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Significant Etymology 



Significant Etymology 



or 



Roots, Stems, and Branches 
of the English Language 



BY 



THE VERY REV. 

JAMES MITCHELL, M.A., D.D. 



WILLIAM BLACKWOOD AND SONS 

EDINBURGH AND LONDON 

M C M V I 1 1 



All Rights reserved 



PREFACE. 



THIS book is simply what it professes to be, a collection 
and explanation of the significant etymologies of the English 
language. It is not written for philologists, but for intelli- 
gent and thoughtful men and women who are interested 
in the study of their own language, and of the sources 
from which it is derived. I have called it " Significant " 
Etymology, because only those roots are given which throw 
light upon the signification of the words derived from them. 
To quote a word from German, for example, of the same 
sound and of the same meaning as our own, is not signifi- 
cant etymology, but insignificant and useless, unless for 
comparative philology ; and besides, it is just as likely that 
the German word has been taken from the English as the 
English from the German. In every case, however, where 
the original word helps us to understand the meaning of 
an English word better, or shows us how it has come to 
bear its present meaning, I have endeavoured to trace the 
etymology clearly step by step through the written records 
of even past centuries, until its origin has been found in 
the fixed form of a parent language. 

I do not claim originality for the etymologies I have 



VI PREFACE. 

given, otherwise they would be of very little value, but I 
have traced them with care through all the changes of 
letters, sounds, and meanings which they have undergone 
down to the present day. The Dictionaries and other books 
in many languages to which I have been indebted are far 
too numerous to be mentioned here or referred to in the 
notes, for there are very few books bearing on the subject 
which I have not consulted, and to which I am not more 
or less indebted ; while in many cases I have used the very 
definitions which their authors have given of the words 
in question. In several cases I have seen reason to differ 
from other etymologists, but I have done so without any 
affectation of timidity ; and in many cases where I have had 
to decide between conflicting etymologists, I have always 
assigned what seem to me good reasons for my preference. 

While I cannot claim credit for the originality of the 
assigned etymologies, I do claim credit for the originality 
of the method in which the words are arranged viz., in 
groups, according to the different subjects of which they 
treat, or from which they are taken. In all the etymologi- 
cal books in our language, words are classified and arranged 
either according to the languages from which they are 
derived, according to the laws under which the changes 
have taken place, or according as they have narrowed or 
broadened in meaning, or improved or deteriorated in sense ; 
but this is the first time, so far as I know, and most 
certainly in English, where, without overlooking altogether 
these methods of classification, they have been arranged in 
an orderly manner, beginning with words connected with 
the universe at large ; then the heavenly bodies ; the earth, 
its two great domains of land and water; the mineral, 



PREFACE. Vll 

vegetable, and animal kingdoms ; man, his bodily structure, 
including food, clothing, and habitation, his mental powers, 
his moral faculties, and his spiritual nature. From tests 
applied, it has been found that in grouping words in this 
way a special interest is not merely awakened but main- 
tained in their study ; and that in thus dealing with a 
whole group of words at one time, a naturally dry subject 
is invested with a fresh charm and a deeper meaning. 

As I have endeavoured to stick to my text throughout, 
and have given the etymologies of the words which were 
connected with the special subject of each chapter, I have 
in the notes at the foot of the different pages given the 
most important English words, whatever their subject, 
derived from the root words quoted in the text. These 
words referring to so many different subjects, being in the 
notes, do not interfere with the thread of the chapter, and 
wherever necessary their signification is explained, for the 
purpose of showing how their meaning came to be derived 
from that of the root word. 

For many valuable illustrations in the notes I am in- 
debted to the readable Dictionary of Mr Milne, while 
throughout the whole volume in addition to a multitude 
of other authorities, I have been greatly helped by such 
recent works as those of Professor Skeat, Murray's great 
English Dictionary, now drawing towards a close, and 
' "Words and their Ways in English Speech,' by the American 
Professors Greenough and Kittredge. 



JAMES MITCHELL. 



EDINBURGH, 14 ABERCROMBY PLACE, 
February 1908. 



CONTENTS. 



WORDS CONNECTED WITH 

CHAP. 

I. THE UNIVERSE ..... 
II. THE HEAVENLY BODIES 

III. THE EARTH ..... 

IV. THE WATER ..... 
V. THE LAND ..... 

VI. THE MINERAL KINGDOM 

VII. THE VEGETABLE KINGDOM 

VIH. THE ANIMAL KINGDOM .... 

IX. MAN IN GENERAL .... 

X. HIS BODILY STRUCTURE 

XI. HIS HEALTH, SICKNESS, DISEASE, AND DEATH 

XH. HIS CLOTHING ..... 

XIII. HIS FOOD ..... 

XIV. HIS DWELLING ..... 
XV. HIS MENTAL FACULTIES 

XVI. HIS SPOKEN LANGUAGE 

XVII. HIS WRITTEN LANGUAGE 

XVIII. CITY LIFE . . . ... 

XIX. WEIGHTS AND MEASURES 

XX. NUMBERS . 

XXI. DIVISIONS OF TIME .... 

XXII. MONEY . 



1-2 

3-21 

22-30 

31-48 

49-51 

52-56 

57-69 

70-106 

107-120 

121-132 

133-152 

153-171 

172-191 

192-201 

202-206 

207-230 

231-254 

255-268 

269-274 

275-281 

282-292 

293-311 



X CONTENTS. 

XXIII. GOVERNMENT, ETC. ..... 312-330 

XXIV. THE ARMY ...... 331-340 

XXV. AMUSEMENTS ...... 341-352 

XXVI. OCCULT SCIENCES ..... 353-357 

XXVII. THE DRAMA . . . . . . 358-371 

xxvni. MUSIC ....... 372-376 

XXIX. HIS MORAL NATURE ..... 377-409 

XXX. HIS SPIRITUAL NATURE .... 410-447 

INDICES 449-479 



CONTEACTIONS. 



AS Anglo-Saxon. 

Dan Danish. 

Dut Dutch. 

P French. 

Gael Gaelic. 

Ger German. 

Gr Greek. 

Goth Gothic. 

Icel Icelandic. 

It Italian. 



L Latin. 

ME Middle English. 

OE Old English. 

OF Old French. 

OH. Ger.... Old High German. 

Port Portuguese. 

Prov Proven9al. 

Sp Spanish. 

Sans Sanscrit. 



ERRATA. 

P. 15, 1. 20, far " tempo " read " temno. " 

55, L 29, for "gamem" read "gamein." 

,, 65, 1. 12, for " droays" read "drosos." 

69, 1. 3, for " is " read " are. " 

,, 69, 1. 8, for " vermuth " read " wermuth." 

86, 1. 23, for " rhin " read " rhis. " 

96, 1. 14, for "Gr." read "Ger." 

,, 101, 1. 31, for "pelikan" read "pelekan." 

101, 1. 32, for "pelicos" read "pelekus." 

,, 123, note, for "invidis " read " invidia. " 

139, 1. 22, for "tropho" read "trophe." 

,, 141, 1. 33, for " empeirekos " read " empeirikos." 

142, 1. 21, for " to dry "read "dry." 



SIGNIFICANT ETYMOLOGY. 



CHAPTEK I. 



THE UNIVERSE. 



THIS word, which includes all things both in the heavens and on 
the earth, the whole system of created things (lit. turned into one 
or combined into one whole), is from the L. universum (composed 
of units, 1 one, and verto, 2 verti, versum, verier e, to turn). The word 
nature is frequently used in the same sense both in Latin authors 
and by ourselves. The word natura (from nascor* natus, nasci, to 



1 From unus (gen. unlus) we 
have one, alone (all = quite, and 
one), unit, unite, unity, unison, one 
single sound, unanimous (animus, 
mind), of one mind, unicorn, an 
imaginary animal with only one 
horn (L. cornu, a horn), unique 
(through the F.), unmatched, or the 
only one of its kind ; Unitarian, 
a believer in one God, but not in the 
doctrine of the Trinity ; onion, also 
through F. oignon, from L. unio, as 
having but one bulb. 

2 Verio and its participle supply 
many words such as version, turn- 
ing from one language into another ; 
to be versed in or highly skilled in 
it ; versant with it ; vertebrae, the 



joints in the backbone, whereby we 
are able to turn.; vertigo, a dizzi- 
ness or turning in the head ; and to 
animadvert is to turn the mind to, 
and generally in an unfavourable 
sense, as to criticise ; but to advert 
is to turn to ; to avert is to turn 
away. We have also convert, 
divert, invert, pervert, revert, 
subvert. 

8 From this verb nascor, through 
the F., we derive naive (for na- 
tive), meaning artless and natural. 
For the F. word naivete there is 
great need ; and it is therefore to 
be wished that it were disencum- 
bered of its diaeresis, its accent, and 
its italics. Nascent passions are 



SIGNIFICANT ETYMOLOGY. 



be born) is used by Cicero for what we call the universe. " Nature 
is but a name for an effect whose cause is God." Of this universe 
it is but a very small part we know, or with which we have even 
a slight acquaintance. 



those just beginning to grow. Our 
native land is the land of our birth. 
Nation also is from the same source. 
Our natal day is the day of our 
birth, or its anniversary ; and the 
country of Natal was so called from 
having been discovered by the 
Portuguese on the Feast of the 



Nativity 1497. The Nativity gener- 
ally signifies the birthday of our 
Lord. We have also innate, in- 
born, and cognate, proceeding from 
the same stock ; while a naturalist 
is one who studies animals, plants, 
or other departments of natural 
history. 



CHAPTER II. 

THE HEAVENLY BODIES. 

THE Solar system is that alone of which we know anything. 
Men have from the earliest times been familiar with the sun, 
moon, and stars. The Sun, which is the source of light and heat 
to our system, derives its name from the AS. sunne, an old word 
of unknown etymology, but possibly from the Aryan root su, to 
give life. The Latin word is Sol. Cicero derives it from L. solus, 
alone, as if it dwelt in solitary majesty ; and Milton in ' Paradise 
Lost,' IV. 33, seems to have adopted the same derivation, as in 
Satan's address to the Sun he says 

" O thou that, with surpassing glory crown'd, 
Look'st from thy sole dominion, like the god 
Of this new World at whose sight all the stars 
Hide their diminish'd heads to thee I call, 
But with no friendly voice, and add thy name, 
O Sun ! to tell thee how I hate thy beams." 

We have only two words derived from Sol viz., the word solar, 
applied to the system of which our sun is the centre, and also to 
the solar plexus in anatomy, a great plexus of sympathetic nerves 
supplying the intestines, and the word solstice, which indicates 
that point where the sun is farthest from the Equator, and seems 
to stand still (L. solstitium from sol, the sun, and sisto, to make 
to stand, from L. sto, stare, to stand). 

