau's Pegasus has all his 
paces. The Pegasus of Pope, like a Kentish post-horse, 
is always on the Canterbury" In bugle, for bugle-horn, 
lit. wild-ox-horn, Old Fr. bugle, Lat. buculus, a diminutive 
of bos, ox, we have perhaps rather an ellipsis, like 
waterproof (coat), than a clipped form 

" Comrades, leave me here a little, while as yet 'tis early morn : 
Leave me here, and when you want me, sound upon the bugle- 
horn." (Locksley Hall.) 

Patter is no doubt for paternoster 

" Fitz-Eustace, you, with Lady Clare, 
May bid your beads and. patter prayer." 

(Marmion, vi. 27.) 

and the use of the word marble for a toy originally made 
of that stone makes it pretty certain that the alley, most 
precious of marbles, is short for alabaster. 

Less frequently the final syllable is selected, e.g., bus 
for omnibus, loo for lanterloo, variously spelt in the I7th 
and 1 8th centuries. Fr. lanturelu was originally the 
meaningless refrain or " tol de rol " of a popular song 
in Richelieu's time. Van is for caravan, a Persian 


word, properly a company of merchants or ships 
travelling together, "also of late corruptly used with 
us for a kind of waggon to carry passengers to and 
from London " (Blount, Glossographia, 1674). Wig is 
for periwig, a corruption of Fr. perruque, of obscure 
origin. ' Varsity, for university, and Sam Weller's ' Tizer, 
for Morning Advertiser, belong to the I9th century. 

Christian names are treated in the same way. 
Alexander gives Alec and Sandy, Herbert, 'Erb or Bert. 
Ib (see p. 1 60) was once common for Isabella, while the 
modern language prefers Bella; Maud for Matilda is 
rather a case of natural shrinkage, while 'Tilda is 
perhaps due to unconscious aphesis, like Denry 

" She saved a certain amount of time every day by addressing 
her son as Denry, instead of Edward Henry n (ARNOLD 
BENNETT, The Card, Ch. i.) 

Among conscious word formations may be classed 
many reduplicated forms, whether riming, as hurly- 
burly, or alliterative, as tittle-tattle, though reduplication 
belongs to the natural speech of children, and in at 
least one case, Fr. tante, from ante-ante, Lat. amita, the 
baby word has prevailed. In a reduplicated form only 
one half as a rule needs to be explained. Thus seesaw 
is from saw, the motion suggesting two sawyers at 
work on a log. Zigzag is based on zag, cognate with 
Ger. Zacke, tooth, point. Shilly-shally is for skill I, shall 
I? Namby-pamby commemorates the poet Ambrose 
Philips, who was thus nicknamed by Pope and his 
friends. The weapon called a snickersnee 

% " As he squirmed and struggled 
And gurgled and guggled, 
I drew my snickersnee." 

(The Mikado, ii.) 

is of Dutch origin and means something like "cut and 


thrust" It is usually mentioned in connection with the 

"Among other customs they have in that town, one is, that 
none must carry a pointed knife about him ; which makes the 
Hollander, who is us'd to snik and snee, to leave his horn-sheath 
and knife a ship-board when he comes ashore." (HOWELL, letter 
from Florence, 1621.) 

The compound does not occur in Dutch. It is rather 
an English variant on Du. snee, cut. Reduplication 
is also responsible for pickaback, earlier pickpack, from 
pack, bundle. The modern form is due to popular asso- 
ciation with back. 



WE have all noticed the fantastic way in which ideas 
are linked together in our thoughts. One thing 
suggests another with which it is accidentally asso- 
ciated in memory, the second suggests a third, and, 
in the course even of a few seconds, we find that 
we have travelled from one subject to another so 
remote that it requires an effort to reconstruct the 
series of links which connects them. The same thing 
happens with words. A great number of words, 
despite great changes of sense, retain the fundamental 
meaning of the original, but in many cases this is quite 
lost A truer image than that of the linked chain 
would be that of a sphere giving off in various 
directions a number of rays each of which may form 
the nucleus of a fresh sphere. Or we may say that at 
each link of the chain there is a possibility of another 
chain branching off in a direction of its own. In 
Cotgrave's time to garble (see p. 19) and to canvass, i.e. 
sift through canvas, meant the same thing. Yet how 
different is their later sense development. 

There rs a word ban, found in Old High German 
and Anglo-Saxon, and meaning, as far back as it can 
be traced, a proclamation containing a threat, hence a 
command or prohibition. We have it in banish, to put 



under the ban. The proclamation idea survives in the 
banns of marriage and in Fr. arriere-ban, " a proclama- 
tion, whereby those that hold authority of the king in 
mesne tenure, are summoned to assemble, and serve 
him in his warres " (Cotgrave). This is folk-etymology 
for Old Fr. arban, Old High Ger. hart-ban, army 
summons. Slanting off from the primitive idea of 
proclamation is that of rule or authority. The French 
for outskirts is banlieue, properly the "circuit of a 
league, or thereabouts " (Cotgrave) over which the local 
authority extended. All public institutions within such 
a radius were associated with ban, e.g., unfour, un moulin 
a ban, " a comon oven or mill whereat all men may, and 
every tenant and vassall must, bake, and grind " 
(Cotgrave)- The French adjective banal, used in this 
connection, gradually developed from the meaning of 
"common" that of "common place," in which sense it 
is now familiar in English. 1 

Bureau, a desk, was borrowed from French in the 
1 7th century. In modern French it means not only 
the desk, but also the office itself and the authority 
exercised by the office. Hence our familiar bureaucracy, 
likely to become increasingly familiar. The desk is so 
called because covered with bureau, Old Fr. burel, " a 
thicke course cloath, of a brown russet, or darke 
mingled, colour" (Cotgrave), whence Mid. Eng. borel, 
rustic, clownish, lit. roughly clad. The source is per- 
haps Lat. burrus, fiery, from Gk. Trvp, fire. 

Romance was originally an adverb. To write in the 
vulgar tongue, instead of in classical Latin, was called 
romanice scribere, Old Fr. romanz escrire. When romanz 
became felt as a noun, it developed a " singular " roman 
or romant, the latter of which gave the archaic Eng. 
romaunt. The most famous of Old French romances 

1 Archaic Eng. bannal already existed in the technical sense. 



are the epic poems called Chansons de geste, songs of 
exploits, geste coming from the Lat. gesta, deeds. Eng. 
gest or jest is common in the i6th and I7th centuries in 
the sense of act, deed, and ykf/-book meant a story-book. 
As the favourite story-books were merry tales, the word 
gradually acquired its present meaning. 

A part of our Anglo-Saxon church vocabulary was 
supplanted by Latin or French words. Thus Anglo- 
Sax, ge-bed, prayer, was gradually expelled by Old 
Fr. preiere (priere), Lat. precaria. It has survived in 

" The beadsman, after thousand aves told, 
For aye unsought-for slept among his ashes cold." 

(KEATS, Eve of St Agnes.") 

beadroll, and bead, now applied only to the humble 
device employed in counting prayers. 

Not only the Romance languages, but also German 
and Dutch, adopted, with the Roman character, Lat. 
scribere, to write. English, on the contrary, preserved 
the native to write, i.e. to scratch (runes), giving to 
scribere only a limited sense, to shrive. 

The meaning which we generally give to pudding 
is comparatively modern. The older sense appears 
in black pudding, a sausage made of pig's blood. This 
is also the meaning of Fr. boudin, whence pudding 
comes. A still older meaning of both words is 

A hearse, now the vehicle in which a coffin is 
carried, is used by Shakespeare for a coffin or tomb. 
Its earlier meaning is a framework to support candles, 
usually put round the coffin at a funeral. This frame- 
work was *so named from some resemblance to a 
harrow, 1 Fr. herse, Lat. hirpex, hirpic-, a rake. 

1 This is the usual explanation. It seems possible that the framework 
suggested a portcullis. See p. 142. 


Treacle is a stock example of great change of 
meaning. In Jeremiah, viii. 22, where the Vulgate 
has " Numquid resina non est in Galaad ? " Coverdale's 
Bible has " There is no more triacle at Galaad." Old Fr. 
triacle is from Greco-Lat. theriaca, a remedy against 
poison or snake-bite (6tjp, a wild beast). In Mid. 
English and later it was used of a sovereign remedy. 
It has, like sirup (p. 135), acquired its present meaning 
via the apothecary's shop. 

A stickler is now a man who is fussy about small 
points of etiquette or procedure. In Shakespeare he is 
one who parts combatants 

" The dragon wing of night o'erspreads the earth, 
And, sticker-like, the armies separates." 

(Troilus and Cressida, v. 8.) 

An earlier sense is that of seeing fair-play. The deriva- 
tion is disputed, but the word has been popularly 
associated with the stick, or staff, used by the umpires 
in duels. Torriano (1659) gives stickler as one of the 
meanings of bastoniere, a verger or mace-bearer. 

Infantry comes, through French, from Italian. It 
means a collection of " infants " or juniors, so called by 
contrast with the proved veterans who composed the 

The pastern of a horse, defined by Dr Johnson as 
the knee, from "ignorance, madam, pure ignorance," 
still means in Cotgrave and Florio " shackle." Florio 
even recognises a verb to pastern, e.g., pastoiare, "to 
fetter, to clog, to shackle, to pastern, to give (gyve)." 
It comes from Old Fr. pasturon (paturori), a derivative 
of pasture, such shackles being used to prevent grazing 
horses from straying. Pester (p. 155) is connected with 
it. The modern French word has changed its meaning 
in the same way. 

E 2 


To rummage means in the Elizabethan navigators 
to stow goods in a hold. A rummager was what we 
call a stevedore! Rummage is Old Fr. arrumage 
(arrimage), from arrumer, to stow, the middle syllable 
of which is probably cognate with English room; cf. 
arranger, to put in " rank." 

The Christmas waits were originally watchmen, 
Anglo-Fr. watte, Old Fr. gaite, from the Old High 
German form of modern Ger. Wacht, watch. Modern 
French still has the verb guetter, to lie in wait for, and 
guet t the watch. Minstrel comes from an Old French 
derivative of Lat minister, servant Modern Fr. mene- 
trier is only used of a country fiddler who attends village 

The lumber-room, is supposed to be for Lombard room, 
i.e., the room in which pawnbrokers used to store 
pledged property. The Lombards introduced the three 
golden balls into this country. 

Livery is thus explained by the poet Spenser : " What 
livery is, we by common use in England know well 
enough, namely, that it is allowance of horse-meat, as 
they commonly use the word in stabling ; as, to keep 
horses at livery ; the which word, I guess, is derived of 
livering or delivering forth their nightly food. So in 
great houses, the livery is said to be served up for 
all night, that is, their evening allowance for drink ; 
and livery is also called the upper weed which a 
serving-man wears; so called, as I suppose, for 
that it was delivered and taken from him at pleasure." 
This passage explains also livery stable. 2 Our word 

1 A Spanish word, Lat. stipator, " one that stoppeth chinkes " (Cooper). 
It came to England in connection with the wool trade. 

2 In " livery and bait " there is pleonasm. Bait, connected with bile, is 
the same word as in \x2n-baiting and fishermen's bait. We have it also, 
via Old French, in abet, whence the aphetic bet, originally to egg on. 


comes from Fr. livrte, the feminine past participle of 
livrer, from Lat. liberare, to deliver. 

Pedigree was in Mid. English pedegrew,petigrew, etc. 
It represents Old Fr. pie (pied} de grue, crane's foot, 
from the shape of a sign used in showing lines of 
descent in genealogical charts. The older form survives 
in the family name Pettigrew. Here it is a nickname, 
like Pettifer, ironfoot ; cf. Sheepshanks. 

Fairy is a collective, Fr.feerze, its modern use being 
perhaps due to its occurrence in such phrases as Faerie 
Queen, i.e., Queen of Fairyland. Cf. paynim, used by 
some poets {ox pagan, but really a doublet of paganism, 
occurring in paynim host, paynim knight, etc. The 
correct name for the individual fairy is fay, Fr. fte, 
Lat. fata, plural of fatum, fate. This appears in Ital. 
fata, " a fairie, a witch, an enchantres, an elfe " (Florio). 
The fata morgana, the mirage sometimes seen in the 
Strait of Messina, is attributed to the fairy Morgana of 
Tasso, the Morgan le Fay of our own Arthurian legends. 

Many people must have wondered at some time 
why the clubs and spades on cards are so called. The 
latter figure, it is true, bears some resemblance to a 
spade, but no giant of fiction is depicted with a club 
with a triple head. The explanation is that we have 
adopted the French pattern, carreau (see p. 1 50), diamond, 
cceur, heart, pique, pike, spear-head, trefle, trefoil, clover- 
leaf, but have given to the two latter the names used 
in the Italian and Spanish pattern, which, instead of the 
pike and trefoil, has the sword (Ital. spado} and mace 
(Ital. bastone). Etymologically both spades are identical, 
the origin being Greco-Lat. spatha, the name of a number 
of blade-shaped objects ; cf. the diminutive spatula. 

Wafer, in both its senses, is related to Ger. Wabe, 
honeycomb. We find Anglo-Fr. wafre in the sense of 
a thin cake, perhaps stamped with a honeycomb pattern. 


The cognate Fr. gaufre is the name of a similar cake 
which not only has the honeycomb pattern, but is also 
largely composed of honey. Hence our verb to goffer, 
to give a cellular appearance to a frill. 

The meanings of adjectives are especially subject 
to change. Quaint now conveys the idea of what is 
unusual, and, as early as the i/th century, we find 
it explained as "strange, unknown." This is the 
exact opposite of its original meaning, Old Fr. cointe, 
Lat. cognitus ; cf., acquaint, Old Fr. acointier, make 
known. It is possible to trace roughly the process by 
which this remarkable volte -face has been brought 
about. The intermediate sense of trim or pretty is 
common in Shakespeare 

" For a fine, quaint, graceful, and excellent fashion, yours is 
worth ten on't." (Much Ado, iii. 4.) 

We apply restive to a horse that will not stand still. 
It means properly a horse that will not do anything 
else. Fr. retif, Old Fr. restif, from rester, to remain, 
Lat. re-stare, has kept more of the original sense. 
Scot, to reest means to stand stock-still. Dryden even 
uses restive in the sense of sluggish 

" So James the drowsy genius wakes 
Of Britain, long entranced in charms, 
Restive, and slumbering on its arms." 

( Threnodia A ugustalis. ) 

Reasty, used of meat that has " stood " too long, is 
the same word, (cf. testy, Old Fr. testif, heady), and 
rusty bacon is probably folk-etymology for reasty 

" And then came haltyng Jone, 
And brought a gambone 
Of bakon that was reasty? 

(SKELTON, Elynour Rummy ng.} 


Sterling has a curious history. It is from Old Fr. 
esterlin, a coin which etymologists have until lately 
connected with the Easterlings, or Hanse merchants, who 
formed one of the great mercantile communities of 
the Middle Ages; and perhaps some such association 
is responsible for the meaning that sterling has acquired ; 
but chronology shows this traditional etymology to be 
impossible. We find unus sterlingus in a medieval Latin 
document of 1 1 84, and the Old French esterlin occurs in 
Wace's Roman de Ron (Romaunt of Rollo the Sea 
King), which was written before 1175. Hence it is 
conjectured that the original coin may have been 
stamped with a star or a starling. 

When Horatio says 

" It is a nipping and an eager air." (Hamlet, i. 4.) 

we are reminded that eager is identical with the second 
part of vin-egar, Fr. aigre, sour, Lat. acer, keen. It seems 
hardly possible to explain the modern sense ofm'ce, which 
in the course of its history has traversed nearly the whole 
diatonic scale between " rotten " and " ripping." In 
Mid. English and Old French it means foolish. 
Cotgrave explains it by " lither, lazie, sloathful, idle ; 
faint, slack ; dull, simple." It is supposed to come 
from Lat nescius, ignorant. The transition from fond, 
foolish, which survives in "fond hopes," to fond, loving, 
is easy. French fou is used in exactly the same way. 
Cf. also to dote on, i.e., to be foolish about. Puny is 
Fr. puine", from puts ne, later born, junior, whence the 
puisne justices. Milton uses it of a minor 

" He must appear in print like a. puny with his guardian." 

(A reopagitica. ) 

Petty, Fr. petit, was similarly used for a small boy. 

In some cases a complimentary adjective loses its 
true meaning and takes on a contemptuous or ironic 


sense. None of us care to be called bland, and to describe 
a man as worthy is to apologise for his existence. We 
may compare Fr. bonhomme, which now means generally 
an old fool, and bonne femme, good- wife, goody. Dapper, 
the Dutch for brave (cf. Ger. tapfer], and pert, Mid. 
Eng. apert, representing in meaning Lat expertus, have 
changed much since Milton wrote of 

" Thepfrt fairies and the dapper elves." (Comus, 1 18.) 

Pert seems in fact to have acquired the meaning of its 
opposite malapert. Smug, a variant of Ger. schmuck, 
trim, elegant, beautiful, has its original sense in 

" And here the smug and silver Trent shall run 
In a new channel, fair and evenly." 

(i Henry IV., iii. i.) 

The degeneration of an adjective is sometimes due 
to its employment for euphemistic purposes. The 
favourite substitute for fat is stout, properly strong, 1 
dauntless, etc., cognate with Ger. stolz, proud. Pre- 
cisely the same euphemism appears in French, e.g., 
une dame un peu forte. Ugly is replaced by plain, or 
homely, "ugly, disagreeable, course, mean" (Kersey's 
Dictionary, 1720). Homely has been rehabilitated in 
English, but in America it still has the sense given by 

Change of meaning may be brought about by 
association. A miniature is a small portrait, and we 
even use the word as an adjective meaning "small, on a 
reduced scale." But the true sense of miniature is 
something painted in minium, red lead. Florio explains 

1 Hence the use of stout for a "strong" beer. Porter was once the 
favourite tap of porters, and a mixture of stout and ale, now known as cooper, 
was especially relished by the brewery cooper. 


miniatura as "a limning (see p. 58), a painting with 
vermilion." Such paintings were usually small, hence 
the later meaning. The word was first applied to the 
ornamental red initial capitals in manuscripts. Vignette 
still means technically in French an interlaced vine- 
pattern on a frontispiece. 1 Cotgrave has vignettes, 
" vignets ; branches, or branch-like borders, or flourishes 
in painting, or ingravery." 

The degeneration in the meaning of a noun may be 
partly due to frequent association with disparaging 
adjectives. Thus hussy, i.e. housewife, quean? lit. 
woman, wench, child, have absorbed such adjectives as 
impudent, idle, light, saucy, etc. Shakespeare uses 
quean only three times, and these three include 
" cozening quean " (Merry Wives, iv. 2) and " scolding 
quean" (All's Well, ii. 2). With wench, still used 
without any disparaging sense by country folk, we may 
compare Fr. garce, lass, and Ger. Dime, maid-servant, 
both of which are now insulting epithets, but, in the 
older language, could be applied to Joan of Arc and the 
Virgin Mary respectively. Garce was replaced by fille, 
which has acquired in its turn a meaning so offensive 
that it has now given way to jeune fille. Minx, earlier 
minkes, is probably the Low Ger. minsk, Ger. Mensch, 
lit human, but used also in the sense of "wench." 
For the consonantal change cf. hunks, Dan. hundsk, 
stingy, lit doggish. These examples show that the 
indignant " Who are you calling a woman ? " is, 
philologically, in all likelihood a case of intelligent 

Adjectives are affected in their turn by being 
regularly coupled with certain nouns. A buxom help- 

1 Folk-etymology lor frontispice, La.t./rontis/>ictutn, front view. 
- Related to, but not identical with, queen. 


mate was once obedient, the word being cognate with 
Ger. biegsam, flexible, yielding 

" The place where thou and Death 
Shall dwell at ease, and up and down unseen 
Wing silently the buxom air." 

(Paradise Lost, ii. 840.) 

An obedient nature is "buxom, blithe and debonair," 
qualities which affect the physique and result in 
heartiness of aspect and a comely plumpness. An 
arch damsel is etymologically akin to an 
both descending from the Greek prefix apxi, from 
a beginning, first cause. Shakespeare uses arch as a 

" The noble duke my master, 
My worthy arch and patron comes to-night." 

(Lear, ii. i.) 

Occurring chiefly in such phrases as arch enemy, arch 
heretic, arch hypocrite, arch rogue, it acquired a 
depreciatory sense, which has now become so weakened 
that archness is by no means an unpleasing attribute. 
The same double meaning is developed in the cognate 
German prefix Erz, so that we find, in Ludwig, as 
successive entries, Ertz-dieb, "an arch-thief, an arrant 
thief," and Ertz-engel, "an arch-angel." The meaning 
of arrant is almost entirely due to association with 
" thief." It means lit. wandering, vagabond, so that the 
arrant thief is nearly related to the knight errant, and 
to the Justices in eyre, Old Fr. eire, Lat. iter, a way, 
journey. Fr. errer^ to wander, stray, is compounded of 
Vulgar Lat. iterare, to journey, and Lat. errare, to stray, 
and it would be difficult to calculate how much of each 
enters into the composition of le Juif errant. 

As I have suggested above, association accounts to 
some extent for changes of meaning, but the process is 


in reality more complex, and usually a number of 
factors are working together or in opposition to each 
other. A low word may gradually acquire right of 
citizenship. "That article blackguardly called pluck" 
(Scott) is now much respected. It is the same word as 
pluck, the heart, liver, and lungs of an animal 

" During the Crimean war, plucky, signifying courageous, 
seemed likely to become a favourite term in Mayfair, even among 
the ladies." (HOTTEN'S Slang Dictionary, 1864.) 

Having become respectable, it is now replaced in 
sporting circles by the more emphatic guts, which 
reproduces the original metaphor. A word may die 
out in its general sense, surviving only in some special 
meaning. Thus the poetic sward, scarcely used except 
with "green," meant originally the skin or crust of 
anything. It is cognate with Ger. Schwarte, " the 
sward, or rind, of a thing" (Ludwig), which now means 
especially bacon -rind. Related words may meet with 
very different fates in kindred languages. Eng. knight 
is cognate with Ger. Knecht, servant, which had, in 
Mid. High German, a wide range of meanings, 
including "warrior, hero." There is no more compli- 
mentary epithet than knightly, while Ger. knechtisch 
means servile. The degeneration of words like boor, 
churl, farmer, is a familiar phenomenon (cf. villain, 
p. 1 39). The same thing has happened to blackguard, 
the modern meaning of which is a libel on a humble but 
useful class. The name black guard was given 
collectively to the kitchen detachment of a great 
man's retinue. The scavenger has also come down in 
the world, rather an unusual phenomenon in the case 
of official titles. The medieval scavager 1 was an 

1 English regularly inserts in words thus formed ; cf. harbinger, 
messenger, passenger, pottinger, etc. 


important official who originally seems to have been a 
kind of inspector of customs. He was called in Anglo- 
French scawageour, from the noun scawage, showing. 
The Old French dialect verb escauwer is of Germanic 
origin and cognate with Eng. show and Ger. schauen, to 
look. The cheater, now usually cheat, probably deserved 
his fate. The escheators looked after escheats, i.e., estates 
or property that lapsed and were forfeited. The origin of 
the word is Old Fr. escheoir (tchoir), to fall due, Lat. ex 
*cadere for cad2re. Their reputation was unsavoury, and 
cheat has already its present meaning in Shakespeare. 
He also plays on the double meaning 

" I will be cheater to them both, and they shall be exchequers 
to me." (Merry Wives, i. 3.) 

Beldam implies " hag " as early as Shakespeare, but 
he also uses it in its proper sense of "grandmother," 
e.g., Hotspur refers to "old beldam earth" and "our 
grandam earth" in the same speech (i Henry IV., iii. i), 
and Milton speaks of " beldam nature." It is of course 
from belle-dame, used in Old French for " grandmother," 
as belsire was for " grandfather." Hence it is a doublet 
of belladonna. The masculine belsire survives as a 
family name, Belcher; and to Jim Belcher, most 
gentlemanly of prize-fighters, we owe the belcher 
handkerchief, which had large white spots with a 
dark blue dot in the centre of each on a medium 
blue ground. It was also known to the " fancy " as a 
"bird's-eye wipe." 



THE convenient name semantics has been applied of 
late to the science of meanings, as distinguished from 
phonetics, the science of sound. The comparative 
study of languages enables us to observe and codify 
the general laws which govern sense development, and 
to understand why meanings become extended or 
restricted. One phenomenon which seems to occur 
normally in language results from what we may call 
the simplicity of the olden times. Thus the whole 
vocabulary which is etymologically related to writing W*A 
books has developed from an old Germanic verb that 
means to scratch and the Germanic name for the beech. 
Our earliest books were wooden tablets on which 
inscriptions were scratched. The word book itself 
comes from Anglo-Sax, boc, beech; cf. Ger. Buchstabe, 
letter, lit. beech-stave. Lat. liber, book, whence a large 
family of words in the Romance languages, means the 
inner bark of a tree, and bible is ultimately from Greek 
/3v/3Ao?, the inner rind of the papyrus, the Egyptian 
rush from which paper was made. 1 

The earliest measurements were calculated from the 
human body. All European languages use t\\tfoot, and 

1 Parchment (see p. 45) was invented as a substitute when the supply of 

papyrus failed. 


we still measure horses by hands, while span survives in 
table-books. Cubit is Latin for elbow, the first part of 
which is the same as ell, cognate with Lat. ulna, also 
used in both senses. Fr. brasse, fathom, is Lat. brachid, 
the two arms, and pouce, thumb, means inch. A further 
set of measures are represented by simple devices : 
s. yard Is a small "stick," and the rod, pole, or perch (cf. 
perch for birds, Fr. perche, pole) which gives charm to 
our arithmetic is a larger one. A furlong is a furrow- 
long. For weights common objects were used, e.g., a 
grain, or a scruple, Lat. scrupulus, " a little sharpe stone 
falling sometime into a man's shooe " (Cooper), for very 
small things, a stone for heavier goods. Gk. Spaxv-d, 
whence our dram, means a handful. Our decimal 
system is due to our possession of ten digits, or ringers, 
and calculation comes from Lat calculus, a pebble. 

A modern Chancellor of the Exchequer, considering 
his budget, is not so .near the reality of things as his 
medieval predecessor, who literally sat in his counting- 
house, counting up his money. For the excheqiier, 
named from the Old Fr. esc/teguzer(&fa'quzer),chess-boa.rd, 
was once the board marked out in squares on which the 
treasurer piled up the king's taxes in hard cash. This 
Old Fr. eschequier, which has also given chequer, is a 
derivative of Old Fr. eschec (echec}, check. Thus " check 
trousers " and a " cJiequered career " are both directly 
related to an eastern potentate (see chess, p. in). The 
chancellor himself was originally a kind of door-keeper 
in charge of a chancel, a latticed barrier which we now 
know in church architecture only. Cliancel is derived, 
through Fr. chancel or cancel, from Lat. cancellus, a 
cross bar, ^occurring more usually in the plural in the 
sense of lattice, grating. We still cancel a document by 
drawing such a pattern on it. In German cancellus has 
given Kanzel, pulpit. The budget, now a document in 


which millions are mere items, was the chancellor's 
little bag or purse 

" If tinkers may have leave to live, 
And bear the sow-skin budget^ 
Then my account I well may give, 
And in the stocks avouch it." 

(Winter's Tale, iv. 2.) 

Fr. bougette, from which it is borrowed, is a diminutive 
of bouge, a leathern bag, which comes from Lat bulga, 
"a male or bouget of leather; a purse; a bagge" 
(Cooper). Modern French has borrowed back our 
budget, together with several other words dealing with 
business and finance. 

Among the most important servants of the * 
exchequer were the controllers. We now call them 
officially comptroller, through a mistaken association 
with Fr. compte, account. The controller had charge of 
the counter-rolls (cf. counterfoil}, from Old Fr. contre-rolle, 
" the copy of a role (of accounts, etc.), a paralell of the 
same quality and content, with the originall " (Cotgrave). 
In French contrdle has preserved the sense of supervision 
or verification which it has lost in ordinary English. 

A very ancient functionary of the exchequer, the 
tally-cutter, was abolished in the reign of George III. 
Tallies (Fr. tattler, to cut) were sticks " scored " across 
in such a way that the notches could be compared for 
purposes of verification. Jack Cade preferred those 
good old ways 

"Our fore-fathers had no other books but the score and the 
tally ; thou hast caused books to be used." 

(2 Henry VI. t iv. 7.) 

This rudimentary method of calculation was still in use 
in the Kentish hop-fields within fairly recent times ; and 
some of us can remember very old gentlemen asking us, 



after a cricket match, how many "notches" we had 
" scored " 

" The scorers were prepared to notch the runs." 

(Pickwick, Ch. vii.) 

This use of score, for a reckoning in general, or for twenty, 
occurs in Anglo-Saxon. The words score and tally, one 
native and the other borrowed, were thus originally 
of identical meaning. They were soon differentiated, a 
common phenomenon in such cases. For the exchequer 
tally was substituted an " indented cheque receipt." An 
indenture, chiefly familiar to us in connection with 
apprenticeship, was a duplicate document of which the 
" indented " or toothed edges had to correspond like the 
notches of the score or tally. Cheque, earlier check, is 
identical with check, rebuff. The metaphor is from the 
game of chess (see p. HI), to check a man's accounts 
involving a sort of control, or pulling up short, if 
necessary. The modern spelling cheque is due to 
popular association with exchequer, which is etymo- 
logically right, though the words have reached their 
modern functions by very different paths. 

The development of the meaning of chancellor can 
be paralleled in the case of many other functionaries, 
once humble but now important. The titles of two great 
medieval officers, the constable and the marshal, mean 
the same thing. Constable, Old Fr. cones table (connetable), 
is Lat. comes stabuli, stable fellow, and marshal, the first 
element of which is cognate with mare, while the 
second is modern Ger. Schalk, rascal, expresses the 
same idea in German. Both constable and marshal are 
now used cff very high positions, but Policeman X. and 
the farrier-marshal, or shoeing-smith, of a troop of 
cavalry, remind them of the base degrees by which they 
did ascend. The MarsJialsea where Little Dorrit lived 


is for marshals)/) marshals' office, etc. The steward, or 
sty-ward, looked after his master's pigs. He rose in 
importance until, by the marriage of Marjorie Bruce to 
Walter the Stewart of Scotland, he founded the most 
picturesque of royal houses. The chamberlain, as his 
name suggests, attended to the royal comforts long 
before he became a judge of wholesome literature. 

All these names now stand for a great number of 
functions of varying importance. Other titles which 
are equally vague are sergeant (see p. 137) and usher \ 
Old Fr. uissier x (huissier), lit. door-keeper, Lat. ostiarms, 
a porter. Another official was the harbinger, who 
survives only in poetry. He was a forerunner, or 
vauntcourier, who preceded the great man to secure 
him " harbourage " for the night, and his name comes 
from Old Fr. herberger (htberger), to shelter. As late as 
the reign of Charles II. we read that 

"On the removal of the court to pass the summer at Win- 
chester, Bishop Ken's house, which he held in the right of his 
prebend, was marked by the harbinger for the use of Mrs Eleanor 
Gwyn ; but he refused to grant her admittance, and she was forced 
to seek for lodgings in another place." 

(HAWKINS, Life of Bishop Ken.) 

One of the most interesting branches of semantics, 
and the most useful to the etymologist, deals with the 
study of parallel metaphors in different languages. We 
have seen (p. 26) how, for instance, the names of flowers 
show that the same likeness has been observed by 
various races. The spice called clove and the dove-pink 
both belong to Lat. clavus, a nail. The German for 
pink is Nelke, a Low German diminutive, nail-kin, of 

1 As huissier has given usher, I would suggest that the family names 
Lush and Lusher, which Bardsley (J)ict. of English Surnames') gives up, are 
for Fr. Puts (cf. Laporte) and fuissier. In modern French Lhuissitr is not 
an uncommon name. 


Nagel, nail. The spice, or Gewiirznelke, is called in 
South Germany Nagele, little nail. A clove of garlic is 
quite a separate word ; but, as it has some interesting 
cognates, it may be mentioned here. It is so called 
because the bulb cleaves naturally into segments. 1 The 
German name is Knoblauch, for Mid. High Ger. klobe- 
louch, clove leek, by dissimilation of one /. The Dutch 
doublet is kloof, a chasm, gully, familiar in South 

Ger. Gift, poison, lit. gift, and Fr. poison, Lat. potto, 
potion-, a drink, seem to date from treacherous times. 
On the other hand, Ger. Geschenk, a present, means 
something poured out (see nuncheon, p. 1 14), while a tip 
is in French pourboire and in German Trinkgeld, even 
when accepted by a lifelong abstainer. In English we 
"ride a hobby" i.e., a hobby-horse, or wooden horse. 
German has the same metaphor, "ein Steckenpferd 
reiten," and French say "enfourcher un dada" i.e., to 
bestride a gee-gee. Hobby, for Mid. Eng. hobin, a nag, 
was a proper name for a horse. Like Dobbin and Robin, 
it belongs to the numerous progeny of Robert. 

In some cases the reason for a metaphor is not quite 
clear to the modern mind. The bloodthirsty weasel is 
called in French belette? little beauty, in Italian donnola ; 
and in Portuguese doninha, little lady, in Spanish 
comadreja, gossip (Fr. commere, Scot, cummer), in 
Bavarian Schontierlein, beautiful little animal, in Danish 
kjonne, beautiful, and in older English fairy. From 
Lat. medius we get mediastinus, " a drugge (drudge) or 
lubber to doe all vile service in the house ; a kitching 
slave " (Cooper). Why this drudge should have a name 

1 The onion, Fr. oignon, Lat. unio, union-, is so named because successive 
skins form an harmonious one-ness. It is a doublet of union. 

2 Perhaps a diminutive of Cymric bele, marten, but felt as from Fr. 


implying a middle position I cannot say ; but to-day in 
Yorkshire a maid-of-all-work is called a tweeny (between 

A stock semantic parallel occurs in the relation 
between age and respectability. All of us, as soon as 
we get to reasonable maturity, lay great stress on the 
importance of deference to " elders." It follows 
naturally that many titles of more or less dignity 
should be evolved from this idea of seniority. The 
Eng. alderman is obvious. Priest, Old Fr. prestre^ 
(fretre), from Gk. Tr/oeo-ySure/oo?, comparative of -Tr/oecr^u?, 
old, is not so obvious. In the Romance languages we 
have a whole group of words, e.g., Fr. sire,sieur, seigneur ; 
Ital. signor, Span, seilor, with their compounds monsieur, 
messer, etc., all representing either senior or seniorem. 
Ger. Eltern, parents, is the plural comparative of alt, 
old, and the first element of seneschal (see marsJial, 
p. 82) is cognate with Lat. senex. From Fr. sire comes 
Eng. wVyand from this was formed the adjective sirly? 
now spelt surly, which in Shakespeare still means 
haughty, arrogant 

" See how the surly Warwick mans the wall." 

(3 Henry VI., v. I.) 

A list, in the sense of enumeration, is a " strip." 
The cognate German word is Leiste, border. We have 
the original meaning in " list slippers." Fr. bordereau, 
a list, which became very familiar in connection with 
the Dreyfus case, is a diminutive of bord, edge. Label 
is the same word as Old Fr. lambel (lambeau), rag. 
Scroll is a diminutive of Old Fr. escrou? rag, of German 
origin, and cognate with shred and screed. Docket, 

1 Cf. Prester John, the fabulous priest monarch of Ethiopia. 
a Cf. lordly, princely, etc., and Ger. herrisch, imperious, from Herr, sir. 
3 Modern Fr. ecrou is used only in the sense of prison register. 

F 2 


earlier dogget, is from an old Italian diminutive of doga, 
cask-stave, which meant a bendlet in heraldry. Schedule 
is a diminutive of Lat. scheda, "a scrowe" (Cooper), 
properly a strip of papyrus. Ger. Zettel, bill, ticket, is 
the same word. Thus all these words, more or less 
kindred in meaning, can be reduced to the primitive 
notion of strip or scrap. 

Farce, from French, means stuffing. The verb to 
farce, which represents Lat farcire, survives in the per- 
verted force - meat. A parallel is satire, from Lat. 
satura (lanx], a full dish, hence a medley. Somewhat 
similar is the modern meaning of magazine, a "store- 
house " of amusement or information. 

The closest form of intimacy is represented by 
community of board and lodging, or, in older phrase- 
ology, " bed and board." Companion, with its numerous 
related words, belongs to Vulgar Lat. *conipanio, 
companion-, bread-sharer. The same idea is represented 
by the pleonastic Eng. messmate, the second part of 
which, mate, is related to meat. Mess, food, Old Fr. 
mes (inets), Lat. missum, is in modern English only 
military or naval 

" Herbs and other country messes 
Which the neat-handed Phillis dresses." 

(Allegro, 85.) 

Another related word is Fr. matelot, earlier matenot, 
representing Du. maat, meat, and genoot, a companion. 
The latter word is cognate with Ger. Genosse, a 
companion, from geniessen, to enjoy or use together. 
In early Dutch we find also mattegenoet, through 
popular association with matte, hammock, one hammock 
serving, by *a Box and Cox arrangement, for two sailors. 
Comrade is from Fr. camarade, and this from Span. 
camarada, originally a " room-full," called in the French 
army une chambrte. This corresponds to Ger. Geselle, 


comrade, from Saal, room. The reduction of the col- 
lective to the individual is paralleled by Ger. Bursche, 
fellow, from Mid. High Ger. burse, college hostel ; cf. 
Frauenzimmer, wench, lit. women's room. It can hardly 
be doubted that chum is a corrupted clip from chamber- 
fellow)- It is thus explained in a Dictionary of the 
Canting Crew (1690), within a few years of its earliest 
recorded occurrence, and the reader will remember Mr 
Pickwick's introduction to the chummage system in the 

English gossip, earlier god-sib, related in God, a 
sponsor, soon developed the subsidiary meanings of 
boon companion, crony, tippler, babbler, etc., all of 
which are represented in Shakespeare. The case of 
Fr. compere and commere, godfather and godmother, is 
similar. Cotgrave explains comme'rage as " gossiping ; 
the acquaintance, affinity, or league that growes 
betweene women by christning a child together, or 
one for another." Ger. Gevatter, godfather, has also 
acquired the sense of Fr. bonhomme, Eng. daddy. From 
commere comes Scot, cummer or kimmer 

"'Tis merry, 'tis merry, Cummers, I trow, 
To dance thus beneath the nightshade bough." 

(INGOLDSBY, The Witched Frolic.} 

While christenings led to cheerful garrulity, the wilder 
fun of weddings has given the Fr. faire la noce, to go on 

J The vowel is not so great a difficulty as it might appear. In the 
London pronunciation the u of such words as but, cup, hurry, etc., represents 
roughly a continental short a. This fact, familiar to phoneticians but 
disbelieved by others, is one of the first peculiarities noted by foreigners 
beginning to learn English. It is quite possible that chum is an 
accidental spelling for *cham, just as we write bungalow for bangla (Bengal), 
pundit lor pandit, and Punjaub for Punjab, five rivers, whence also probably 
the liquid called punch, from its five ingredients. Cf. also American to 
slug, i.e. to slog, which appears to represent Du. slag, blow " That was for 
slugging the guard " (Kipling, An Error in the Fourth Dimension) and 
the adjective bluff, from obsolete Du. blaf, broad-faced. 


the spree. In Ger. Hochzeit, wedding, lit. high time, 
we have a converse development of meaning. 

Parallel sense development in different languages 
sometimes gives us a glimpse of the life of our 
ancestors. Our verb to curry (leather) comes from 
Old Fr. correer^- (courroyer), to make ready, put in 
order, which represents a theoretical *con-red-are, the 
root syllable of which is Germanic and cognate with 
our ready. Ger. gerben,&o tan, Old High Ger. garawen, 
to make ready, is a derivative of gar, ready, complete, 
now used only as an adverb meaning "quite," but 
cognate with our yare 

" Our ship 

Which, but three glasses since, we gave out split 
Is tight, andyare, and bravely riggM." 

(Tempest, v. i.) 

Both words must have acquired their restricted meaning 
at a time when there was literally nothing like leather. 

Even in slang we find the same parallelism exempli- 
fied. We call an old-fashioned watch a turnip. In 
German it is called Zwiebel, onion, and in Fr. oignon. 
Eng. greenhorn likens an inexperienced person to an 
animal whose horns have just begun to sprout In Ger. 
Gelbschnabel, yellow bill, and Fr. bec-jaune, we have 
the metaphor of the fledgling. Ludwig explains 
Gelbschnabel by " chitty-face," chit, cognate with #-ten, 
being a general term in Mid. English for a young 
animal. From bec-jaune we have Scot, beejam, freshman 
at the university. Cotgrave spells the French word 
bejaune, and gives, as he usually does for such words, 2 

1 Array, Old* Fr. arrhr, is related. 

2 This is a characteristic of the old dictionary makers. The gem of my 
collection is Ludwig's gloss for Liimmel, " a long lubber, a lazy lubber, a 
slouch, a lordant, a lordane, a looby, a booby, a tony, a fop, a dunce, a 
simpleton, a wise-acre, a sot, a logger-head, a block-head, a nickampoop, a 


a very full gloss, which happens, by exception, to be 

" A novice ; a late prentice to, or young beginner in, a trade, 
or art; also, a simple, ignorant, unexperienced, asse ; a rude, 
unfashioned, home-bred hoydon ; a sot, ninny, doult, noddy ; one 
that's blankt, and hath nought to say, when he hath most need 
to speake." 

The Englishman intimates that a thing has ceased 
to please by saying that he is "fed up" with it The 
Frenchman says "J'en ai soupe." Both these meta- 
phors are quite modern, but they express in flippant 
form the same figure of physical satiety which is as old as 
language. Padding is a comparatively new word in con- 
nection with literary composition, but it reproduces, 
with a slightly different meaning, the figure expressed by 
bombast, lit. wadding, a derivative of Greco-Lat. bombyx, 
originally "silkworm," whence also bombasine. We 
may compare also "fustian eloquence" 

"And he, whose fustiarfs so sublimely bad, 
It is not poetry, but prose run mad." 

(POPE, Prologue to the Satires, L 187.) 

And a very similar image is found in the Latin poet 

" At nos illepidum, rudem libellum, 
Surras, quisquilias ineptiasque 
Credemus gremio cui fovendum?" 

(Drepanio Filio.} 

Even to " take the cake " is paralleled by the Gk. Xa/3e/ 
TOV TTvpa/movvTa, to be awarded the cake of roasted 
wheat and honey which was originally the prize of him 
who best kept awake during a night-watch. 

lingerer, a drowsy or dreaming lusk, a pill-garlick, a slowback, a lathback, a 
pitiful sneaking fellow, a lungis, a tall slim fellow, a slim longback, a great 
he-fellow, a lubberly fellow, a lozel, an awkward fellow." 


In the proverbial expressions which contain the con- 
centrated wisdom of the ages we sometimes find exact 
correspondences. Thus "to look a gift-horse in the 
mouth " is literally reproduced in French and German. 
Sometimes the symbols vary, e.g., the risk one is exposed 
to in acquiring goods without examination is called by 
us " buying a pig in a poke." 1 French and German 
substitute the cat We say that "a cat may look at 
a king." The French dramatis persona are a dog and 
a bishop, while German recognises no such subversive 

Every language has an immense number of metaphors 
to describe the various stages of intoxication. We, as a 
seafaring nation, have naturally a set of such metaphors 
taken from nautical English. In French and German 
the state of being "half-seas over" or "three sheets in 
the wind," and the action of " splicing the main brace " 
are expressed by various land metaphors. But the 
more obvious nautical figures are common property. 
We speak of being stranded ; French says " tchouer (to 
run ashore) dans une entreprise," and German uses 
scheitern, to strand, split on a rock, in the same 

Finally, we observe the same principle in euphemism, 
or that form of speech which avoids calling things by 
their names. Euphemism is the result of various human 
instincts which range from religious reverence down 
to common decency. There is, however, a special 
type of euphemism which may be described as the 
delicacy of the partially educated. It is a matter 
of common observation that for educated people a 
spade is *a spade, while the more outspoken class 
prefers to call it a decorated shovel Between these 

1 Poke, sack, is still common in dialect, e.g. in the Kentish hop-fields. 
It is a doublet of pouch, and its diminutive is pocket. 


two classes come those delicate beings whose work in 

life is 

" le retranchement de ces syllabes sales 
Qui dans les plus beaux mots produisent des scandales ; 
Ces jouets eternels des sots de tous les temps ; 
Ces fades lieux-communs de nos mechants plaisants ; 
Ces sources d'un amas d'equivoques infames, 
Dont on vient faire insulte a la pudeur des femmes." 

(MOLIERE, Les Femmes savantes, iii. 2.) 

In the United States refined society has succeeded 
in banning as improper the word leg, which must now 
be replaced by limb, even when the possessor is a boiled 
fowl, 1 and this refinement is not unknown in England. 
This tendency shows itself especially in connection with 
the more intimate garments and articles intended for 
personal use. We have the absurd name pocket 
handkerchief, i.e., pocket hand cover-head, for a com- 
paratively modern convenience, the earlier names of 
which have more of the directness of the Artful Dodger's 
"wipe." Ben Jonson calls it a muckinder. In 1829 the 
use of the word mouchoir in a French adaptation of 
Othello caused a riot at the Comedie Francaise. History 
repeats itself, for, in 1907, a play by J. M. Synge was 
produced in Dublin, but the " audience broke up in 
disorder at the word shift" (The Academy, I4th Oct. 
1911). This is all the more ludicrous when we reflect 
that shift, i.e. change of raiment, is itself an early 
euphemism for smock ; cf. Ital. mutande, " thinne under- 
breeches" (Florio), from a country and century not 
usually regarded as prudish. The fact is that, just 
as the low word, when once accepted, loses its primitive 

1 The coloured ladies of Barbados appear to have been equally sensi- 
tive. " Fate had placed me opposite to a fine turkey. I asked my partner 
if I should have the pleasure of helping her to a piece of the breast. She 
looked at me indignantly, and said, ' Curse your impudence, sar ; I wonder 
where you larn manners. Sar, I take a lilly turkey bosom, if you please.' ' ' 

(Peter Simple, Ch. 31.) 


vigour (see pluck, p. 77), the euphemism is, by inevitable 
association, doomed from its very birth. 

I will now give a few examples of the way in which 
the study of semantics helps the etymologist. The 
antlers of a deer are properly the lowest branches of the 
horns, what we now call brow-antlers. The word comes 
from Old Fr. antoilliers, which answers phonetically to 
a conjectured Lat. *ante-oculares, from oculus, eye. 
This conjecture is confirmed by the Ger. Augensprosse, 
brow-antler, lit. eye-sprout 

Eng. plover, from Fr. pluvier, could come from a 
Vulgar Lat. *pluviarius, belonging to rain. The German 
name Regenpfeifer, lit. rain-piper, shows this to be 
correct. It does not matter, etymologically, whether 
the bird really has any connection with rain, for rustic 
observation, interesting as it is, is essentially unscientific. 
The honeysuckle is useless to the bee. The slow-worm, 
a corrupted form for slayworm, strike serpent, 1 is perfectly 
harmless, and the toad, though ugly, is not venomous, 
nor does he bear a jewel in his head. 

Kestrel, a kind of hawk, represents Old Fr. quercerelle 
(crecerelle), " a kastrell " (Cotgrave). Crtcerelle is a diminu- 
tive of crtcelle, a rattle, used in Old French especially 
of the leper's rattle or clapper, with which he warned 
people away from his neighbourhood. It is connected 
with Lat. crepare, to resound. The Latin name for the 
kestrel is tinnunculus, lit. a little ringer, derived from the 
verb tinnire, to clink, jingle, " tintinnabulate." Cooper 
tells us that " they use to set them (kestrels) in pigeon 
houses, to make doves to love the place, bicause they 
feare away other haukes with their ringing voyce." 
This information is obtained from the Latin agriculturist 

1 The meaning of -worm has degenerated since the days of the Lindwurm, 
the dragon slain by Siegfried. The Norse form survives in Great Orme's 
Head, the dragon's head, 


Columella. This parallel makes it clear that Fr. crtcerelle, 
kestrel, is a metaphorical application of the same word, 
meaning a leper's " clicket." 

The curious word akimbo occurs first in Mid. English 
in the form in kenebowe. In half a dozen languages we 
find this attitude expressed by the figure of a jug-handle, 
or, as it used to be called, a pot-ear. The oldest 
equivalent is Lat. ansatus, used by Plautus, from ansa, 
a jug-handle. Ansatus homo is explained by Cooper as 
" a man with his arms on kenbow" The French for to 
stand with arms akimbo is " faire le pot a deux anses," 
and the same striking image occurs in German, Dutch, 
and Spanish. Hence it seems a plausible conjecture 
that kenebowe means "jug-handle." This is confirmed 
by the fact that Dryden translates ansce by "kimbo 
handles," while Thomas' Latin Dictionary (1644) 
explains ansatus homo as " one that in bragging manner 
strowteth up and down with his armes a-canne-bow? 
Eng. bow, meaning anything bent, is used in many con- 
nections for handle. The first element may be can, 
applied to every description of vessel in earlier 
English, as it still is in Scottish, or it may be some 
Scandinavian word. In fact the whole compound may be 

Demure has been explained as from Mid. Eng. mure, 
ripe, mature, with prefixed de. But demure is the 
older word of the two, and while the loss of the 
atonic first syllable is normal in English (pp. 56-60), it 
would be hard to find a case in which a meaningless 
prefix has been added. Nor does the meaning of 
demure approximate very closely to that of ripe. It 
now has a suggestion of slyness, but in Milton's time 
meant sedate 

" Come, pensive nun, devout and pure, 
Sober, stedfast, and demure." (Penseroso, 1. 31.) 


and its oldest meaning is calm, settled, used of the sea. 
When we consider that it is nearly equivalent to staid, 
earlier stayed, and compare the equivalent terms in 
other languages, e.g., Lat sedatus, Fr. rassis, Ger. gesetzt, 
etc., it seems likely that it is formed from the Old 
Norman demurer (demeurer], to stay, just as stale is 
formed from estaler (etaler), to display on a stall, or 
trove, in " treasure trove" from trover (trouver}. 

The origin of lugger is unknown, but the word is 
recorded a century later than lugsail, whence it is 
probably derived. The explanation of lugsail as a 
sail that is lugged seems to be a piece of folk-etymology. 
The French for lugsail is voile de fortune, and a still 
earlier name, which occurs in Tudor English, is bona- 
venture, i.e., good luck. Hence it is not unreason- 
able to conjecture that lugsail stands for *luck-sail, 
just as the name Higson stands for Hickson (see 
p. 1 60). 

The pips on cards or dice have nothing to do with 
apple pips. The oldest spelling is peeps} In the 
Germanic languages they are called " eyes," and in the 
Romance languages " points " ; and the Romance 
derivatives of Lat. punctus, point, also mean "peep of 
day." Hence the peeps are connected with the verb to 

The game called dominos is French, and the name 
is taken from the phrase faire domino, to win the game. 
Domino, a hooded cloak worn by priests in winter, is an 
Italian word, obviously connected with Lat. dominus. 
French also has, in various games, the phrase faire capot 
with a meaning like that offatre domino. Capot, related 
to Eng. cap and Fr. chapeau, means properly a hooded 
cloak. The two metaphors are quite parallel, but it is 
impossible to say what was the original idea. Perhaps 

1 Tdming of the Shrew, i. 2. 


it was that of extinguishing the opponent by putting, 
as it were, his head in a bag. 

The card game called gleek is often mentioned in 
Tudor literature. It is derived from Old Fr. glic, used 
by Rabelais, and the word is very common in the works 
of the more disreputable French poets of the I5th 
century. According to French archaeologists it was 
also called bonheur, chance, fortune, and hasard. Hence 
it represents in all probability Ger. Gluck, luck. The 
Old Fr. form ghelicque would correspond to Mid. High 
Ger. geliicke. The history of tennis (p. 9) and trump 
(p. 8) shows that it is not necessary to find the 
German word recorded in the same sense. 

The word sentry, which occurs in English only, has 
no connection at all with sentinel, the earliest form of 
which is Ital. sentinella, of unknown origin. The older 
lexicographers obscured the etymology of sentry, which 
is really quite simple, by always attempting to treat it 
along with sentinel. It is a common phenomenon in 
military language that the abstract name of an action 
is applied to the building or station in which the action 
is performed, then to the group of men thus employed, 
and finally to the individual soldier. Thus Lat. custodia 
means (i) guardianship, (2) a ward-room, watch-tower, 
(3) the watch collectively, (4) a watchman. Fr. vigie, 
the look-out man on board ship, can be traced back in a 
similar series of meanings to Lat. vigilia, watching. 1 A 
sentry, now a single soldier, was formerly a band of 

"What strength, what art can then 
Suffice, or what evasion bear him safe 
Through the strict senteries and stations thick 
Of angels watching round ?" 

(Paradise Lost, ii. 410.) 

1 This is why so many French military terms are feminine, e.g., recrue, 
sentinelle, vedette, etc. 


and earlier still a watch-tower, e.g., Cotgrave explains 
Old Fr. eschauguette (echauguette) as "a sentrie, watch- 
tower, beacon." The purely abstract sense survives in 
the phrase " to keep sentry" i.e. guard 

" Thou, when nature cannot sleep, 
O'er my temples sentry keep." 


It is a contracted form of sanctuary. In the I7th 
century it is a pretty familiar word in this sense. 1 The 
earliest example I have come across is in Nash 

" He hath no way now to slyppe out of my hands, but to take 
sentrie in the Hospital of Warwick." 

(First Part of PASQUIL'S Apologie, 1590.) 

Fr. gutrite, a sentry box, can be traced back in the 
same way to Old Fr. garir (gutrir), to save. Cotgrave 
explains it as " a place of refuge, and of safe retyrall," 
also "a sentrie, or little lodge for a sentinell, built on 
high." It is to this latter sense that we owe Eng. 
garret. In medieval French it means refuge, sanctuary, 
e.g., " Ceste roche est Ihesucrist meismes qui est li 
refuges et \zgarite aus humbles." 2 If French had not 
borrowed sentinelle from Italian, guerite would probably 
now mean " sentry "; cf. the history of vigie (p. 95), or 
of vedette, a cavalry sentry, but originally " a prying or 
peeping hole " (Florio), from Ital. vedere, to see. 

1 Skinner's Etymologicon (1671) has the two entries, centry pro sanctuary 
and centry v. sentinel. 

2 " This rock is Jesus Christ himself, who is the refuge and sanctuary 
of the humble." 



EVERY expression that we employ, apart from those 
that are connected with the most rudimentary objects 
and actions, is a metaphor, though the original meaning 
is dulled by constant use. Thus, in the above sentence, 
expression means what is " squeezed out," to employ is to 
" twine in " like a basket maker, to connect is to " weave 
together," rudimentary means " in the rough state," and 
an object is something " thrown in our way." A classifica- 
tion of the metaphors in use in the European languages 
would show that a large number of the most obvious 
kind, i.e. of those which "come to meet" one, are 
common property, while others would reflect the most 
striking habits and pursuits of the various races. It 
would probably be found that in the common stock of 
simple metaphor the most important contribution would 
come from agriculture, while in English the nautical 
element would occur to an extent quite unparalleled in 
other European languages. A curious agricultural 
metaphor which, though of Old French origin, now 
appears to be peculiar to English, is to rehearse, lit. to 
harrow over again (see hearse, p. 68). 

Some metaphors are easy to track. It does not 
require much philological knowledge to see that 
astonish, astound, and stun all contain the idea of 
97 G 


" thunder - striking," Vulgar Lat. *ex-tonare. To 
embarrass is obviously connected with bar, and to 
interfere is to "strike between," Old Fr. entreferir. 
This word was especially used in the i6th century of a 
horse knocking its legs together in trotting, " to inter- 
feere, as a horse" (Cotgrave). When we speak of a 
prentice-hand, sound journeyman work, and a masterpiece, 
we revive the medieval classification of artisans into 
learners, qualified workmen, and those who, by the 
presentation to their guild of a finished piece of work, 
were recognised as past (passed) masters. 

But many of our metaphors are drawn from pursuits 
with which we are no longer familiar, or with arts and 
sciences no longer practised. Disaster, ill-starred, and 
such adjectives as jovial, mercurial, are reminiscent of 
astrology. To bring a thing to the test is to put it in 
the alchemist's or metallurgist's test or trying -pot 
(cf. fcrt-tube), Old Fr. test (tet\ which is related to Old 
Fr. teste (tite), head, from Lat. testa, tile, pot, etc, used 
in Roman slang for caput. Shakespeare has the 
complete metaphor 

" Let there be some more test made of my metal, 1 
Before so noble and so great a figure 
Be stamp'd upon it." 

(Measure for Measure, i. I.) 

The old butchers' shops which adjoin Nottingham 
Market Place are still called the Shambles. The word 
is similarly used at Carlisle, and probably elsewhere ; but 
to most people it is familiar only in the metaphorical 
sense of place of slaughter, generally regarded as a 
singular. Thus Denys of Burgundy says, " The beasts 
are in the shambles" (Cloister and Hearth, Ch. 33), really 
misusing the word, which does not mean slaughter-house, 
but the bench on which meat is exposed for sale. It is 
1 See >*///*, p. 135. 


a very early loan from Lat. scamnum, a bench or form ; 
also explained by Cooper as " a step or grice (see 
p. 109) to get up to bedde." The same diminutive 
form occurs in Fr. escabeau, an office stool, and Ger. 
Schemel, a stool. Fusty, earlier foisty, is no longer 
used in its proper sense. It comes from Old Fr. fustf, 
"fusty ; tasting of the caske, smelling of the vessell 
wherein it hath been kept" (Cotgrave), a derivative of 
Old Fr.fust (fuf), a cask. 1 

The smith's art has given us brand-new, generally 
corrupted into bran-new. Shakespeare uses fire-new 

" You should then have accosted her ; and with some excellent 
jests, fire-new from the mint, you should have banged the youth 
into dumbness." (Twelfth Night, iii. 2.) 

Modern German has funkelnagelneu, spark nail new ; 
but in older German we find also spanneu, splinterneu, 
chip new, splinter new ; which shows the origin of our 
spick and span (new), i.e., spike and chip new. French 
has tout battant neuf, beating new, i.e., fresh from the 

Many old hunting terms survive as metaphors. To 
be at bay, Fr. aux abois, is to be facing the baying 
hounds. The fundamental meaning of Old Fr. abater 
(aboyer), of obscure origin, is perhaps to gape at. 2 Thus 
a right or estate which is in abeyance is one regarded 
with open-mouthed expectancy. The toils are Fr. 
toiles, lit. cloths, Lat. tela, the nets put round a thicket 
to prevent the game from escaping. To "beat about 
the bush" seems to be a mixture of two metaphors 

1 Lat. fustis, a staff, cudgel, gave also Old Fr. fust, a kind of boat, 
whence obsolete Eng. foist in the same sense. Both meanings seem to go 
back to a time when both casks and boats were "dug out" instead 
of being built up. 

2 Related are louche btante, or lee, mouth agape ; battler, to yawn ; and 
badaud, " a gaping hoydon " (Cotgrave, badaulf). 


which are quite unlike in meaning. To "beat the 
bush" was the office of the beaters, who started the 
game for others, hence an old proverb, " I will not beat 
the bush that another may have the birds." " To go 
about the bush" would seem to have been used 
originally of a hesitating hound. The two expressions 
have coalesced to express the idea for which French 
says "y aller par quatre chemins." Crestfallen and 
white feather belong to the old sport of cock-fighting. 
Jeopardy is Old Fr. jeu parti, a divided game, hence an 
equal encounter. To run full tilt is a jousting phrase. 
To pounce upon is to seize in the pounces , the old word 
for a hawk's claws. The ultimate source is Lat. 
pungere, to prick, pierce. A goldsmith's punch was 
also called a pounce, hence the verb to pounce, to make 
patterns on metal. The northern past participle 
pouncet : occurs in pouncet-box, a metal perforated globe 
for scents 

" And 'twixt his finger and his thumb he held 
&. pouncet-box, which ever and anon 
He gave his nose, and took't away again." 

(i Henry IV., \. 3.) 

To the language of hawking belongs also haggard. 
Cotgrave defines faulcon (faucon} hagard, as "a faulcon 
that preyed for her selfe long before she was taken." 
Hence the sense wild, untameable. The original 
meaning is hedge-hawk, the first syllable representing 
Old High Ger. hag, hedge. Hag, a witch, is of cognate 

The antiquity of dicing appears in the history of 
Ger. gefallen, to please, originally used of the " fall " of 
the dice. * In Mid. High German it is always used 
with wohl, well, or iibel, ill ; e.g., es gefallt mir wohl, it 
" falls out " well for me. There can be no reasonable 

1 Cf. the Stickit Minister. 


doubt that the deuce ! is a dicer's exclamation at making 
the lowest throw, two, Fr. deux. We still use deuce for 
the two in cards, and German has Daus in both senses. 
Tennis has given us bandy, Fr. bander, " to bandie, at 
tennis" (Cotgrave). We now only bandy words or 
reproaches, but Juliet understood the word in its literal 

" Had she affections and warm youthful blood, 
She'd be as swift in motion as a ball ; 
My words would bandy her to my sweet love, 
And his to me." (Romeo and Juliet, ii. 5.) 

Fowling has given us cajole, decoy, and trepan. Fr. 
cajoler, which formerly meant to chatter like a jay in a 
cage, has in modern French assumed the meaning of 
cnjoler, earlier engeoler, "to incage, or ingaole" 
(Cotgrave), hence to entice. Fr. gedle represents 
Vulgar Lat. *caveola. Decoy, earlier also coy, is Du. 
kooi, cage. The later form is perhaps due to duck-coy. 
Du. kooi, is also of Latin origin. It comes, like Fr. 
cage, from Vulgar Lat. *cavea, and has a doublet kevie, 
whence Scot cavie, a hen-coop. Trepan was formerly 
trapan, and belongs to trap 

" Some by the nose with fumes trapan 'em, 
As Dunstan did the devil's grannam." 

(Hudibras, ii. 3.) 

It is now equivalent to kidnap, i.e. to nab kids (children), 
once a lucrative pursuit. Charles Reade made use of 
an authentic case in his Wandering Heir. The surgical 
trepan is a different word altogether, and belongs to 
Greco-Lat. trypanon, an auger, piercer. To allure is to 
bring to the lure, or bait. To the same group of 
metaphors belongs inveigle, which corresponds, with 
altered prefix, to Fr. aveugler, to blind, Vulgar Lat. 
* ab-oculare. A distant relative of this word is ogle, 
probably Low German or Dutch ; cf. Ger. liebdugeln 

G 2 


" to ogte, to smicker, to look amorously, to cast sheeps- 
eyes, to cast amorous looks " (Ludwig). It is possible 
that wheedle, the origin of which is quite unknown, 
belongs here also. Ludwig explains Schlinge, properly 
a noose, as a " gin, snare, trap, train, or wheedle" 

The synonymous cozen is a metaphor of quite 
another kind. Every young noble who did the grand 
tour in the i6th and i/th centuries spent some time 
at Naples, " where he may improve his knowledge 
in horsemanship" (Howell, Instructions for Forreine 
Travell, 1642). Now the Italian horse-dealers were so 
notorious that Dekker, writing about 1600, describes a 
swindling " horse-courser " as a " meere jadish Non- 
politane," a play on Neapolitan. The Italian name is 
cozzone, " a horse-courser, a horse-breaker, a craftie 
knave " (Florio), whence the verb cozzonare, " to have 
perfect skill in all cosenages " (Torriano). The essential 
idea of to cozen in the Elizabethans is that of selling 
faulty goods in a bad light, a device said to be 
practised by some horse-dealers. At any rate the 
words for horse-dealer in all languages, from the Lat 
mango to the Amer. horse-swapper ; mean swindler and 
worse things. Cozen is a favourite word with the 
Elizabethan dramatists, because it enables them to bring 
off one of those stock puns that make one feel " The 
less Shakespeare he " 

" Cousins, indeed ; and by their uncle cozerid 
Of comfort, kingdom, kindred, freedom, life." 

(Richard ///., iv. 4.) 

In the Merry Wives of Windsor (iv. 5) there is a 
lot of word play on " cousins-german " and " German 
cozeners." An exact parallel to the history of cozen is 
furnished by the verb to jockey, from jockey, a horse- 
dealer, cheat, etc. 