The Moon plays a far more important part than the Sun in 
questions of Etymology and Grammar. It receives the name of 



4 SIGNIFICANT ETYMOLOGY. 

the Moon, lit. the " measurer " of time, from the AS. word mona, 
found in all the Teutonic languages, also in L. mensis, Gr. mene, 
Sans, mas, and all from the root ma, to measure. It was for our 
forefathers the distinctive attribute of this one of the heavenly 
bodies that it enabled them to measure time ; and the word which 
they used to mark it its name, in fact was Moon ; and so among 
all nations the revolution of the moon has been employed as a 
measure of duration. From her first appearance, or from new 
moon to new moon again, is a month a lunar month, a moonth, 
from AS. monath, from mona, the moon. I have just used the 
word lunar here, which reminds me that things may have many 
attributes, but that all people are not equally impressed by each, so 
that with different people the same thing will have different names. 
The forefathers of the Latin race seem to have been most impressed 
with the brilliancy of this heavenly body, and this brightness 
determined the name which they gave, luna or lu(c)na, from lux, 
lucis, light. It is the same process in each case the selection of an 
attribute, and then some form of such attribute, to serve as a name 
for the thing. Now, consider the case of a word that has so arisen. 
The object to which it belongs, if it still remains for the users of the 
word to exercise their minds on, may present itself to them in a 
different light from that in which it presented itself to the origin- 
ators of the word, just as in earlier times it may have struck 
different people differently. For us the moon is not specially the 
measurer of time; it is rather as the earth's attendant that we 
think of it, and so to us the moon suggests a different idea, so much 
so that we can use it of a body which stands to another in a relation 
like that of the moon to the earth. We can speak of Jupiter's 
moons, though in this case the original idea of measurement has no 
place. The connection between word and thing is such that it 
does not restrict to the latter the application of the former. There 
has been an attempt made to derive the word luna from the L. 
verb lunare, to bend, and to suggest that it has been so named 
from the bent, crescent -shaped appearance of the new moon. The 
fact is, however, that the word lunare is derived from the word 



THE HEAVENLY BODIES. 



luna itself. Virgil, ^Eneid, I. 490, speaks of "pelta lunata," a 
light, half-moon-shaped shield. Milton, from its crescent shape, 
speaks of the moon as " horned," but the " crescent " is the more 
common name, from the Latin cresco, crevi, cretum, crescere, 1 to 
increase, as it goes on increasing till the full moon, and the 
crescent is the symbol of Mohammedanism, as the Cross is of 
Christianity. There is a remarkable difference of opinion as to the 
gender of the sun and moon. Classic mythology made the moon 
feminine. She is Diana, a huntress, with her horn or crescent, the 
sister of Apollo, the sun. From this many poetical comparisons, 
as well as puerile conceits, have been formed ; and the continual 
change in her appearance has been compared to the supposed 
fickleness or inconstancy of woman. Though we have retained 
the Teutonic name of this luminary, we consider her poetically as a 
female ; and we apply to her all the classical allusions, because we 
have long laid aside the Northern Mythology and taken as our 
pattern the poets of Greece and Eome. In those Gothic languages 
which still retain the distinctions of gender, such as Saxon, Danish, 
and German, the moon is masculine ; and in the mythology of 
Scandinavia he was the husband of Tuesca or the sun, which in 
those languages is feminine. In some of them, such as Danish or 
Dutch, the word is still spelt " man," so that " the man in the 
moon," who amused our childhood, now, long after we have left 
the nursery, appears again on the page, and may to some extent 
account for the sex which it continues to maintain among the 
Teutonic tongues. 

In the days when the stars were observed only by the naked 
eye, and when no optical instruments had been invented, those 
stars which seemed to wander about, while the other stars seemed 
fixed, were called planets (F. plan&te, from Gr. planetes, a wanderer, 
from plando, to make to wander). More accurate information was 



1 From cres&re, to grow, we have 
also accretion, adding to. Minerals, 
for instance, augment by accretion, 
not by growth ; concretion is a mass ; 
concrete is opposed to abstract ; de- 



crease, to grow less ; increase, to 
become, or to make, greater or more ; 
increment, the amount of increase, 
and excrescence, any unnatural 
growth. 



6 



SIGNIFICANT ETYMOLOGY. 



afforded by the invention of the telescope (from the Gr. tele, 1 far 
off, and skopeo or skeptomai? to look at or view). 

The greater the power we give to the telescope, the more stars 
we bring into view, so that their number is indeed beyond cal- 
culation 3 " without number, numberless." The stars are more 
numerous in some parts of the heavens than in others most of all, 
perhaps, in that luminous band passing across the heavens called 
by the ancients the Galaxy, or Milky Way through F. and L., 
from Gr. galaksias (gala, galdktos, milk), akin to L. lac, lactis, 
milk ; and the Latins called it the Via Lactea, its appearance 
being somewhat like a stream of milk. 



1 Tele, Gr. " at a distance," forms 
several compounds : telegraph, tele- 
phone, telepathy (Gr. pathos, feel- 
ing), thought-reading or mind-read- 
ing, and teleology, the doctrine of 
the final causes of things. 

1 We have from skopeo, scope, 
the end which the author of a 
book had in view or room or 
space for action or for our talents, 
&c. We have kaleidoscope (from 
Gr. kalos, beautiful, and eidos, an 
appearance), the name given to an 
optical toy in which we see an 
endless variety of beautiful colours 
and forms ; microscope (from mikros, 
small), stereoscope (stereos, solid), 
stethoscope (stethos, the breast), epi- 
scopacy (from epi, over), the over- 
seeing of the Church, for the Bishops 
(episcopal) are the overseers ; and 
from skeptomai, sceptic, sceptical, 
scepticism, looking about without 
making up one's mind. The word 
horoscope signifies an observation 
of the heavens, or the time of a 
person's birth, by which the astrol- 
oger predicted the events of his 
life viz., by the aspect of the stars 
at the time of birth. It is gener- 
ally taken for granted that the 
word comes to us through the F. 
and L., from the Gr. horoscopos 
(hora, an hour, and scopeo, to ob- 
serve) ; but this does not seem to 
be the case, as the old F. word heur 



(masc.) does not signify an hour as F. 
heure (fern.) does, but fortune, chance, 
fate, luck ; and the nonchalant 
Frenchman persists in talking about 
his bonheur and his malheur, which, 
of course, most people recognise as 
being nothing else than a good hour 
or a bad hour. They have also 
heureuse, fortunate, and malheureuse, 
unfortunate ; but when we look 
more closely into these words we 
find that they have nothing in 
common with the feminine heure, 
an hour, but from F. heur from the 
L. augurium, augury, which became 
in the popular L. agurium, whence 
ailr, eiir, and then it came to be 
written as it is now, heur, by a false 
etymology, as if from hora instead 
of augurium. (See p. 16.) 

3 How few think when they use 
the word calculation that it is de- 
rived from the L. word calculus, a 
pebble, because pebbles or small 
stones were anciently used for 
this purpose, the word calculus 
being the diminutive of the L. 
calx, cakis, lime or chalk, from 
which we have calcareous, that 
which contains lime, or has the 
qualities of lime ; and calcine, 
which originally means to have 
a substance like lime, or to 
burn it as in a kiln, and 
now generally to reduce anything 
to ashes. 






THE HEAVENLY BODIES. 7 

It has been found convenient by astronomers to regard the 
whole of the visible stars as forming figures, in order that the 
situation of any particular star may be readily located and described 
by one person to another. These figures are called constellations, 
and signify a number of stars taken together from con, together, 
and L. stella, a star. The whole expanse of the sky has thus been 
mapped into forms of men, women, beasts, fishes, and other objects, 
such as the great bear, Orion, &c. 

The twelve consolations are called the twelve signs of the 
Zodiac, an imaginary belt in the heavens (about eight degrees on 
each side of the ecliptic), so named from Gr. zodion, the diminutive 
of Gr. zoon, 1 an animal from Gr. zoo, I live, and zoe, life. The 
name of Zodiac was given to this imaginary belt because these twelve 
constellations were named for the most part after animals or living 
creatures, such as Aries, the ram ; Taurus, the bull ; Gemini, the 
twins ; Cancer, the crab, &c., which are represented by different 
signs which do not require the word to be written or printed, as 
T which stands for Aries, and 5 for Taurus, and so with the 
others. The word Zodiacal (lit. the circle of animals) is from the 
Gr. word zodiaJcos, of animals, and kuTdos, a circle, and is generally 
applied to the luminous tract which is seen above the sun at 
sunrise or sunset, mostly in the tropics, and supposed to be 
the glow of meteors revolving round it, and called the Zodiacal 
light. 

Astronomy, which is the law or science of the stars or heavenly 

1 From this word zoon we have I the bodies of other animals, and 
the word zoology (logos, a discourse), absorbing their food. The word 



that branch of natural history which 
treats of animals, describes their 
structure and habits, and classifies 
them. According to recent zool- 



zoophyte (from Gr. pliyton, a plant) 
is a term now loosely applied to 
many plant-like animals, as sponges, 
corals, and the like. Nitrogen is 



ogists, there are in the animal king- ; called azote (a, priv., and zoe, life), 



dom six types or plans of structure, 
according to one or other of which 
all known animals are formed. The 
lowest of these types is that of the 
sub-kingdom protozoa, first animals 
(from Gr. protos, first, and zoa, 
animals) consisting of a transpar- 
ent gelatinous mass with a nucleus 
living in water, or in some cases on 



without life, because it will not 
serve for breathing, or as an aid to 
support life without the oxygen it 
dilutes ; and thus substances which 
contain nitrogen are sometimes 
called azotised (nitrogenous) com- 
pounds. Entozoa are parasitical 
animals living inside of (entos) other 
animals. 



8 



SIGNIFICANT ETYMOLOGY. 



"bodies, from the Gr. astron, a star, and nomos, 1 a law, was preceded 
in its infant stage by Astrology, which was occupied chiefly in 
foretelling events from the positions of the heavenly bodies (from 
Gr. astron, a star, and logos, 2 knowledge). We have already men- 
tioned two words for stars, L. stella and Gr. astron, neither of 
which gives rise to many English compounds, except those men- 
tioned. The word "star" itself is a general Indo-European word. 
The English form, ME. sterre, from AS. steorra, is cognate with 
Ger. stem and L. stella (short for steruld). 

Besides having the native word, we have traces of the belief in 
the evil influences which the stars might exercise in the word dis- 

1 From the Gr. word nomos, a 
law, we have many words, such as 
antinomian (anti, against), denying 
that the moral law is binding on 
Christians, and antinomy, the op- 
position of one rule or law to an- 
other rule or law, and autonomy 
(Gr. autos, self), the power or right 
of self-government, and Deuteron- 
omy (Gr. deuteros, second), the 
second giving of the law by Moses, 
the fifth book of the Bible, and 
economy (Gr. oikos, a house) meant 
originally the management and 
arrangement of a household, but 
gradually came to mean the frugal 
management of a family ; and now 
it is used for frugality in general, 
so that when we speak of economy 
we generally mean thrift, and to 
economise is to manage money mat- 
ters so as to effect a saving. Gast- 
ronomy, not so closely connected 
with astronomy, perhaps, as the Ald- 
erman supposed, who, having come 
somewhat early one evening for one 
of the great civic feasts, while wait- 
ing in the street outside the Guild- 
hall before going in to the great 
banquet, was accosted by one of his 
friends as he stood beside the lamp- 
post with the question, "Are you 
studying astronomy?" replied, as 
he thought, cuttingly, "No, I am 
studying gastronomy." But if his 
answer was not closely connected 
with astronomy, it was closely con- 



nected with himself, for aldermen 
are supposed and with good reason 
to be grand masters of the science 
of good eating, which gastronomy 
literally means the art or science 
of good eating, from Gr. gaster, 
the stomach, and nomos, a law. 

2 The names of a great many 
sciences end in olpgy. Thus chron- 
ology treats of time (chronos) ; en- 
tomology, of insects (entomon) ; 
etymology, of words (etymos) ; geol- 
ogy, of the crust of the earth (ge) ; 
ichthyology, of fishes (ichthus) ; met- 
eorology, of atmospheric phenom- 
ena (meteoros) ; mythology, of an- 
cient fabulous stories (mythos) ; 
ornithology, of birds (ornis, ornithos); 
pathology, of diseases (pathos) ; phil- 
ology, of language generally (philos, 
fond of) ; physiology, of animals 
and plants (phusis) ; psychology, of 
the human soul (psyche) ; theology, 
of God and divine things (theos) ; 
zoology, of animals (zoori). We have 
besides these, from logos, logomachy, 
a dispute about words (Gr. machd- 
mai, I fight), apologue, dialogue, 
decalogue, epilogue, prologue, mon- 
ologue. We have also apology, a 
defence or justification of something 
that has been assailed, and cata- 
logue, a list set down in order, 
enumerating particulars for distinc- 
tion. We have at least three end- 
ing in alogy analogy, mineralogy, 
and genealogy. 



THE HEAVENLY BODIES. 



9 



aster (from L. dis, " away from," contrary," and aster, a star), and 
so with the phrase " ill starred " (from under the influence of an 
unlucky star, and signifying unlucky). The expression "in the 
ascendant," too, is self-interpreting, inasmuch as it is a reminder 
of the belief that whatever star was appearing above the horizon at 
the time of any one's birth, it had a commanding influence over 
that person's life. It is not so obvious at first that our common 
word " aspect " was used also as an astrological metaphor. Aspect 
is from the L. aspectus, aspicio, to look towards ; and the aspect 
means the situation of one planet with respect to another, as seen 
from the earth. The expression, then, " to view " or " to present " 
a thing under a favourable aspect proves this to be so, the figure 
becoming a different one when we are said to regard a thing in 
different aspects. The " aspect " of the heavens is the way in which 
the planets look at each other and at the earth. 

Not less striking is the use of words which imply a direct influ- 
ence of the heavenly bodies upon the fate of each individual man. 
The word influence itself, implies a belief in such superstitions, as 
they refer to the influence of the planets upon our fate, the flowing 
of their virtue into our lives (L. influere). The old astrologers 
believed that there escaped from the stars a certain fluid which 
acted on man and things. Boileau employs the word in its primitive 
sense, when in his { Art Poe'tique ' he speaks of the sweet influence 
secretly exercised by the heavens on the poet at his birth. The 
Italian word Influenza makes allusion to a somewhat analogous 
belief. Although it is now with us the name of an epidemic catarrh, 
it was at first supposed to be caused by the planets. It was at one 
time believed that the star under which a man was born affected 
his temperament, making him for life of a disposition grave or gay, 
lively or severe ; and our language perpetuates the memory of this 
belief. At the same time it presents traces of an obsolete system 
of physiology which divided the human body into solids, liquids, 1 

1 Liquid is derived from the L. comes the verb liqueaco, to become 

liquidus, from liqueo, liqui or licui, fluid or liquid, to melt, also to 

liqutre, to be liquid or fluid applied grow clear. From liqueo, we have 

to the sea and to water generally also liquefy and liquefaction. To 

also to be clear. From it also liquidate debts or demands is to 



10 



SIGNIFICANT ETYMOLOGY. 



and what might be called aeriform substances. Of liquids, there 
were thought to be four, blood, phlegm, bile, and black bile, or 
melancholy ; three of these we recognise as matters of fact but 
the fourth, the black bile, was purely imaginary. These four 
liquids were known as humours (humor being the Latin word for 
liquid), and health was thought to depend on the maintenance 
of a just proportion among them. This balance or commixture of 
the humours was known as a man's temperament i.e., his mixture 
(from L. tempero, to mix), or as his complexion (from a L. 
word meaning combination, derived from complectere con, to- 
gether, and plecto, to weave or twine). Thus, if a man had more 
blood than any other humour in his system, he was said to be of 
a sanguine temperament or complexion (from L. sanguis, 1 blood); 
if more bile, then of a bilious temperament or complexion (from L. 
bilis, .bile) ; if more phlegm, of a phlegmatic temperament, and if 
more melancholy, 2 or black bile, of a melancholy temperament 



settle or adjust them so as to ascer- 
tain and wind up a business. We 
speak of the liquidation of the 
affairs of a company, and the person 
who does this is called a liquidator. 
The notion of liquidation is that of 
making clear, especially the clearing 
or settling of an account, or adjust- 
ing the affairs of a bankrupt estate. 
A liquor is any liquid drink, but 
especially any drink as beer, wine, 
&c., containing alcohol. Liqueurs 
are preparations containing spirits 
with different fruits, spices, &c. 
Salts, &c., are said to deliquesce, 
or to be deliquescent, when they 
absorb moisture from the air and 
become liquid. Thus spontaneous 
liquefaction in the air is called 
deliquescence. Prolix (L. prolixus, 
stretching too far, extended, from 
pro, forth, and lixus (from L. verb 
liquor), to flow) means that which 
flows forth beyond bounds. A prolix 
statement is one of wearisome length 
and needless minuteness. Warbur- 
ton speaks of " elaborate and 
studied prolixity in proving such 
points as nobody calls in question." 



He must have been prolix indeed, 
who, pleading before a judge for six 
hours, and apologising for encroach- 
ing on his lordship's time, brought 
down upon himself the rebuke 
You have not only encroached on 
my time, but you have actually 
encroached on eternity ! 

1 From sanguis, sanguinis, blood, 
we have not only sanguine, mean- 
ing ardent, warm, hopeful in tem- 
perament, but sanguinary, as a 
sanguinary battle, one in which 
there has been much bloodshed, 
and consanguinity, blood-relation- 
ship, in contradistinction to affinity, 
which is relation by marriage : as 
Shakespeare asks, "Am I not con- 
sanguineous, am I not of her blood ? " 

2 A person is said to be hypo- 
chondriacal i.e., affected by de- 
pression of spirits, or melancholy, 
because in former days the hypo- 
chondria (Gr. hypo, under, and 
chondros, cartilage), the viscera that 
lie under the cartilage of the 
breast-bone, were supposed to be 
the seat of the disease. A valetu- 
dinarian is not much better. The 



THE HEAVENLY BODIES. 



11 



(from Gr. melas, melaina, melan, black, and chole, bile). If the 
temperament or balance of the humours was greatly disturbed, the 
result was distemper, that is, a variance from the proper mixture. 

The names frequently given to different temperaments or dis- 
positions preserve more than a faint echo of the old belief that the 
planets governed our physical and moral constitution ; for we 
speak of a man as being of jovial, martial, saturnine, or mercurial 
temperament : jovial, as being born under the planet Jove or 
Jupiter, which was the most joyful star and happiest augury of 
all ; a warlike person was said to be of a martial disposition, born, 
that is, under the planet Mars ; while a gloomy, severe person was 
said to be saturnine, born, that is, under the influence of Saturn, 
or when he was in the ascendant, grave and stern as himself ; while 
another was called mercurial, or light-headed, as those born under 
the planet Mercury were accounted to be. A lunatic is the epithet 
applied to a madman, and generally implies that he is violent and 
dangerous. The word lunatic is derived from the L. word luna, 
the moon, and signifies moon-struck, from the belief then prevalent 
that the moon produced insanity. Both the sun and the moon 
were supposed to exercise a direct influence on those subjected to 
their rays, as seen in the words sun-stroke and moon-struck, and 
in the metrical version of Ps. cxxi. 6 : 

" The moon by night thee shall not smite, 
nor yet the sun by day." 

The word mania (from the L. and the Gr. mania, madness) is the 
same kind of madness as was formerly denoted by the word lunatic, 
when it was supposed to be connected with the moon. A mono- 
maniac (Gr. monos, and mania), is one in whom madness exists, 



word valetudinarian, which we 
might naturally expect to mean one 
in rude and robust health, really has 
come to signify one in very infirm 
and delicate health. It is derived 
from the L. valeo, -ui, -ttum, -ere, 
to be well or in good health, to be 
strong in anything, and from the 
present part, valens we have the 



word valiant. The L. valetudo just 
signified the constitution of the 
body, health whether good or bad, 
and latterly bad health, while the 
L. valetudinarius formed from this 
signified exclusively one who was 
sickly or ill, and the word valetu- 
dinarlum was the L. for a hospital 
or an infirmary. 



12 SIGNIFICANT ETYMOLOGY. 

chiefly in one particular subject, such as kleptomania (Gr. Meptes, 
a thief), a morbid impulse to steal, chiefly useless things, and 
dipsomania (Gr. dipsa, thirst), a thirst madness. Delirium is 
just the Latin word for madness, transferred into our own language. 
Literally it means out of the straight line, or out of the furrow in 
ploughing, and then out of one's senses. It is composed of the two 
Latin words, de, out of, and lira, a furrow. It is now applied to 
those who rave in mind and are disordered in intellect. The 
special form of it called delirium tremens, or the shaking madness, 
receives its name from the tremulous condition of the body or 
limbs which accompany the temporary insanity which is generally 
caused by habitual drunkenness. The L. tremens is from the verb 
tremo, to tremble, quiver, or shake. Melancholy, the imaginary 
fourth humour, has kept its name alive in medical science in 
melancholia, but the others survive only in popular language, in 
which we constantly use the old terms to describe different kinds 
of men, or different states of the mind or body. Thus a man 
may still be "good-humoured" or in a "bad humour," and we 
still speak of his bodily or mental disposition as his temperament. 
When we call a man sanguine, we revert, without knowing it, to 
the old medical theory that a preponderance of blood in his 
temperament made him hopeful. Similarly we call a man melan- 
choly, or phlegmatic, though we do not remember that the ideas 
we attach to these words go back to obsolete physiology. Com- 
plexion has a particularly curious history. Originally, as we have 
seen, it was a medical term synonymous with temperament. Since, 
however, the preponderance of one or another humour was sup- 
posed to manifest itself in the natural colour, texture, and appear- 
ance of the skin, especially of the face, complexion soon received 
the meaning which we now attach to it. Thus a learned and 
strictly technical term, of Latin origin, has been rejected from the 
vocabulary of science, and become purely popular. We have also 
preserved distemper, specialising it for diseases of dogs and other 
animals. Temper, however, which was a synonym of temperament, 
has taken a different course. We use it vaguely for "disposition," 
but commonly associate it in some way with irascibility. " Keep 



THE HEAVENLY BODIES. 13 

your temper," " he lost his temper," " ill-temper," show traces of 
the old meaning ; but in the colloquial " what a temper he has " 
i.e., "what a bad temper he has" the modified adjective idea 
remains, though no adjective is used, or " he is in such a temper " 
would never be referred to physiological science by one who did not 
know the history of the word. But we are not yet done with the 
history of the word humour. A diseased condition of any one of 
the four humours might manifest itself as an eruption of the skin, 
hence such an eruption is still called a humour in common language. 
Again, an excess of one of the humours might make a man odd or 
fantastic in his speech and actions. Thus " humours " took the 
meaning of eccentric (meaning literally, "deviating from the 
centre," or having a different centre, Gr. ek, from, and kentron, 
whence L. centrum, centre), so that a humorous man was what 
we call in modern slang "a crank." The "Comedy of Errors," of 
which Ben Jonson is the best exponent, found material in carica- 
turing such eccentric persons. From this source the word humour 
has an easy development to that of a keen perception of the " odd " 
or "incongruous," and we thus arrive at the regular modern mean- 
ing of the word. It is certainly a long way from humour in the 
literature sense of " liquid " or " moisture," to humour in the sense 
in which that quality is so often associated with it, especially dry 
humour, and the etymology of this dry humour is humeo, to be 
moist ! Finally, the old physiology, as we have seen, ascribed to the 
human system certain volatile or aeriform substances, which were 
believed to flow through the arteries and to be, of a primary im- 
portance in all the processes of life. These were called spirits (L. 
spiritus, breath or air), and they fell into three classes, the natural, 
the vital, and the animal spirits. It is in unconscious obedience 
to this superannuated science that we use such words and phrases 
as high, low, good, or bad spirits "high or low spirited," a 
spirited horse, a spiritless performance, and that we speak of one 
who is spontaneously merry as having a "great flow of animal 
spirits." 