Scion is a metaphor from the garden. It is Fr. 
scion, "a scion; a young and tender plant; a shoot, 
sprig, or twig" (Cotgrave). Ger. Sprb'ssling, sprout- 
ling, is also used of an " offshoot " from a " stock." We 
have a similar q^etaphor in the word imp. We now 
graft trees, a misspelling of older graffe, Fr. greffe, 
Greco-Lat. graphium, a pencil, from the shape of the 
slip. The art of grafting was learnt from the Romans, 
who had a post - classical verb imputare} to graft, 
which has given Eng. imp, Ger. impfen, Fr. enter, and 
is represented in most other European languages. 
Imp was used like scion, but degenerated in meaning. 
In Shakespeare it has already the somewhat con- 
temptuous shade of meaning which we find in Ger. 
Sprb'ssling, and is only used by comic characters ; 
e.g., Pistol calls Prince Hal " most royal imp of fame " 
(2 Henry IV., v. 5); but Thomas Cromwell, in his 
last letter to Henry VIII., speaks of "that most 
noble imp, the prince's grace, your most dear son." 
The special sense of " young devil " appears to be due 
to the frequent occurrence of such phrases as " imps 
(children) of Satan," " the devil and his imps" etc. Ger. 
impfen also means to vaccinate. Our earlier term 
inoculate"- originally meant to graft, and, in fact, 
engraft was also used in this sense. The latest develop- 
ment of the metaphor appears in skin grafting. 

Zest is quite obsolete in its original meaning of a 
piece of orange peel used to give piquancy to wine. It 
is a French word of unknown origin, properly applied to 
the inner skin of fruit and nuts. Cotgrave explains it 
as " the thick skinne, or filme whereby the kernell of a 
wallnut is divided." 

1 Of uncertain origin. Lat. putare, to cut (cf. amputate), or Gk. 
<iros, implanted ? 

<iros, implanted ? 
- From ocu/us, eye, in the sense of bud. 



THE sound, spelling, and even the meaning of a word are 
often perverted by influences to which the collective name 
of folk-etymology has been given. I here use the term 
to include all phenomena which are due to any kind of 
misunderstanding of a word. A word beginning with 
n sometimes loses this sound through its being confused 
with the n of the indefinite article an. Thus an adder 
and an auger are for a nadder (cf. Ger. Natter) and a 
nauger, Mid. Eng. navegor, properly an instrument for 
piercing the nave of a wheel. Apron was in Mid. English 
naprun, from Old Fr. naperon, a derivative of nappe, cloth. 
The aitch-bone was formerly the nache-bone, from Old Fr. 
nache, buttock, Vulgar Lat. *natica for nates. Nache is 
still used by French butchers. Humble-pie is a popular 
perversion of umble-pie, i.e., a pie made from the umbles, 
or inferior parts of the stag. But umble is for earlier 
numble, Old Fr. nomble, formed, with dissimilation, from 
Lat. lumbulus, diminutive of lumbus, loin ; cf. niveau 
(p. 53). Thus humble-pie has etymologically no connec- 
tion with humility. Umpire represents Old Fr. non per 
(pair), not equal, the umpire being a third person called 
in when two arbitrators could not agree. This appears 
clearly in the following extract from a letter written in 



"And if so be that the said arbitrators may not accord 
before the said feast of Allhallows, then the said parties by 
the advice abovesaid are agreed to abide the award and ordin- 
ance of an noumper to be chosen by the said arbitrators." 

For the sense we may compare Span, tercero, "the 
third, a breaker, a mediator" (Percyvall). An eyas 
falcon is for a neyas falcon, Fr. niais, foolish, lit nestling, 
related to nid, nest. Rosenkrantz uses it in the literal 

" But there is, sir, an aiery of children, little eyases, that cry 
out on the top of question, and are most tyranically clapped fort." 

(Hamlet, ii. 2.) 

Somewhat similar is the loss in French of initial a in 
la boutique for Faboutique, Greco-Lat. apotheca, and la 
Pouille for VApouille, Apulia. 

Ounce, a kind of tiger-cat, is from Fr. once, earlier 
lonce, " the ounce, a ravenous beast " (Cotgrave), taken 
as Ponce. It is almost a doublet of lynx. The opposite 
has happened in the case of a newt for an ewt and a 
nick-name for an eke-name. Eke, also, occurs in the 
first stanza of John Gilpin. It is cognate with Ger. 
auch, also, and Lat. augere, to increase. Nuncle, the 
customary address of a court fool to his superiors 

" How now, nuncle ! Would I had two coxcombs and two 
daughters." (Lear, \. 4.) 

is for mine uncle. We also find naunt. Nonce occurs 
properly only in the phrase for the nonce, which is for 
earlier for then ones, where then is the dative of the 
definite article. Family names like Nash, Nokes are 
aphetic for atten ash, at the ash, atten oakes, at the oaks. 
The creation of such forms was perhaps helped by our 
tendency to use initial n in Christian names, e.g., Ned 
for Edward, Noll for Oliver ; Nell for Ellen. 


Agglutination of the definite article is common in 
French, e.g., lingot, ingot, lierre, ivy, for Cierre, Lat. 
hedera, and the dialect ttvier, sink, for 4vter t Lat. 
aquarium, whence Eng. ewer. The derivation of Fr. 
landier, andiron is unknown, but the iron of the 
English word is due to folk-etymology. Such agglutina- 
tion occurs often in family names such as Langlois, lit. 
the Englishman, Lhuissier, the usher (see p. 83), and 
some of these have passed into English, e.g., Levick for 
Ftveque, the bishop. The two words alarm and alert 
include the Italian definite article. The first is Ital. 
all'arme, to arms, for a le arme, and the second is 
alferta for alia (a la} erta, the last word representing 
Lat. erecta. With rolled r, alarm becomes alarum, 
whence the aphetic larum 

" Then we shall hear their larum, and they ours." 

(Coriolanus, i. 4.) 

Ger. Larm, noise, is the same word. In Luther's time 
we also find Allerm. 

We have the Arabic definite article in alcalde, or 
alcade, and alguazil, words of Spanish origin which are 
common in Elizabethan literature. They are two old 
friends from the Arabian Nights, the cadi and the wazir 
or vizier. The Arabic article also occurs in acton, Old 
Fr. auqueton, now hoqueton, for al coton, because origin- 
ally used of a wadded coat 

" But Cranstoun's lance, of more avail, 
Pierced through, like silk, the Borderer's mail ; 
Through shield, and jack, and acton past, 
Deep in his bosom broke at last." 
\ (SCOTT, Lay, Hi. 6.) 

In alligator, Span, el lagarto, the lizard, from Lat. 
lacertus, we have the Spanish definite article. See also 
lariat, p. 22. 


Occasionally we have what is apparently the 
arbitrary prefixing of a consonant, e.g., spruce for pruce 
(p. 44). Dapple gray corresponds so exactly to Fr. 
gris pommele, Mid. Eng. pomeli gris, Ger. apfelgrau,^\d 
Ital. pomellato, "spotted, bespeckled, pide, dapple-graie, 
or fleabitten, the colour of a horse " (Florio), that it is 
hard not to believe in an unrecorded *apple-gray, 
especially as we have daffodil for earlier affodil, ie., 
asphodel. Cotgrave has asphodile (asphodele), "the 
daffadill, affodill, or asphodill, flower." The playful 
elaboration daffadowndilly is as old as Spenser. 

A foreign word ending in a sibilant is sometimes mis- 
taken for a plural. Thus Old Fr. assets (assez), enough, 
Lat ad satis, has given Eng. assets, plural, with a 
barbarous, but useful, singular asset. Cherry is for cherts, 
from a dialect form of Fr. cerise, and sherry for 
sherris, from Xeres in Spain (see p. 46). Falstaff opines 
that " a good sherris-sack * hath a twofold operation in 
it" (2 Henry IV., iv. 3). Pea is a false singular from 
older pease, Lat. pisum. Perhaps the frequent occur- 
rence of pease-soup, not to be distinguished from pea- 
soup, is partly responsible for this mistake. Marquee, 
a large tent, is from Fr. marquise. With this we may 
class the heathen Chinee and the Portugee. Milton 
wrote correctly of 

" The barren plains 
Of Sericana, where Chineses drive 
With sails and wind their cany waggons light." 

(Paradise Lost, iii. 438.) 

The vulgarism shay for chaise* is of similar formation. 

1 Sack, earlier also seek, is Fr. sec, dry, which, with spurious t, has also 
given Ger. Sekt, now used for champagne. 

2 Fr. chaise, chair, for older chaire, now used only of a pulpit or pro- 
fessorial chair, Lat. cathedra, is due to an affected pronunciation that 
prevailed in Paris in the i6th century. 


Corp, for corpse, is also used provincially. Kickshaws 
is really a singular from Fr. quelque chose 

"Art thou good at these kickshaivses, knight?" 

(Twelfth Night, i. 3.) 

Cotgrave spells it quelkchoses (s.v. fricandeau). 

Skate has a curious history. It is a false singular 
from Du. schaats. This is from escache, an Old French 
dialect form of tchasse, stilt, which was used in the 
Middle Ages for a wooden leg. It is of German origin, 
and is related to shank. Cf., for the sense develop- 
ment, Eng. patten, from Fr. patin, a derivative of patte, 
foot, cognate with paw. Skates are still called pattens 
by the fenmen of Cambridgeshire. We also had 
formerly a doublet from Old Fr. escache directly, but 
in the older sense, for Cotgrave has eschasses (echasses], 
"stilts, or scatches to go on." Row, a disturbance, 
belongs to rouse, a jollification 

" The king doth wake to-night and takes his rouse" 

(Hamlet, i. 4.) 

of uncertain origin, but probably felt as aphetic for 
carouse. The bird called a wheatear was formerly 
called wheatears, a corruption of a name best explained 
by its French equivalent cul blanc, "the bird called 
a whittaile" (Cotgrave). We may compare the bird- 
name redstart, where start means rump. 

Conversely a word used in the plural is sometimes 
regarded as a singular, the result being a double 
plural. Many Latin neuter plurals were adopted into 
French as feminine singulars, e.g., cornua, corne, horn ; 
labra, levre, lip ; vela, voile, sail. It is obvious that this 
is most likely to occur in the case of plurals which are 
used for a pair, or set, of things, and thus have a kind 
of collective sense. Breeches or breeks is a double plural, 


Anglo-Sax, brcc being already the plural of broc. In 
Mid. English we still find breche or breke used of 
this garment. Scot, trews, trousers, is really a singular, 
from Fr. trousse. Trousers is for earlier (rouses, at first 
used especially in speaking of the Irish. This is a 
special use of Fr. trousse, bundle, truss, from trousser^ 
to tuck up. The very short knickerbockers of pages 
were called trousses, and when a page had completed 
his term of service, he was said to quitter les trousses. 
Bodice is for bodies, as pence is for pennies. Cotgrave 
explains corset by " a paire of bodies for a woman," and 
even Harrison Ainsworth speaks of " a pair of bodice " 
(Jack Sheppard, Ch. i.). Trace, of a horse, is the Old Fr. 
plural trais 1 (traits] of trait, "a teame-trace" (Cotgrave). 
Apprentice is the plural of Fr. apprenti, formerly 
apprentif, a derivative of apprendre, to learn, hence a 
disciple. Invoice is the plural of the obsolete invoy, 
from Fr. envoi, sending. 

In the Grecian steps, at Lincoln, we have a popular 
corruption of the common Mid. Eng. and Tudor grece, 
grese, plural of Old Fr. gre", step, from Lat. gradus. 
Shakespeare spells it grize 

" Let me speak like yourself ; and lay a sentence, 
Which, as a grize, or step, may help these lovers 
Into your favour." 

(Othello, i. 3.) 

Scot, brose, or brewis, was in Mid. Eng. browes, from 
Old Fr. brouez, plural of brouet, a word cognate with 
our broth. From this association comes perhaps the 
use of broth as a plural in some of our dialects. Porridge, 
not originally limited to oatmeal, seems to be a mixture 
of pottage and Mid. Eng. porrets, plural of porret, leek, 

1 The fact that in Old French the final consonant of the singular 
disappeared in the plural form helped to bring about such misunder- 


a diminutive from \^Lporrum. Porridge is still some- 
times used as a plural in Scottish, e.g., in Stevenson's 
Kidnapped, Ch. iv., where David Balfour's uncle says, 
" fine, halesome food, they're grand food, parrich" and 
in the northern counties people speak of taking " a few 
porridge, or broth." Baize, now generally green, is for 
earlier bayes, the plural of the adjective bay, now used 
only of horses ; cf. Du. boat, baize. The origin of the 
adjective bay, Fr. bat, forms of which occur in all the 
Romance languages, is Lat badius, "of bay colour, 
bayarde " (Cooper). Hence the name Bayard, applied 
to Fitzjames' horse in The Lady of the Lake, and earlier 
to the steed that carried the four sons of Aymon. 
Quince is the plural of quin, from the Norman form of 
Old Fr. coin (coing). Truce is the plural of Mid. Eng. 
trewe with the same meaning. It is related to Eng. 
true, but, in this sense, probably comes to us from Old 
Fr. triue (treve), truce. 

Earnest in the sense of " pledge " 

" And, for an earnest of a greater honour, 
He bade me, from him, call thee Thane of Cawdor." 

(Macbeth, i. 3.) 

has nothing- to do with the adjective earnest. It is the 
Mid. Eng. ernes, earlier erles, which survives as arles 
in some of our dialects. The verb to earl is still 
used in Cumberland of "enlisting" a servant with a 
shilling in the open market. The Old French word 
was arres or erres, now written learnedly arrhes, a 
plural from Lat. arrha, "an earnest penny, earnest 
money" (Cooper). The existence of Mid. Eng. erles 
shows that there must have been also an Old French 
diminutive form. For the apparently arbitrary change 
of / to n we may compare banister for baluster 
(see p. 55). 


The jesses of a hawk 

" If I do prove her haggard, 1 
Though that her jesses were my dear heart-strings, 
I'd whistle her off, and let her down the wind, 
To prey at fortune." 

(Othello, iii. 3.) 

were the thongs by which it was held or " thrown " into 
the air. Jess is the Old Fr. jes, the plural of jet, from 
jeter, to throw. In Colman's Elder Brother we read of 
a gentleman who lounged and chatted, " not minding 
time a souse" where souse is the plural of Fr. sou, half- 
penny. From Fr. muer, to moult, Lat. mutare, we get 
Fr. mue, moulting, later applied to the coop or pen in 
which moulting falcons were confined, whence the phrase 
" to mew (up) " 

" More pity, that the eagles should be 
While kites and buzzards prey at liberty." 

(Richard III., i. I.) 

When, in 1534, the royal mews, or hawk-houses, near 
Charing Cross were rebuilt as stables, the word acquired 
its present meaning. 

Chess, Old Fr. esches (e"checs}, is the plural of check, 
Fr. tehee, from Persian shah, king. By analogy with 
the "game of kings," the name/<?# des dames was given 
in French to draughts, still called dams in Scotland. 
Draught, from draw, meant in Mid. English a " move " 
at chess. The etymology of tweezers can best be 
made clear by starting from French ttui, a case, of 
doubtful origin. This became in English etwee, or 
twee, e.g., Cotgrave explains estui (etui) as "a sheath, 
case, or box to put things in ; and (more particularly) 
a case of little instruments, as sizzars, bodkin, penknife, 
etc., now commonly termed an ettwee" Such a case 
generally opens book-fashion, each half being fitted 

1 Haggard, see p. loo. 


with instruments. Accordingly we find it called a 
surgeon's " pair of twees" or simply tweese, and later a 
"pair of tweeses" The implement was named from 
the case (cf. Fr. boussole, p. 117), and became tweezers 
by association vtiih. pincers (Fr. pinces), scissors, etc. 

The form of a word is often affected by association 
with some other word with which it is instinctively 
coupled. Thus larboard, for Mid. Eng. ladeboard, i.e. 
loading side, is due to starboard, steering side. Bridal, 
for bride-ale, from the liquid consumed at marriage 
festivities, is due to analogy with betrothal, espousal, 
etc. Rampart is from Old Fr. rempar, a verbal 
noun from remparer, to repair ; cf. Ital. riparo, " a 
rampire, a fort, a banke" (Florio). By analogy with 
boulevard, Old Fr. boulevart, of German origin and 
identical with our bulwark, rempar became rempart. 
The older form occurs under the forms rampier, rampire, 
which survives in the dialect ramper, embankment, 
causeway. For the spelling rampire we may compare 
umpire (p. 105). The apple called a jenneting, sometimes 
" explained " as for June-eating, was once spelt geniton, 
no doubt for Fr. jeanneton, a diminutive of Jean. It 
is called in French pomme de Saint- Jean, and in German 
Johannisapfel, because ripe about St John's Day (June 21). 
The modern form is due to such apple names as golding, 
sweeting, codlin, pippin. 

In the records of medieval London we frequently 
come across the distinction made between people who 
lived " in the city," Anglo-Fr. deinz (dans} la citf, and 
" outside the city," Anglo-Fr. fors (Jwrs] la cite. The 
former were called deinzein, whence our denizen, and 
the latter forcing The Anglo-Norman form of modern 

1 An unoriginal g occurs in many English words derived from French, 
e.g., foreign, sovereign, older sovran, sprightly for spritely, i.e., sprite-like, 
delight, from Fr. debt, etc. 


Fr. citoyen was citein, which became citizen by analogy 
with the synonymous denizen. Even words which have 
opposite meanings may affect each other by association. 
Thus Lat. reddere, to give back, became Vulgar Lat. 
*rendere by analogy with prendere (prehendere], to take 
away ; hence Fr. rendre. Our word grief, from Fr. 
grief, is derived from a Vulgar Lat. *grfrvis, heavy (for 
gravis), which is due to ttvis, light. 

The plural of titmouse is now usually titmice, by 
analogy with mouse, mice, with which it has no connec- 
tion. The second part of the word is Anglo-Sax, mdse, 
used of several small birds. It is cognate with Ger. 
Meise, titmouse, and Fr. mesange, " a titmouse, or 
tittling " (Cotgrave). Tit, of Norse origin, is applied to 
various small animals, and occurs also as a prefix in 
titbit or tidbit. Cf. tomtit (p. 33). 

The Spanish word salva, " a taste, a salutation " 
(Percyvall), was used of the pregustation of a great 
man's food or drink. We have given the name to the 
tray or dish from which the " assay " was made, but, by 
analogy with platter, trencher, we spell it salver. In 
another sense, that of a " salutation " in the form of a 
volley of shot, we have corrupted it into salvo. With 
the use of Span, salva we may compare that of Ital. 
credenza, lit. faith, " the taste or assaie of a princes 
meate and drinke " (Florio) ; whence Fr. credence, side- 
board, used in English only in the ecclesiastical com- 
pound credence table, and Ger. credenzen, to pour out 

In spoken English the ending -ew, -ue, of French 
origin, has been often changed to -ee, -ey. Thus pedigree 
was formerly pedigrew (see p. 71). The fencing term 

" I bruised my shin the other day with playing at sword and 
dagger with a master of fence three veneys for a dish of stewed 
prunes." (Merry Wives, i. i.) 



also spelt venew, is from Fr. venue, " a venny in fencing " 
(Cotgrave). Carew has become Carey and Beaulieu, in 
Hampshire, is called Bewley. Under the influence of 
these double forms we sometimes get the opposite 
change, e.g., purlieu, now generally used of the outskirts 
of a town, is ior purley, a strip of disforested woodland. 
This is a contraction of Anglo-Fr. pour-allte, used to 
translate the legal Lat. perambulatio, a going through. 
A change of venue x is sometimes made when it seems 
likely that an accused person, or a football team, will 
not get justice from a local jury. This venue is in law 
Latin vicinetum, neighbourhood, which gave Anglo-Fr. 
visne", and this, perhaps, by confusion with the venire 
facias, or jury summons, became venew, venue. 

In the preceding examples the form has been chiefly 
affected. In the word luncheon both form and meaning 
have been influenced by the obsolete nuncheon, a meal at 
noon, Mid. Eng. none-chenche, for *none-schendie, noon 
draught, from Anglo-Sax, scencan? to pour. Drinking 
seems to have been regarded as more important than 
eating, for in some counties we find this nuncheon 
replaced by bever, the Anglo-Fr. infinitive from Lat, 
bibere, to drink. Lunch, a piece or hunk, especially of 
bread, also used in the sense of a " snack " (cf. Scot. 
" piece " ), was extended to luncheon by analogy with 
nuncheon, which it has now replaced 

" So munch on, crunch on, take your nuncheon, 
Breakfast, supper, dinner, luncheon}' 1 

(BROWNING, Pied Piper ofHamelin.) 

The term folk-etymology is often applied in a 

1 This word is getting overworked, e.g., " The Derbyshire Golf Club links 
were yesterday the -venue of a 7 2 -hole match" (Nottingham Guardian, 2lst 
Nov. 1911). 

2 Cf. Ger. schenken, to pour, and the Tudor word skinker, a drawer, 
waiter (l Henry IV., ii. 4). 


narrower sense to the corruption of words through a 
mistaken idea of their etymology or origin. The 
tendency of the uneducated is to distort an unfamiliar 
or unintelligible word into some form which suggests 
a meaning. In some cases we observe a kind of heavy 
jocularity, as in sparrow-grass for asparagus, or Rogue 
Riderhood's Alfred David for affidavit. In others there 
has been a wrong association of ideas, e.g., the primrose, 
rosemary, and tuberose have none of them originally 
any connection with the rose. Primrose was earlier 
primerole, an Old French derivative of Latin primula ; 
rosemary, French romarin, is from Lat. ros marinum, 
sea-dew ; tuberose is the Latin adjective tuberosus, 
bulbous, tuberous. Or attempts are made at transla- 
tion, such as Sam Weller's Have his carcase for Habeas 
Corpus, or the curious names which country folk give 
to such complaints as bronchitis, erysipelas, etc. Even 
Private Mulvaney's perversion of locomotor ataxy 
" They call ut Locomotus attacks us" he sez, " bekaze," 
sez he, " it attacks us like a locomotive " is probably 

Our language is, owing to our borrowing habits, 
particularly rich in these gems. Examples familiar to 
everybody are crayfish from Fr. farevisse, gilly-flower 
from Fr. giroflte, shame-faced for shamefast. Other 
words in which the second element has been altered 
are causeway, earlier causey, from the Picard form of 
Fr. chaussee, Lat. (via) calciata, i.e., made with lime, 
calx ; penthouse, for pentice, Fr. appentis, "the penthouse 
of a house " (Cotgrave), a derivative of Old Fr. appendre, 
to hang to. Fr. hangar, a shed, now introduced into 
English by aviators as unnecessarily as garage by motor- 
ists, probably contains the same idea of " hanging." 

In hiccough, for earlier hickup, an onomatopoeic 
word, the spelling, suggested by cough t has not 


affected the pronunciation. Surcease is Fr. sursis, 
past participle of surseoir, " to surcease, pawse, intermit, 
leave off, give over, delay or stay for a time," Lat 
supersedere. Taffrail has been confused with rail, its 
more correct form being tafferel, from -Du. tafereel, 
diminutive of tafel, picture, from Lat. tabula. It meant 
originally the flat part of the stern of a ship ornamented 
with carvings or pictures. This is called tableau in 
nautical French. Fr. coutelas, an augmentative of 
Old Fr. coutel (couteau], knife, gave Eng. cutlass, which 
has no more etymological connection with "cutting" 
than a cutler, Fr. coutelier, or a cutlet, Fr. cdtelette, little 
rib, Lat. costa. Cutlas was * popularly corrupted into 
curtal-axe, the form used by Rosalind 

" A gallant curtal-axe upon my thigh, 
A boar-spear in my hand." 

(As You Like //, i. 3.) 

We may compare pick-axe, "Mid. Eng. pikeys, Old Fr. 
piquois, picquois, " a pickax " (Cotgrave), from the verb 
piquer. The word posthumous has changed its meaning 
through folk - etymology. It represents the Lat. 
superlative postumus, latest born. By association with 
humus, ground, earth, it came to be used of a child 
born, or a work published, after its author's death, a 
meaning which the derivatives of postumus have in all 
the Romance languages. 

The first part of the word has been distorted in 
pursy, short-winded 

insolence shall break his wind 
With fear and horrid flight." 
* % (Timon of Athens, v. 5.) 

Fr. poussif, from pousser, to push, Lat. pulsus, throbbing. 
It was formerly used also in connection with horses, e.g., 
"You must warrant this horse clear of the glanders, 


and pursyness" (The Gentleman** Dictionary, 1705, s.v. 
glanders}. Arquebus, Fr. arquebuse, is a doublet of 
hackbut, Old Fr. haquebute, " an haquebut, or arquebuse ; 
a caliver " (Cotgrave). The corruption is due to arcus, 
bow. Both arquebus and hackbut are common in Scott 

" With hackbut bent, my secret stand, 
Dark as the purposed deed, I chose." 

(Cadyoiu Castle.} 

The origin is Du. haakbus, hook-gun, the second 
element of which appears in blunderbuss. The first 
part of this word has undergone so many popular 
transformations that it is difficult to say which was 
the original form. Ludwig has Eine Donner-buchs, 
Blunder-biichs, oder Muszketon, " a thunder - box ; a 
blunder-buss ; a musketoon ; a wide-mouthed brass- 
gun, carrying about twenty pistol bullets at once." 
It was also called in German a Plantier-biichs, from 
plantieren, to plant, set up, because fired from a rest. 
Du. bus, like Ger. Bilchse, means both " box " and " gun." 
In the bushes, or axle-boxes, of a cartwheel, we have 
the same word. The ultimate origin is Greek TTUO?, 
the box - tree, whence also the learned word pyx. Fr. 
boite, box, is cognate, and Fr. boussole, mariners' 
compass, is from the Italian diminutive bossola, " a boxe 
that mariners keepe their compasse in. Also taken 
for the compasse " (Florio). 

Scissors were formerly cizars (cf. Fr. ciseaux), 
connected with Lat. ccedere, to cut. The modern 
spelling is due to association with Lat. scissor, a cutter, 
tailor, from scindere, to cut. Runagate is well known 
to be a corrupt doublet of renegade, one who has 
"denied" his faith. Recreant, the present participle 
of Old Fr. recreire, Lat. recredere, contains very much 
the same idea ; cf. miscreant, lit unbeliever. Jaunty, 

H 2 


janty in Wycherley and genty in Burns, is Fr. gentil, 
wrongly brought into connection with jaunt. 

In some cases of folk-etymology it is difficult to see 
to what idea the corruption is due. 1 The mollusc called 
a periwinkle was in Anglo-Saxon pinewincla, which still 
survives in dialect as pennywinkle. It appears to have 
been influenced by the plant-name periwinkle, which is 
itself a corruption of Mid. Eng. peyvenke, from Lat. 
pervinca ; cf. Fr. pervenche. The material called 
lutestring was formerly lustring, Fr. lustrine, from its 
glossiness. A wiseacre is "one that knows or tells 
truth ; we commonly use in malam partem for a fool " 
(Blount, Glossographia, 1674). This comes, through 
Dutch, from Ger. Weissager, commonly understood as 
wise-sayer, but really unconnected with sagen, to say. 
The Old High Ger. wlzago, prophet, is cognate with 
Eng. witty. The military and naval word ensign is in 
Shakespeare corrupted, in both its meanings, into 
ancient. Thus Falstaff describes his tatterdemalion 
recruits as " ten times more dishonourable ragged than 
an old-faced ancient" while Ancient Pistol is familiar to 
every reader. A cordwainer, from Old Fr. cordouanier, 
" a shoemaker, a cordwainer " (Cotgrave), worked with 
cordouan, " Cordovan leather ; which is properly a goat's 
skin tanned." The modern French form cordonnier is 
due to association with cordon, a thong, bootlace, etc. 
Witch-elm has nothing to do with witches. It is for 
older weech-elm, wiche-elm, and belongs to Anglo-Sax. 
wican, to bend. Service-tree is a meaningless corruption 
of Mid. Eng. serves, an early loan word from Lat. sorbus. 

In the case of a double-barrelled word, folk- 

1 Perhaps it is the mere instinct to make an unfamiliar word "look like 
something." Thus Fr. beauprl, from Eng. bowsprit, cannot conceivably 
have been associated with a fair meadow ; and accomplice, for complice, Lat. 
complex, complic-, can hardly have been confused with accomplish. 


etymology usually affects one half only, e.g., verdigris is 
for Fr. vert-de-gris, for Old Fr. vert de Grece, Greek 
green. The reason for the name is unknown. Cotgrave 
calls it " Spanish green." Mid. English had the more 
correct vertegresse and verte Grece (Promptorium Parvu- 
lorum, 1440). The cavalry trumpet-call boot and saddle 
is for Fr. boute-selle, lit. " put saddle." Court card is for 
coat card, a name given to these cards from the dresses 
depicted on them. Florio has carta di figura^ " a cote 
carde." The card game called Pope Joan would appear 
to be in some way corrupted from nain jaune, lit. 
" yellow dwarf," its French name. 

But occasionally the results of folk-etymology are 
literally preposterous. 1 The Fr. choucroute is from 
surkrut, a dialect pronunciation of Ger. Sauer-kraut t 
sour cabbage, so that the first syllable, meaning " sour," 
has actually been corrupted so as to mean " cabbage." 
Another example, which I have never seen quoted, is 
the name of a beech-wood near the little town of 
Remilly in Lorraine. The trees of this wood are very 
old and curiously twisted, and they are called in French 
les jolis fous, where fou (Lat. fagus] is the Old French 
for " beech " (fouet, whip, is its diminutive). This is 
rendered in German as tolle Buchen, mad beeches, the 
fou having been misunderstood as referring to the 
fantastic appearance of the trees. 

Forlorn hope is sometimes used metaphorically as 
though the hope were of the kind that springs eternal in 
the human breast. In military language it now means 
the leaders of a storming party, but was earlier used 
of soldiers in any way exposed to special danger. 
Cotgrave has enfans perdus, " perdus ; or the forlorne 
hope of a campe (are commonly gentlemen of 
companies)." It is from obsolete Du. verloren hoop y 

1 Lat. prifposterus, from prce, before, and posterns, behind. 


where /loop, cognate with Eng. heap, is used for a band 
or company. In 16th-century German we find ein 
verlorener Haufe. Both the Dutch and German words 
are obsolete in this sense. 

The military phrase to run tJte gauntlet has no con- 
nection with gauntlet ', glove. The older form is gantlope 

" Some said he ought to be tied neck and heels ; others that 
he deserved to run the gantlope" (Tom Jones, vii. i.) 

It is a punishment of Swedish origin from the period 
of the Thirty Years' War. The Swedish form is gat- 
lopp, in which gat is cognate with Eng. gate, in its 
proper sense of " street," and 'lopp with Eng. leap and 
Ger. laufen, to run. 

The press-gang had originally nothing to do with 
"pressing." When soldiers or seaman were engaged, 
they received earnest money called flrest-money, i.e., an 
advance on "loan," Old Fr.presf (pr$t\ and the engage- 
ment was called presting or impresting. Florio explains 
soldato, literally " paid," by "prest with paie as soldiers 
are." The popular corruption to press took place 
naturally as the method of enlistment became more 

The black art is a translation of Old Fr. nigromance, 
" nigromancie, conjuring, the black art" (Cotgrave) ; but 
this is folk-etymology for necromantie, Greco-Lat necro- 
mantia, divination by means of the dead. The popular 
form ntgromancie still survives in French. To curry 
favour is a corruption of Mid. Eng. "to curry favel" 
The expression is translated from French. Palsgrave 
has curryfavell, a flatterer, "estrille faveau," estriller 
meaning "to curry (a horse)." Faveau, earlier fauvel, is 
the name of a horse in the famous Roman de Fauvel, a 
satirical Old French poem of the early I4th century. He 
symbolizes worldly vanity carefully tended by all classes 


of society. Fauvel is a diminutive of fauve, tawny, 
cognate with Eng. fallow (deer). 

A very curious case of folk-etymology is seen in the 
old superstition of the hand of glory. This is understood 
to be a skeleton hand from the gallows which will point 
out hidden treasure 

" Now mount who list, 

And close by the wrist 
Sever me quickly the Dead Man's fist" 

(INGOLDSBY, The Hand of Glory.} 

It is simply a translation of Fr. main de gloire. But the 
French expression is a popular corruption oimandragore y 
from Lat. mandragora, the mandragore, or mandrake, to 
the forked roots of which a similar virtue was attributed, 
especially if the plant were obtained from the foot of 
the gallows. 