But the supposed influence of the stars on the human body, 
and on different temperaments, must not lead us away from the 



14 SIGNIFICANT ETYMOLOGY. 

important influence which they were in early ages supposed to exer- 
cise on human affairs, as is still manifested in many of our words. 
Not merely were the stars believed to exercise a great influence 
on the character of those who were born when particular stars were 
in the ascendant, but they were believed to reveal much regarding 
the future, to those who were skilled in interpreting the meaning 
of their conjunction. 

We have already referred to the words for stars, stella and 
aster. But the Eomans had another word for a star viz., 
sidus, sideris, pi. sidera, which also appears in our language, at 
least in the word "consideration," and those connected with it. 
It comes from the L. verb considero, having the same mean- 
ing, composed of the two words, con, with, and sidera, the 
stars. Now, what is the connection between the stars and con- 
sideration in its proper meaning of careful, thoughtful, and 
minute observation and reflection ? This : that in the remote past, 
the Eomans and others, before making up their minds on any im- 
portant subject, or before undertaking any important enterprise, 
used to consult the stars. And in those days the man who said 
that he wanted to consider, really meant that he wanted to look at 
the stars, and by examination of their position ascertain whether 
they were propitious to his undertaking or not. By-and-by, with 
the progress of civilisation, such superstitious belief in the in- 
fluence of the stars died out, but the word remained ; and when 
now we say, and we say it every moment, " Let me consider," or 
" I must consider this matter," we are no more aware of our men- 
tioning anything in connection with the stars than I am aware 
that the ground on which I rest my feet while writing flies 
through space at the rate of thousands of miles an hour. We 
could scarcely find a better illustration of the meaning of the 
word, both in its past and present sense, than in Psalm viii. 3, 
" When I consider thy heavens, the work of thy fingers, the 
moon and the stars, which thou hast ordained," &c. So also 
in Psalm xli. 1, " Blessed is he that considereth the poor," 
and in Heb. iii. 1, "Consider the Apostle and High Priest of 
our profession," where the idea is not that of a hasty glance 



THE HEAVENLY BODIES. 



15 



but of a careful study. Most people, however, instead of con- 
sidering, conjecture, or form an opinion without full evidence 
or proof. The L. word conjedura (from conjicio, jeci, jectum, to 
throw together) is from con, together, and the root iac (as we see 
in the simple iacio or jacio 1 ), to throw. Conjecture, then, brings 
us back to the root iac, and means properly the action of " throw- 
ing together." At one time superstitious people, before trying to 
guess at something, used to throw together little stones, dice, or 
other things of the kind, and according to the way these objects 
fell they formed their opinions. A superstition this, not so very 
ancient after all, for we still find people frequently tossing up a 
shilling or a penny in order to have a basis for their opinion. 

At the opposite extreme from conjecture is the word contem- 
plate, which is in meaning very much akin to consider, and 
connected with the same observation of the heavens. The L. 
verb contemplor, from which it is derived, signifies to fix upon a 
spot for observation, hence to observe, gaze upon, and with the 
mind, meditate (meditari, or contemplate). The L. verb contemplor 
is composed of con, with, and L. templum^ (from Gr. temo, and 
tempo, to cut off), properly a piece or portion cut off: hence a 
space in the heavens, or on the earth, marked out by an augur 
with his staff within which to observe the position of the stars, 
the flight of birds, &c., his post of observation. 

(anguis) was a name given to a ser- 
pent which was said to throw itself 
down from the trees upon its prey. 
In connection with jaculum we have 
the word jaculari, which means to 
throw, to dart off ; jaculatorius cam- 
pus was the field where the youths 
practised with arrows and spears. 
From this word jaculari, with the 
prefix e (out), we have the word 
ejaculate, which means properly to 
throw anything out of our breast, 
as a short prayer which we speed 
as an arrow towards heaven. 

2 From this we have our word 
temple signifying a place cut off, 
set apart and separated from other 
places for meditation and contem- 
plation, chiefly for religious purposes. 



1 From jacio, to throw or cast, we 
have many English words. Water 
jets out, the stream is a jet, a jetty 
is a kind of pier ; jut is another 
form of jet, part of a building, or 
a cape juts out; abject, cast off; 
adjective, a word thrown to a noun 
to modify its meaning ; dejection, 
ejection, injection, interjection, ob- 
jection, project, projection, rejec- 
tion, subject, subjection. Thus, 
however different in sound and 
meaning, these all are to be re- 
ferred to the root iac. This same 
root we meet with in other words 
which have an echo in English. 
Thus we have jaculum or iaculum, 
which means something to be 
thrown, an arrow, a dart. Jaculus 



16 



SIGNIFICANT ETYMOLOGY. 



The Augurs, of whom we have been speaking in connection with 
the position of the stars, were priests of Borne who foretold future 
events, and interpreted the will of the gods, from the flight and 
singing and feeding of birds, and from the conjunction of the 
planets, from the nature of dreams, &c. They are said to have 
derived the name of Augur from L. avis, a bird, and the root gar, 
in L. gamre, to chatter (whence garrulous and garrulity), Sans, gir, 
speech. We still use the word in such expressions as, " it augurs 
well," or it is of " favourable augury " ; and as the Augurs were 
consulted before entering on any undertaking, we have still such 
expressions as the " inauguration of a building " for the opening 
of it, the making of a public exhibition of it for the first time, 
the formal commencement. There was a word very similar in 
origin and meaning viz., auspex, ids (for avispex), one who fore- 
tells future events by the flight of birds (from avis, a bird, and 
o, 1 to look at). The Augur and the Auspex originally differed 



1 There are few Latin words 
which have given us more English 
words than this. We have species, 
an appearance of a particular kind, 
a class or order causing the same 
sensations to our sight ; to specify ; 
a specimen, that which is seen as a 
sample ; a spectacle is a show seen 
by the spectators, and a pair of 
spectacles are used to enable people 
to see more clearly. A spectre means 
an apparition visible to sight. To 
speculate is to take a view of any- 
thing with the mind, whence we 
have speculators, who are generally 
supposed to take a view according 
to fancy, instead of being guided 
by actual realities. The aspect of 
anything is the view given to us 
of it, and the word is applied to 
the countenance as exhibiting the 
feelings of the mind. Conspicuous 
is what is clear and easy to be seen 
the prefix con implying that all 
can see it together. On the other 
hand, despicable and despise, signi- 
fying what is looked down upon, 
imply contempt and worthlessness. 



Especially denotes what is most 
prominent and manifest to sight. 
Inspect means to look into, and an 
inspector is one who makes an in- 
spection. Circumspect means look- 
ing round on all sides, from L. 
circum, around, on every side. Per- 
spicuous seeing through, meta- 
phorically applied to what is clear 
and easy to be seen through. A pro- 
spect is that which is seen spread 
out before us. Respectable is that 
which is worth looking back upon. 
A prospectus is supposed to supply 
a clear view of the subject of which 
it treats. A retrospect (from L. 
retro, backwards) is a review of our 
past life or anything that has gone 
before any particular event. To 
suspect is to mistrust, or to look at 
secretly, from sub, beneath. Sus- 
picious persons have a tendency 
to believe something unfavourable 
without adequate reason or proof. 
Respite comes from the same root, 
through the F., and signifies delay, 
on the ground of the necessity of 
looking again into the matter. 






THE HEAVENLY BODIES. 17 

in their range. The Augur had the more limited range, being con- 
fined to birds and to the Colleges of the Augurs ; but the Auspex 
in his range extended to the whole of nature, to lightning and 
other phenomena, and on public occasions was invited by the 
highest magistrates, and privately by many persons and we thus 
speak of entertainments being held, or exhibitions being given, 
under the auspices of certain persons whose patronage would be 
beneficial. We also speak of an auspicious occasion, the word 
auspicious having gradually come to have exclusively a favourable 
meaning. The word omen had on the whole much the same 
signification, but is now more frequently used in an unfavour- 
able sense. It is a Latin word, and is regarded by some as a 
contraction for obmen (from Gr. opto, to see) ; by others as a 
contraction of osmen, that which is entered by the mouth (from 
os, oris, the mouth) ; while others think it was originally atismen, 
11 that which is heard," from audire, to hear. The truth is, any- 
thing we see, or say, or hear, may be regarded as an omen, from 
which we may prophesy either good or bad. Gradually, however, 
it came to signify what was bad, and the word ominous now never 
signifies what is indicative of good, but only what is predictive of 
evil. If the omen was seen on the left side, it was regarded as 
unfavourable, hence sinister (lit. the left side) means unfavour- 
able. In Elizabethan English an omen from being a sign that 
foreshadows calamity is sometimes transferred to the calamity that 
is foreshadowed by the sign, as in Shakespeare's " prologue to the 
omen coming on." In this word omen, too, we- have the basis of 
the word abominable. The customary spelling of this word in 
old writers is abhominable, on the supposition that the true 
etymology was ab + homine i.e., "apart from man," "repugnant 
to humanity," and meant " unbecoming a man," " inhuman." This 
was favoured by Augustine in one of his sermons. Hence also 
the independent formation abhominal used by Fuller and others, 
and in old English books it is often used in a sense corresponding 
to its supposed origin, nor has it as yet fully recovered its proper 
meaning. It is one of the many instances where words have 
been corrupted in orthography, and finally changed in meaning, 

B 



18 SIGNIFICANT ETYMOLOGY. 

in consequence of the adoption of a mistaken etymology. Better 
scholarship has now restored it to its true orthography, and more 
nearly to its proper signification. It is evidently regularly formed 
from the Latin word abominor, itself derived from ab and omen. 
Abominable accordingly involves the idea of that which in a 
religious sense is profane and detestable, or, in a word, of evil 
omen ; and Milton never uses it, or the conjugate noun abomina- 
tions, except with reference to devilish, profane, or idolatrous 
ohjects. 

We have said that the Auspices were taken from thunder and 
lightning as well as from other portents in the heavens, and yet 
how few people of the many who express their surprise by saying 
they are astonished, or astounded, have any idea that the word 
means thunderstruck, or struck hy lightning, which the L. word 
attonitus, from which these are derived, literally signifies, tonitru 
being the L. word for thunder. From the same root also comes 
the word stun, as when we say he was stunned by the fall. 
To astonish was literally to " thunderstrike," and was once common 
in the physical sense of stun, as when Fluellen "astonished" 
Pistol by hitting him on the head with a cudgel. It was also 
used metaphorically for the extreme of terror or wonder, in 
paralysis of the faculties for the moment. A man who was 
astounded was in a kind of trance. But the word has gradually 
lost its force, and nowadays it is hardly more than an emphatic 
synonym for " to surprise " or " to excite wonder." The wonders 
excited by lightning then, however, were as nothing compared 
with the wonders excited by lightning now, when under the 
modern name of electricity it has become the great heating, 
lighting, communicating, and moving power of the world, for the 
electric flash which precedes the thunder is really the same 
substance as that by which we flash our messages, drive our 
cars, and light our hoiises and our streets. It was called elec- 
tricity from the Greek word electron, amber, because it was in 
amber that the property of attracting and repelling light bodies 
was first observed. 

Portents, lit. stretching towards, from L. portendo, to stretch 



THE HEAVENLY BODIES. 



19 



forth (pro, forth, and tendo, 1 to stretch), are signs indicating the 
future which betoken or presage. They differ from omens, how- 
ever, in coming of their own accord, unlocked for, having never 
been classified into a science. Comets, for instance, were formerly 
unexpected visitors. They are heavenly bodies with eccentric 
orbits and luminous tails. These tails gave them their Greek 
name, Jcometes, long-haired, from Gr. home, the hair. They were 
then termed prodigies, that is, things thrust forward beyond the 
common order of nature from prodigo (pro, forward, and ago, 2 



1 From tendo, tetendi, tensum, ten- 
der e, to stretch, we have to tend, 
to move or incline to move in a 
certain direction. We tender, put 
out, that is formally offer in pay- 
ment or satisfaction the amount of 
a debt or demand. A tender (for an 
attender) also means a small vessel 
attending a large one, carrying 
stores. A tendon is the sinew or 
hard end of the muscle which binds 
it to the bone. We speak of the 
tension or strain of a cord and of 
the tension or elastic force of the 
air. A tent is a portable lodge 
covered with canvas, and stretched 
and sustained by poles. To attend 
is to wait or follow upon another, 
so as to render him service. To 
tend a child is to take charge of it, 
to wait upon it. The sick require 
attendance, and a great man's 
attendants wait upon him. We 
attend, or give our attention, to a 
subject when we direct our minds 
specially to it. We are also said 
to pay our attentions to a person. 
We look or listen attentively. To 
contend is to strive, but in con- 
tention there is some contravening 
force, while in striving the upper- 
most idea is effort. Some men 
have contentious tempers. To 
distend is to expand or stretch 
out hollow bodies, and we speak 
not only of distension but of ex- 
tend and extension. A body is 
extensible in length as well as in 
bulk. The degree of its extension 



is called its extent. We have also 
extensive, and intend, intention, 
and intent. There is also an 
intendant, or one who has the 
charge or oversight of some public 
business. Intense means strained 
to an extreme, and so with in- 
tenseness, intensity, and intensify. 
Ostensible, and ostentatious, and 
ostentation (from ostendo). To 
pretend is to put forward what 
is false, and a pretence is what 
is so put forward. We may make 
pretensions which are not well 
founded, and in this sense a man 
may be said to be pretentious. To 
subtend is to extend under, or be 
opposite to. To superintend is to 
have the care or oversight of. We 
have superintendents of the police 
or of public works, and we speak 
of a superintending Providence. 

2 From ago we have active, 
agents, agile, counteract, enact, 
exact, prodigal, transact, and 
from the frequentative of this 
verb, agito, we have agitate, 
cogitate (to think deeply), co, to- 
gether, and agito, to put a thing 
in motion. React is that which 
acts back again. Actuary, from 
the same word, but through low 
L. actuarius (one who writes 
deeds, from L. actus, done), now 
one who specially deals with the 
calculation of probabilities. The 
name is often applied to the manager 
of a savings bank, or to the manag- 
ing director of an insurance office. 



20 



SIGNIFICANT ETYMOLOGY. 



egi, actum, agere, to do or drive). All prodigies were then evil 
portents, and especially those which expressed more directly the 
wrath of the gods. To presage, as the word implies, is very 
different Prcesagio (L.) is to foresee by sagacity (L. prce, before, 
and sagio, to perceive quickly), or from a knowledge of the laws 
of nature. Presages are such circumstances as a sage, or wise 
man, knows from experience to be the usual forerunners of cer- 
tain events. Prognostics are presented signs, by which a coming 
event may be rationally foretold or prognosticated, such as the 
symptoms by which an experienced physician judges of the re- 
covery or the approaching death of his patient. The judgment 
formed from these symptoms is, in medical language, the prog- 
nosis of the disease (Gr. prognosis pro, before, and gnosis, 1 know- 
ledge, from gignosco, to know). 

The only other heavenly bodies of which we require to say 
anything are included among the portents, and are called meteors 
or shooting stars. They are minute bodies, which fall with pro- 
digious velocity from space into our atmosphere, and, after becom- 
ing incandescent 2 through the friction of the air, descend either 
as dust or sometimes as meteoric stones. The word meteor is 
Gr., and signifies literally that which is suspended in the air, 
ineteoron (from meta, beyond, and eora, anything suspended from 
aeiro, to lift). Some of these meteors are called igneous, or fiery, 
such as falling stars, which ignite that is, take fire (from L. ignis, 



1 We have from this Greek 
word gnosis gnostics (the philoso- 
phical dreamers of first century, 
and diagnosis (from dia, thor- 
ough), the thorough knowledge 
of what the disease is ; physiog- 
nomy, the discernment of man's 
natural disposition ; as well as 
gnomes, those imaginary beings 
residing in the interior of the 
earth, who were supposed to be 
able to reveal secret treasures. A 
gnome means also a misshapen 
dwarf. A gnomon is the style or 
pin of a dial, which by its shadow 
shows the hour of the day. It also 



means an astronomical pillar to 
show by its shadow the height of 
the sun, &c., and also a figure in 
geometry, like a carpenter's square. 
2 From candeo, to shine, to be 
white, to inflame, we have candid, 
meaning clear and open, and can- 
dour, which can bear the light and 
itself shines brightly, both words 
being used in a metaphorical sense. 
Hence also candles, that give light, 
and a chandler, who makes or sells 
them. We have also the word can- 
didate, as we shall see later on, be- 
cause candidates among the ancient 
Romans wore a white toga. 



THE HEAVENLY BODIES. 



21 



a fire) when they fall into our atmosphere. And so we keep up 
the Latin word in English when we call by the name of the ignis 
fatuus (ignis, fire, and fatuus, foolish) the luminous meteor that 
flits about in the air a little above the surface of the earth, chiefly 
in marshy places or near stagnant waters, familiarly called Will-o'- 
the-Wisp and Jack-o'-Lantern, applied also to anything fanciful, 
unreal, or unattainable. 



22 



CHAPTEE III. 



THE EARTH. 

WE have spoken of what takes place when meteors encounter the 
atmosphere of the earth, and we may at this stage make the 
transit from the other stars to earth itself, passing slowly through 
the intervening space, being led from meteor to meteorology, to 
which it has given its name. No doubt meteorology at first in- 
cluded meteors, but in more recent times it has come to signify 
the science which treats of the atmosphere and its phenomena. 
The atmosphere is the air that surrounds the globe (from Gr. 
atmos, air, and spJiaira, a sphere, ball, or globe), and is the name 
given to the gaseous envelope which surrounds the earth, and 
which by the action of gravity presses heavily on its surface. 
This pressure is one of its most important properties, especially in 
its influence on the human frame. This atmosphere is believed 
from experiments which have been made to extend to about a 
hundred miles around our earth, although at that distance it may 
have a density of only a millionth part of that which prevails at 
the earth's surface. It is this height of atmosphere that gives the 
sky the blue colour which it presents in the clear sunshine. The 
empyrean is a name which is occasionally given to the sky, but 
it is applied by poets chiefly to the highest heavens, where the 
ancients imagined the pure element of fire subsisted. The word 
is formed from the Gr. empyros, in fire (em, en, in, and pyr, 1 fire), 



1 From this Gr. word pyr, fire, we 
have pyrometer, an instrument for 
measuring the temperature of bodies 
under fierce heat ; pyre, a pile of 
wood to be set on fire at a funeral ; 
pyrotechnics, the art of making fire- 



works (from Gr. technikos, artistic, 
from Gr. tecfine, art) ; also anti- 
pyrine, which, as its name indi- 
cates, is a medicine which was 
first employed as an anti - febrile 
agent. 



THE EARTH. 



23 



which last word is also the origin of " fire " itself. The sky is now 
generally understood by the welkin but originally it signified the 
cloudy sky. It was called in AS. the wolcen, clouds, closely 
resembling the Ger. wolke, a cloud. In ME. it is spelt icelkene in 
* Piers Ploughman.' As meteorology has now so much to do with 
weather, clouds play a very important part, and as in our island 
the weather is very variable, our forefathers were not indebted to 
any other quarter for the words weather and clouds. But the L. 
has supplied nebula, from the Gr. nephele, signifying little clouds, 
from which we have nebular, describing not only diffused gas- 
eous matter, but the faint misty appearance in the heavens 
produced by a group of stars too distant to be seen singly. 
We speak of the nebular hypothesis, and we have in common 
use the word nebulous for misty, hazy, vague. Meteorology 
concerns itself with heat and cold, and with the dryness or 
moisture of the atmosphere. Heat is received and conveyed 
by one body to another, and by some more readily than others, 
and so we speak of good and bad conductors of heat. A con- 
ductor is the person or thing which conveys or conducts, from 
L. con, together, and duco, 1 to lead. Heat conveyed by one solid 
body to another is said to be conducted, but if conveyed through 
liquids such as water, it is said to be diffused, from the L. verb 
fundo, fudi, fusum, fundere, 2 to pour, to melt. Heated bodies in 
the atmosphere are said to give off the heat by radiation (from L. 
radio, iare, to send out rays from, L. radius, a spoke). As sub- 
stances having a black rough surface radiate heat, so smooth and 
polished surfaces are said to reflect it, that is, throw it back (from 



1 Duco, duxi, ductum, duc8re to 
lead, is a very prominent word in 
our language. We have a duct 
along which anything is conveyed. 
Gold is ductile, easily drawn out in 
lines or threads ; a duke, a leader ; 
abduct, aqueduct, conduct, deduct, 
induct, educate, educe, intro- 
duce, produce, production, reduce, 
seduce, subdue, traduce, viaduct. 

2 We have from fundo, to pour or 
melt, to found, to form by pouring 
liquid metal into a mould, we have 
type-founders, cannon-founders. To 



fuse is to melt by heat. We have 
confound and confuse, diffusion, 
effusion, infusion, profusion, refund, 
refuse, suffuse, transfuse, to pour 
a healthy man's blood into another 
man's veins. We have also futile 
(L. futilis) from the ancient past 
participle of fundo viz., futus. 
It signifies originally what easily 
runs out, as a vessel from which the 
water runs out ; then applied to a 
man who speaks at random, whose 
talk is worthless ; and then in gen- 
eral means, of no effect or use. 



24 



SIGNIFICANT ETYMOLOGY. 



L. re, back, and flecto, 1 to turn), and this is called both as regards 
heat and light the angle of reflection, as the angle at which it falls 
on any surface is called the angle of incidence, from L. incido, to 
fall upon (from in, and cado). 2 When the heat of a body is much 
less than our own natural heat, and therefore not perceptible to our 
senses, it is called latent heat, that is concealed heat, from L. 
latens, pres. part, of lateo, to be concealed, or to be hidden. In such 
circumstances it can be made manifest by various means. It may 
be produced by friction, i.e., by the forcible rubbing of one body 
against another from L. frictus, a rubbing, from frico, fricui, 
fricatitm or frictum, fricare, to rub. It may be produced by 
percussion, that is, striking one body forcibly against another 
from L. percussio, a beating, from L. percutio, cussi, cussum, cutere, 
to strike (from per, through, and quatio? quassi, quassum, quatere, 
to shake violently). It may also be produced by compression 
from L. compressio, from L. comprimo, compressi, compressum, 
comprimere, to press closely together (con, and premd).* It may 
also be produced chemically, that is, by the peculiar action of 
certain bodies upon one another, as water on burnt lime, or as half- 
dried hay or grass, when put together in stacks, frequently becomes 
so hot as to take fire. This is called spontaneous combustion, 



1 From flecto, flexi,flectiim,flecf$re, 
to bend, we derive flexible, what is 
capable of being bent ; inflexible, 
deflect, inflection, reflect, reflex, 
circumflex, the mark over a letter 
or syllable is so called as " bending 
round in form " ; genuflexion is a 
bending of the knee (L. genu, the 
knee). 

2 Cado, cecidi, casum, cadSre, to 
fall, gives us cascade, casual, 
accident, accidence (in grammar), 
coincide, decay, deciduous, incid- 
ence, incident, an occasion. 

3 We have from these verbs, to 
quash, to crush summarily, to put 
an end to, concussion, discussion, 
percussion, also rescue, probably as 
men are rescued from impending 
danger or immediate evils, as from 
robbers and drowning, that is, they 
are delivered by active exertions 



(OF. rescourre, from L. re-excutere ; 
excutere, to take away by force 
ex, out, and quatZre, to shake or 
dust, to set free from danger or 
restraint). 