Akin to folk-etymology is contamination, i.e., the 
welding of two words into one. This can often be 
noticed in children, whose linguistic instincts are those 
of primitive races. I have heard a child, on her first 
visit to the Zoo, express great eagerness to see the 
canimals (camels x animals), which, by the way, turned 
out to be the giraffes. A small boy who learnt English 
and German simultaneously evolved, at the age of two, 
the word spam (sponge x Ger. Schwamm}. In a college 
in the English midlands, a student named Turpin, who 
sat next to a student named Constantine, once heard 
himself startlingly addressed by a lecturer as Turpentine. 
People who inhabit the frontier of two languages, and 
in fact all who are in any degree bilingual, must 
inevitably form such composites occasionally. The h 
aspirate of Fr. /taut can only be explained by the 
influence of Old High Ger. h&h (hoch). The poetic 
word glaive cannot be derived from Lat. gladius, sword, 
which has given Fr. glai, an archaic name for the 


gladiolus. We must invoke the help of a Gaulish word 
cladebo, sword, which is related to Gaelic clay-more, big 
sword. It has been said that in this word the swords 
of Caesar and Vercingetorix still cross each other. In 
Old French we find oreste, a storm, combined from orage 
and tempeste (tempete). Fr. orteil, toe, represents the 
mixture of Lat. articulus, a little joint, with Gaulish 
ordag. A battledore was in Mid. English a washing 
beetle, which is in Provengal batedor, lit. beater. Hence 
it seems that this is one of the very few Provengal 
words which passed directly into English during the 
period of our occupation of Guienne. It has been 
contaminated by the cognate beetle. Anecdotage is a 
deliberate coinage. 

In some cases it is impossible to estimate the 
different elements in a word. Arbour certainly owes 
its modern spelling to Lat. arbor, a tree, but it 
represents also Mid. Eng. herbere, erbere, which comes, 
through French, from Lat * herbarium. But this can 
only mean herb-garden, so that the sense development 
of the word must have been affected by harbour, 
properly " army-shelter " (cf. Fr. auberge, p. 152). When 
Dryden wrote 

" Tardy of aid, unseal thy heavy eyes, 
Awake, and with the dawning day arise." 

(The Cock and the Fox, 247.) 

he was expressing a composite idea made up from the 
verb seal, Old Fr. seeler (sceller), Lat. sigillare, and seel, 
Old Fr. ciller, Vulgar Lat * ciliare, from cilium, eye- 
brow. The latter verb, meaning to sew together the 
eyelids of a young falcon, was once a common word 

" Come, seeling night, 
Scarf up the tender eye of pitiful day." 

(Macbeth, iii. 2.) 

The verb fret is Anglo-Sax, fretan, to eat away (cf. Ger. 


fressen). Fret is also used of interlaced bars in heraldry, 
in which sense it corresponds to Fr. frette with the same 
meaning ; for this word, which also means ferrule, a 
Vulgar Lat. *ferritta (ferrum, iron) has been suggested. 
When Hamlet speaks of 

" This majestical roof fretted with golden fire," 

(ii- 3) 

is he thinking of frets in heraldry, or of fretwork, or are 
these two of one origin ? Why should fret, in this 
sense, not come from fret, to eat away, since fretwork 
may be described as the " eating away " of part of the 
material ? Cf. etch, which comes, through Dutch, from 
Ger. iitzen, the factitive of essen, to eat. But the 
German for fretwork is durchbrocJiene Arbeit, "broken- 
through " work, and Old Fr. fret or frait, Lat. fractus, 
means "broken." Who shall decide how much our 
fretwork owes to each of these possible etymons? 

That form of taxation called excise, which dates 
from the time of Charles I., has always been unpopular. 
Andrew Marvell says that Excise 

" With hundred rows of teeth the shark exceeds, 
And on all trades like cassawar she feeds." 

Dr Johnson defines it as " a hateful tax levied upon 
commodities, and adjudged not by the common judges, 
of property, but wretches hired by those to whom excise 
is paid," an outburst which Lord Mansfield considered 
" actionable." The name, like the tax, came from the 
Netherlands, 1 where it was called accijs. In modern 
Dutch it has become accijns, through confusion with 
cijns tax (Lat. census ; cf. Ger. Zins, interest). But the 
Dutch word is from Fr. accise, which appears in 

1 " 'Twere cheap living here, were it not for the monstrous excises 
which are impos'd upon all sorts of commodities, both for belly and 
back." James Howell, in a letter written from Amsterdam, 1619. 


medieval Latin as accisia, as though connected with 
" cutting " (cf. tallage, from Fr. tailkr, to cut), or with the 
" incidence " of the tax. It is perhaps a perversion of 
Ital. assisa, " an imposition, or taxe, or assesment " 
(Torriano) ; but there is also an Old Fr. aceis which 
must be related to Latin census. 

When folk-etymology and contamination work 
together, the result is sometimes bewildering. Thus 
equerry represents an older querry or quirry, still usual 
in the i8th century. The modern spelling is due to 
popular association with Lat. equus. But this querry 
is identical with French e 1 curie, stable, just as in Scottish 
the post often means the postman. And e"curie, older 
escurie, is from Old High Ger. sciura (Scheuer, barn). 
The word used in modern French in the sense of our 
equerry is ecuyer, older escuier, Lat. scutarius, shield- 
bearer, whence our word esquire. This tcuyer is in French 
naturally confused with ecurie, so that Cotgrave defines 
escuyrie as " the stable of a prince, or nobleman ; also, 
a querry-ship ; or the duties, or offices belonging thereto ; 
also (in old authors) a squire's place ; or, the dignity, title, 
estate of an esquire." 

Cannibal is from Span, canibal, earlier caribal, i.e. 
Carib, the being due to contamination with Span. 
canino, canine, voracious. It can hardly be doubted 
that this word suggested Shakespeare's Caliban. Seraglio 
is due to confusion between the Turkish word serai, a 
palace, and Ital. serraglio"m. inclosure, a close, a padocke, 
a parke, a cloister or secluse" (Florio), which belongs 
to Lat. sera, a bolt or bar. 

Ignorance of the true meaning of a word often leads 
to pleonasm 4 . Thus greyhound means hound-hound, the 
first syllable representing Icel. grey, a dog. Peajacket 
is explanatory of Du. pij, earlier pye, "py-gown, or 
rough gown, as souldiers and seamen wear " (Hexham). 


"On Greenhovv Hill" means "on green hill hill," and 
" Buckhurst Holt Wood " means " beech wood wood 
wood," an explanatory word being added as its 
predecessor became obsolete. The second part of 
salt-cellar is not the ordinary word cellar, but Fr. sal&re, 
" a sa\\.-seller " (Cotgrave), so that the salt is unnecessary. 
We speak pleonastically of "dishevelled hair," while 
Old Fr. deschevele", now replaced by echevel^ can only be 
applied to a person, e.g., une femme toute deschevele'e, 
" discheveled, with all her haire disorderly falling about 
her eares " (Cotgrave). The word cheer meant in 
Mid. English " face." Its French original chere scarcely 
survives except in the phrase faire bonne chere, lit. 
" make a good face," a meaning preserved in " to be of 
good cheer" In both languages the meaning has been 
transferred to the more substantial blessings which the 
pleasant countenance seems to promise, and also to the 
felicity resulting from good treatment. The true 
meaning of the word is so lost that we can speak of a 
" cheerful face," i.e., a face full of face. 

But there are many words whose changes of form 
cannot be altogether explained by any of the influences 
that have been discussed in this and the preceding 
chapters. Why should cervelas, "a large kind of 
sausage, well season'd, and eaten cold in slices " 
(Kersey's Eng. Diet., 1720), now be saveloy? We 
might invoke the initial letters of sausage to account for 
part of the change, but the oy remains a mystery. 
Cervelas, earlier cervelat, comes through French from Ital. 
cervellato, " a kinde of dry sausage " (Florio), said to have 
been originally made from pig's brains. Hatchment is 
a corruption of achievement. It is now used of the 
escutcheon of a deceased person displayed after his 
death, but its earlier meaning was an addition to a coat 
of arms granted for some achievement. We find the 


natural contraction achement in the i6th century, but 
the h remains unexplained. French omelette has a be- 
wildering history, but we can trace it almost to its present 
form. To begin with, an omelet, in spite of proverbs, is 
not necessarily associated with eggs. The origin is to 
be found in Lat. lamella, a thin plate, 1 which gave Old 
Fr. lamelle. Then la lamelle was taken as Valamelle, and 
the new alamelle or alemelle became, with change of 
suffix, alemette. By metathesis (see p. 54) this gave 
amelette, still in dialect use, for which modern French has 
substituted omelette. The o then remains unexplained, 
unless we admit the influence of the old form ceuf-mollet, 
a product of folk-etymology. 

Counterpane represents Old Fr. coute-pointe, now cor- 
ruptly courte-pointe, from Lat culcita puncta, lit 
" stitched quilt " ; cf. Ger. Steppdecke, counterpane, from 
steppen, to stitch. In Old French we also find the cor- 
rupt form contrepointe which gave Eng. counterpoint 

" In ivory coffers I have stuff 'd my crowns ; 
In cypress chests my arras, counterpoints, 
Costly apparel, tents and canopies." 

(Taming of the Shrew, ii. i). 

now unaccountably replaced by counterpane. In Mid. 
English we find also the correct form quilt-point from the 
Old Norman Fr. cuilte (pur]pointe, which occurs in a 
12th-century poem on St Thomas of Canterbury. The 
hooped petticoat called a farthingale was spelt by 
Shakespeare fardingale and by Cotgrave vardingall. 

1 We have a parallel in Fr. flan, Eng. flawn 

" The feast was over, the board was clear'd, 
Theyfatww and the custards had all disappear'd." 

(INGOLDSBY, Jackdaw of Rheims.} 

Ger. Fladen, etc., a kind of omelet, ultimately related to Eng. flat. 
Cotgrave has flans, " flawnes, custards, eggepies ; also, round planchets, or 
plates of metalL" 


This is Old Fr. verdugalle, of Spanish origin and 
derived from Span, verdugo, a (green) wand, because the 
circumference was stiffened with flexible switches before 
the application of whalebone or steel to this purpose. 
The crinoline, as its name implies, was originally 
strengthened with horse-hair, Lat crinis, hair. To 
return to the farthingale, the insertion of an n before g 
is common in English (see p. 77), but the change of the 
initial consonant is baffling. The modern Fr. vertu- 
gadin is also a corrupt form. Isinglass seems to be an 
arbitrary perversion of obsolete Du. huyzenblas (huisblad}, 
sturgeon bladder ; cf. the cognate Ger. Hausenblase, 

Few words have suffered so many distortions as 
liquorice. The original is Greco-Lat. glycyrrhiza, 
literally "sweet root," corrupted into Latin liquiritia, 
whence Fr. reglisse, Ital. legorizia, regolizia, and Ger. 
Lakritze. The Mid. English form Hearts would appear 
to have been influenced by orris, a plant which also has 
a sweet root, while the modern spelling is perhaps due 
to liquor. 



THE largest class of doublets is formed by those words 
of Latin origin which have been introduced into the 
language in two forms, the popular form through Anglo- 
Saxon or Old French, and the learned through modern 
French or directly from Latin. Obvious examples are 
caitiff, captive ; chieftain, captain ; frail, fragile, Lat. 
discus, a plate, quoit, gave Anglo-Sax, disc, whence 
Eng. dish. In Old French it became deis, Eng. dais, 
and in Ital. desco, " a deske, a table, a boord, a counting 
boord " (Florio), whence our desk. We have also the 
learned disc or disk, so that the one Latin word has 
supplied us with four vocables, differentiated in meaning, 
but each having the fundamental sense of a flat 

Dainty, from Old Fr. deintie", is a doublet of dignity. 
Ague is properly an adjective equivalent to acute, as in 
Fr. fievre aigue. The paladins were the twelve peers of 
Charlemagne's palace, and a Count Palatine is a later 
name for something of the same kind. One of the 
most famous bearers of the title, Prince Rupert, is 
usually called in contemporary records the Palsgrave, 
from Ger. Pfalzgraf, lit. palace count. Trivet, Lat. tripes^ 
triped-, dates back to Anglo-Saxon, though no one has 
satisfactorily explained why it should be taken as an 



emblem of " Tightness." In the learned doublets tripod 
and tripos we have the Greek form. Spice, Old Fr. 
espice (tpice), is a doublet of species. The medieval 
merchants recognised four " kinds " of spice, viz., saffron, 
cloves, cinnamon, nutmegs. 

Coffin is the learned doublet of coffer, Fr. coffre, from 
Lat. cophinus. It was originally used of a basket or 
case of any kind, and even of a pie-crust 

" Why, thou say'st true ; it is a paltry cap ; 
A custard-Y?$z#, a bauble, a silken pie." 

(Taming of the Shreiv, iv. 3.) 

Its present meaning is an attempt at avoiding the 
mention of the inevitable, a natural human weakness 
which has popularised in America the horrible word 
casket in this sense. The Greeks, fearing death less than 
do the moderns, called a coffin plainly <ra/o/o>0ayoy, flesh- 
eater, whence indirectly Fr. cercueil and Ger. Sarg. 

The homely mangfe, which comes to us from Dutch, 
is a doublet of the warlike engine called a mangonel 

" You may win the wall in spite both of bow and mangonel." 

(Ivan/toe, Ch. xxvii.) 

which is Old French. The source is Greco-Lat. 
manganum, apparatus, whence Ital. mangano, with both 
meanings. The verb mangle, to mutilate, is unrelated. 
Sullen, earlier soleyn, is a popular doublet of solemn, 
in its secondary meaning of glum or morose. In the 
early Latin - English dictionaries solemn, soleyn, and 
sullen are used indifferently to explain such words as 
acerbus, agelastus, vultuosus. Shakespeare speaks of 
" customary suits of solemn black " {Hamlet, i. 2), but 
makes Bolingbroke say 

" Come, mourn with me for that I do lament, 
And put on sullen black incontinent." 

(Richard IL, v. 6.) 



while the "solemn curfew (Tempest, v. i) is described by 
Milton as " swinging slow with sullen roar " (Penseroso, 
1. 76). The meaning of antic, a doublet of antique, has 
changed considerably, but the process is easy to follow. 
From meaning simply ancient it acquired the sense of 
quaint or odd, and was applied to grotesque 1 work in 
art or to a fantastic disguise. Then it came to mean 
buffoon, in which sense Shakespeare applies it to grim 

" For within the hollow crown 
That rounds the mortal temples of a king, 
Keeps death his court ; and there the antic sits, 
Scoffing his state, and grinning at his pomp." 

(Richard II., iii. 2.) 

and lastly the meaning was transferred to the 
capers of the buffoon. From Old High Ger. faltan 
(fatten), to fold, and stuol (Stuhl), chair, we get Fr. 
fauteuil. Medieval Latin constructed the compound 
faldestolium, whence our ecclesiastical faldstool, a litany 
desk. Revel is from Old Fr. reveler, Lat. rebellare, so 
that it is a doublet of rebel. Holyoak's Latin Dictionary 
(1612) has revells or routs, " concursus populi illegitimus." 
Its sense development, from a riotous concourse to a 
festive gathering, has certainly been affected by Fr. 
reveiller, to wake, whence reveillon, a Christmas Eve 
supper, or " wake." Cf. Ital. vegghia, " a watch, a wake, 
a revelling a nights " (Florio). 

The very important word money has acquired its 
meaning by one of those accidents which are so common 
in word history. The Roman mint was attached to the 
temple of Juno Moneta, i.e., the admonisher, from monere, 
and this name was transferred to the building. The 
Romans introduced moneta, in the course of their 

1 /.<?., grotto painting, Ital. grottesca, "a kinde of rugged unpolished 
painters worke, anticke worke" (Florio). 


conquests, into French (monnaie), German (Milnze), and 
English (ininf). The French and German words still 
have three meanings, viz., mint, coin, change. We have 
borrowed the French word and given it the general 
sense represented in French by argent, silver. The 
Ger. Geld, money, has no connection with gold, but is 
cognate with Eng. yield, as in " the yield of an invest- 
ment," of which we preserve the old form in wergild, 
payment for having killed a man (Anglo-Sax, w er). To 
return to moneta, we have a third form of the word 
in moidore 

"And fair rose-nobles and broad moidores 
The waiter pulls out of their pockets by scores." 

(INGOLDSBY, The Hand of Glory.} 

from Port, moeda de ouro, money of gold. 

Sometimes the same word reaches us through 
different languages. Thus charge is French and cargo 
is Spanish, both belonging to a Vulgar Lat. *carricare, 
from carrus, vehicle. In old commercial records we 
often find the Anglo-Norman form cark, or carke, which 
survives now only in a metaphorical sense, e.g. corking, 
i.e. burdensome, care. Lat. domina has given us through 
French both dame and dam? and through Spanish 
duenna; while Ital. donna occurs in the compound 
madonna and the donah of the East End costermonger. 
Lat. datum, given, becomes Fr. d and Eng. die 
(plural dice). Its Italian doublet is dado, now used in 
English of a pattern which was originally cubical. 
Scrimmage and skirmish are variant spellings of Fr. 
escarmouche, from Ital. scaramuccia, of German origin 
(see p. 59). But we have also, more immediately from 
Italian, the form scaramouch. Blount's Glossographia 
(1674) mentions Scaramoche, "a famous Italian Zani 

1 See p. III. The aristocracy of the horse is still testified to by the use 
of sire and dam for his parents. 


(see p. 41), or mimick, who acted here in England, 
1673." Scaramouch was one of the stock characters of 
the old Italian comedy, which still exists as the 
harlequinade of the Christmas pantomime, and of which 
some traces survive in the Punch and Judy show. He 
was represented as a cowardly braggart dressed in black. 
The golfer's stance is a doublet of the poet's stanza, 
both of them belonging to Lat. stare, to stand. Stance 
is Old French and stanza is Italian, " a stance or staffe 
of verses or songs " (Florio). A stanza is then properly 
a pause or resting place, just as a verse, Lat. versus, is a 
" turning " to the beginning of the next line. 

Different French dialects have supplied us with many 
doublets. Old Fr. chacier (chasser), Vulgar Lat. *captiare, 
for captare, a frequentative of capere, to take, was in 
Picard cachier, whence Eng. catch. In cater (see p. 58) 
we have the Picard form of Fr. acheter, but the true 
French form survives in the family name Chater. 1 In 
late Latin the neuter adjective capitate, capital, was used 
of property. This has given, through Old Fr. chatel, 
our chattel, while the doublet catel has given cattle, 
now limited to what was once the most important 
form of property. Fr. cheptel is still used of cattle 
farmed out 'on a kind of profit-sharing system. This 
restriction of the meaning of cattle is paralleled by Scot. 
avers, farm beasts, from Old Fr. aver 1 *- (avoir], property, 
goods. The history of the word fee, Anglo-Sax, feoh, 
cattle, cognate with Lat. pecus, whence pecunia, money, 
and Ger. Vieh, also takes us back to the times when 
a man's wealth was estimated by his flocks and herds ; 
but, in this case, the sense development is exactly 

Fr. jumeau, twin, was earlier gemeau, still used by 

1 Sometimes this name is for cheater, escheataur (p. 78). 

2 Cf. avoirdupois, earlier avers de pois (poids), goods sold by weight. 


Corneille, and earlier still gemel, ~L.3.t.gemellus, diminutive 
of geminus, twin. From one form we have the gimbals, 
or twin pivots, which keep the compass horizontal. 
Shakespeare uses it of clockwork 

" I think, by some odd gimmals, or device, 
Their arms are set like clocks, still to strike on." 

(i Henry VI., i. 2.) 

and also speaks of a gimmal bit (Henry V. t iv. 2). In 
the I7th century we find numerous allusions to gimmal 
rings (variously spelt). The toothsome jumble, known 
to the Midlands as "brandy-snap," is the same word, 
this delicacy having apparently at one time been made 
in links. We may compare the obsolete Ital. stortelli, 
literally "little twists," explained by Torriano (1659) 
as "winding simnels, wreathed jumbals" 

A purely accidental difference in spelling may bring 
about a differentiation between two words which are 
identical in origin and meaning. Tret, wrongly ex- 
plained in all dictionaries that I have consulted, is 
Fr. trait, in Old French also tret, Lat. tractus, pull (of 
the scale). It was an allowance of four pounds in a 
hundred, which was supposed to be equal to the sum 
of the "turns of the scale," which would be in the 
purchaser's favour if the goods were weighed in small 
quantities. Trait is still so used in modern French. 

Parson is a doublet of person, the priest perhaps 
being taken as "representing" the Church, for Lat. 
persona, an actor's mask, from per, through, and sonare, 
to sound, was also used of a costumed character or 
dramatis persona. Mask, which ultimately belongs to 
an Arabic word meaning buffoon, has had a sense 
development exactly opposite to that of person, its 
modern meaning corresponding to the Lat. persona 
from which the latter started. Parson shows the 

I 2 


popular pronunciation of er, now modified by the influence 
of traditional spelling. We still have it in Berkeley, 
clerk? Derby, sergeant, as we formerly did in merchant. 
Proper names, in which the orthography depends -on 
the "taste and fancy of the speller," or the phonetic 
theories of the old parish clerk, often preserve the 
older pronunciation, e.g., Clark, Darbyshire, Marchant, 
Sargent. Posy, in both its senses, is a contraction of 
poesy, the flowers of a nosegay expressing by their 
arrangement a sentiment like that engraved on a 
ring. The latter use is perhaps obsolete 

"About a hoop of gold, a paltry ring 
That she did give me ; whose posy was 
For all the world like cutler's poetry 
Upon a knife : ' Love me and leave me not.' " 

(Merchant of Venice, v. I.) 

The poetic word glamour is the same as grammar, 
which had in the Middle Ages the sense of mysterious 
learning. From the same source we have the French 
corruption grimoire, " a booke of conjuring " (Cotgrave). 
Glamour and gramarye were both revived by Scott 

" A moment then the volume spread, 
. And one short spell therein he read ; 
It had much of glamour might." 

(Lay, iii. 9.) 

" And how he sought her castle high, 
That morn, by help of gramarye.'* 

(Ibid., v. 27.) 

For the change of r to /we have the parallel si flounce 
for older frounce (p. 55). Quire is the same word 
as quair, in the " King's Quair" i.e. book. Its Mid. 
English form is quayer, Old Fr. quaer, caer (cahier), 

1 Pronounced chirk by uneducated English people and educated 


Lat. *quaternum for quaternio, "a quier with foure 
sheetes" (Cooper). 

A difference in spelling, originally accidental, but per- 
petuated by an apparent difference of meaning, is seen 
in flour, flower ; metal, mettle. Flour is the flower, i.e. 
the finest part, of meal, Fr. fleur de farine, "flower, or 
the finest meale" (Cotgrave). In the Nottingham 
Guardian (29th Aug. 1911) I read that "Mrs 
Kernahan is among the increasing number of persons 
who do not discriminate between metal and mettle, and 
writes 'Margaret was on her metal.'" It might be 
added that this author is in the excellent company of 

" See whe'r their basest metal be not mov'd." 

(Julius Casar, i. I.) 

There is no more etymological difference between metal 
and mettle than between the "temper" of a cook and 
that of a sword-blade. 

Oriental words have sometimes come into the 
language by very diverse routes. Sirup, or syrup, 
sherbet, and (ruiri)-shrub are of identical origin, ulti- 
mately Arabic. Sirup, which comes through Spanish 
and French, was once used, like treacle (p. 69), of 
medicinal compounds 

" Not poppy, nor mandragora, 
Nor all the drowsy syrups of the world, 
Shall ever medicine thee to that sweet sleep 
Which thou ow'dst yesterday." 

(Othello, iii. 3.) 

Sherbet and shrub are directly borrowed through the 
medium of travellers 

" ' I smoke on srub and water, myself,' said Mr Omer." 
(David Copperfield, Ch. xxx.) 

Sepoy, used of Indian soldiers in the English service, is 


the same as spahi, the French name for the Algerian 

Tulip is from Fr. tulipe, formerly tulipan, " the 
delicate flower called a tulipa, tulipie, or Dalmatian 
cap" (Cotgrave). It is a doublet of turban. The 
German Tulpe was also earlier Tulipan. 

The humblest of medieval coins was the*'maravedz, 
which came from Spain at an early date, though not 
early enough for Robin Hood to have said to Isaac of 
York, " I will strip thee of every maravedi thou hast in 
the world " (Ivanhoe, Ch. xxxiii.). The name is due to 
the Moorish dynasty of the Al-moravides or Marabouts, 
The Arab, marabit means hermit, and the name was 
given also to a kind of stork, the marabout, on account 
of the solitary and sober habits which have earned for 
him in India the name adjutant (p. 30). 

Cipher and zero do not look like doublets, but both 
of them come from the same Arabic word. The 
medieval Lat zephyrum connects the two forms. 
Crimson and carmine, the first French and the second 
Spanish, both belong to kermes, the cochineal insect, of 
Arabic origin. 

The relationship between cipher and zero is perhaps 
better disguised than that between furnish and veneer* 
though this is by no means obvious. Veneer, spelt 
fineer by Smollett, is Ger.fournieren, borrowed from Fr. 
fournir^- and specialised in meaning. Ebers' German 
Diet. (1796) h&sfurnieren, "to inlay with several sorts 
of wood, to veneer" 

The doublets selected for discussion among the 
hundreds which exist in the language reveal many 
etymological relationships which would hardly be 
suspected at first sight. Many other words might be 

1 Our verbs in -ish are from the -iss- stem of French verbs in -ir. This 
-iss-, as mfoumissant, represents the -isc of Latin inchoative verbs. 


quoted which are almost doublets. Thus sergeant, 
Fr. sergent, Lat. serviens, servient-, is almost a doublet of 
servant, the present participle of Fr. servir. The fabric 
called drill or drilling is from Ger. Drillich, "tick, 
linnen-cloth woven of three threads " (Ludwig). This 
is an adaptation of Lat. trilix, trilic-, which, through 
^r.Jreillis, has given Eng. trellis. We may compare 
the older twill, of Anglo - Saxon origin, cognate with 
Ger. Zwilch or Zwillich, "linnen woven with a 
double thread" (Ludwig). Robe, from French, is cog- 
nate with rob, Ger. Raub, booty, the conqueror decking 
himself in the spoils of the conquered. Musk is a 
doublet of meg in nutmeg, Fr. noix muscade. In Mid. 
English we find note-mugge, and Cotgrave has the 
diminutive muguette, " a nutmeg " ; cf. modern Fr. 
muguet, the lily of the valley. Fr. diner, Old Fr. disner, 
and dtjeuner, both represent Vulgar Lat. *dis-junare, to 
break fast, from jejunus, fasting. The difference of form 
is due to the shifting of the accent in the Latin conjuga- 
tion, e.g., dis-jundre gives disner, while dis-junat gives 
Old Fr. desjune. 

Admiral, earlier amtral, comes through French from 
the Arab, amir, an emir. Its Old French forms are 
numerous, and the one which has survived in English 
may be taken as an abbreviation of Arab, amir al bahr, 
emir on the sea. Greco-Lat. pandura, a stringed instru- 
ment, has produced an extraordinary number of cor- 
ruptions, among which some philologists rank mandoline. 
Eng. bandore, now obsolete, was once a fairly common 
word, and from it, or from some cognate Romance form, 
comes the negro corruption banjo 

" ' What is this, mamma ? it is not a guitar, is it ? ' ' No, my 
dear, it is called a banjore \ it is an African instrument, of which 
the negroes are particularly fond.'" (Miss EDGEWORTH, Belinda, 
Ch. xviii.) 


Florio has pandora, pandura, "a musical instrument 
with three strings, a kit, a croude, 1 a rebecke." Kit, 
used by Dickens 

" He had a little fiddle, which at school we used to call a &'/, 
under his left arm." (Bleak House, Ch. xiv.) 

seems to be a clipped form from Old French dialect 
quiterne, for guiterne, Greco -Lat cithara. Cotgrave 
explains mandore as a " kitt, small gitterne." The 
doublet guitar is from Spanish. 

The two pretty words dimity and samite have been 
brought into connection by folk-etymology. Dimity is 
the plural dimiti of Ital. dimito, " a kind of course cotton 
or flanell " (Florio), from Greco - Lat. dimitus, double 
thread (cf. twill). Samite, Old Fr. samit, whence Ger. 
Samt, velvet, is in medieval Latin hexamitus, six-thread ; 
but this is a popular corruption of an Arabic original. 
The Italian form is sciamito, " a kind of sleave, feret, or 
filosello silke " (Florio). The word feret used here by 
Florio is from Ital. fioretto, little flower. It was also 
called floret silk. Florio explains the plural jioretti as 
" a kind of course silke called f[T)oret or ferret silke," 
and Cotgrave ^Msfleuret, " course silke, floret silke." The 
word is not pbsolete in the sense of tape 

" 'Twas so fram'd and express'd no tribunal could shake it, 
And firm as red wax and black ferret could make it." 

(INGOLDSBY, The Housewarming^) 

Parish and diocese are closely related, parish, Fr. paroisse, 
representing Greco -Lat. par-oikia (OIKOS, a house), 
and diocese coming through Old French from Greco- 
Lat di-oikesis. Skirt is the Scandinavian doublet of 
shirt '..from* Vulgar Lat ex-curtus, which has also given 
us short. The form without the prefix appears in Fr. 
court, Ger. kurz, and Eng. kirtle " What stuff wilt have 

1 See Cr mother, p. 164. 


a kirtle of?" (2 Henry IV. , ii. 4). These are all very 
early loan words. 

A new drawing-room game for amateur philologists 
would be to trace relationships between words which 
have no apparent connection. In discussing, a few 
years ago, a lurid book on the " Mysteries of Modern 
London," Punch remarked that the existence of a villa 
seemed to be proof presumptive of that of a villain. 
This is etymologically true. An Old French vilain, " a 
villaine, slave, bondman, servile tenant " (Cotgrave), was 
a peasant attached to his lord's mile or domain, Lat 
villa. For the degeneration in meaning we may 
compare Eng. boor and churl, and Fr. manant, a clod- 
hopper, lit. a dweller (see manor, p. 8). A butcher, Fr. 
boucher, must originally have dealt in goat's flesh, Fr. 
bouc, goat ; cf. Ital. beccaio, butcher, and becco, goat. 
Hence butcher and buck are related. The extension of 
meaning of broker, an Anglo-French form of brocheur, 
shows the importance of the wine trade in the Middle 
Ages. A broker was at first one who " broached " casks 
with a broche, which means in modern French both brooch 
and spit. The essential part of a brooch is the pin or spike. 

When Kent says that Cornwall and Regan 
" summon'd up their meiny, straight took horse " (Lear, 
ii. 4), he is using a common Mid. English and Tudor 
word which comes, through Old Fr. maisniee, from 
Vulgar Lat *mansionata, a houseful. A menial is a 
member of such a body. An Italian cognate is 
masnadiere, " a ru flier, a swashbuckler, a swaggerer, 
a high way theefe, a hackster " (Florio). Those inclined 
to moralise may see in these words a proof that the 
arrogance of the great man's flunkey was curbed in 
England earlier than in Italy. Old Fr. maisniee is now 
replaced by nonage, Vulgar Lat. *mansionaticum. A 
derivative of this word is menagerie, first applied to the 


collection of household animals, but now to a "wild 
beast show." 

A bonfire was formerly a bone-fire. We find bane- 
fire, " ignis ossium," in a Latin dictionary of 1483, and 
Cooper explains pyra by "bone-fire, wherein men's 
bodyes were burned." Apparently the word is due to 
the practice of burning the dead after a victory. 
Hexham has bone-fire, "een been-vier, dat is, als men 
victorie brandt." Walnut is related to Wales, Cormva/l, 
the Walloons, WW/achia and Sir William Wallace. It 
means "foreign" nut. This very wide spread wal is 
supposed to represent the Celtic tribal name Voices. It 
was applied by the English to the Celts, and by the 
Germans to the French and Italians, especially the 
latter, whence the earlier Ger. welsche Nuss, for Walnuss. 
The German Swiss use it of the French Swiss, hence 
the canton Wallis or Valais. The Old French name 
for the walnut is noix gauge, Lat. Gallica. The relation 
of umbrella to umber is pretty obvious. The former is 
Italian, "a little shadow, a little round thing that 
women bare in their hands to shadow them. Also a 
broad brimd hat to keepe off heate and rayne. Also a 
kinde of round thing like a round skreene that gentlemen 
use in Italie in time of sommer or when it is very hote, 
to keepe the sunne from them when they are riding by 
the way (Florio)." Umber is Fr. terre d'ombre 

" I'll put myself in poor and mean attire, 
And with a kind of umber smirch my face." 