4 From premo, we have the press, 
in the sense of the printing press. 
We speak of the pressure of weights. 
We have the print of a foot in the 
sand. We may be depressed, which 
cannot be expressed, but we make 
an impression. We may suffer op- 
pression, but we repress our feelings, 
or suppress them altogether. We 
can compress, as of matter in a 
book, and we say that elastic bodies 
are compressible. Sometimes our 
emotions are irrepressible. A re- 
primand is a severe reproof. To 
sprain (F. tpreindre, L. exprimere) 
is to overstrain or twist the muscles 
or ligaments of a joint. 



THE EARTH. 



25 



spontaneous, from spons, spontis, free will, and comburo, to consume 
by burning (L. con, and uro, to burn). One effect of heat is said to 
be the repulsion of the particles of bodies, that is, a pushing away 
from one another from L. repello, to drive back, to repel or 
repulse, from pello, pepuli, pulsum, pellere, 1 to drive. Hence a 
greater degree of heat than bodies receive in their ordinary state 
expands them (from expando, pansi, pansum, pandere, from ex, out, 
and pando, 2 to spread) ; while a less degree of heat contracts them 
(from L. con, together, and traho, 5 traxi, tractum, trahere, to draw). 
The rays of heat, like those of light, can be concentrated, as all 
know who have used a lens of glass, concentration being the 
bringing to a common centre, from L. con, with, and centrum, the 
centre ; while a focus is the point where the rays meet and cause 
great heat (from the L. focus, a hearth) ; and a lens is so called 
from its likeness to a lentil seed, from the L. lens, lentis, a lentil. 

With reference to cold, as indicated by frost and snow, sleet and 
ice, these words are all root words themselves, and cannot be traced 
farther back, with the exception perhaps of avalanche, the name 
given to a mass of snow and ice sliding down from a mountain 
and destroying trees and herds and cottages from F. avaler, to 
slip down, from L. ad, to, and vallis, a valley. The degree of 
heat in the atmosphere is called temperature, from tempero, to 
regulate; and to ascertain this correctly, a thermometer is em- 
ployed (Gr. thermos, heat, and Gr. metron, a measure). When it 
falls to "0" it is said to be at zero, the F. and L. word for 
nothing; or a cipher, from Arab zifr. This word has risen in 



1 From pello, pidsum, and its 
frequentative, pulsare, to beat, we 
have the word pulse, as when 
we speak of the beating of one's 
pulse, compel and compulsion, 
dispel, expel and expulsion, impel 
and impulse, propel, repel and 
repulsion. 

2 From pando, to spread, we have 
expand, expansion, expansive, ex- 
pansibility, and expanse, signifying 
a wide extent of space or body. 
Spawn, too, the eggs of fish or 
frogs, is probably from the OF. 



espandre, to shed or scatter about. 
3 From this verb and its deriv- 
ative tractare, to handle, we have 
a trace, and we may be tractable. 
We may read a treatise in a train. 
We may be attracted by abstrac- 
tions. We may contract, or we 
may be distracted, especially by 
the extraction of our teeth. We 
may protract a speech, and yet 
retract nothing that we have said. 
In arithmetic we have the rule of 
subtraction, and the number to be 
subtracted is called the subtrahend. 



26 SIGNIFICANT ETYMOLOGY. 

estimation. Originally sifr, an Arabic translation of the Sanscrit 
name sunya, empty or void, it came, both in Indian and Arabian 
arithmetic, to be the symbol of " nought " or nothing (0) \ but 
gradually it came to be the name given to all the Arabian numerals, 
so that to " cipher " came to signify to use the Arabic numerals in 
the processes of arithmetic, or to work the elementary rules of 
arithmetic. It is now also frequently used figuratively, mean- 
ing a person of no importance or value, a nonentity, a mere 
nothing. This, I suppose, was what a woman who was cursed 
with a drunken nonentity of a husband meant when she de- 
scribed him as a perfect siphon. It was the truth she spoke 
(although not the truth she meant), for siphons are chiefly used 
for drawing liquids off casks, etc. To measure the weight of 
the atmosphere we employ a barometer (from Gr. baros, weight) ; 
an aneroid barometer is the air barometer, consisting of a small 
metallic box, nearly exhausted of air and easily acted upon by the ex- 
ternal pressure of the atmosphere (from Gr. a, without, neros, wet, 
moist, and eidos, form) ; and to measure the degree of moisture in the 
atmosphere the instrument employed is called a hygrometer (from 
Gr. hygros, wet) ; while an anemometer (from Gr. anemos, the wind) 
is an instrument for measuring the force and velocity of the wind. 
Wind is the air in a state of motion, and beyond the land and 
sea breezes (F. brise, a cool wind ; It. brezza) there are the Trade 
Winds, which blow for months at a time from east to west, so 
that mariners can take advantage of them in their voyages and 
render them of great service to trade. The word trade probably 
comes from the F. traite, signifying transport of goods, from 
L. tracto, frequentative of traho, to draw (see p. 25). Monsoons 
are periodical winds of the Indian Ocean, blowing in the same 
direction for half the year. The word comes, through F. or It., 
from Malay, musim (from the Arab mawsim, a time, or season). 
The Harmattan (an Arabic word) is a hot, dry, noxious wind 
which blows periodically from the interior of Africa ; and the 
Sirocco is a hot, moist, and relaxing wind from the south-east, in 
S. Italy and adjacent parts (It. sirocco, Sp. siroco, Arab schoruq, 
from scharq, the east). There are also hurricanes (from an 



THE EARTH. 



27 



American-Indian word), probably imitative of the rushing of the 
wind; and tornadoes, violent hurricanes in tropical countries, 
signifying a hissing or whirling (like our whirlwind) Sp. from 
tornar, and that from the low L. tornare. In connection with 
the atmosphere we have still to mention climate, which includes 
heat, moisture, elevation, prevalent winds, &c., especially as these 
affect health. The word comes through F. from the L. clima, -atis, 
from the Gr. klima, klimatos, a slope, and all these from Gr. Tdimo, 
to make to slope, or to incline. Clime is poetical for climate. 

Leaving the atmosphere and coming fairly down to earth, let 
us notice the circle bounding the view where earth and sky 
appear to meet, which is called the horizon, both in F. and 
L. from the Gr. horizon, bounding ; from Gr. horizo, 1 to bound, 
to limit ; from Gr. horos, a limit or boundary. 

We are now to speak of the planet with which we have most 
concern viz., the Earth, or the world which we inhabit. 

The word world is sometimes applied to the universe, then we 
speak of "the whole world"; but most frequently, and most 
correctly, it is confined to our world. This perhaps has suggested 
the etymology which has found favour with some viz., that 
which derives it from the past participle of the verb to whirl, and 
holds that whirled expresses both its roundness and its movement 
on its own axis. But the wh in whirl (as in the corresponding 
Gothic words) is radical, and would not have been represented in 
AS. by w, as in woruld, weoruld, world. Besides this, the 
word world is older than the knowledge among. the Gothic tribes 
of the spherical form, or of the rotation, of the earth. A still 
more conclusive argument against this etymology is the fact that 
the AS. woruld, the IceL verold, did not mean the earth, the 
physical, but the moral, the human world, the L. sceculum. The 
most probable etymology of world seems to be wer, a man (cognate 



1 From this we have the word 
horizontal, on a level, on a line with 
the horizon, the opposite of perpen- 
dicular, from the L. perpendiculum, 
a plumb line, from perpendo (per, 
through, and pendo, to weigh) ; so 



vertical (L. vertex, verticis, the head, 
that around which anything turns 
or is turned from verto) ; hence 
the pole on which the heavens 
are supposed to revolve, and thus 
perpendicular to the horizon. 



28 



SIGNIFICANT ETYMOLOGY. 



with L. vir, a man), and uld, signifying age or time ; lit. " a 
generation of men," and so its first use in English is in the sense 
of "an age of men," or a generation. 

The equator is a line drawn on a terrestrial globe, at equal 
distances from the two poles, and dividing it into two equal parts 
from L. cequatis, from cequus, 1 equal. A zone, fro. Gr. zone, 
es, a belt or girdle (zonnumi, to gird). "An embroidered zone 
surrounding her waist " Dryden. The five zones are five great 
divisions of the earth, one torrid, two temperate, and two frigid 
(L. frigidus, fwmfrigus, oris, 2 cold), are bounded by lines parallel to 
the equator. The torrid zone from L. torreo, 3 to roast, parch 



1 From ceqmis, a, um, even, equal, 
fair, we have many words. We 
speak of an equable rate of move- 
ment, of equability, or uniformity 
of operation, or of temper. We 
speak of social equality. We equal- 
ise burdens, taxes, &c. Equal and 
even are applied to what is smooth 
or level. An equation is a mathe- 
matical statement of an equality, 
and equanimity (L. animus) means 
an unruffled temper. An equi- 
angular triangle means that which 
has all its angles equal ; an equi- 
lateral (L. latus, fateris, a side) 
triangle has all its sides equal. 
Equilibrium (from libra, a balance) 
means equality of balancing weight; 
two weights are in equilibrium when 
they balance each other. Equipoise 
and equiponderance mean equality 
of weight, and also the equipoise 
and tranquillity of the common- 
wealth. The spring or vernal equi- 
nox (L. nox, iioctis, night) is about 
the 21st March, the autumnal about 
the 23rd September. Equitable 
means just, impartial, according to 
equity, having the idea of supple- 
menting the imperfections of the 
law. Equivalent means of equal 
worth ; we give a man an equivalent 
for something that we owe him. 
To use a word in an equivocal sense 
is to use it in a way which may 



admit of two meanings. Adequate 
means literally made equal to; it 
then comes to signify what is fully 
sufficient for some practical or moral 
purpose. We speak of the adequacy 
of the supplies to the expenditure. 
We say the means were quite in- 
adequate for the end proposed. We 
speak of unequal numbers, but of 
their inequality. Iniquity (lit. in- 
equity) denotes a gross violation of 
the right of others, and we speak 
of an iniquitous war. 

2 From frigus we have, besides 
frigid, frigidity, as when we 
speak of the frigidity of a man's 
manner or style. A hawk ruffling 
its feathers from feeling chilly 
was said to frill (OF. frilkr, 
to shiver for cold), hence frill has 
come to mean a ruffle or plaited 
band of a garment. A refrigerant 
is a medicine which cools, abates, 
or allays heat. Certain salves are 
lenitive and refrigerant. To re- 
frigerate is to make cool. We speak 
of a refrigerative treatment. A 
refrigerator is an apparatus for 
cooling liquids or for condensing 
hot vapours into liquids. 

3 From torreo, torrui, tostum, tor- 
rere, to roast or parch, we have toast, 
scorched bread. A torrent is a 
raging (boiling) stream, as a torrent 
of water or of molten lava. 



THE EARTH. 



29 



means the zone parched with heat, and is between the two tropics, 
the broad belt of earth over which the sun is vertical during some 
part of the year. The tropics themselves are two circles, one on 
each side of the equator, 23 28', where the sun seems for a day 
or two to stand still (solstice) and then to turn, as it were, after 
reaching its greatest declination north or south from Gr. trepo, I 
turn, and tropes, 1 a turning. 

The surface of the earth is divided into Water and Land. 
The word Geography (from Gr. ge, the earth, and graphe, a de- 
scription) includes both of these ; but Topography is not so wide 
in its range as geography (Gr. topos, z a place, and grapho, I 
describe), meaning rather the description of a particular place, 



1 From tropos, turning, we have a 
trope, a word or expression turned 
from its literal or original sense. 
Metaphors are tropes. Thus Horace 
is using a trope when he calls the 
State a ship. The foundation of all 
parables is some analogy or simili- 
tude between the tropical or allusive 
part of the parable and the thing 
intended by it. A trophy was a 
pile of the arms of the vanquished 
which the victors raised on the 
battlefield as a monument of the 
enemy's turning. We have the 
word tropic in combination, in 
such words as allotropic (from 
allos, another, and tropos, a conver- 
sion or change). Allotropy is the 
term employed to denote the fact 
that the same body may exist in 
more than one molecular condition 
and with different physical char- 
acteristics, as when we speak of the 
allotropic condition of oxygen. 

2 From topos, a place, we have 
the topics of Aristotle and the loci 
(from locus, which also signifies a 
place) of Cicero, or communes loci, 
commonplaces, as we say, not as 
being of little value, but of frequent 
occurrence, commonplace truths or 
questions which the orator was 
directed to consider or to ask in 



order to procure materials for his 
speech such as who, what, where, 
by what means, why, how, when? 
And so a topic is also the subject 
of some discourse or composition, 
the matter treated of. Medical 
men speak of a topical remedy, or 
of a remedy topically applied that 
is, of a remedy applied to a partic- 
ular part of the body. Then we 
have the word Utopia, literally, a 
place situated nowhere (Gr. ou, not, 
and topos, a place), the name given 
by Sir Thomas More to his oook 
published in 1516. It was written 
in L., and not rendered into Eng- 
lish till a generation later. The 
tale of Utopia is put into the mouth 
of a seaman, ana is prefaced with 
an account of the circumstances in 
which More is supposed to have 
heard it. Utopia was an imaginary 
island, and the utmost perfection of 
laws and of social arrangements 
was enjoyed ; and he contrasted 
this ideal or model of Utopian per- 
fection with the defects of the 
States of his own time. We now 
speak of a scheme as Utopian, 
which proposes to bring about a 
state of ideal perfection which, in 
man's imperfect state, would be 
found impracticable. 



30 



SIGNIFICANT ETYMOLOGY. 



as a city, a town, a tract of country, including notices of every- 
thing connected with the locality. 1 

The Antipodes L. from the Gr. anti, opposite to, and pous, 
podos, a foot, meaning feet opposite those living on the other 
side of the globe, and whose feet are thus opposite to ours. 



1 From locus, a place, we have 
local, confined to a place, locality, 
the neighbourhood ; to locate, to 
settle in a place. Locomotion, mov- 
ing from place to place. To allo- 
cate, to place to, to give each his 
share or part. To collocate is to 
place or set along with something 
else. To dislocate is literally to 
put out of its place, to put out of 
joint. One's arm, wrist, or ankle 
may be dislocated. We speak also 
of the dislocation of the geological 
strata, as, e.g., of the beds of coal, 
and of things being in a state of 
confusion and dislocation. From 



this word also we have locus in the 
sense of place, as when a preacher 
proposes to treat of a subject in 
the first place, in the second place, 
and in the third place ; for it is 
said that among the Romans, when 
discourses and speeches were not 
so often read from MS. as now, 
speakers, to arrange their ideas, 
grouped them together in different 
parts of the wall before them, and 
they said in the first place, when 
they were to speak of what was 
contained in what they called the 
first place, of the wall in front of 
them, and so on. 



31 



CHAPTER IV. 

THE WATER. 

THIS occupies about three-quarters of the earth's surface. That 
part which separates the land from the water is called the coast, 
the side of the land next to the sea, or the side of the sea next 
the land, derived probably through OF. costa (now F. cote), from 
L. costa, the rib or the side, and in English meaning the seaside. 
The word ocean comes from Oceanus, the fabled son (in the myth- 
ology of the heathen poets) of Coelus and Vesta, who, marrying 
Tethys, the goddess of the sea, became the father of all the rivers 
and fountains. There is, strictly speaking, but one ocean, although 
it is usual to reckon five, more or less connected. Only two, how- 
ever, have names requiring explanation. The Atlantic seems to 
have been so called (for no better reason than for its size and 
strength) from Mount Atlas in the north-west of Africa, which, how- 
ever, was called after the heathen god of that name, who was 
represented by the ancient poets as sustaining the world on his 
shoulders. On this account, too, a collection of maps of the 
different parts of the world bound together is called an Atlas. 
The Pacific Ocean (L. pax, pacis, peace, and facia, to make) is 
the name given to the ocean between Asia and America, called 
peaceful by Magellan in 1521, in consequence of the calm and 
delightful weather he experienced while navigating its surface 
after rounding Cape Horn. 

A smaller extent of water is called a sea, and two of the names 
given deserve notice. The Mediterranean (from L. medius, middle, 
and terra, earth or land) is so called from its position, as it were, 
in the middle of the land of the Old World. The Archipelago is 



32 SIGNIFICANT ETYMOLOGY. 

the name given to the chief sea of the Greeks, or the JEge&n Sea 
(from Gr. arche, chief, and peldgos, the sea), but now used for any 
sea abounding in small islands. 

One of the most remarkable features of the sea is the tide, being 
the AS. word tid, which meant time, the moment when anything 
happened ; and is now applied to the time of the ebbing and flow- 
ing of the sea, hence called the tide. (In composition we have 
still Whitsuntide, and eventide for eventime; and betide or be- 
times, that is, happen.) Early and late were formerly called 
tideful and lateful. As the word is evidently cognate with Ger. 
Zeit, time, and Zeitung in Ger. signifies " news," there can be little 
doubt that our word tidings comes from the same AS. root. 

Closely connected with the sea is the river, for " all the rivers 
run into the sea, yet the sea is not full." One of the chief 
reasons why the sea is not full to overflowing, is the evaporation 
which is continually taking place from the surface of the oceans, 
rivers, and lakes; for when water is passing from the liquid to 
the gaseous or invisible form, it is said to turn into vapour, or to 
evaporate (from L. e, off, and vaporo, from vapor, vapour). When 
the air has received as much vapour as it is capable of holding in 
the invisible form, at any given temperature, it is said to be satu- 
rated or filled to excess (from L. satur, full, akin to L. satis, 
enough). The etymology of river is somewhat doubtful. It is 
usual to derive it from L. ripa, the bank of a river, but there is 
also a L. word rivus which signifies a river, and the two words 
have got confused. I think that the word ripa originally signified, 
not the river itself, but the rivet's bank. There is good reason for 
believing that the word ripa comes originally from the base rip, to 
rend asunder, and that the river is occasioned by the rift which 
has been made between the banks through which it runs into the 
ocean ; for rivers are formed and run through these fissures (L. 
fissura, from findo, fidi, fissum, findere, to cleave) and clefts in the 
mountains, when these have been riven asunder. In this connec- 
tion it is worth noting that the low L. verb adripare (ad, to, and 
ripa, the bank), which meant at first to reach the bank of the 
river or to touch the shore, was originally a nautical term, and 



THE WATER. 33 

was used only with reference to the arrival of a boat at the bank of 
the river, or at the shore ; but when the word was adopted by the 
French, they altered it into amver, and after using it for more than 
a century with reference to boats or sailing vessels, they widened 
the meaning so as to include all arrivals of any kind or at any 
place, whether by land or by sea, using it in a far wider sense than 
we use the word arrive, so that in a French book which lies before 
me the author speaks of the cold arriving through the window. 
Yet another word finds its origin and explanation here, the L. 
word rivales (from rivus, a stream), and originally it meant pertain- 
ing to a stream or brook ; but after meaning those who had the 
same stream in common, it gradually came to signify (both in Latin 
and English) competitors. There is no necessary connection in 
thought between the two meanings ; but as rivales, even in Latin, 
came to mean neighbours who got water from the same stream, or 
persons who lived on opposite sides of a stream, there were often 
in times of scarcity contentions for the use of it. It is used in 
this sense in the Eoman digest which discusses the contests that 
often arose between such persons respecting their riparian (ripa) 
rights. But this connection between the two meanings is a mere 
matter of history. It does not affect us to-day. We do not think 
of brooks when we speak of rivals in politics, love, or business. 
Neither do we, even in a book on Etymology, and in discussing 
such a word as that on which we are at present engaged, think, 
until we are reminded, that derivation is literally drawing from a 
river (from L. de, down from, and rivus, a river), as when we 
speak of the derivation of English words from Latin. 

It is more convenient, as well as more natural, when speaking of 
water and the ocean, to refer to all those matters connected with 
navigation which enable us to make the ocean the great highway 
of nations, so that " seas but join the countries they divide." Navi- 
gation has been described as the act, science, or art of sailing ships, 
from the L. verb navigo, to go in a vessel or ship, to sail, to steer 
from navis, 1 a ship, and ago, to drive. While we have many words 

1 From navis, a ship, and nauta, word as nausea, which means prop- 
a sailor, we have such an unlikely erly sea-sickness, and then strong 



34 



SIGNIFICANT ETYMOLOGY. 



taken from the Latin word for ship, we have comparatively few taken 
from the Latin word for sea, mare, 1 The first vessel ever constructed 
for floating on the waters of which we have any record was Noah's 
ark (from L. area, a chest or coffer). Amazement has often been 
expressed that so large a vessel as the ark should have been able to 
bear the winds and storms of the deluge (this word comes from L. 
diluvium, from diluo dis, away, luo, z to wash). The German word 
for deluge, Sundflut 3 i.e., sinflood is far more expressive than 
ours. But we find no mention in the Scriptural account of tem- 
pestuous wind and dangerous rolling seas. The waters rose gradu- 
ally and floated the ark, so that it went on the face of the waters ; 



disgust and loathing. Patients may 
nauseate food as well as medicine. 
" The trifles wherein children take 
delight grow nauseous to the young 
man's appetite." Nautical names 
relating to ships and seamanship. 
' The Nautical Almanac ' contains 
tables necessary for steering. Naval 
architecture is the science of ship- 
building. The nave of a church is 
the body of it, called by the Ger- 
mans the ship (schiff), from the 
analogy which likens the Christian 
Church to a ship. Cook and Anson 
were distinguished navigators. A 
sea or a river is navigable when 
ships can sail upon it. The navy 
is the whole of the ships of war 
belonging to a country. An aero- 
naut (aer, the air, and nauta, a 
sailor) is one who navigates the air 
in a balloon, to circumnavigate is 
to sail round. The circumnaviga- 
tion of the earth proves that it is a 
globe ; what is circumnavigable is 
of a round form. 

1 From mare, -is, the sea, we have 
marine, belonging to the sea, such 
as marine plants, &c. We speak of 
a marine i.e., a soldier who serves 
on shipboard though he is not a 
sailor a mariner is a seaman. 
Maritime often means bordering on 
the sea, or pertaining to man's sea 
life, to the sea as navigated by 
man. We speak of maritime law, 



maritime enterprise, and mari- 
time people. Submarine means 
under the sea, transmarine across 
the sea, and ultramarine (L. ultra, 
beyond), a blue colour deriving its 
name from the lapis lazuli, a stone 
of great beauty, originally brought 
from beyond the sea, from Asia. 

2 From luo, lui, luere, to wash, we 
have ablution, a formal washing, as 
in religious rites, and we also speak 
of our daily ablutions. Alluvium 
is earth, gravel, &c., deposited 
from water, as the meadow land 
beside rivers ; it forms alluvial 
soil. To dilute any strong liquid is 
to weaken it by mixing with water ; 
a diluent is a substance used for 
diluting ; too much dilution of the 
gastric juice weakens its power. 
Diluvial is generally used of deposits 
on the surface. The antediluvian 
world was that which existed be- 
fore Noah's flood. To pollute 
means the defiling of a stream, 
and we speak of the pollution even 
of holy places or of the mind. 

3 According to Kluge, sund has 
no connection with siinde, English 
sin, but is the modern form of the 
old High German sin, which was 
used only in composition, and signi- 
fied universal, ahvays, ever ; so that 
sundftut is merely the present-day 
form of the old High German sin- 
vluot, a great universal overflowing. 