(As You Like It, i. 3.) 

Ballad, originally a dancing song, Prov. ballada, is a 
doublet of ballet, and thus related to ball. We find a 
late Lat. ballare, to dance, in Saint Augustine, but the 
history of this group of words is obscure. The sense 
development of carol is very like that of ballad. It is 
from Old Fr. carolle, " a kinde of dance wherein many 


may dance together ; also, a carroll, or Christmas song " 
(Cotgrave). The form corolla is found in Provencal, and 
carolle in Old French is commonly used, like Ger. Kranz, 
garland, and Lat. corona, of a social or festive ring of 
people. Hence there can be little doubt that the 
origin of the word is Lat. corolla, a little garland. 

Many "chapel " people would be shocked to know 
that chapel means properly the sanctuary in which a 
saint's relics are deposited. The name was first applied 
to the chapel in which was preserved the cape or cloak 
of St Martin of Tours. Ger. Kapelle also means 
orchestra or military band. The doublet capel survives 
in Capel Court, near the Exchange. Tocsin is literally 
"touch sign." Fr. toquer, to tap, beat, cognate with 
touch, survives in " tuck of drum " and tucket 

" Then let the trumpets sound 
The tucket sonance and the note to mount." 

(Henry K, iv. 2.) 

while sinet, the diminutive of Old Fr. sin, sign, has given 
sennet, common in the stage directions of Elizabethan 
plays in a sense very similar to that of tucket. 

Junket, Old Fr. joncade, "a certaine spoone-meat, 
made of creame, rose-water, and sugar " (Cotgrave), Ital. 
giuncata, "a kinde of fresh cheese and creame, so 
called bicause it is brought to market upon rushes ; 
also a junket" (Florio), is related to jonquil, which 
comes, through French, from Span, junquillo, a 
diminutive from Lat. juncus, rush. The plant is 
named from its rush-like leaves. Ditto, Italian, lit 
" said," and ditty, Old Fr. dite, are both past participles, 
from the Latin verbs dico and dicto respectively. The 
nave of a church is from Fr. nef, still occasionally used 
in poetry in its original sense of ship, Lat. navis. It is 
thus related to navy, Old Fr. navie, a derivative of 


navis. Similarly Ger. Schiff is used in the sense of 
nave, though the metaphor is variously explained. 

The old word cole, cabbage, its north country and 
Scottish equivalent kail, Fr. chou (Old Fr. choC], and 
Ger. Kohl, are all from Lat caulis, cabbage ; cf. cauli- 
flower. We have the Dutch form in colza, which comes, 
through French, from Du. kool-zaad, cabbage seed. 
Cabbage itself is Fr. caboche, a Picard derivative of Lat. 
caput, head. In modern French caboche corresponds to 
our vulgar " chump." A goshawk is a goose hawk, so 
called from its preying on poultry. Merino is related to 
mayor, which comes, through French, from Lat. maior, 
greater. Span, merino, Vulgar Lat. * majorinus, means 
both a magistrate and a superintendent of sheep-walks. 
From the latter meaning comes that of " sheepe driven 
from the winter pastures to the sommer pastures, or the 
wooll of those sheepe " (Percy vail). Portcullis is from 
Old Fr. porte coulisse, sliding door. Fr. coulisse is still 
used of many sliding contrivances, especially in connec- 
tion with stage scenery, but in the portcullis sense it is 
replaced by herse (see p. 68), except in the language of 
heraldry. The masculine form coulis means a clear 
broth, or cullis, as it was called in English up to the 
1 8th century. This suggests colander, which, like port- 
cullis, belongs to Lat. colare, "to streine" (Cooper), 
whence Fr. couler, to flow. 

Solder, formerly spelt sowder or sodder, and still so 
pronounced by the plumber, represents Fr. soudure, 
from the verb souder ; cf. batter, from Old Fr. batture, 
and fritter, from Fr. friture. The French verb is from 
Lat. solidare, to consolidate. Fr. sou, formerly sol, a 
halfpenny, is said to come from Lat. solidus, the 
meaning of which appears also in the Italian participle 
soldato, a paid man. The Italian word has passed into 
French and German, displacing the older cognates 


soudard and Soldner, which now have a depreciatory 
sense. Eng. soldier is of Old French origin. It is 
represented in medieval Latin by sol(i}darius, glossed 
sowdeor in a vocabulary of the I5th century. As in 
solder, the / has been reintroduced by learned influence, 
but the vulgar sodger is nearer the original pro- 



MODERN English contains some six or seven hundred 
pairs or sets of homonyms, i.e., of words identical in 
sound and spelling but differing in meaning and origin. 
The New English Dictionary recognises provisionally 
nine separate nouns rack. The subject is a difficult 
one to deal with, because one word sometimes develops 
such apparently different meanings that the original 
identity becomes obscured, and even, as we have seen 
in the case of flour and mettle (p. 135), a difference of 
spelling may result. When Denys of Burgundy said 
to the physician, "Go to! He was no fool who first 
called you leeches" he was certainly unaware that 
the two leeches are identical, from Anglo-Sax, lace, 
healer. On the other hand, a resemblance of form 
may bring about a contamination of meaning. The 
verb to gloss, or gloze, means simply to explain or 
translate, Greco-Lat. glossa, tongue, etc. ; but, under 
the influence of the unrelated gloss, superficial lustre, 
it has acquired the sense of specious interpretation. 
That part of a helmet called the beaver 

" I saw young Harry, with his beaver on, 
His cuisses on his thigh, gallantly arm'd, 
Rise from the ground like feather'd Mercury." 

(i Henry IV., iv. i.) 



has, of course, no connection with the animal whose 
fur has been used for some centuries for expensive 
hats. It comes from Old Fr. baviere, a child's bib, now 
replaced by bavette, from baver, to slobber. 

It may be noted en passant that many of the 
revived medieval words which sound so picturesque 
in Scott are of very prosaic origin. Thus the basnet 

" My basnet to a prentice cap, 
Lord Surrey's o'er the Till." 

(Marmion, vi. 21.) 

or close-fitting steel cap worn under the ornamental 
helmet, is Fr. bassinet, a little basin. It was also called 
a kettle hat, or pot. Another obsolete name given to 
a steel cap was a privy pallet, from Fr. palette, a barber's 
bowl, a "helmet of Mambrino." To a brilliant living 
monarch we owe the phrase " mailed fist," a translation 
of Ger. gepanzerte Faust. Panzer, a cuirass, is etymo- 
logically a pauncher, or defence for the paunch. We 
may compare an article of female apparel, which took 
its name from a more polite name for this part of 
the anatomy, and which Shakespeare uses even in the 
sense of Panzer. Imogen, taking the papers from her 
bosom, says 

"What is here? 

The scriptures of the loyal Leonatus, 

All turn'd to heresy ? Away, away, 

Corrupters of my faith ! You shall no more 

Be stomachers to my heart." 

(Cymbeline, iii. 4.) 

Sometimes homonyms seem to be due to the lowest 
type of folk-etymology, the instinct for making an 
unfamiliar word "look like something" (see p. 118 foot- 
note). To this instinct we owe the nautical com- 
panion (p. 153). Trepan, for trapan, to entrap, cannot 
have been confused with the surgical trepan (p. 101), 



although it has been assimilated to it The compound 
in which the victims of " Chinese slavery " languished 
is the Malay kampong, an enclosure. 

The scent called berga-mol takes its name from 
Bergamo, in Italy, whence also Shakespeare's bergomask 

" Will it please you to see the epilogue, or hear a Bergomask 
dance between two of our company ? " 

(Midsummer Nighfs Dream, v. i.) 

but the bergamot pear is derived from Turkish beg 
armudi, prince's pear. With beg, prince, cf. bey and 
begum. The burden of a song is from Fr. bourdon, 
" a drone, or dorre-bee ; also, the humming, or buzzing, 
of bees ; also, the drone of a bag-pipe " (Cotgrave). It 
is of doubtful origin, but is not related to burden, a load, 
which is connected with the verb to bear. 

To cashier, i.e., break, a soldier, is from Du. casseeren, 
which is borrowed from Fr. casser, to break, Lat. 
quassare, frequentative of quatere, to shatter. In the i6th 
and 1 7th centuries we also find cass and cash, which are 
thus doublets of quash. Cotgrave has casser, " to casse, 
cassere, discharge." The past participle of the obsolete 
verb to cass is still in military use 

" But the colonel said he must go, and he (the drum horse) was 
cast in due form and replaced by a washy, bay beast, as ugly as 
a mule." (KlPLlNG, The Rout of the White Hussars.} 

The other cashier is of Italian origin. He takes charge 
of the cash, which formerly meant "counting-house," 
and earlier still " safe," from Ital. cassa, " a merchant's 
cashe, or counter" (Florio). This comes from Lat 
capsa, a coffer, so that cash is a doublet of case, Fr. 
caisse. CjF. the goldsmith's term chase, for enchase, Fr. 
enchasser, " to encJiace, or set, in gold, etc. " (Cotgrave), 
from chdsse, coffer, shrine, also from Lat. capsa. From 
the same word comes (window) sash. 


Gammon, from Mid. Eng. gamen, now reduced to 
game, survives as a slang word and also in the com- 
pound backgammon. In a gammon of bacon we have 
the Picard form of Fr. jambon, a ham, an augmentative 
of jambe, leg. Cotgrave has jambon, " a gammon" 
Gambit is related, from Ital. gambetto, "a tripping up 
of one's heels " (Torriano). A game leg is in dialect a 
gammy leg. This is Old Fr. gambi, " bent, crooked, 
bowed " (Cotgrave), which is still used in some French 
dialects in the sense of lame. It comes from the same 
Celtic root us jambe, etc. 

Host, an army, now used only poetically or meta- 
phorically, is from Old Fr. ost, army, Lat. hostis. The 
host who receives us is Old Fr. oste (hdte), Lat. hospes, 
hospit-, guest These two hosts are, however, ultimately 
related. It is curious that, while modern Fr. hfae 
(hospes) means both "host" and "guest," the other 
host (hostis) is, very far back, a doublet of guest, the 
ground meaning of both being " stranger." " It is 
remarkable in what opposite directions the Germans 
and Romans have developed the meaning of the old 
hereditary name for 'stranger.' To the Roman the 
stranger becomes an enemy; among the Germans he 
enjoys the greatest privileges, a striking confirmation 
of what Tacitus tells us in his Germama" x In a dog 
kennel we have the Norman form of Fr. chenil, related 
to chien, but kennel, a gutter 

" Go, hop me over every kennel home." 

(Taming of the Shrew, iv. 3.) 

is a doublet of channel and canal. 

" O villain ! thou stolest a cup of sack eighteen 
years ago, and wert taken with the manner" says 
Prince Hal to Bardolph (i Henry IV., ii. 4). In the 
old editions this is spelt manour or mainour and means 

1 Kluge, Etymologisches Worterbuch, Strassburg, 1899, s.v. Cast. 


"in the act." It is an Anglo-French doublet of 
manoeuvre, late Lat manu-opera, handiwork, and is thus 
related to its homonym manner, Fr. maniere, from 
manier, to handle. Another doublet of manoeuvre is 
manure, now a euphemism for dung, but formerly used 
of the act of tillage 

" The manuring hand of the tiller shall root up all that burdens 
the soil" (MlLTON, Reason of Church Government.") 

Inure is similarly formed from Old French enceuvrer, 
literally " to work in," hence to accustom to toil. 

John Gilpin's "good friend the calender" has nothing 
to do with the calendar which indicates the calends of 
the month, nor with the calender, or Persian monk, of 
the Arabian Nights, whom Mr Pecksniff described as 
a " one-eyed almanack." The verb to calender, to press 
and gloss cloth, etc., is from Old Fr. calendrer (calandrer\ 
" to sleeke, smooth, plane, or polish, linnen cloth, ,etc." 
(Cotgrave). This word is generally considered to be 
related to cylinder, a conjecture which is supported 
by obsolete Fr. calende, used of the " rollers " by means 
of which heavy stones are moved. 

A craft, or association of masters, was once called 
a mistery (for mastery or maistrie), usually misspelt 
mystery by association with a word of quite different 
origin and meaning. This accidental resemblance is 
often played on 

"Painting, sir, I have heard say, is a mystery; but what 
mystery there should be in hanging, if I should be hanged, I cannot 
imagine." (Measure for Measure, iv. 2.) 

For the x pronunciation, cf. mister, for master, and 
mistress! The French for " mistery " is metier, earlier 
mestier, " a trade, occupation, misterie, handicraft " 

1 Now abbreviated to-miss in a special sense. 


(Cotgrave), from Old Fr. maistier, Lat magisterium. 
In its other senses Fr. metier represents Lat ministenum, 

Pawn, a pledge, is from Old Fr. pan, with the same 
meaning. The origin of this word, cognates of which 
occur in the Germanic languages, is unknown. The 
pawn at chess is Fr. pion, a pawn, formerly also a foot- 
soldier, used contemptuously in modern French for a 
junior assistant master. This represents a Vulgar Lat. 
*pedo, pedon-, from pes, foot ; cf. Span, peon, " a footeman, 
a pawns at chesse, a pioner, or laborer" (Percyvall). 
In German the pawn is called Bauer, peasant, a name 
also given to the knave in the game of euchre, whence 
American bower 1 

" At last he put down a right bower (knave of trumps), 
Which the same Nye had dealt unto me." 

(BRET HARTE, The Heathen Chinee.} 

When Jack Bunce says, " There will be the devil to 
pay, and no pitch hot " (Scott, TJie Pirate, Ch. xxxviii.), 
he is using a nautical term which has no connection with 
Fr. payer. To pay, i.e. to pitch, is from Old Fr. peier or 
poier, Lat. picare, from pix, pitch. Fr. limon, a lime, has 
given Eng. lemon'} but " lemon sole " is from Fr. limande, 
a flat-fish, dab. A quarry from which stone is obtained 
was formerly quarrer, Old Fr. quarriere (carriere), a 
derivative of Lat. quadrus ; cf. quadratarius ', " a squarer 
of marble" (Cooper). The quarry of the hunter has 
changed its form and meaning. In Mid. English we 
find quarre and quirrt, from Old Fr. cuir^e, now curie, 
" a (dog's) reward ; the hounds' fees of, or part in, the 
game they have killed" (Cotgrave). The Old French 
form means " skinful " (cf. poignte, fistful), the hounds' 
reward being spread on the skin of the slain animal. 

1 The Bowery of New York was formerly a homestead. 

2 In modern French the lemon is called citron and the citron cedrat. 

K 2 


It is thus related to cuirass, originally used of leathern 
armour. In Shakespeare quarry usually means a heap 
of dead game 

" Would the nobility lay aside their ruth, 
And let me use my sword, I'd make a quarry 
With thousands of these quarter'd slaves, as high 
As I could pick my lance." 

(Coriolanus, i. i.) 

In modern English it is applied rather to the animal 
pursued. Related to the first quarry is quarrel, the 
square - headed bolt shot from a crossbow, Old Fr. 
carrel. The modern Fr. carreau is used of many four- 
sided objects, e.g., a square tile, the diamond at cards, a 
pane of glass. In the last sense both quarrel and quarry 
are still used by glaziers. 

In a " school of porpoises " we have the Dutch doublet 
of shoal. The older spelling is scull (Troilus and 
Cresstda, v. 5). A sorrel horse and the plant called 
sorrel are both French words of German origin. The 
adjective, used in venery of a buck of the third year, is a 
diminutive of Old Fr. sor, which survives in hareng saur, 
red herring, and is cognate with Eng. sear 

" The sear, the yellow leaf." 

(Macbeth, v. 3.) 

The plant name is related to sour. Its modern French 
form surelle occurs now only in dialect, having been 
superseded by oseille, which appears to be due to the 
mixture of two words meaning sour, sharp, viz., Vulgar 
Lat. *acetula and Greco-Lat. oxalis. The verb tattoo, to 
adorn the skin with patterns, is Polynesian. The 
military tattoo is Dutch. It was earlier tap-to, and was the 
signal for dosing the " taps " or taverns. Cf. Ger. Zapfen- 
streich, lit. tap-stroke, the name of a play which was 
produced a few years ago in London under the title 
" Lights Out." Ludwig explains Zapfenschlag or 


Zapfenstreich, as "die Zeit da die Soldaten aus den 
Schencken heimgehen mussen, the taptow? 
Tassel, in " tassel gentle " 

" O, for a falconer's voice, 
To lure this tassel-gentle back again." 

(Romeo and Juliet, ii. 2.) 

is for tercel or tiercel, the male hawk, "so tearmed, 
because he is, commonly, a third part less than the 
female" (Cotgrave, s.v. tiercelef). The true reason for 
the name is doubtful. The pendent ornament called a 
tassel is a diminutive of Mid. Eng. tasse, a heap, bunch, 
Fr. fas. Tent wine is Span, vino tinto, i.e., coloured 

" Of this last there's little comes over right, therefore the 
vintners make Tent (which is a name for all wines in Spain, 
except white) to supply the place of it" (Howell, Familiar Letters, 

The other tent is from the Old French past participle 
of tendre, to stretch. 

The Shakesperian utterance 

" Rather than so, come, fate, into the list, 
And champion me to the utterance? 

(Macbeth, iii. i.) 

is the Fr. entrance, in combat a outrance, i.e., to the 
extreme, which belongs to Lat. ultra. It is quite un- 
connected with the verb to utter, from out. 

We have seen how, in the case of some homo- 
nyms, confusion arises, and a popular connection is 
established, between words which are quite unrelated. 
The same sort of association often springs up between 
words which, without being homonyms, have some 
accidental resemblance in form or meaning, or in both. 
Such association may bring about curious changes in 
form and meaning. Touchy, which now conveys the 
idea of sensitiveness to touch, is corrupted from tetchy 
" Tetchy and wayward was thy infancy." (Richard 111., iv. 4.) 


The original meaning was something like "infected, 
tainted," from Old Fr. teche (tache}, a spot. The word 
surround has completely changed its meaning through 
association with round. It comes from Old Fr. suronder, 
to overflow, Lat. super-undare, and its meaning and 
origin were quite clear to the 16th-century lexico- 
graphers. Thus Cooper has inundo, "to overflowe, to 
surround" A French bishop carries a crosse, and an 
archbishop a croix. These words are of separate origin. 
From crosse, which does not mean " cross," comes our 
derivative crosier, carried by both bishops and arch- 
bishops. It is etymologically identical, as its shape 
suggests, with the shepherd's crook, and the bat used 
in playing lacrosse. 

The prophecy of the pessimistic ostler that, owing to 

" Osses soon will all be in the circusses, 
And if you want an ostler, try the work'uses." (E. V. LUCAS.) 

shows by what association the meaning of ostler, Old 
Fr. hostelier (hotelier} has changed. A belfry has 
nothing to do with bells. Old Fr. berfroi (beffroi) was 
a tower used in warfare. It comes from two German 
words represented by modern bergen, to hide, guard, 
and Friede, peace, so that it means " guard-peace." The 
triumph of the form belfry is due to association with 
bell, but the / is originally due to dissimilation, since we 
find belfroi also in Old French. The same dissimilation 
is seen in Fr. auberge, inn, Prov. alberga (cf. harbinger, 
p. 83), and in Old Fr. escalberc, escauberc, for escarberc, 
from Old High Ger. scar, a blade (cf. ploughshare), and 
bergen. tjence Eng. scabbard. Cf. hauberk, guard-neck, 
Ger. Hals? neck. 

The buttery is not so named from butter, but from 

1 Hence, or rather from Du, hah, the hawse-holes, the " throat " through 
which the cable runs. 


bottles. It is for buttery, as chancery (see p. 80) is for 
chancelry. It is not, of course, now limited to bottles, 
any more than the pantry to bread or the larder to 
bacon, Fr. lard, Lat. laridum. The spence, aphetic for 
dispense, is now known only in Scotland, but has given us 
the name Spencer. The still-room maid is not extinct, 
but I doubt whether the distilling of strong waters is 
now carried on in the region over which she presides. 
A journeyman has nothing to do with journeys in the 
modern sense of the word, but works a la journfe, by 
the day. Cf. Fr. journalier, " & journey man; one that 
workes by the day " (Cotgrave), and German Tagelohner, 
literally "day wager." On the other hand, a day- 
woman (Love's Labour's Lost, i. 2) is an explanatory 
pleonasm (cf. greyhound, p. 124) for the old word day, 
servant, milkmaid, etc., whence dairy and the common 
surname Day. 

A briar pipe is made, not from briar, but from the 
root of heather, Fr. bruyere, of Celtic origin. A catchpole 
did not catch polls, i.e. heads, nor did he catch people 
with a pole, although a very ingenious implement, 
exhibited in the Tower of London Armoury, is cata- 
logued as a catchpole. It corresponds to a French 
compound chasse-poule, catch-hen, in Picard cache-pole, 
the official's chief duty being to collect dues, or, in 
default, poultry. For /<?/, from Fr. poule, cf. polecat, also 
an enemy of fowls. The companion-ladder on ship- 
board is a product of folk-etymology. It leads to the 
kampanje, the Dutch for cabin. Both words belong to 
a late Lat. capanna, hut, which has a very numerous 
progeny. Kajuit, another Dutch word for cabin, earlier 
kajute, has given us cuddy. 

A carousal is now regarded as a carouse, but the two 
are quite separate, or, rather, there are two distinct 
words carousal. One of them is from Fr. carrousel, a 


word of Italian origin, meaning a pageant or carnival 
with chariot races and tilting. This word, obsolete in 
this sense, is sometimes spelt el and accented on the 
last syllable 

" Before the crystal palace, where he dwells, 
The armed angels hold their carousels" 

(ANDREW MARVELL, Lachryma Musarum.) 

Ger. Karussell means a roundabout at a fair. Our 
carousal, if it is the same word, has been affected in 
sound and meaning by carouse. This comes, probably 
through French, from Ger. garaus, quite out, in the 
phrase garaus trinken, i.e., to drink bumpers 

" The queen carouses to thy fortune, Hamlet." 

(Hamlet, v. 2.) 

Rabelais says that he is not one of those who would 
compel their companions to drink " carous et alluz (all- 
aus) qui pis est" (Pantagruel, Hi., Prologue). The 
spelling garous, and even garaus ; is found in i/th- 
century English. 

It is perhaps unnecessary to say that a maul-stick, 
Dutch maal-stok, paint-stick, has nothing to do with the 
verb to maul, formerly to mall* i.e., to hammer. Nor 
is the painter's lay-figure connected with our verb to lay. 
It is also, like so many art terms, of Dutch origin, the 
lay representing Du. lid, limb, cognate with Ger. 
died? The German for lay-figure is Gliederpuppe, 
joint -doll. Sewel's Dutch Diet. (1766) has leeman, or 
ledeman, " a statue, with pliant limbs for the use of a 
painter." A footpad is not a rubber-soled highwayman, 
but a pad, or robber, who does his work on foot. He 
was also called apadder 

1 Hence the Mall and Pall-Mall, where games like croquet were played. 
3 The g- represents the Old High German prefix gi-, ge-. Cf. Eng. 
luck and Ger. Gliick. 


" While Hudibras, with equal haste, 
On both sides laid about as fast, 
And spurr'd, as jockies use, to break, 
Or padders, to secure, a neck." 

(BUTLER, HudibraS) iii. I.) 

i.e., one who takes to the " road," from Du. pad, path. 
Pad, an ambling nag, a " roadster," is the same word. 

Pen comes, through Old French, from Lat. penna, " a 
penne, quil, or fether " (Cooper), while pencil is from 
Old Fr. pincel (pinceau), a painter's brush, from Lat 
penicillus, a little tail. The modern meaning of pencil, 
which still meant painter's brush in the i8th century, is 
due to association with pen. The ferrule of a walking- 
stick is a distinct word from ferule, an aid to education. 
The latter is Lat. ferula, " an herbe like big fenell, and 
maye be called fenell giant. Also a rodde, sticke, or 
paulmer, wherewith children are striken and corrected 
in schooles ; a cane, a reede, a walking staffe " (Cooper). 
Ferrule is a perversion of earlier virrel, virrol, Fr. virole, 
"an iron ring put about the end of a staffe, etc, to 
strengthen it, and keep it from riving " (Cotgrave). 
The modern form is perhaps partly due to the preceding 
word, the " staffe " acting as point of contact. 

The modern meaning of pester is due to a wrong 
association with pest. Its earlier meaning is to hamper 
or entangle 

" Confined and pestered in this pinfold here." 

(Comus, 1. 7.) 

It was formerly impester, from Old Fr. empestrer 
(empetrer), "to pester, intricate, intangle, trouble, 
incumber " (Cotgrave), originally to " hobble " a grazing 
horse with pasterns, or shackles (see pastern, p. 69). 

Mosaic work is not connected with Moses, but with 
the muses and museum. Sorrow and sorry are quite 
unrelated. Sorrow is from Anglo-Sax, sorg, sork, 


cognate with Ger. Sorge, anxiety. Sorry, Mid. Eng. 
sort, is a derivative of sore, cognate with Ger. sehr, very, 
lit. " painfully " ; cf. English " sore afraid," or the modern 
"awfully nice," which is in South Germany arg nett, 
" vexatiously nice." 

It is probable that vagabond, Lat. vagabundus, has no 
etymological connection with vagrant, which appears to 
come from Old Fr. waucrant, present participle of 
waucrer, a common verb in the Picard dialect, probably 
related to Eng. walk. Cotgrave spells it vaucrer, "to 
range, roame, vagary, wander, idly (idle) it up and 
down." Cotgrave also attributes to it the special 
meaning of a ship sailing " whither wind and tide will 
carry it," the precise sense in which it is used in the 
13th-century romance of Aucassin et Nicolette. 

Other examples of mistaken associations are 
scullion and scullery (p. 39), and sentry and sentinel 
(p. 96). Many years ago Punch had a picture by Du 
Maurier called the " Vikings of Whitby," followed by 
a companion picture, the Viqueens. The word is not 
vi-king but vik-ing, the exact meaning of vik being 



IN the study of family names we come across very 
much the same phenomena as in dealing with other 
words. They are subject to the same phonetic accidents 
and to the distortions of folk-etymology, being " altered 
strangely to significative words by the common sort, 
who desire to make all to be significative" (Camden, 
Remains concerning Britain). Doublets and homonyms 
are of frequent occurrence, and the origin of some names 
is obscured by the well - meaning efforts of early 
philologists. It might be expected that a family name 
would by its very nature tend to preserve its original 
form. This is, however, not the case. In old parish 
registers one often finds on one page two or three 
different spellings for the same name, and there are 
said to be a hundred and thirty variants of Mainwaring. 1 
The telescoped pronunciation of long names such as 
Cholmondeley, Daventry, Marjoribanks, Strachan, is a 
familiar phenomenon, and very often the telescoped 
form persists separately, e.g., Posnett and Poslett occur 
often in Westmorland for Postlethwaite. Beecham 
exists by the side of Beauchamp ; Saint Clair and Saint 
Maur are usually reduced to Sinclair and Seymour ; 

1 This is probably the record for a proper name, but does not by any 
means equal that of the word cushion, of which about four hundred 
variants are found in old wills and inventories. 


Boon 1 and Moon disguise the aristocratic Bohun and 
Mohun. In a story by Mr Wells, Miss Winchelsects 
Heart, the name Snooks is gradually improved to 
Sevenoaks, from which in all probability it originally 
came, via Senoaks ; cf. sennight for seven-night, 
and such names as Fiveash, Twelvetrees, etc Folk- 
etymology converts Arblaster, the cross-bowman, 
into Alabaster, Fishwick into Physick, and AnnabeliniQ 
Hannibal and Honeyball. Malthus looks like Latin, 
but is identical with MaltJwuse, just as Bellows is for 
Bellhouse, Loftus for Lofthouse, and Bacchus, fined for 
intoxication, Jan. 5, 1911, for Bakehouse. Goodenough 
probably consists of hough or haugh, a hill, and the 
name Godwin, while Toogood, Thurgood, and Thorough- 
good are all corruptions of an old Saxon name Thurgod. 
Godebert gives our Godber, but we have also the per- 
versions Godbehere, Goodbeer, and Gotobed. Some- 
times family vanity may have brought about a change. 
Beaufoy is a grammatical monstrosity. Its older form 
is Beaufou, fine beech (see p. 1 19), with an ambiguous 
second syllable. Other examples of such corruptions 
will be found in this chapter. 

Family names fall into four great classes, which are, 
in descending order of size, local, baptismal, functional, 
and nicknames. But we have a great many homonyms, 
names capable of two or more explanations. Thus 
Bell may be for Fr. le bel or from a shop-sign, Collet a 
diminutive of Nicholas or an aphetic form of acolyte. 
Dennis is usually for Dionysius, but sometimes for 
le Danois, the Dane; Gillott, and all family names 
beginning with Gill-, may be from Gillian (see p. 42), 
or from Fr. Guillaume. A famous member of the 
latter family was Guillotin, the humanitarian doctor 

who urged the abolition of clumsy methods of decapita- 


1 Another origin of this name is Fr. It ion. 


tion. His name is a double diminutive, like Fr. 
diablotin, goblin. Leggatt is a variant of Lidgate, 
swing gate, and of Legate. Lovell is an affectionate 
diminutive or is for Old Fr. louvel, little wolf. It was 
also in Mid. English a dog's name, hence the force of 
the rime 

"The Rat (Ratcliffe), the Cat (Catesby), and Lovell, our dog, 
Rule all England under the Hog." (1484-) 

It has a doublet Lowell. The name Turney, well 
known in Nottingham, is from the town of Tournay, or 
is aphetic for attorney. In the following paragraphs I 
generally give only one source for each name, but it 
should be understood that in many cases two or more 
are possible. The forms also vary. 

Baptismal names often give surnames without any 
suffix. Sometimes these are slightly disguised, e.g., 
Cobbett (Cuthbert), Garrett (Gerard), Hammond, Fr. 
Hamon (Hamo), Hibbert (Hubert), Jessop (Joseph), Neil 
(Nigel), distance (Constance) ; or they preserve a name 
no longer given baptismally, e.g., Aldridge (Alderic), 
Bardell (Bardolph), Goodeve (Godiva), Goodlake (Gutn- 
lac), Goodrich (Goderic), Harvey**- (Hervey, Fr. Hervi), 
Mayhew (Old Fr. Mahieu, Matthew). With the help of 
diminutive suffixes we get Atkin (Adam), Bodkin 
(Baldwin), Larkin (Lawrence), Perkin, Parkin (Peter), 
Hackett (Haco), Huggin, Hutchin, Hewett, Hewlett, Howitt 
(Hugh), Philpot (Philip), Tibbet (Theobald or Isabella), 
Tillet (Matilda), Wilmot (William), Wyatt (Guy), Gibbon, 

1 " The last two centuries have seen the practice made popular of using 
surnames for baptismal names. Thus the late Bishop of Carlisle was 
Harvey Goodwin, although for several centuries Harvey has been obsolete 
as a personal name" (Bardsley). Camden already complains that "sur- 
names of honourable and worshipful families are given now to mean men's 
children for Christian names." Forty years ago there was hardly a 
more popular name than Percy, while at the present day the admonition, 
" Be'ave yerself, 'Oward" is familiar to the attentive ear. 


Gilpin (Gilbert), etc., with numerous variants and further 
derivatives. The changes that can be rung on one 
favourite name are bewildering, e.g., from Robert we 
have Rob, Dob, Hob, and Bob ; the first three with a 
numerous progeny, while Bob, now the favourite 
abbreviation, came into use too late to found a large 
dynasty. From Richard we have Richards and Richard- 
son, and from its three abbreviations Rick, Dick, Hick, 
with their variants Rich, Digg, Hig, Hitch, probably the 
largest family of surnames in the language. As the 
preceding examples show, family names are frequently 
derived from the mother. Other examples, which are 
not quite obvious, are Betts (Beatrice), Sisson (Cecilia), 
Moxon and Padgett (Margaret, Moggy, Madge, Padge), 
Parnell (Petronilla), Ibbotson (Ib, Isabella), Tillotson 
(Matilda). One group of surnames is derived from 
baptismal names given according to the season of the 
Church. Such are Pentecost, Pascal, whence Cornish 
Pascoe, Nowell, and Middlemas, generally a corruption 
of Michaelmas. With these may be grouped Loveday, a 
(iay appointed for reconciliations. 

Surnames derived from place of residence often 
contain a preposition, e.g., Atwood, Under/till, and some- 
times the- article as well, e.g., Attenborough, Bythesea. 
In Surtees, on the Tees, we have a French preposition 
and an English river name. Sometimes they preserve 
a word otherwise obsolete. Barton, a farmyard, origin- 
ally a barley-field, has given its name to about thirty 
places in England, and thus, directly or indirectly, to 
many familiea Bristow preserves what was once the 
regular pronunciation of Bristol. The famous north 
country name Peel means castle, as still in the Isle of 
Man. It is Old Fr. pel (pal}, stake, and the name was 
originally given to a wooden hill-fort or stockade. 

Many places which have given family names have 


themselves disappeared from the map, while others, 
now of great importance, are of too recent growth 
to have been used in this way. Many of our family 
names are taken from those of continental towns, 
especially French and Flemish. Camden says, " Neither 
is there any village in Normandy that gave not denomina- 
tion to some family in England." Such are Bullen or 
Boleyn (Boulogne}, Cullen (Cologne), Challis (Calais], 
Challen (Chdlori), Chaworth (Cahors), Bridges ^ (Bruges}, 
Druce (Dreux), Gaunt (Gand, Ghent), Lubbock (Lubeck), 
Luck (Luick, Liege), Mann (le Mans), Malins (Malines, 
Mechlin), Nugent (Nogenf), Haw trey {Hauterive), and 
Dampier (Dampierre). To decide which is the particular 
Hauterive or Dampierre in question is the work of the 
genealogist. Dampierre (Dommus Petrus) means Saint 
Peter. In some cases these names have been simplified, 
e.g., Camden notes that Conyers, from Coigniers, lit. 
quince-trees, becomes Quince. 

French provinces have given us Burgoyne, Champain, 
Gascoyneo* Gaskin, and Mayne, and adjectives formed from 
names of countries, provinces and towns survive in All- 
man (Allemand}, Brabazon (le Braban^on, the Brabanter), 
Brett (le Bret or le Breton 2 ), Champneys (le Champenois), 
with which we may compare Cornwallis, from the Old 
French adjective cornwaleis, man of Cornwall, Pickard 
(le Picard}, Poidevin (le Poitevin), Mansell, Old Fr. 
Mancel (le Manceau), inhabitant of Maine or le Mans, 
Hanivay and Hannay (le Hannuyer, the Hainaulter). 
To these may be added Pollock, the Pole, or Polack 

" Why then the Polack never will defend it." 

{Hamlet, iv. 4.) 

Loring (le Lorrain), assimilated to Fleming, Janaway, 

1 Of course also of English origin, 

2 Hence also the name Britton. 


the Genoese, and Hansard, a member of the Hanse 
confederation. Morris means sometimes Moorish 
(see p. 45), and Norris, besides having the meaning 
seen in its contracted form Nurse, Fr. nourrice, may 
stand for le Noreis, the Northener. We still have a 
Norroy king-at-arms, who holds office north of the 

In some cases the territorial de remains, e.g., 
Dolman is sometimes the same as Dalmain, dAllemagne, 
Daubeney is dAubignt, Danvers is d'Anvers (Antwerp), 
Devereux is cTEvreux, a town which takes its name 
from the Eboraci, and Disney is d'Isigny. Durrani 
is the common French name Durand. With these 
may be mentioned Dawnay, from Old Fr. aunai, 1 
a grove of alders. The last governor of the Bastille 
was the Marquis de Launay (Faunai). There is a large 
group of such words in French, coming from Latin 
collectives in -etum ; cTAubray is from Lat arbo- 
retum, and has given also the dissimilated form 
Darblay, famous in English literature. Other examples 
are Chesney, Chaney, etc., the oak-grove, 2 Poweroy, the 
apple garden. 

Names of French origin are particularly subject to 
corruption .and folk-etymology. We have the classic 
example of Tess Durbeyfield? Camden, in his Remains 
concerning Britain, gives, among other curious instances, 
Troublefield for Turberville. Greenfield is usually literal 
(cf. Whitfield, Whittaker, Greenacre, etc.), but occasionally 
for Grenville. Summerfield is for Somerville. The 

1 Old Fr. vernai, whence our Verney, Varney, has the same meaning ; 
cf. Dwernty, the name of a famous dancer. Verne, alder, is of Celtic 

8 Cf. Chenevix, old oak, a name introduced by the Huguenots. 

3 Other examples quoted by Mr Hardy are Priddle, from Paridelle, and 
Debbyhouse " The Debbyhouses who now be carters were once the de Bayeux 
family" (Tess of the d? Urbervilles, v. 35). 


notorious Dangerfield was of Norman ancestry, from 
Angerville. Mullins looks a very English name, but it 
is from Fr. moulin, mill, as Musters is from Old Fr. 
moustier, monastery. Phillimore is a corruption of 
Finnemore, Yr.fin amour. 

When we come to names which indicate office or 
trade, we have to distinguish between those that are 
practically nicknames, such as King, Duke, Bishop, 
CcBsar 1 (Julius Caesar was a famous cricketer of the old 
school), and those that are to be taken literally. Many 
callings now obsolete have left traces in our surnames. 
The very common name Chapman reminds us that this 
was once the general term for a dealer (see p. 62), one 
who spends his time in chaffering or "chopping and 
changing." The grocer, or engrosser, i.e., the man who 
bought wholesale, Fr. en gros? came too late to supplant 
the family name Spicer. Bailey, Old Fr. bailif (bailli) , 
represents all sorts of officials from a Scotch magistrate 
to a man in possession. Bayliss seems to be formed 
from it like Williams from William. Chaucer, Old Fr. 
chancier, now replaced by chaussetier, " a hosier, or hose- 
maker " (Cotgrave), is probably obsolete as an English 
surname. Mr Homer's ancestors made helmets, Fr. 
heaume. Jenner is for engenour, engineer (see gin, p. 60). 
In Ferrier traditional spelling seems to have triumphed 
over popular pronunciation {farrier), but the latter 
appears in Farrar. Chaucer's somonour survives as 
Sumner. Ark was once a general name for a bin, hence 

1 These names are supposed to have been generally conferred in conse- 
quence of characters represented in public performances and processions. In 
some cases they imply that the bearer was in the employment of the dignitary. 
We find them in other languages, e.g., Fr. Leroy, Leduc, Lhieque ; Ger. Kiinig, 
Herzog, Bischof. Leveque has given Eng. Levick, Vick, and (Trotty) Veck. 

a Gross, twelve dozen, seems to be of Germanic origin, the duodecimal 
hundred, Ger. Grosshundert, being Norse or Gothic. But Ger. Grosshundert 
means 120 only. 


the name Arkwright. Nottingham still has a Fletcher 
Gate, Lister Gate, and Pilcher Gate. It is not surprising 
that the trade of \hzfletcher, Old Yr.fleschier (FlMiier), 
arrow-maker, should be obsolete. Lister, earlier littester, 
gave way to dighester, whence the name Dexter, well 
known in Nottingham, and this is now replaced by dyer. 
A PikJter made pilches, or mantles ; cf. the cognate 
Fr. name Pelissier, a maker of pelisses)- Kiddier was 
once equivalent to pedlar, from kid, a basket. Sailors 
still speak of the bread-fad. For the name Wait, see 
p. 70. The ancestor of the Poyser family made scales 
{poises), or was in charge of a public balance. Faulkner, 
falconer, Foster, Forster, forester, and Warner, warrener, 
go together. With the contraction of Warner we may 
compare Marner, mariner. Crowther means fiddler. 
The obsolete crowd, a fiddle, is of Celtic origin. It is a 
doublet of rote, the name of the instrument played by the 
medieval minstrels. Both words are used by Spenser. 

Finder, the man in charge of the pound or pinfold, 
was the name of a famous wicket-keeper of thirty years 
ago. The still more famous cricketing name of 
Trumper means one who blows the trump. Cf. Homer 
and Corner, which have, however, alternative origins, a 
maker of horn cups and a coroner respectively. A dealer 
in shalloon (see p. 43) was a Chaloner or Chawner. Par- 
minter, a tailor, is as obsolete as its Old French original 
parmentier, a maker of parements, deckings, irom. parer, 
Lat. parare, to prepare. A member of the Parmentier 
family introduced the cultivation of the potato into 
France just before the Revolution, hence potage 
Parmentier, potato soup. The white tawer still plies his 
trade, but^is hardly recognisable in Whittier. Massinger 
is a corruption of messenger. The Todhunter, or fox- 

1 Surplice, Old Fr. surpelis, is a compound of the same word. The 
original meaning is fur cloak. 


hunter, used to get twelve pence per fox-head from the 
parish warden. Coltman is simple, but Runciman, the 
man in charge of the runcies or rouncies, is less obvious. 
Rouncy, a nag, is a common word in Mid. English. 
It comes from Old Fr. roncin (roussiri), and is probably a 
derivative of Ger. Ross, horse. The Spanish form is 
rocin, " a horse or jade " (Minsheu, 1623), whence Don 
Quixote's charger Rocin-ante, " a jade formerly." 

A park keeper is no longer called a Parker, nor a 
maker of palings and palissades a Palliser. An English 
sea-king has immortalised the trade of the Frobisher, 
or furbisher, and a famous bishop bore the appropriate 
name of Latimer, for Latiner. With this we may 
compare Lorimer, for loriner, harness-maker, a derivative, 
through Old French, of Lat. lorum, " a thong of leather ; 
a coller or other thing, wherewith beastes are bounden 
or tyed ; the reyne of a brydle " (Cooper). The Loriners 
still figure among the London City Livery Companies, 
as do also the Bowyers, Broderers, Fletchers (see p. 164), 
Homers (see p. 164), Pattenmakers, Poulters and 
Upholders (see p. 58). Scriven, Old Fr. escrivain 
(4crivain\ is now usually extended to Scrivener. For 
Cator see p. 58. In some of the above cases the name 
may have descended from a female, as we have not 
usually a separate word for women carrying on trades 
generally practised by men. In French there is a feminine 
form for nearly every occupation, hence such names as 
Labouchere, the lady butcher, or the butcher's wife. 

The meaning of occupative names is not always on 
the surface. It would, for instance, be rash to form 
hasty conclusions as to the pursuits of Richard Kisser, 
whose name occurs in medieval London records. He 
probably made cuisses? thigh armour, Fr. cutsse, thigh, 
Lat. coxa. A Barker prepared bark for tanning pur- 
1 See quotation from Henry IV. (p. 145). 

L 2 


poses. Booker is a doublet of Butcher. A Cleaver was, 
in most cases, a mace-bearer, Old Fr. clavier (Clavier is a 
common family name in France) from Lat. clava, a club. 
He may, however, have sometimes been a porter, as 
Old Fr. clavier also means key-bearer, Lat. clavis, a key. 
A Croker, or Crocker ; sold crocks, i.e., pottery. A Lander, 
or Launder, was a washer-man, Fr. lavandier. A 
Sloper made " slops," i.e., loose upper garments, overalls. 
A Reeder or Reader thatched with reeds. A Walker 
walked, but within a circumscribed space. He was also 
called a Fuller, Fr. fouler, to trample, or a Tucker, Old 
Fr. touquer (toquer), to beat, the Picard form of touc/ier. 
The fuller is still called Walker in Germany. Kemp is 
an Old English word for warrior, champion. It 
represents, like Ger. kampfen, to fight, a very early loan 
from Lat. campus, in the sense of battle-field. Banister 
is a corruption of balestier, a cross-bow man ; cf. 
banister for baluster (p. 55). 

Some of the occupative names in -ward and -lierd 
are rather deceptive. Hayivard means hedge 1 guard. 
Howard is a blend of Hayward and Hereward. The 
first source accounts for the frequent occurrence of this 
noble name. For the social elevation of the sty-ward, 
see p. 83. Durward is door-ward. The simple Ward, 
replaced in its general sense by warden, warder, etc., is 
one of our commonest surnames. Similarly Herd, 
replaced by Jierdsman, is borne as a surname by one 
who, if he attains not to the first three, is usually held 
more honourable than the thirty. Hogarth is for 
Hoggart, hog-herd ; Seward is sometimes for sow-herd ; 
Calvert represents calf-herd, and Stoddart stot' 2 -herd, i.e., 

1 The obsolete hay, hedge, is also a common surname, Hay, Haig, 
Haigh, etc. 

3 "' Shentlernans !' cried Andie, ' Shentlemans, ye hielant slot ! If God 
would give ye the grace to see yersel' the way that ithers see ye, ye would 
throw your denner up ' " (Catriona, Ch. XV.)- 


bullock-herd. Lambert is in some cases lamb-herd, and 
Nutter is in all probability a perversion of neat-herd, 
through the North Country and Scot, nowt-herd. It is 
a common surname in Lancashire, and Alice Nutter 
was one of the Lancashire Witches. 

In a sense all personal names are nicknames, since 
they all give that additional information which enables 
us to distinguish one person from another. The 
practice of giving nicknames suggested by appearance, 
physique, or habits is common to the European 
languages ; but, on the whole, our nicknames compare 
very unfavourably with those of savage nations. We 
cannot imagine an English swain calling his lady-love 
" Laughing Water." From Roman times onward, 
European nicknames are in their general character 
obvious and prosaic, and very many of them are 
the reverse of complimentary. The most objection- 
able have either disappeared, 1 or the original mean- 
ing has become so obscured as to cease to give 
offence to the possessor. When a man had any 
choice in the matter, he naturally preferred not 
to perpetuate a grotesque name conferred on some 
ancestor. Medieval names were conferred on the 
individual, and did not become definitely hereditary 
till the Reformation. In later times names could 
only be changed by form of law. It is thus that 
Bugg became Norfolk Howard, a considerable trans- 
formation inspired by a natural instinct to "avoid 
the opinion of baseness," as Camden puts it. We 
no longer connect Gosse with goose, nor Pennefather 

1 The following occur in the index to Bardsley's English Surnames : 
Blackinthemouth, Blubber, Calvesmawe, Cleanhog, Crookbone, Damned- 
Barebones, Drunkard, Felon, Greenhorn, Halfpenny, Hatechrist, Hogsflesh, 
Killhog, Leper, Mad, Measle, Milksop, Outlaw, Peckcheese, Peppercorn, 
Poorfish, Pudding, Ragman, Scorchbeef, Sourale, Sparewater, Sweatinbed, 
Twopenny, Widehose. 


with a miser. 1 In Purcell we lose f \.pourceau, Old Fr. 
pourcel, little pig, Fitch no longer means a pole-cat, nor 
Brock a badger. On the other hand, we generally 
regard Gosling as a nickname, while it is more often a 
variant of Jocelyn. 

Names descriptive of appearance or habits often 
correspond pretty closely with those that are found in 
French. In some cases they are probably mere trans- 
lations. Examples are : Merryweather (Bontemps), 
Drinkivater (Boileau^), Armstrong (Fortinbras), Lily white 
(Blanchefleur). Among colour names we have Black, 
Brown, White, and Grey, but seem to miss red. The 
explanation is that for this colour we have adopted 
the Northern form Reid (Read, Reed}, or such French 
names as Rudge (rouge), Rouse (roux), Russell (Rousseau). 
With the last of these, Old. Fr. roussel, cf. Brunei and 
Morel. Fr. blond has given Blount, Blunt, and the 
diminutive Blundell, which exist by the side of the fine 
old English name Fairfax, from Mid. Eng. fax, hair. 
Several other French adjectives have given us surnames, 
e.g., Boon (bon), Bonner (debonnaire), Grant (grand], 
Curtis (courtois), Power (pauvre), etc. Payn is the 
French adjective/tfzV#, pagan, properly a dweller in the 
country. For the meaning, cf. heathen. 

But many apparent nicknames are products of folk- 
etymology. Coward is for cowherd, Salmon for Salomon, 
Bone for Boon (v.s.), Dedman is a corruption of Deben- 
ham. Playfair means play-fellow, from an old word 
connected with the verb to fare, to journey. Patch may 
sometimes have meant a jester, from his parti-coloured 
garments, but is more often a variant of Pash, Pask, a 
baptismal name given to children christened at Easter, 

1 Pinse-maille (ince-maille), " a pinch peny, scrape-good, nigard, miser, 
penie-father" (Cotgrave). 

2 Cf. also Ital. Bevilacqua. 


Old Fr. Pasque (Pdque). Easter eggs are still called 
pash, pace, or paste eggs in the north of England. 
Blood is a Welsh name, son of Lud ; cf. Sevan, Bowen, 
etc. Coffin is Fr. Chauvin, a derivative of Lat. calvus, 
bald. It has a variant Caffyn, the name of a famous 
cricketer. Dance, for Dans, is related to Daniel as Wills 
is to William. In the same way Pearce comes from 
Peter or Pierre. The older form of the name Pearce 
was borne by the most famous of ploughmen, as it still 
is by the most famous of soapmakers. Names such 
as Bull, Peacock, Greenman, are often from shop or 
tavern signs. It is noteworthy that, as a surname, we 
usually find the old form Pocock. The Green Man, still 
a common tavern sign, represented a kind of savage ; 
cf. the Ger. sum wilden Mann. 

In these remarks on surnames I have only tried to 
show in general terms how they come into existence, 
"hoping to incur no offence herein with any person, 
when I protest in all sincerity, that I purpose nothing 
less than to wrong any whosoever " (Camden). Many 
names are susceptible of alternative explanations, 
and it requires a genealogist, and generally some 
imagination, to decide to which particular source a 
given family can be traced. The two arguments some- 
times drawn from armorial bearings and medieval Latin 
forms are worthless. Names existed before escutcheons 
and devices, and these are often mere puns, e.g., the 
Onslow family, of local origin, has adopted the excellent 
motto festina lente, hurry slowly. The famous name 
Sacheverell is latinised as De Saltu Capellcs, of the kid's 
leap. This agrees with the oldest form Sau-cheverell, 
which might conceivably stand for modern Fr. saut du 
chevreau, but evidence is lacking. The fact that Napier 
of Merchiston had for his device ria pier, no equal, does 
not make it any the less true that his ancestors were, 


as the child said of Perkin Warbeck's parents, " really, 
respectable people " (see p. 52). Dr Brewer, in his 
Dictionary of Phrase and Fable, says of his own name, 
"This name, which exists in France as Bruhiere and 
Brugiere, is not derived from the Saxon briwan (to 
brew), but the French bruyere (heath), and is about 
tantamount to the German Plantagenet (broom plant)." 
A " German " Plantagenet should overawe even a 
Norfolk Howard. A more interesting identification, 
and a true one, is that of the name of the great engineer 
Telford, a corruption of Telfer, with Taillefer, the " iron 

A curious feature in nomenclature is the local 
character of some nicknames. A striking instance of 
this is the Notts name Daft. 1 " A Daft might have 
played in the Notts County Eleven in 1273 as well as 
in 1886" (Bardsley). The only occurrence of the name 
in the Hundred Rolls for the year 1273 is in the county 
of Notts. 

1 This word has degenerated. It is a doublet of deft. 



ROMANCE and Germanic etymology dates from the 
middle of the igth century, and is associated especially 
with the names of two great Germans, Friedrich Diez, 
who published his Worterbuch der romanischen Sprachen 
in 1853, and Jakob Grimm, whose Detitsches Worterbuch 
dates from 1852. These two men applied in their 
respective fields of investigation the principles of 
comparative philology, and reduced to a science what 
had previously been an amusement for the learned or 
the ignorant. 

Men have always been fascinated by word lore. 
The Greeks and Romans played with etymology in a 
somewhat metaphysical fashion, a famous example of 
which is the derivation of lucus a non lucendo. Medieval 
writers delight in giving amazing information as to the 
origin of the words they use. Their method, which may 
be called learned folk-etymology, consists in attempting 
to resolve an unfamiliar word into elements which give 
a possible interpretation of its meaning. Thus Philippe 
de Thaiin, who wrote a kind of verse encyclopedia at 
the beginning of the I2th century, derives the French 
names of the days of the week as follows : lundi> day of 
light (lumiere), mardi, day of toil or martyrdom 
(inartyre), mercredi, day of market (marc/if), jeudi, day 



of joy (joie\ vendredi, day of truth (vtrtt/), samedi, day 
of sowing (sentence}. Here we perhaps have, not so 
much complete ignorance, as the desire to be edifying, 
which is characteristic of the medieval etymologists. 

Playful or punning etymology also appears very 
early. Wace, whose Roman de Ron dates from about 
the middle of the I2th century, gives the correct origin 
of the word Norman 

" Justez (put) ensemble north et man 
Et ensemble dites northman." 

But he also records the libellous theory that Normendie 
comes from north mendie (begs). We cannot always 
say whether an early etymology is serious or not, but 
many theories which were undoubtedly meant for jokes 
have been quite innocently accepted by comparatively 
modern writers. 1 

The philologists of the Renaissance period were 
often very learned men, but they had no knowledge of 
the phonetic laws by which sound change is governed. 
Nor were they aware of the existence of Vulgar Latin, 
which is, to a much greater extent than classical Latin, 
the parent of the Romance languages. Sometimes a 
philologist had a pet theory which the facts were made 
to fit. Hellenists like Henri Estienne believed in the 

1 The following " etymologies " occur, in the same list with a number 
which are quite correct, in a 16th-century French author, Tabourot des 
Accords : 

Bonnet, de ban et net, pource que 1'ornement de la teste doit estre tel. 

CAafeau, quasi, eschappe eau ; aussi anciennement ne le souloit on porter 
que par les champs en temps de pluye. 

Chemise, quasi, sur chair mise. 

Velours, quasi, velu ours. 

Galant, quasi, gay allant. 

Menestrier, quasi, tneine estrier des espousees. 

Orgueil, quasi, orde gueule, 

Noise, vient de nois (noix), qui font noise et bruit portees ensemble. 

Parlement, pource qu'on y parle et ment! 


Greek origin of the French language, and derived 
maison from the Greek accusative OIKOV (ot/coy, a house) 
by the simple method of prefixing an m. At other 
periods there have been Celtomaniacs, i.e., scholars who 
insisted on the Celtic origin of French. 

The first English etymological dictionary which aims 
at something like completeness is the Guide into the 
Tongues of John Minsheu, published in 1617. This 
attempts to deal not only with English, but with ten 
other languages. It contains a great deal of learning, 
much valuable information for the student of Tudor 
literature, and some amazing etymologies. " To 
purloine^ or get privily away," is, says Minsheu, " a 
metaphor from those that picke the fat of the loines" 
Parmaceti(\ Henry IV., i. 3), a corruption of spermaceti, 
he derives from Parma, which has given its name to 
parmesan cheese. On the word cockney^ he waxes 
anecdotic, always a fatal thing in an etymologist. 
" Cockney, or cockny, applied only to one borne within 
the sound of Bow-bell, that is, within the City of 
London, which tearme came first out of this tale : 
That a cittizens sonne riding with his father out 
of London into the country, and being a novice and 
meerely ignorant how corne or cattell increased, asked, 
when he heard a horse neigh, what the horse did ; 
his father answered, the horse doth neigh; riding 
farther he heard a cocke crow, and said, doth the cocke 
neigh too ? " 

Moliere often makes fun of the etymologists of his 
time and has rather unfairly caricatured, as Vadius in 

1 Old Fr. pourloignier, to remove ; cf. eloigner, 

2 A very difficult word. Before it was applied to a Londoner it meant a 
milksop. It is thus used by Chaucer. Cooper renders deliciasfacere, " to 
play the wanton, to dally, to play the cockney." In this sense it corresponds 
to Fr. acoguine, made into a coyiiin, "made tame, inward, familiar ; also, 
growne as lazy, sloathful, idle, as a beggar " (Cotgrave). 


Les Femmes savantes, the great scholar Gilles Menage, 
whose Etymological Dictionary, published in 1650, was 
long a standard work. Moliere's mockery and the 
fantastic nature of some of Menage's etymologies have 
combined to make him a butt for the ignorant, but 
it may be doubted whether any modern scholar, 
using the same implements, could have done better 
work. For Menage the one source of the Romance 
languages was classical Latin, and every word had 
to be traced to a Latin word of suitable form or 
sense. Thus Fr. haricot^ is connected by him with Lat. 
faba, a bean, via the conjectural "forms" fabarius^ 
fabaricus, fabaricotus, faricotus, haricotus, a method to 
which no problem is insoluble. 2 He suggests that 
Fr. geindre, or gindref baker's man, comes from Lat. 
gener, son-in-law, because the baker's man always 
marries the baker's daughter ; but this practice, common 
though it may be, is not of sufficiently unfailing 
regularity to constitute a philological law. Perhaps 
his greatest achievement was the derivation of Span. 
alfana* a mare, from Lat equus, a horse, which inspired 
a well-known epigram 

" Alfana vient d'eguus, sans doute, 
Mais il faut avouer aussi 
Qu'en venant de Ik jusqu'ici 
II a bien change sur la route." 

These examples show that respect for Menage need 
not prevent his work from being a source of innocent 
merriment. But the above epigram loses some of 

1 Origin quite unknown. 

2 " Sache que le mot galant homme vient <f elegant ; prenant le g et \'a de 
la derniere syllabe, cela fait ga, et puis prenant /, ajoutant un a et les deux 
dernieres lettres, cela fait galant, et puis ajoutant homme, cela fait galant 
homme" (Moliere, Jalousie du Barbouille, scene 2.) 

3 Old Fr. joindre, Lat. iunior. 

4 Of Arabic origin. 


its point for modern philologists to whom equations 
that look equally fantastic, e.g. Eng. wheel and Gk. 
/cwtXop, 1 are matters of elementary knowledge. On 
the other hand, a close resemblance between words 
of languages that are not nearly related is proof 
presumptive, and almost positive, that the words 
are quite unconnected. The resemblance between 
English and German words is the resemblance of 
first cousins, but the resemblance of Eng. nut, Ger. 
Ntiss to Lat. nux is accidental. Even in the case 
of languages that are near akin, it is not safe to 
jump to conclusions. The Greek cousin of Lat. deus 
is not Oeos, God, but ZeJ?, Jupiter. 

An etymology that has anything to do with a person 
or an anecdote is to be regarded with suspicion. For 
both we want contemporary evidence, and, in the case 
of an anecdote, we never, to the best of my knowledge, 
get it. In Chapter III. are a number of instances of 
words formed according to authentic evidence from 
names of persons. But the old-fashioned etymologist 
will not be denied his little story. Thus, in explanation 
of spencer (p. 36), I find in an Etymological Compendium 
of 1853 that "His Lordship, when Lord-lieutenant of 
Ireland, being out a-hunting, had, in the act of leaping 
a fence, the misfortune to have one of the skirts of his 
coat torn off; upon which his lordship tore off the 
other, observing, that to have but one left was like a 
pig with one ear! Some inventive genius took the 
hint, and having made some of these half-coats, out of 
compliment to his lordship, gave them the significant 
cognomen of Spencer!" This is what Pooh-Bah calls 

1 That is, they are both descended from the same Indo-Germanic 
original. Voltaire was thus, superficially, right when he described 
etymology as a science in which the vowels do not count at all and the 
consonants very little. 


"corroborative detail intended to give artistic veri- 
similitude to a bald and unconvincing narrative." 
From the same authority we learn that hurly-burly^- 
" is said to owe its origin to Hurleigh and Burleigh, 
two neighbouring families, that filled the country around 
them with contest and violence," and that the word 
boh ! " used to frighten children, was the name of Boh, 
a great general, the son of Odin, whose very appellation 
struck immediate panic in his enemies." 2 

The history of chouse exemplifies the same tendency. 
There is no doubt that it comes from a Turkish word 
meaning interpreter, spelt chaus in Hakluyt and chiaus 
by Ben Jonson. The borrowing is parallel to that of 
cozen (p. 142), interpreters having a reputation little 
superior to that of horse-coursers. But a century and 
a half after the introduction of the word we come 
across a circumstantial story of a Turkish chiaus who 
swindled some London merchants of a large sum in 
1609, the year before Jonson used the word in the 
Alchemist. " Corroborative detail " again. The story 
may be true, but there is not an atom of evidence for 
it, and Skinner, who suggests the correct derivation in 
his Etymologicon (1671), does not mention it. Until 
contemporary evidence is adduced, the story must be 
regarded as one of those fables which have been 
invented in dozens by early etymologists, and which 
are perpetuated in popular works of reference. It is an 
article of faith in Yorkshire that the coarse material 
called mungo owes its name to the inventor of the 

1 Cf. Fr. hurluberlu, which occurs in Rabelais, and in Rostand's Cyrano 
de Bergeron, 

2 I am tempted to quote further from this inexhaustible mine, e.g., 
lullaby from a fairy called Ellaby GatAon, whom nurses invited to watch 
the sleeping babes. The title of this cherished volume is Pulkyn's 
Etymological Compendium, 3rd ed., revised and improved by M. A. Thorns. 
(Tegg & Co., 1853.) 


machine used in its fabrication, who, when it stuck at a 
first trial, exclaimed with resolution, " It mun go" 

Many stories have been composed apres coup to 
explain the American hoodlum and the Australian 
larrikin, which are both older than our hooligan (see 
p. 10). The origin of hoodlum is quite obscure. The 
story believed in Australia with regard to larrikin is that 
an Irish policeman, giving evidence of the arrest of a 
rough, explained that the accused was a-larrikiri 
(larking) in the street, and this was misunderstood 
by a reporter. But there appears to be not the 
slightest foundation for this story. The word is 
perhaps a diminutive of the common Irish name 
Larry, also immortalised in the stirring ballad 

" The night before Larry was stretched." 

As I write, there is a correspondence going on in 
the Nottingham papers as to the origin of the nickname 
Bendigo, borne by a local bruiser and evangelist, who 
gave his name to an Australian town and a fur cap. 
He was one of triplets, whom, according to one account, 
a jocular friend of the family nicknamed Shadrach, 
Meschach, and Abed-Nego, the last of which was the 
future celebrity. This is quite plausible, but there is 
no sound evidence. The rival theory is that when he 
was playing in the streets and his father appeared in 
the offing, his companions used to warn him by crying 
" Bendy go ! " This theory disregards the assertion of 
the " oldest inhabitant " that the great man was never 
called Bendy, and the fact, familiar to any observer of 
the local dialect, that, even if he had been so called, 
the form of warning would have been, " Look aht, 
Bendy, yer daddy's a-coomen." 

In the Supplement to Littre there is an article on 
domino, in which he points out that investigation must 



start from the phrase faire domino (see p. 94). He 
also quotes an absurd anecdote from a local magazine, 
which professes to come from a "vieille chronique." 
Littr6 naturally wants to know what chronicle. In 
Scheler's Dictionary (Brussels, 1888), it is "proved" 
by means of the same story elaborated, " que c'est la 
la veritable origine du mot dont nous parlons." 

In Brewer's Dictionary of Phrase and Fable, s.v. 
sirloin, we read that " it is generally said that James I. 
or Charles II. knighted the loin of beef, but Henry 
VIII. had done so already." This sounds like a deter- 
mination to get at the root of things, but does not go 
far enough. The word is found in the I5th century, 
and Fr. surlonge, from which it comes, in the i/jth. 
It is compounded of sur, over, and longe, a derivative 
of Lat. lumbus, loin. The belief in the knightly origin 
of sirloin was so strong that we find it playfully called 
the baronet (Tom Jones, iv. 10). Hence, no doubt, the 
name baron of beef for the double sirloin. Tram is per- 
sistently connected with a Mr Outram, who flourished 
about 1800. This is another case of intelligent anticipa- 
tion, for the word is found in 1555. It means log or 
beam, and was probably first applied to a log-road 
laid across bad ground, what is called in America 
a "corduroy" road. On the other hand, the obvious 
and simple derivation of beef-eater, i.e. a man who is in 
the enviable position of being sure of his daily allow- 
ance, 1 has been obscured by the invention of an 
imaginary Fr. * beaufetier, waiter at the side-board. 
Professor Skeat attributes the success of this myth to 

1 The following explanation, given in Miege's French Dictionary (1688), 
is perhaps not far wrong : " C'est ainsi qu'on appelle par deYision les 
Yeomen of the Guard dans la cour d'Angleterre, qui sont des gardes a peu 
pres comme les cent Suisses en France. Et on leur donne ce nom-la, parce 
qu' a la cour ils ne vivent que de boeuf : par opposition a ces colleges 
d'Angleterre, oti les Ecoliers ne mangent que du mouton. " 


its inclusion in Mrs Markham's History of England. 
But the most indestructible of all these superstitions 
is connected with the word cabal. It comes from a 
Hebrew word meaning hidden mystery, and is found 
in the chief Romance languages. The word is of 
frequent occurrence in English long before the date 
of Charles II.'s acrostic ministry, 1 though its modern 
meaning has naturally been affected by this historic 

Even anecdotic etymologies accepted by the most 
cautious modern authorities do not always inspire 
complete confidence. Martinet is supposed to come 
from the name of a well-known French officer who 
reorganised the French infantry about 1670. We find 
it used by Wycherley in 1676, forty years before 
Martinet's death. But this application of the name is 
unknown in French, which has, however, a word 
martinet meaning a kind of cat-o'-nine-tails. In 
English, martinet means the leech-line of a sail, hence, 
possibly, rope's end, and Wycherley applies the term to 
a brutal sea-captain. The most renowned of carriers 
is probably Hobson, of Cambridge. He was sung by 
Milton, and bequeathed to the town Hobson's conduit 
which cleanses the Cambridge gutters. To him is 
also ascribed the phrase Hobson's choice, from his custom 
of refusing to let out his horses except in strict rotation. 
But Richard Cocks, a merchant venturer living in 
Japan, uses " Hodgson's choice " in his diary for the year 
1617, i- e -> fourteen years before the carrier left this 
world and became a legendary figure. 

1 An acrostic of this kind would have no point if it resulted in a 
meaningless word. In the same way the Old Fr. Fauvel, whence our curry 
favour (see p. 120), has medieval explanations of the acrostic kind, e.g., as 
standing for the vices Faineantise, Avarice, Usure, Vanite, Envie, Luxure. 
I am not sure about the exact vices, as I have lost the reference and quote 
from memory. 


The most obvious etymology needs to be proved up 
to the hilt, and the process is rich in surprises. 
Cambridge appears to be the bridge over the Cam. 
But the river's older name, which it preserves above 
the town, is the Granta, and Bede calls the town itself 
Grantacester. Camden, in his Britannia (trad. Holland, 
1637), notes that the county was called " in the English 
Saxon " Grentbrigseyre, and comments on the double 
name of the river. Nor can he "easily beleeve that 
Grant was turned into Cam; for this might seeme a 
deflexion some what too hardly streined, wherein 
all the letters but one are quite swallowed up." 
Grantabrigge became, by dissimilation (see p. 52), 
Gantabrigge, Cantabrigge (cf. Cantab], Cantbrigge, and, by 
assimilation (see p. 51), Cambridge, the river being 
rechristened from the name of the town. A beggar 
is not etymologically one who begs, or a cadger one 
who cadges. In each case the verb is evolved from 
the noun. About the year 1200 Lambert le Begue, 
the Stammerer, is said to have founded a religious 
order in Belgium. The monks were called after him 
in medieval Latin beghardi and the nuns beghina. 
The Old Fr. begard passed into Anglo-French with 
the meaning of mendicant and gave our beggar. From 
beguine we get biggin, a sort of cap (2 Henry IV., iv. 4). 
Cadger, or rather its Scot, form cadgear, a pedlar, occurs 
about one hundred and fifty years earlier than the verb to 
cadge. We find, noted as foreign words, in 16th-century 
Dutch, the words cagie, a basket carried on the back, 
and cagiaerd, one who carries such a basket. These 
must be of French origin, and come, like the obsolete 
Eng. cadge? a panier, from cage, for the history of which 

1 There is also a word cadge, explained in the glossary to a book on 
falconry (1615) as a kind of frame on which an itinerant vendor of hawks 
carried his birds. But it is unrecorded in literature and labours under the 


see p. 101. Cadger is used in Scottish of an itinerant 
fish merchant with his goods carried in paniers by 
a pony. Tobacco does not take its name from the 
island of Tobago, but from the native name of the tube 
through which the Caribs smoked it. 

The traditional derivation of vaunt is from Fr. 
vanter, and this from a late Lat. vanitare, to talk emptily, 
used by St Augustine. This looks very simple, but 
the real history of these words is most complicated. 
In Mid. English we regularly find avaunt, which comes 
from Old Fr. avanter, to put forward, from avant, 
before. This gets mixed up during the Tudor period 
with another vaunt from Fr. vanter, to extol, the 
derivation of which can only be settled when its earliest 
form is ascertained. At present we find venter as early 
as vanter, and this would represent Lat. venditare 
(frequentative of vendere, to sell), to push one's goods, 
" to do anything before men to set forth himselfe and 
have a prayse ; to vaunt ; to crake ; to brag" (Cooper). 

A sound etymology must fulfil three conditions. 
It must not violate the recognised laws of sound change. 
The development of meaning must be clearly traced. 
This must coincide with the earliest or fundamental sense 
of the word. It goes without saying (see p. 125) that in 
modern corruptions we are sometimes faced by cases 
which it would be difficult to explain phonetically. 
There are, in fact, besides the general phonetic and 
semantic laws, a number of obscure and accidental 
influences at work which are not yet codified. As 
we have seen (p. 175), complete apparent dissimilarity 
of sound and sense need not prevent two words from 

suspicion of being a ghost- word. Its first occurrence, outside the diction- 
aries, is, I believe, in Mr Hewlett's Song of Renny, just published " the 
nominal service of a pair of gerfalcons yearly, in golden hoods, upon 
a golden cadge " (Ch. i.). 

M 2 


being originally one ; l but we have to trace them both 
back until dissimilarity becomes first similarity and 
then identity. 

The word peruse meant originally to wear out, Old 
Fr. par-user. In the i6th century it means to sort or 
sift, especially herbs, and hence to scrutinise a docu- 
ment, etc. But between the earliest meaning and that 
of sifting there is a gap which no ingenuity can bridge, 
and, until this is done, we are not justified in regard- 
ing the modern peruse as identical with the earlier. 

The maxim of Jakob Grimm, " von den Wortern zu 
den Sachen" is too often neglected. In dealing with 
the etymology of a word which is the name of an object 
or of an action, we must first find out exactly what the 
original object looked like or how the original action 
was performed. The etymologist must either be an 
antiquary or must know where to go for sound 
antiquarian information. I will illustrate this by three 
words denoting objects used by medieval or Elizabethan 
fighting men. 

A fencings/7 is sometimes vaguely referred to the 
verb foil, to baffle, with which it has no connection. 
The Fr. feuille, leaf, is also invoked, and compared 
with ^r.fleuret) a foil, the idea being that the name was 
given to the " button " at the point. Now the earliest 
foils and fleurets were not buttoned ; first, because they 
were pointless, and secondly, because the point was not 
used in early fencing. It was not until gunpowder 
began to bring about the disuse of heavy armour that 
anybody ever dreamt of thrusting. The earliest fencing 
was hacking with sword and buckler, and the early foil 

1 This seems to have been realised by the author of the Etymological 
Compendium (see p. 176, footnote), who tells us that the "term swallow is 
derived from the French hirondelle, signifying indiscriminately voracious, 
literally a marshy place, that absorbs or swallows what comes within its 


was a rough sword-blade quite unlike the implement we 
now use. Fleuret meant in Old French a sword-blade 
not yet polished and hiked, and we find it used, as we 
do Eng. foil, of an apology for a sword carried by a 
gallant very much down at heel. As late as Cotgrave 
we find floret, " a foile ; a sword with the edge rebated." 
Therefore foil is the same as Fr. feuille, 1 which in Old 
French meant sword-blade, and is still used for the blade 
of a saw ; but the name has nothing to do with what did 
not adorn the tip. It is natural that Fr. feuille should 
be applied, like Eng. leaf, blade, to anything flat (cf, Ger. 
Blatt, leaf), and we find in 16th-century Dutch the 
borrowed word folie, used in the three senses of leaf, 
metal plate, broadsword, which is conclusive. 

We find frequent allusions in the i6th and I7th 
centuries to a weapon called a petronel, a flint-lock fire- 
arm intermediate in size between an arquebus and a 
pistol. It occurs several times in Scott 

" 'Twas then I fired my petronel, 
And Mortham, steed and rider fell." 

(Rokeby, i. 19.) 

On the strength of a French form, poitrinal, it has been 
connected with Fr. poitrine, chest, and various explana- 
tions are given. The earliest is that of the famous 
Huguenot surgeon Ambroise Pare, who speaks of the 
" mousquets poitrinals, que Ton ne couche en joue, & 
cause de leur calibre gros et court, mais qui se tirent de 
la poitrine" I cannot help thinking that, if the learned 
author had attempted this method of discharging an 
early firearm, his anatomical experience, wide as it was, 
would have been considerably enlarged. Minsheu 
(1617) describes a petronell as "a horseman's peece first 
used in the Pyrenean mountaines, which hanged them 

1 And therefore identical with the/oil of tin/oil, counterfoil, etc. 

alwayes at their breast, readie to shoote, as they doe now 
at the horse's breast." This information is derived from 
Claude Fauchet, whose interesting Antiquitis frangoises 
et gauloises were published in 1579. Phillips, in his 
New World of Words (1678) tells us that this "kind of 
harquebuse, or horseman's piece, is so called, because it 
is to aim at a horse's brest, as it were poictronel" When 
we turn from fiction to fact, we find that the oldest 
French name was pttrinal, " a petronell, or horse-man's 
peece" (Cotgrave), occasionally corrupted, perhaps 
owing to the way in which the weapon was slung, into 
poitrinal. This corruption would be facilitated by the 
16th-century pronunciation of oi (p^'trine). The French 
word is borrowed either from Ital. petronello, pietronello, 
" a petronell " (Florio), or from Span, pedrenal, " a 
petronall, a horse-man's peece, ita diet, quod silice petra 
incenditur " (Minsheu, Spanish Dictionary, 1623). Thus 
Minsheu knew the origin of the word, though he had 
put the fiction in his earlier work. We find other forms 
in Italian and Spanish, but they all go back to Ital. 
pietra, petra, or Span, piedra, pedra, stone, flint. The 
usual Spanish word for flint is pedernal. Our word, as 
its form shows, came direct from Italian. 1 The new 
weapon was named from its chief feature ; cf. Ger. 
Fltnte, " a light gun, a hand-gun, pop-gun, arquebuss, 
fire-arm, fusil or fusee 2 " (Ludwig). The substitution 
of the flint-lock for the old match-lock brought about a 
re-naming of European fire-arms, and, as this substitu- 
tion was first effected in the cavalry, petronel acquired 
the special meaning of horse-pistol. It is curious that, 

1 It is a diminutive of some word which appears to be unrecorded (cf, 
Fr. pistolet for the obsolete pistole). Charles Reade, whose archaeology is 
very sound, makes Denys of Burgundy say, " Petrone nor harquebuss shall 
ever put down Sir Arbalest " (Cloister and Hearth, Ch. xxiv.) ; but I can 
find no other authority for the word. 

2 This word occurs in Robinson Crusoe, 


while we find practically all the French and Italian fire- 
arm names in i/th-century German, a natural result of 
the Thirty Years' War, petronel does not appear to be 
recorded. The reason is probably that the Germans 
had their own name, viz., Schnapphahn, snap-cock, the 
English form of which, snaphaunce, seems also to have 
prevailed over petronel. Cotgrave has arquebuse a fusil, 
" a snap/iaunce" and explains fusil as " a fire-steele for a 
tinder-box." This is medieval Lat. focile, from focus, 
fire, etc. 

The most general name for a helmet up to about 
1450 was basnet, or bacinet. This, as its name implies 
(see p. 145), was a basin-shaped steel cap worn by fight- 
ing men of all ranks. The knights and nobles wore it 
under their great ornamental helms. 1 The basnet itself 
was perfectly plain. About the end of the i6th century 
the usual English helmets were the burgonet and 
morion? These were often very decorative, as may be 
seen by a visit to any collection of old armour. Spenser 
speaks of a " guilt engraven morion " (Faerie Queene, vii. 
7). Between the basnet and these reigned the salet or 
salade, on which Jack Cade puns execrably 

"Wherefore, on a brick wall have I climbed into this garden, 
to see if I can eat grass, or pick a sallet another while, which is 
not amiss to cool a man's stomach this hot weather. And I think 
this word sallet was born to do me good, for many a time, but for 
a sallet, my brain-pan had been cleft with a brown-bill." 

(2 Henry VI., iv. 10.) 

It comes, through Fr. salade, from Ital. celata, " a scull, a 

1 Over the tomb of the Black Prince in Canterbury Cathedral hangs 
his cumbrous tilting helmet. But the magnificent recumbent bronze effigy 
below represents him in his fighting kit, basnet on head. 

2 Burgonet, Fr. bourguignotte, is supposed to mean Burgundian helmet. 
The origin of morion is unknown, but its use by Scott in Ivanhoe is an 
anachronism by four centuries. Both words are used vaguely as general 
names for helmet. 


helmet, a morion, a sallat, a headpiece " (Florio). The 
etymologists of the I7th century, familiar with the 
appearance of "guilt engraven morions," connected it 
with Lat ccelare, to engrave, and this derivation has 
been repeated ever since without examination. Now 
in the Tower of London Armoury is a large collection 
of satets, and these, with the exception of one or two 
late German specimens from the ornate period, are 
plain steel caps of the simplest form and design. The 
salet was, in fact, the basnet slightly modified, worn by 
the rank and file of 15th-century armies, and probably, 
like the basnet, worn under the knight's tilting helm. 
There is no Italian verb celare, to engrave, but there is 
a very common verb celare, to conceal. A steel cap was 
also called in Italian seer eta, " a thinne steele cap, or 
close skull, worne under a hat " (Florio), and in Old Fr. 
segrette, " an yron skull, or cap of fence " (Cotgrave). 
Both words are confirmed by Duez, who, in his Italian- 
French Dictionary (1660), has secreta, " une secrette, ou 
segrette, un morion, une bourguignotte, armure de teste 
pour les picquiers." Ergo, the salet belongs to Lat. 
celare, to hide, secrete. 

We now caulk a ship by forcing oakum into the 
seams. Hence the verb to caulk is explained as coming 
from Mid. Eng. cauken, to tread, Old Fr. cauquer, 
caucher, Lat. calcare, from calx, heel. This makes the 
process somewhat acrobatic, although this is not, 
philologically, a very serious objection. But we caulk 
the ship or the seams, not the oakum. Primitive 
caulking consisted in plastering a wicker coracle with 
clay. The earliest caulker on record is Noah, who 
pitched 1 riis ark within and without with pitch. In the 
Vulgate (Genesis, vi. 14), the pitch is called bitumen and 

1 See pay (p. 149). It will be found that all verbs of this nature are 
formed from the name of the substance applied. 

"HOWLERS" 187 

the verb is linere, " to daub, besmear, etc" Next in 
chronological order comes the mother of Moses, 
who " took for him an ark of bulrushes, and daubed it 
with slime and with pitch " (Exodus, ii. 3), bitumine ac 
pice in the Vulgate. Bitumen, or mineral pitch, was 
regularly applied to this purpose, even by Elizabethan 
seamen. Failing this, anything sticky and unctuous 
was used, e.g., clay or lime. Lime now means usually 
oxide calcium, but its original sense is anything 
viscous; cf. Ger. Leim, glue, and our bird-//;. Our 
caulk is in medieval Latin calcare, and this represents 
a rare Latin verb calicare, to plaster with lime, from 
calx, lime. The oldest example of the verb to caulk 
is about 1500. In Mid. English we find to lime used 
instead, e.g., in reference to the ark, " set and limed agen 
the flood" (c. 1250), and " lyme it with cleye and pitche 
within and without" (Caxton, 1483). Almost every 
language which has a nautical vocabulary uses for our 
caulk a verb related to Fr. calfater. This is of Spanish 
or Portuguese origin. The Portuguese word is calafetar, 
from cal, lime, and afeitar, to put in order, trim, etc. 

The readiness of lexicographers to copy from each 
other sometimes leads to ludicrous results. The origin 
of the word curmudgeon is quite unknown ; but, when Dr 
Johnson was at work on his dictionary, he received from 
an unknown correspondent the suggestion that it was a 
corruption of Fr. cceur me'chant, wicked heart. Accord- 
ingly we find in his dictionary, " It is a vitious manner 
of pronouncing cceur mtchant, Fr. an unknown 
correspondent." John Ash, LL.D., who published a 
very complete dictionary in 1775, gives the derivation 
"from the French cceur, unknown, and me'chant, a 
correspondent," an achievement which, says Todd, " will 
always excite both in foreigners and natives a harmless 


It is thus that " ghost- words " come into existence. 
Every considerable English dictionary, from Spelman's 
Glossarium (1664) onward, has the entry abacot, "a cap 
of state, wrought up into the shape of two crowns, worn 
formerly by English kings." For the history of this 
" word " see the New English Dictionary, the editor of 
which has laid this particular ghost. 1 Abacot seems 
to be a misprint or misunderstanding of a bicocket, a 
kind of horned head-dress. It corresponds to an Old Fr. 
bicoquet and Span, bicoquete, cap, the derivation of which 
is uncertain. Of somewhat later date is brooch, "a 
painting all in one colour," which likewise occurs in all 
dictionaries of the i8th and ipth centuries. This is 
due to Miege (French Diet. 1688) misunderstanding 
Cotgrave. There is a Fr. camauu, a derivative of 
cameo, which has two meanings, viz., a cameo brooch and 
a monochrome painting with a cameo effect. Miege 
appears to have taken the second meaning to be 
explanatory of the first, hence his entry brooch, 
"camayeu, ouvrage de peinture qui n'est que d'une 
couleur." In Manwayring's Seaman's Dictionary (1644), 
the old word carvel, applied to a special build of ship, is 
misprinted carnell, and this we find persisting, not only 
in the compilations of such writers as Bailey, Ash, etc., 
but even in technical dictionaries of the i8th century 
" by officers who serv'd several years at sea and land." 
The Anglo-Saxon name for the kestrel (see p. 92) was 
stangella, stone-yeller (cf. nightin^w//?), which appears 
later as stonegall and staniel. In the i6th century we 
find the curious spelling steingall, e.g., Cooper explains 
tinnunculus as " a kistrel, or a kastrell ; a steyngall? 
In Cotgrave we find it printed fleingall, a form which 
recurs in several later dictionaries of the I7th century. 

1 See letter by Dr Murray, now Sir James Murray, in the Athencfum, 
Feb. 4, 1884. 


Hence, somewhere between Cooper and Cotgrave, 
an ornithologist or lexicographer must have mis- 
printed fleingall for steingall by the common mistake 
of fl for ft, and the ghost-word persists into the i8th 

The difficulty of the etymologist's task is exemplified 
by the complete mystery which often enshrouds a word 
of comparatively recent appearance. A well-known 
example is the word Huguenot, for which fifteen 
different etymologies have been proposed. We first 
find the word used in 1550, and by 1572 the French 
word-hunter Tabourot, generally known as des Accords, 
has quite a number of theories on the subject. He is 
worth quoting in full 

" De nostre temps ce mot de Huguenots^ ou Hucnots s'est ainsi 
intronise : quelque chose qu'ayent escrit quelques-uns, que ce mot 
vient Gnosticis hcereticis qui luminibus extinctis sacra faciebant^ 
selon Crinit : ou bien du Roy Hugues Capet, ou de la porte de 
Hugon a Tours par laquelle ils sortoient pour aller a leur presche. 
Lors que les pretendus Reformez implorerent 1'ayde des voix des 
Allemans, aussi bien que de leurs armees : les Protestans estans 
venus parler en leur faveur, devant Monsieur le Chancelier, en 
grande assemblee, le premier mot que profera celuy qui portoit le 
propos, fut, Hue nos venimus : Et apres estant presse d'un reuthme 
(rhume, cold) il ne peut passer outre ; tellement que le second dit 
le mesme, Hue nos venimus. Et les courtisans presents qui 
n'entendoient pas telle prolation ; car selon la nostre ils prononcent 
Houc nos venimous, estimerent que ce fussent quelques gens ainsi 
nommez : et depuis surnommerent ceux de la Religion pretendue 
reformee, Hucnos : en apres changeant C en G, Hugnots, et avec 
le temps on a allonge ce mot, et dit Huguenots. Et voyla la vraye 
source du mot, s'il n'y en a autre meilleure." J 

The only serious etymology is Ger. Eidgenoss, oath 
companion, which agrees pretty well with the earliest 

1 The Encyclopaedia Britannica does not imitate the wise reticence of 
Tabourot's saving clause, but pronounces authoritatively for the porte de 
Hugon fable. 


recorded Swiss -French form, eiguenot, in Bonivard's 
Chronicle of Geneva. 

The engineering term culvert first appears about 
1800, and there is not the slightest clue to its origin. 
Swank is only a year or two old. Is it evolved from 
swagger? If so, how? Or is it the Scot swank, 
limber, tall, agile ; swankie, a strapping youth ? If so, 
who brought it suddenly to England ? The word ogre, 
first used by Perrault in his Contes de F/es (1697), has 
occasioned much grave and learned speculation. Perhaps 
the philologists of the future may theorise as sapiently 
as to the origin oijabberwock and bandersnatch. 


ABACOT, 118 
abet, 70 . 
abeyance, 99 
abominate, 3 
abracadabra, 13 w. 
accomplice, 118 . 
acquaint, 72 
acton, 116 
adder, 104 
adjutant, 30, 136 
admiral, 137 
affidavit, 4 
ague, 128 
aitch-bone, 104 
akimbo, 93 
Alabaster, 158 
alarm, 106 
alarum, 106 
albert chain, 35 
alcade, 106 
alderman, 8$ 
Aldridge, 159 
Alec, 64 
alert, 106 
alguazil, 106 
alibi, 4 
alley, 63 
alligator, 106 
Allman, 161 
allure, IOI 
alone, 57 
A.M., 3 
ampersand, 52 
analysis, 6 
ancient, 118 
andiron, 106 
Andrea Ferrara, 46 
anecdotage, 122 
animal, 4 


anlace, 54 
Annabel, 53 
ansatus, 93 
antic, 130 
antlers, 92 
ant-lion, 29 
apache ) II 
Apfclsine, 28 
appeach, 57 
appendicitis, 10 
apprentice, 109 
apricot, 1 8 
Aprikose, 1 8 
apron, 52, 104 
Arabella, 53 
arbour, 122 
arch, 76 
argosy, 46 
aringo, 21 
arles, no 
armada, 2 
armfe, 2 
Armitage, 50 
Armstrong, 1 68 
aroma, 6 
arquebus, 117 
arrant, 76 
arras, 43 
array, 88, w. I 
arrtire-ban, 67 
assassin, 20 
assegai, 23 
asset, 107 
assize, 57 
assoil, 9 
assoilzie, 9 
astonish, 97 
astound, 97 
atlas, 6 



atomy, 57 
aiout, 8 
Atkin, 159 
Attenborough, 160 
At wood, 160 
auberge, 152 
Aubray, 162 
Augensprosse, 92 
auger, 104 
avers, 132 
avoirdupois, 132 
ayah, 24 

'baccy, 60 
bacinet, 185 
bachelor's buttons, 27 
backgammon, 147 
badaud, 99, ;/. 2 
Bailey, 163 
bailler, 99, n. 2 
bait, 70 . 
baize, no 
Bakerloo, 6 1 
bald, 34 
bald-faced stag, 34 

ball, 34 
ballad, 140 
ballet, 140 
balusters, 55 
ban, 66 
banal, 67 
bandy, 101 
Banister, 166 
banister, 55 
banlieue, 67 
banjo, 137 
bannal, 67 >/. 
Bardell, 159 
Barker, 165 
baron, 178 
barracking, 12 
bartisan, 13 
Barton, 1 60 
Bart's, 6 1 
basilisk, 34 
basnet, 145, 185 
bastinado, ij, n. \ 
battant neuf, 91 
batter, 142 
battledore, 122 
bay, 99, no 
Bayard, no 

Bayliss, 163 
bead, 68 
beadroll, 68 
beadsman, 68 
beant, 99, n. 1 
beat the bush, 99 
Beaufoy, 158 
Beaulieu, 114 
deaufire, 1 18 n. 
beaver, 144 
bec-jaune, 88 
bedlam, 56 
Beecham, 157 
beef-eater, 178 
beejam, 88 
beg, 1 80 
begum, 146 
belcher, 78 
beldam, 78 
belette, 84 
belfry, 152 
Bell, 158 
Bella, 64 
belladonna, 78 
Bellows, 158 
Bendigo, 177 
benet, 41 
bergamot, 146 
bergerottnette, 30 
bergomask, 146 
Bert, 64 
bess, 38 
bet, 70 . 

bete & bon Dieu, 32 
Betts, 1 60 
betty, 38 
bever, 114 
beverage, 54 
bey, 146 
bezant, 45 
bible, 79 
bike, 6 1 
bilbo, 46 
billiments, 60 
Billingsgate, 44 
billy-cock, 36 
binnacle, 58 
Bishop, 163 
biz, 6l 

black art, 1 20 
blackguard, 77 
bland, 74 
Blood, 169 



Blount, 1 68 
bluff, 87 n. 
Blundell, 168 
blunderbuss, 117 
Blunt, 1 68 
Bob, 1 60 
bobby, 41 
bodice, 109 
Bodkin, 159 
boite, 117 
Boleyn, 161 
bombasine, 89 
bombast, 89 
bona-fide, 3 
bonfire, 140 
bonhomme, 74 
bonne fetnme, 74 
Bonner, 168 
bonus, 4 
boojum, 14 
book, 79 
Booker, 165 
boom, 15 
Boon, 158, 1 68 
boor, 77 

boot and saddle, 119 
bordereau, 85 
borel, 67 
boss, 18 
boulevard, 112 
boussole, 117 
boutique, 1 05 
bouvreuil, 30 
bovril, 14 
bowdlerise, 37 
bower, 149 
Bowery, 149, n. I 
bowie, 36 
bowyer, 165 
boycott, 37 
Brabazon, 161 
brand new, 99 
brandy, 63 
branks, 7 
brasse, 80 
brazil, 47 
breeches, 108 
breeks, 108 
Brett, 161 
Brewer, 170 
briar, 153 
bridal, 112 
Bridges, 161 

brig, 61 
bri gamine, 6 1 
brisk, 58, . 2 
Bristow, 1 60 
Britton, 161 n. 
Brock, 1 68 
broderer, 165 
broker, 139 
bronze, 44 
brooch, 139, 1 88 
brose, 109 
brougham, 35 
Bruin, 32 
Brunei, 168 
buccaneer, 56 . 
Biichse, 117 
Bucfutabe, 79 
buck, 139 

Buckhurst Holt, 125 
budget, 80 
bugle, 63 
Bull, 169 
Bullen, 161 
bulwark, 112 
buncombe, 44 
bungalow, 87 . 
bunkum, 44 
burden, 146 
bureau, 67 
burgonet, 185 
Burgoyne, 161 
burke, 37 
Burse he, 87 
bus, 63 
bushes, 117 
butcher, 139 
buttery, 152 
buxom, 75 
Bythesea, 160 

CAB, 6 1 
cabal, 179 
cabbage, 142 
caboche, 142 
cad, 6 1 
caddie, 61 
cadge, 1 80 
Caesar, 163 
Caffyn, 169 
cage, IOI 
cahier, 155 
caitiff, 128 
cajole, IOI 




calculation, 80 

calendar, 148 

calender, 148 

Caliban, 124 

call ant, 6 1 

calumet, 12 

Calvert, 166 

cambric, 43 

Cambridge, 180 

camomile, 29 

canary, 47 

cancel, 80 

cancer, 31 

cant/, 50 

canker, 31 

cannibal, 124 

canter, 61 

canvass, 66 

cape, 24 

Capel Court, 141 

capestro, 61 
capot, 94 
captain, 128 
captive, 128 
carat, 18 

Carew. 114 
cargo, 131 
cark, 131 
carmine, 136 
earn ell, 188 
carol, 140 
carousal, 153 
carouse, 153 
cartridge, 56 
case, 146 
cashier, 16, 146 
cashmere, 43 
casket, 129 
cass, 146 
cast, 146 
caste, 24 
catch, 131 
catchpole, 153 
cate, 57 
caterpillar, 29 
catkin, 30 
Catonet, 38 
Cator, 58, 13* 
cattle, 132 
caucus, 12 
caudle, 7 
cauliflower, 142 
caulk, 1 86 

causeway, 115 
caveat, 4 
caves trolo^ 6 1 
cavie, 101 
celandine, 27 
cercueil) 129 
cerf-volant, 34 
cervelas, 12$ 
chabouk, 23 
chaise, 107, n. 2 
C ha lien, 161 
Challis, 161 
Chaloner, 164 
chamberlain, 83 
chambree, 86 
chameleon, 29 
Champain, 161 
Champneys, 161 
chancel, 80 
chancellor, 80 
chancery, 153 
Chancy, 162 
Chantecler^ 32 
chap, 6 1 
chapeau, 24 
chapel, 24, 141 
chaperon, 24 
chaplet, 24 
Chapman, 163 
chapman, 6l 
chare, 2 
charge, 131 
charwoman, 2 
chase, 146 
Chater, 132 
chat on, 30 
chattel, 132 
Chaucer, 163 
cAauvin, 12 
chawbuck, 23 
Chawner, 164 
Chaworth, 161 
cheat, 78, 132 n. 
check, 80, III 
cheer, 125 
chelidonium, 27 
chenapan, 50 
Chenevix, 16, . 2 
chenille, 30 
cheptel, 132 
cheque, 81 
chequer, 80 
cherry, 107 



Chesney, 162 
chess, in 
chesterfield, 36 
cheval-de-frise, 43, n. I 
chevalet, 35 
chevaucher, 60 
chewet, 34 
chieftain, 128 
chime, 8 
Chinee, 107 
Chippendale, 36 
chit, 88 
chore, 2 
chortle, 14 
chou, 142 
choucroute, 119 
chouse, 136 
chuet, 34 
chum, 87 
churl, 77 
cinch, 21 

cinematograph, 10 
cipher, 136 
cit, 61 
citizen, 113 
Clark, 134 
Claude, 41 
claymore, 122 
Cleaver, 165 
clerk, 134 
clothes-horse, 35 
clove, 83 
club, 71 
cobalt, 40 
Cobbett, 159 
cobra, 24 
cockney, 173 
cocoa-nut, 20 
coffer, 129 
Coffin, 169 
coffin, 129 
cognovit, 4 
colander, 142 
Colas, 91 
cole, 142 
Collet, 158 
colon, 6 
colonel, 53 
Coltman, 165 
colza, 142 
comadreja, 84 
comma, 6 
commere, 84 

companion, 86, 153 
compassion, a 
complex, 4 
compound, 146 
comptroller, 81 
comrade, 86 
connect, 97 
constable, 82 
contro/e, 8 1 
controller, 8 1 
Conyers, 161 
coon, 59 
cooper, 74 n. 
coopering, 61 
cordonnier, 118 
cordwainer, 118 
corne, 108 
Corner, 164 
Cornwallis, l6l 
corp, 1 08 
corsair, 20 

costermonger, 58, . I 
counterpane, 126 
counterpoint, 126 
court-card, 119 
Coward, 1 68 
coward, 33 
cowslip, 27 
cozen, 102 
crack, 61 
cracovienne, 46 
crane, 34 
crane's bill, 26 
cratch, 7 
cravat, 44 
crayfish, 115 
credence table, 113 
crestfallen, 100 
crttin, 41 
crew, 59 
Cri, 61 
crimson, 136 
crinoline, 127 
Crocker, 165 
Croker, 165 
crowfoot, 26 
Crowther, 164 
crozier, 152 
cubit, 80 
Cuddy, 33 
cuddy, 153 
cuirass, 150 
cuisse, 165 



Cullen, 161 
cullis, 142 
culverin, 7, 34 
culvert, 190 
cummer, 84, 87 
curee, 149 
curmudgeon, 187 
currant, 45 
curry, 88 
curry favour, 1 20 
curtal axe, 116 
Curtis, 1 68 
cushion, 157 . 
cuss, 6 1 
Custance, 159 
custodia, 95 
cutlass, 54, 116 
cutler, 116 
cutlet, 116 

Dada, 84 
dado, 131 

daffadowndilly, 107 
daffodil, 107 
Daft, 170 
Dago, 41 
dahlia, 28 
dainty, 128 
dairy, 153 
dais, 128 
daisy, 26 
Dalmain, 162 
dam, ill, 131 
damask, 43 
dame, 131 
dame-jeanne, 40 
Dampier, 161 
damson, 45 
Dance, 169 
dandelion, 26 
dandy, 42 
Dangerfield, 163 
Danvers, 162 
dapper, 74 
dapple-gray, 167 
darbies, 37 
Darblay, 162 
Darbyshire, 134 
Daubeney, 162 
dauphin, 31 
Daus, loi 
davier, 38 
davit, 38 

Dawnay, 162 

Day, 153 

day-woman, 153 

de, 56, 131 

dead men's fingers, 27 

Debby house, 162, . 3 

debenture, 5 

decoy, 101 

Dedman, 1 68 

dl) 'tuner , 137 

delf, 44 

deliberate, 3 

delight, 112 n. 

demijohn, 40 

demure, 93 

denizen, 112 

Dennis, 158 

Denry, 64 

Depew, 8 

derive, 50 

derrick, 36 

derring-do, 13 

derringer, 35 

desk, 128 

deuce, loi 

Dens, 175 

Devereux, 162 

Dexter, 164 

dexterity, 3 


diablotin, 159 

diane, 9 

diaper, 48 

Dick, 1 60 

dickens, 40 

die, 131 

Dittrick. 38 

Digg, 160 

digit, 80 

dimity, 138 

dinde, 48 

dindon, 48 

diner, 137 

diocese, 138 

dirge, 4 

dirk, 17 

dirk, 38 

Dime, 75 

disaster, 98 

disc, 128 

dish, 128 

dishevelled, 125 

disk, 128 



dismal, 8 
Disney, 162 
ditto, 141 
ditty, 141 
Dob, 160 
Dobbin, 84 
docket, 85 
dodo, 30 
dogma, 6 
doily, 36 
Dolman, 162 
doll, 39 
dollar, 45 
dominie, 5 
domino, 94 
Dompfaffe, 30 
donah, 131 
doninha, 84 
donkey engine, 34 
donnola, 84 

do re me fa sol la si, 6 
dornick, 43 
dotterel, 30 
dowlas, 44 
Drachen, 34 
dragon, 35 
Drakenberg, 27 
dram, 80 
drat, 60 
draught, III 
drawing-room, 60 
drill, 137 
drilling, 137 
Drinkwater, 1 68 
dropsy, 56 
drub, 23, *. I 
Druce, 161 
drugget, 48 
ducat, 43 
duenna, 131 
duffel, 44 
Duke, 163 
dummer Peter, 41 
dunce, 41 
Dupuy, 7 
Durbeyfield, 162 
Durrant, 162 
Durward, 1 66 
duty, 10 

Duverney, 162, n, i 
dyrk, 38 

EAGER, 73 

earnest, no 
easel, 16, 35 
ichauer, 90 
Icouvillon^ 39 
Scrou, 85, . 3 
t 'curu ', 124 
ecuyer, 124 
effendi, 19 
Eisenhut, 26 
eke, 105 
elbow, 80 
ell, 80 
Kmmot, 33 
embarrass, 98 
emir, 137 
e'moitcAef, 35 
employ, 97 
ensign, 118 
epitome, 6 
equerry, 124 
'Erb, 64 
ermine, 44 
errant, 76 
escabeau, 99 
escheat, 78 
eschew, 59 
esquire, 59, 124 
etch, 16, 123 
itincelle, 54 
ewer, 106 
example, 59 
exchequer, 80 
excise, 123 
exeat, 4 
exit, 4 

expression, 97 
eyas, 105 
eyre, 76 

Faire la noce, 87 
Fairfax, 168 
fairy, 71, 84 
falconet, 34 
faldstool, 130 
fane, 53 
farce, 86 
Farrar, 163 
farrier, 82 
farthingale, 126 
Fata Morgana, 71 
Faulkner, 164 
/auteui'/, 130 
FauveL, 121, 179 n. 



fay, 71 
feckless, n 
fed up, 89 
fee, 132 
feeble, 53 
fellow-feeling, 2 
felon, 22 
fence, 59 
fender, 59 
ferret, 30, 138 
Ferrier, 163 
ferrule, 155 
ferule, 155 
fetish, 23 
fever-few, 27 
fiat, 4 
filbert, 32 
filibuster, 55 

fire-new, 99 
firkin, 191;. 
Fitch, 168 
fives, 9 
flail, 53 
flawn, 126 . 
Fletcher, 164 
floret, 138 
florin, 45 
flounce, 55 
flour, 135 
flower, 135 
foil, 182 
foist, 99 ;:. 
folio, 5 
fond, 73 
foot, 79 
footpad, 154 
force-meat, 86 
foreign, 1 12 
forget-me-not, 29 
forlorn hope, 16, 119 
Forster, 164 
Foster, 164 
fou, 73 
fouet, 119 
Frauenzimmer ; 87 
fragile, 128 
frail, 53, 128 % 
freebooter, 56 
fret, 122 
fretwork, 123 
frieze, 43 
fritter, 142 

Frobisher, 165 
froncle, 22 
frontispiece, 75, . i 
frounce, 55 
fuchsia, 28 
fugleman, 53 
Fuller, 166 
funkelnagelneu, 99 
furlong, 80 
furlough, 1 6 
furoncle, 22 
fusee, 184 
fusil, 185 
fustian, 43, 89 
fustian-anapes, 41 
fusty, 99 

gambit, 147 
gamboge, 46 
game, 147 
gammon, 147 
gammy, 147 
gamut, 6 
gantlope, 120 
garage, 115 
garble, 19, 66 
garce, 75 
garibaldi, 35 

girret, 96 
arrett, 159 
gas, 14 
Gascoyne, 161 
Gaskin, 161 
gauge, 140 
Gaunt, 161 
gauntlet, I2O 
geezer, II 
gef alien t loo 
geindre, 174 
Gelbschnabel, 88 
Geld, 131 
generous, 3 
genius, 4 
gent, 61 
geranium, 27 
gerden, 88 
Geschenk, 84 
Gese/le, 86 
GevatUr, 87 
Gewehr, 59 . 
Gibbon, 159 
Gift, 84 



gift horse, 90 
Gillott, 158 

g'lly-flower, 115 
ilpin, 1 60 
gimbals, 133 
gimmal, 133 
gin, 60, 62 
gindre, 174 
gingham, 48 

gist, 9 
glai, 121 
glaive, 121 
glamour, II, 55, 134 
gleek, 95 
gloss, 144 

gloze, 144 
odbehere, 158 
goffer, 72 
Gogs, 60 
gonfalon, 52 
Goodbeer, 158 
Goodenough, 158 
Goodeve, 159 
Goodlake, 159 
Goodrich, 159 
gorilla, 24 
goshawk, 142 
Gosling, 1 68 
Gosse, 167 
gossip, 87 
Gotobed, 158 
goupil, 32 
graft, 103 
grail, II 
grain, 80 
gramarye, 134 
grampus, 29 
Grant, 1 68 
Great Orme, 92 
Grecian steps, 104 
Greenfield, 162 
greengage, 29 
greenhorn, 88 
Greenhow, 125 
Greenman, 169 
greyhound, 124 
grief, 113 
grimaldello, 38 
grimalkin, 39 
grimoire, 134 
grize, 109 
grocer, 163 
grog, 62 

grogram, 51 
gross, 163 
grotesque, 1 30 . 
gue'rite, 96 
guinea, 47 
guinea-fowl, 47 
guinea-pig, 29, 47 
guillotine, 158 
guitar, 138 
guts, 77 
guy, 41 

hack, 6 1 
hackbut, 117 
Hackett, 159 
hag, 100 
haggard, IOO 
HahnenfusS) 26 
Haig, 1 66 . 
half a mo', 61 
halibut, 32 
Hammond, 159 
hand, 80 

hand of glory, 121 
hangar, 115 
Han nay, 161 
Hannibal, 158 
Hansard, 162 
Hansom, 51 . 
Hanway, 161 
harangue, 21, 50 
harbinger, 2, 83 
harbour, 2 
harry, 2 
Harvey, 159 
hatchell, II 
hatchment, 125 
hauberk, 152 
/iaut, 121 
'haviour, 60 
hawse, 152 n. 
Hawtrey, 161 
Hay, 1 66 . 
Hayward, 1 66 
hearse, 68 
heart's ease, 27 
heckle, n 
hempie, 61 
Herd, 166 
Hereford, 2 
hermitage, 50 
herrisch, 85, 2 



Hewett, 159 
Hewlett, 159 
Hibbert, 159 
hiccough, 115 
Hick, 160 
Hig, 1 60 
hinterland, 12 
hippopotamus, 29 
Hitch, 1 60 
Hob, 1 60 
hobby, 84 
hobgoblin, 33 
Hobson's choice, 179 
Hochzeit, 88 
hock, 62 
Hogarth, 166 
holland, 43 
hollyhock, 32 
homely, 74 
Homer, 163 
Aomme, 50 
Honeyball, 158 
honte, 50 
hooligan, lo 
Horner, 164 
host, 2, 147 
Howard, 166 
Howitt, 159 
Huggin, 159 
huguenot, 189 
humble pie, 104 
hunks, 75 

hurly-burly, 64, 176 
hussar, 19 
hussy, 75 
Hutchin, 159 

IB, 64 

Ibbotson, 160 
ill-starred, 98 
imp, 103 
indenture, 82 
index, 4 
Indian corn, 47 
Indian ink, 47 
indigo, 46 
infantry, 69 
innuendo, 3 t 
inoculate, 103 
insult, 3 
interfere, 98 
inure, 148 
inveigle, 101 

invoice, 109 
Irrgarten, 58 
isinglass, 127 
item, 4 

JACK, 38, 40 
jackanapes, 41 
jackass, 33 
jackdaw, 33 
jacket, 40 
Janaway, 161 
jaquette, 34 
jarvey, 37 
jaunty, 117 
jean, 43 
jemmy, 38 
Jenner, 163 
jenneting, 112 
Jenny wren, 33 
jeopardy, 100 
jesses, ill 
Jessop, 159 
jest, 68 
jilt, 42 
jingo, II 
jockey, 41, 102 
Johannisapfel, 1 12 
jotis/ous, 119 
jonquil, 141 
joss, 24 

journeyman, 98, 153 
jovial, 98 

jug, 39 
Juggins, 40 . 
Juliet, 42 
jumble, 113 
junket, 141 

KAFIR, 23, . 2 
kail, 142 
Kanzel, 80 
Kemp, 1 66 
kennel, 147 
kerseymere, 43 
kestrel, 92 
kickshaws, 108 
Kiddier, 164 
kidnap, 101 
kilderkin, 19 
kilt, 17 
kimmer, 87 
King, 163 
kirtle, 138 



Kisser, 165 
kit, 138 
kitcat, 38 
kite, 34 
kittle, 54 
kjonne, 84 
Klaus, 38 
kloof, 84 
knapsack, 16 
knave, 50 
Knecht, 77 
knickerbockers, 40 
knight, 77 
Knoblauch, 84 
Kohl, 142 
kooi, 101 

label, 85 
Labouchere, 165 
lace, 22 
lacrosse, 152 
lady-bird, 32 
lady's bedstraw, 32 
lady's garter, 32 
lady's slipper, 32 
Lambert, 167 
Lumber tsnuss, 32 
lampoon, 8 
lancegay, 23 
Lander, 1 66 
landier, 106 
landscape, 16 
Langlois, 106 
larboard, 1 12 
larder, 153 
lariat, 22, 106 
Larkin, 159 
larkspur, 26 
Ltirm, 106 
larrikin, 10, 177 
larum, 1 06 
lasso, 22 
lateen, 47 
Latimer, 165 
Launay, 162 
Launder, 166 
lavandiere, 30 
lawn, 46 

lay-figure, 16, 154 
leaguer, 16 
leg, 91 
legend, 3 

Leggatt, 159 
lemon, 149 
lemon sole, 149 
level, 53 
livier, 106 
Levick, 106 
levre, 1 08 
Lhuissier, 83 . 
libel, 38 
liber, 79 
liebdugeln, IOI 
lierre, 106 
Lilywhite, 168 
limbeck, 58 
limbo, 5 
lime, 51 
Limehouse, 44 
limner, 58 
Lindwurm, 92 . 
lingot, 1 06 
liquorice, 127 
list, 85 
Lister, 164 
little Mary, 39 
livery, 70 
lobelia, 28 

locomotor ataxy, 115 
lockram, 44 
Loftus, 158 
Lombard, 57 
lone, 57 
'longing, 60 
loo, 63 

lords and ladies, 27 
Lorimer, 165 
Loring, 161 
Loveday, 160 
Lovell, 159 
love in a mist, 27 
Lowell, 159 
Lowenmaul, 26 
Lowenzahn, 26 
Lubbock, 161 
lucifer, 4 
Luck, 161 
lucus, 171 
'ugger, 94 
lugsail, 94 
lumber-room, 70 
luncheon, 114 
lupus, 31 
Lush, 83 . 
Lusher, 83 . 



MABEL, 53 
macadamise, 37 
mackintosh, 35 
Macnab, 17 . 
Macpherson, 17 n. 
Madeira, 47 
madge owlet, 33 
madonna, 131 
magazine, 86 
magenta, 35 *. 
maggot, 54 
magnet, 44 
magnolia, 38 
magpie, 33 
Mahomet, 42 
mailed fist, 145 
main de gloire, 121 
Mainwaring, 157 
majolica, 44 
Malins, 161 
malkin, 38 
Mall, 154 
malmsey, 46 
Mai thus, 158 
malvoisie, 46 
mammet, 39 
manant, 139 
mandarin, 24 
mandoline, 137 
mangle, 129 
mangonel, 129 
Mann, 161 
manner, 147 
manoeuvre, 148 
manor, 8 
Mansell, 161 
mansworn, 13 . 
manual, 3 
manure, 148 
marabout, 136 
maravedi, 136 
marble, 63 
Marchant, 134 
Marienkafer, 32 
marionnette, 39 
marmalade, 28 
Marner, 164 
marquee, 107 % 
Marriot, 33 
marshal, 82 
Marshalsea, 82 
martello, 54 
martin, 33 

martinet, 179 
martin-pecheur^ 33 
mascot, II 
mask, 133 
masnaditre, 139 
Massinger, 164 
masterpiece, 98 
match, 7 
mate, 86 
matelot, 86 
Maud, 64 
maudlin, 56 
maul, 154 
Afautteere, 53 
maul-stick, 154 
maxim, 35 
maximum, 4 
Mayhew, 159 
Mayne, 161 
mayor, 142 
maze, 58 
mazurka, 45 
mediastir.jts, 84 
Meerschweinchen, 47 
megrims, 31 
meiny, 139 
melon, 28 
menage, 139 
menagerie, 139 
mend, 57 
menetrier, 70 
menial, 139 
merchant, 62 
mercurial, 98 
merino, 142 
Merryweather, 168 
mesmerism, 36 
mess, 86 
messmate, 86 
metal, 135 
me 'tier ', 148 
mettle, 98 ., 135 
mews, in 
miasma, 6 
Middlemass, 160 
milliner, 44 
miniature, 74 
minstrel, 70 
mint, 131 
minx, 75 
miscreant, 117 
miser, 4 
misnomer, 8 



miss, 148 >i. 

nectarine, 6 

mistery, 148 

Ned, 105 

mizen, 8 

Neddy, 33 

mob, 6 1 

ntgromancie, 120 

Mohock, II 

negus, 36 

moidore, 131 

Neil, 159 

moineau, 30 

Nelke, 83 

money, 130 

Nell, 105 

monkey, 32 

news, 105 

monkey-wrench, 34 

nice, 78 

monk's hood, 26 

nickel, 40 

monnaie, 131 

nickname, 105 

Moon, 158 

nickum, 41 

Morel, 1 68 

nickumpoop, 41 

morion, 185 

Nicodtme, 41 

Morris, 162 

nicotine, 36 

morris dance, 45 

niddering, 13 

morris pike, 45 

nincompoop, 41 

mosaic, 155 

ninny, 41 

mosquito, 35 

ninnyhammer, 41 

Mother Carey's chicken, 33 

niveau, 53 

mouchoir, 91 

noddy, 41 

moustique, 54 

noddypeak, 41 

Moxon, 1 60 

Nokes, 105 

muckinder, 91 

Noll, 105 

muguet, 137 

nonce, 105 

mulberry, 53 

Norfolk Howard, 167 

mulligrubs, 31 

Norman, 172 

Mullins, 163 

Norris, 162 

mungo, 176 

Norroy, 162 

Miinze, 131 

nostrum, 4 

mitre, 53 

Nowell, 1 60 

mushroom, 51 

Nugent, 161 

musk, 137 

nuncheon, 114 

musket, 35 

nuncle, 105 

muslin, 43 

Nurse, 162 

mustang, 21 

nut, 175 

Musters, 163 

nutmeg, 137 

mutande, 91 

Nutter, 167 

mystery, 148 

nux, 175 

Nagele, 84 


namby-pamby, 64 

obligation, 3 

Napier, 52, 169 

obvious, 97 

napkin, 52 

odium, 4 

nappe, 52 

odsbodikins, 60 

Nash, 105 

ogle, 101 

naunt, 105 

ogre, 190 

nausea, 6 

otgnon, 88 

nave, 141 

oiseau de Saint Martin, 33 

navvy, 63 

Old Nick, 40 

navy, 141 

omelet, 126 

nectar, 6 

omen, 4 



omnibus, 5 
onion, 84, n. I 
Onslow, 169 
orange, 28 
oreste, 122 
oriel, 53 
orlop, 1 6 
orrery, 36 
orteil, 122 
ortolan, 30 
osei/ie, 150 
ostler, 50, 152 
ounce, 105 

PAD, 154 
padder, 154 
padding, 89 
Padgett, 1 60 
padrastrO) 22 
paj, 61 
paladin, 128 
Palatine, 128 
palaver, 24 
pallet, 145 
Palliser, 165 
Pall Mall, 154 
palmer, 30 
Palsgrave, 128 
palsy, 56 
pamphlet, 38 
pandy, 5 
pantaloons, 40 
pantry, 153 
Panzer, 145 
paper, 79 
parable, 24 
parileu, 60 
parchment, 4$, 79 >i. 
parish, 56, 138 
Parker, 165 
Parkin, 159 
parley, 24 
parmaceti, 173 
parmesan, 173 
Parminter, 164 
Parnell, 160 
parole, 24 
parrot, 33 * % 

parson, 133 
Partlet, 33 
partridge, 56 
Pascal, 1 60 
Pascoe, 1 60 

pasquinade, 37 
pastern, 69 
past master, 98 
Patch, 1 68 
patch, 7 
pathos, 6 
patten, 108 
patter, 63 
paume, 9 
pauper, 4 
Pav, 6l 
pawn, 149 
pay, 149 
Payne, 168 
paynim, 71 
pea, 107 
peach, 45, 57 
peajacket, 124 
peal, 57 
Pearce, 169 
pecunia, 132 
pedigree, 71, 113 
Peel, 1 60 
pelargonium, 27 
ptltrin, 53 
PMissier, 164 
pen, 155 
pencil, 155 
Pennefather, 167 
Pentecost, 160 
penthouse, 115 
peon, 149 
perch, 80 
periwig, 58, n. 2 
periwinkle, 118 
Perkin, 159 
Perrot, 33 
person, 133 
pert, 74 
peruse, 182 
pester, 69, 155 
Peterchen, 38 
petrel, 33 
petronel, 183 
Pettifer, 71 
Pettigrew, 71 
petty, 73 
pew, 7 

Phillimore, 163 
Philpot, 159 
Physick, 158 
pickaback, 65 
pick-axe, 116 



Pickard, 15 1 
P'e, 34 
piebald, 34 
pier rot, 33 
pig-iron, 34 
Pilcher, 164 
pilgrim, 53 
pinchbeck, 36 
Finder, 164 
pine-apple, 28 
pion, 149 
pips, 94 
plain, 74 
plaudit, 5 
plover, 92 
pluck, 77 
pocket, 90 . 
pocket-handkerchief, 91 
Pocock, 169 
Poidevin, 6l 
fotnte, 6 1 
poison, 84 
poke, 90 
polecat, 153 
polka, 45 
Pollock, 161 
Poll parrot, 33 
polonaise, 46 
polony, 45 
pomander, 52 
pomcitron, 29 
pomegranate, 29 
Pomeranze, 28 
Pomeroy, 162 
pomme de pin, 28 
ponder, i 
Pope Joan, 119 
porcelain, 35 
porcupine, 29 
porpoise, 29 
porridge, 109 
port, 46 
portcullis, 142 
porter, 74 
Portugee, 107 
Poslett, 157 
Posnett, 157 
possum, 59 
posthumous, ii 6 
post-mortem, 3 
posy, 134 
potence, 36 
Pot*, 60 

pouce, 80 
Pouille, 105 
poulterer, 58 
pounce, 100 
pouncet-box, loo 
pourboire, 84 
Power, 1 68 
power, 8 
pow-wow, 12 
Poyser, 164 
prayer, 68 
premises, 5 
premisses, 5 
premium, 4 
prentice, 58, 98 
prepense, I 
preposterous, 119*. 
press-gang, 120 
Prester John, 85, . 2 
Priddle, 163, *. 3 
priest, 85 
primrose, 115 
proctor, 56 
pub, 6 1 
pudding, 68 
puisne, 73 
pun, 6 1 
punch, 87 n. 
pundigrion, 61 
Punjaub, 87 . 
puny, 73 
Purcell, 168 
purlieu, 114 
purley, 114 
pursy, 116 
purview, 4 
Puy de Dome, 7 
puzzle, 59 
python, 6 
pyx, 6, 117 

quair, 134 
quarrel, 150 
quarry, 149 
quarto, 5 
quean, 75 
querry, 124 
query, 5 
quilt, 126 
quince, no 
quintal, 19 
quire, 134 

O 2 



quirry, 124 
quirt, 21 
quorum, 5 

RACK, 144 

radius, 4 
raiment, 56 
rampart, 112 
ramper, 112 
ranch, 21 
rappee, 8 
Read, 168 
Reader, 166 
reasty, 72 
reata, 21 
rebus, 4 
recreant, 117 
recruit, 59 
redstart, 108 
Reed, 168 
Reeder, 166 
Regenpfeifer, 92 
Regenschirm^ 59 . 
Reginald, 32 
rehearse, 97 
Reid, 168 
reine Claude, 29 
relent, 3 
remainder, 8 
remnant, 8 
Renard, 32 
rendre, 113 
renegade, 117 
requiem, 4 
restive, 72 
revel, 130 
revelly, 9 
Reynold, 32 
Rich, 1 60 
Rick, 1 60 
Rittersportiy 26 
rival, 3 
Rob, 1 60 
rob, 137 
robe, 137 
Robin, 84 
robin, 33 

Rocinante, 165 t 
romance, 67 
Ronald, 32 
rosemary, 115 
rossignot, 38 
roster, 16 

rouncy, 165 
Rouse, 1 60 
rouse, 1 08 
row, 108 
Rudge, 1 68 
rudimentary, 79 
rum, 62 
rummage, 70 
runagate, 117 
Runciman, 165 
Russell, 1 68 
rusty, 72 

Sacheverell, 169 
sack, 107 n. 
sake, I 
saker, 34 
salade, 185 
salet, 185 
salary, 3 
salt-cellar, 125 
Salmon, 168 
salver, 113 
salvo, 113 
samite, 138 
samphire, 32 
sample, 58 
Samt, 138 
sandwich, 36 
Sandy, 64 

Sankt Peters Vogel, 33 
Saragossa, 46 
sarcenet, 43 
sardine, 44 
Sargent, 137 
sash, 146 
sassafras, 27 
satire, 86 
saveloy, 125 
saxifrage, 27 
scabbard, 152 
scallion, 74 
scaramouch, 59 
scavenger, 77 
schedule, 86 
scheitern, 90 
Schemel, 99 
schirmen, 59 n. 
school, 51, 150 
ScfiBntierlein, 84 
scintilla, 4 
scion, 103 



scissors, 117 
score, 82 
screed, 85 
scrimer, 59 n. 
scrimmage, 59 . 
Scriven, 165 
scroll, 85 
scruple, 80 
scullery, 39 
scullion, 39 
'sdeath, 60 
seal, 122 
sea-lion, 29 
sear, 150 
search, 52 
secretary, 30 
sedan, 48 
seel, 122 
seesaw, 64 
seAr, 156 
seigneur , 85 
Sekt, 107 n. 
selig, 41 
sendal, 43 
seneschal, 85 
senior, 4 
senor, 85 
sentinel, 95 
sentry, 95 
sepoy, 135 
seraglio, 124 
serge, 25 
sergeant, 137 
serpent, 34 
servant, 137 
service-tree, 118 
Seward, 166 
sexton, 56 
Seymour, 157 
shalloon, 43 
shallop, 50 
shallot, 44 
shambles, 98 
shame-faced, 115 
shark, 30 
shawm, 22 
shay, 107 
Sheepshanks, 71 
sherbet, 135 
sherry, 46, 107 
shift, 91 

shilly-shally, 64 
shirk, 30 

shirt, 138 

short, 138 

shrapnel, 35 

shred, 85 

shrew, 31 

shrewd, 31 

shrive, 68 

shrub, 135 

sieur, 85 

signer, 85 

silhouette, 36 

silk, 25 

silly, 41 

silly Johnny, 41 

Sinclair, 157 

sinister, 3 

sir, 85 

sirloin, 178 

sire, 85, 131 n. 

sirup, 69, 135 

Sisson, 1 60 

sizar, 57 

size, 57 

sjambok, 23 

skate, 108 

skeeter, 59 

sketch, 1 6, 20 

skew, 58 

skinker, 1 14 //. 

skipper, 15 

skirmish, 56, 59 ., 131 

skirt, 138 

slave, 20 

slim, 1 8 

slogan, 13 

slow-worm, 92 

slug, 87 . 

slug-horn, 13 

smock, 91 

smug, 74 

snap, 1 6 

snapdragon, 26 

snaphaunce, 185 

snapsack, 1 6 

snark, 14 

snickersnee, 64 

Snooks, 158 

soccer, 6l 

solder, 142 

Soldner, 143 

solemn, 129 

sorrel, 150 

sorrow, 155 



sorry, 155 
souaard, 143 
soui/!on, 39 
souse, III 
sovereign, 112 K. 
spade, 71 
spahi, 136 
span, 80 
spaniel, 45 
sparrow-grass, 115 
spatula, 71 
spec', 6l 
spence, 153 
Spencer, 60, 153 
spencer, 36, 115 
spice, 59, 129 
Spicer, 163 
spick and span, 99 
spinning-jenny, 38 
Spitalfields, 59 
spite, 60 
Spittlegate, 59 
splay, 60 
sponge, 51 
Spoonerism, 55 
sport, 60 
sprightly, 112 n. 
sprite, 59 
Sfrossling, 103 
spruce, 44 
squarson, 61 
squire, 58 
stable, 51 
stage, 59 
staid, 94 
stain, 60 
stale, 94 
stance, 132 
staniel, 188 
stank, 24 
stanza, 132 
starboard, 1 12 
stationer, 58, . I 
Steckenpferd, 89 
Steinbrech, 27 
steingall, 188 
sterling, 73 
stevedore, 70 . 
steward, 83 % 
Stewart, 83 
stickler, 69 
still-room, 153 
stimulus, 4 

Stoddart, 166 
stomacher, 145 
stone, 80 
stonegall, 188 
Storchschnabel, 26 
stortelli, 133 
stout, 74 
stranded, 90 
stun, 97 
sullen, 129 
Summerfield, 162 
Sumner, 163 
supercilious, 3 
surcease, 116 
surly, 85 
surplice, 164 n. 
surround, 151 
Surtees, 160 
swank, 190 
sward, 77 
sweet William, 27 
sympathy, 2 
synopsis, 6 

TABBY, 43 
taffrail, 116 
taint, 59 
talisman, 19 
tallage, 124 
tally, 8 1 
talon, 8 
Tammany, 12 
tandem, 4 
tank, 24 
tankard, 54 
tansy, 27 
tantalise, 37 
tante, 64 
tarantella, 46 
tarantula, 46 
tartan, 17, 43 
tassel, 151 
'tater, 60 
tattoo, 1 6, 150 
tawdry, 60 
tease, II 
teasel, n 
'tec, 60 
teetotaller, 6 
teetotum, 5 
Telford, 170 
'tench, 60 
tender, 59 



tenet, 4 
tennis, 9 
tent, 151 
termagant, 42 
test, 98 
testy, 72 
tetchy, 151 
thimble, 56 
Thoroughgood, 158 
Tibbet, 159 
Tibert, 32 
tick, 6 1 
tidbit, 113 
'Tilda, 64 
Tillet, 159 
Tillotson, 1 60 
tilt, 100 
tinnunculus, 93 
tinsel, 54 
tire, 58 
tit, 113 
titbit, 113 
titmouse, 113 
tittle-tattle, 64 
'Tizer, 64 
tobacco, 181 
toby jug, 40 
tocsin, 140 
Todhunter, 164 
toils, 99 

tolle Buchen % 119 
tomtit, 33, US 
Tono-Bungay, 14 
Toogood, 158 
Tooley St., 60 
touchy, 151 
tousle, II 
Towser, II 
toy, 1 6 
Tozer, n 
trace, 109 
tram, 178 
traveller's joy, 27 
treacle, 69 
trellis, 137 
trepan, 101 
tret, 113 
trews, I7i 109 
tribunal, 4 
tripod, 129 
tripos, 129 
trivet, 128 
trivial, 3 

trouble, 54 
Troublefield, 162 
trousers, 109 
trove, 56, 94 
troy, 46 
truce, no 
trump, 8 
Trumper, 164 
tuberose, 115 
Tucker, 166 
tulip, 136 
turban, 136 
turkey, 47 
Turney, 159 
turnip, 88 
tweeny, 85 
tweezers, in 
twill, 137 

UMBER, 140 
umbrella, 140 
umpire, 104 
uncouth, 2 
Underbill, 160 
undertaker, 58, n. i 
unkempt, 2 
unseal, 122 
upholder, 165 
upholsterer, 58 
usher, 83 
usquebaugh, 63 
utterance, 151 

vagrant, 156 
vambrace, 56 
vamoose, 9 
vamp, 56 
van, 56, 63 
vane, 53 
vanguard, 56 
varech, 50 
Varney, 162, . I 
'varsity, 64 
varsovienne^ 46 
vaunt, 181 
vauntcourier, 57 
Veck, 163 
vedette, 96 
vellum, 51 
veneer, 136 
venew, 114 
veney, 113 



venom, 5 
venue, 114 
verdigris, 119 
verheeren, 2 
Verney, 162, n. i 
verse, 132 
veriugadin, 12 J 
vet, 6l 
veto, 4 
Vide, 163 
victoria, 35 
videlicet, 4 
vie, 60 
vigie, 95 
vignette, 75 
viking, 156 
villa, 139 
villain, 139 
vinegar, 73 
viva-voce, 3 
viz., 4 
voile, 1 08 
voltaism, 36 

WAFER, 71 
wag, 61 
Wait, 164 
waits, 70 
Walker, 166 
wallet, 54 
walnut, 140 
Ward, 1 66 
warison, 13 
Warner, 164 
Wat, 33 
wattle, 54 
weed, 2 
week-end, n 
Weenen, a8 
weir, 59 n. 
Wellington, 35 

wench, 75 
wergild, 131 
wheatear, 108 
wheedle, 102 
wheel, 175 
whisky, 58, n. 2, 63 
white feather, 100 
Whittaker, 162 
Whittier, 164 
wig, 63 
Wilmot, 159 
wipe, 6 1 
wire, 6l 
wiseacre, 118 
wisteria, 28 
witch-elm, 118 
worsted, 44 
worthy, 74 
write, 79 
Wyatt, 159 

XERES, 46 

YACHT, 16 
yard, 80 
yare, 88 
t, 38 

ZANY, 41 
Zenttier, 19 
zero, 136 
zest, 103 
Zettel, 86 
zigzag, 64 
zijde, 25 
Zins, 123 
Zoo, 61 
zounds, 60 
Zwiebel, 88 
Zwilch, 137 


Introduction to Poetry 

Poetic Expression, Poetic Truth, the Progress of Poetry. By 
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Shakspere and His Predecessors in the 
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The English Novel from its Origin to 
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A 000139036 8