THE WATER. 35 

and it had no masts or sails on which winds, if there were any, 
could act. The human family, when they came out of the ark, on 
the site where, as all traditions say, the ark rested, might have 
spread for ages from that spot without having any occasion for 
another such vessel, so that although the memory of the deluge 
and of the ark remained among all nations, yet the form of it was 
forgotten, as well as its real use. We find the beginning of these 
naval structures among savage nations to have been a long plank, 
rounded at the ends, on which they got astride, and crossed the 
river or floated out to sea. The catamaran, a Tamil word, Jcatta- 
maram, signifying " tied logs," is used by the natives of India and 
Brazil, and on the coast of Coromandel, particularly at Madras, 
where the surf (probably from L. super, above, the foam made by 
the dashing of the waves being on the surface) rages with great 
violence, sometimes running more than a quarter of a mile up the 
beach. It would be impossible for European boats to live in it. 
The natives, however, construct a catamaran, a raft of three or five 
logs of wood from eight to twelve feet long, the middle log being 
always longer than the rest. These are firmly lashed together, and 
without top, sides, or any protection the natives go boldly off to the 
ships in the roads during the severest weather through the foaming 
surf. The construction of a raft (from Icel. rapp, from rafter, and 
Dan. raft, a pole) is one of the first and easiest improvements on 
the mere plank. This is effected by tying a number of planks or 
beams together so as to make a sort of floor on which goods may 
be removed or persons conveyed across a river; and in our own 
day, even in cases of shipwreck, the raft is often the only mode of 
escape, and the crew sometimes are obliged to lash themselves to 
the raft to prevent them being washed off and drowned. The ex- 
pression lash is the seaman's term for tying themselves fast to the 
raft. The noun " lash " by itself signifies merely a rope or cord, and 
it may be used either for whipping or tying. Perhaps the next grad- 
ation in shipbuilding was the canoe, from the Sp. canoa, which, like 
the F. canot, is from the Caribbean canaoa, signifying a boat made 
of the trunk of a tree hollowed out by fire or by hatchet, or of bark 
or skins, and shaped into something like a boat. These canoes made 



36 



SIGNIFICANT ETYMOLOGY. 



of skins are somewhat like those which were observed in Britain 
by Julius Caesar, and which are still used on the Severn, in Shrop- 
shire, and in Wales. Indeed the name which has been given them, 
coracles, is Welsh. They consist of a sort of large wicker basket 
covered with a horse's hide or with oilcloth. They hold only one 
man, and are useful for fishing in rivers. The name is derived 
from the Welsh corwgl, from corwg, anything round Gael, curach, 
a wicker boat. When we speak of boats, however, we mean 
something put together with much greater skill These are of 
different shapes, sizes, and names, according to the work for which 
they are intended. Such as ply * on the river Thames, and are used 
only for the conveyance of persons, are called wherries, probably a 
corruption of ferry, influenced by whir. A ferryboat is a boat for 
carrying or conveying passengers over a water (from the AS. ferian, 
to convey, faran, to go ; Ger. fahre, a ferry, from fahren, to go or 
carry). By a boat we generally understand an open vessel without 
any deck. When very large, as for the conveyance of coals from 
the shipping, they are called barges or lighters. A barge, how- 
ever, was originally a pleasure or state boat (from the OF. barge, 
low L. bargia). " The barge she sat in, like a burnished throne," 
&c. (Shakespeare). A lighter is so named because it is used 
for lightening (unloading) and loading ships. Until the exten- 
sive use of steam and electricity it was the characteristic of 
boats to be propelled by oars, the word boat being the AS. bat, 
Dut. boot, F. bat -eau, and Gael, bata, while oar is the AS. ar, 
cognate with the Gr. er, essein, to row, amph-er-es, two-oared. 
The verb to row is the AS. rovan, and IceL roa. The rudder 
is the instrument by which the boat is rowed or steered, which 
originally was by an oar working at the stern (Ger. ruder, an 
oar). The row-lock is the contrivance on the wale of a boat to hold 
the oar in rowing. The wale (from AS. icalu, the mark of a stripe 
or blow, Sw. waT) signified originally the raised streak left by a 



1 This word ply, signifying in 
nautical phraseology to make regu- 
lar passages between two ports, 



conies through the F. plier, to 
bend or fold, from L. plico, to 
bend. 



THE WATER. 37 

stripe, then a ridge on the surface of cloth, and afterwards the plank 
which goes along all the outer timbers of a ship's side. The name 
of gunwale is now given to it whether there be guns or not. 

It was a great step in the art of conveying themselves by water 
carriage to add a sail (AS. segel, and so also in almost all Teutonic 
tongues). In all probability Daedalus was the inventor of the sail. 
He was confined by Minos, King of Crete, and according to the 
poets he made himself wings and flew away ; but the truth is that 
he invented the sail, and so escaped in his boat. His son Icarus, 
not managing his sail so cleverly, was drowned. Nature, however, 
may have given Daedalus the hint of the sail from the Nautilus, 
Argonaut, or sailor-fish, which is a shell-fish found in the Medi- 
terranean and in the Indian Ocean, and usually at the bottom of 
the sea, yet is able to rise to the surface, which it is fond of doing 
in calm weather. The shell is so thin that it is called the paper 
Nautilus. It lies on its back floating on the water. It employs 
some of its arms as oars to make progress, but if a gentle breeze 
arises it raises two of them upright, and extending them, spreads 
the membrane between them into a sail, which catches the wind ; 
its other arms hang out as a rudder to steer it the way it wishes. 
" Learn from the little Nautilus to sail, spread the thin oar and 
catch the driving gale." Nature also gives other hints, for the fins 
(from L. pinna) of a fish would suggest the use of a propelling 
power, and its tail the advantages of a rudder ; as Pope says in the 
lines just before these already quoted, " The art of building from 
the bee receive, learn of the mole to plough, the worm to weave." 

A galley (having eight oars) received its name apparently from 
the sword-fish, which the Greeks called galeotes, which indeed it 
somewhat resembles with its long projecting beak, which is con- 
trived on purpose to bore into the enemy's vessels. We have also 
a brig, a two-masted square-rigged vessel, the word being originally 
a contraction of brigantine, a small light vessel, so called from 
brigand, a robber (F. from It. brigante, from briga, strife), because 
such a vessel was used by pirates. The name of pirate is given 
to one who attempts to capture ships at sea, a sea-robber (from 



38 



SIGNIFICANT ETYMOLOGY. 



the F. pirate), from G. peirates, from peira, 1 a trial or attempt. 
Buccaneer was a name originally given to the pirates in the West 
Indies, during the seventeenth century, who plundered the Spaniards 
chiefly. The F. boucaner, to smoke meat, came from the Caribbean 
boucan, a wooden gridiron. The title was originally bestowed by 
the natives upon the French settlers in Hayti who hunted animals 
for their skins and sold the smoke-dried carcases to the Dutch. 
These Frenchmen were therefore said to exist by boucaniering, and 
when subsequently the Spaniards laid claim to the whole of the 
"West Indies, a large number of English and French adventurers 
proceeded to the Spanish Main to enrich themselves by plundering 
the Spaniards as their lawful right. The word schooner is said to 
have been coined in New England from the prov. Eng. scoon 
(Scot, scon), to make a flat stone skip along the surface of the 
water, for a " schooner " is a sharp-built swift-sailing vessel, generally 
two-masted. The word mast, which denotes the long upright pole 
which sustains the yards, rigging, &c., in a ship, is from the AS. 
maest, which signifies the stem of a tree, Ger. mast, F. mat. A 
lugger is a small vessel with two or three masts and a running bow- 
sprit, and is so called because it has one or two long or lug sails, 
a lug sail being a square sail bent upon a yard that hangs obliquely 
to the mast, or it may be from the Dut. logger, a slow ship, from 
log, slow. The bowsprit is the boom or spar projecting from 
the bow of a ship, the bow being the curving forepart of a ship, 
and the sprit, from the AS. sprest, a pole. A pinnace is a small 
vessel with oars and sails; it is literally a pine -wood boat F. 
pinasse, from It. pinassa and L. pinus, a pine. A cutter is a small 
swift vessel with one mast and sharp bows that cut the water, 
hence the name. A hoy is a large one-decked boat, commonly 
rigged as a sloop (from Dutch heu, Flemish hut). Sloop is a light 
boat, a one - masted cutter - rigged vessel, from Dutch sloepe. A 



1 From the Gr. peira, an attempt, 
we have not merely pirate but piracy 
and piratical, and also an em- 
piric, one who confines himself to 
applying the results of a limited 
observation and experience, one 



who is narrowly and blindly experi- 
mental without due regard to science 
and theory, which is regarded as 
empiricism, and quack doctors are 
those who prescribe empirical rem- 
edies. 



THE WATER. 39 

smack is a vessel used chiefly in the coasting and fishing trade 
(from AS. mace, Dut. smak, Ger. schmacke), perhaps from 
Icel. snakr, Eng. snake. A scull was a name given to a small 
boat propelled by one man working an oar from side to side in the 
stern without raising the blade from the water. It was, perhaps, 
originally applied to the short light oar employed by working the 
oar from side to side like a fish's tail. Judging from the analogy 
of the OF. gache, an oar, gachei; to row, compared with gacher, 
to rinse linen in the stream, a more probable origin may be found 
in the element " scull " preserved in scullery, the place for rinsing 
dishes, Scandinavian skol, to splash, and applied to the dashing of 
the waves or of heavy rain, Icel. skola, to wash. The metaphorical 
use of the word scull was very severely made by Douglas Jerrold, 
when a young litterateur. A scribbler in ' The London Journal ' or 
' Family Herald ' of the period came up to him and said : " "We 
ought to be better acquainted, Jerrold." "Why?" said Jerrold. 
" Because we are both literary men, both in the same boat, you 
know." " That may be," said Jerrold, " but we use very different 
sculls ! " The word harbour itself is very interesting. It seems to 
have signified originally a shelter, or a lodging. "We have in 
Icelandic herbergi, a harbour, a lodging, in OF. herbej'ger, to 
harbour, to lodge, in OH. Ger. hereberga, a lodging, a harbour. 
"Where we read now in the Authorised Version, " I was a stranger 
and ye took me in," Wycliff rendered " I was harbourless and ye 
harboured me." Also a camp, from heri, an army, and bergon, to 
shelter (and in this connection the German herberge, a harbour- 
shelter, travellers' rest, or inn, the Italian albergo, and the F. auberge 
ought not to be overlooked), and naturally it came in course of 
time to lose the meaning of sheltering or providing a lodging for 
travellers by land, and to be almost exclusively employed, as it is 
now, for a port or haven for ships. We have, however, a remark- 
able reminiscence of the original meaning in the word harbinger, 
which is now generally used in the sense of a forerunner or a 
precursor of any one or anything, as when we speak of the cuckoo 
as the harbinger of spring. It came to acquire this meaning from 
the fact that the word herberger, both in German and Dutch, was 



40 



SIGNIFICANT ETYMOLOGY. 



one who was sent on beforehand by his master to look out for 
lodgings for him, and so to announce his arrival in Germany, one 
sent forward to provide quarters for a regiment or an army, and 
so from the rather humble origin of being used to denote one who 
goes in quest of lodgings for another, we find it as a grand poetical 
term in Milton and Dryden, the former of whom in his ' Paradise 
Lost ' says, " And now of love they treat, till the evening star, 
love's harbinger, appeared," while the latter, in the ' Good Parson,' 
speaks of " Lightning and thunder, Heaven's artillery, as harbingers 
before the Almighty fly." When a vessel is in the dock for repairs 
we can have a very much better view of her than when she is 
sailing on the ocean. The graving dock is the dock into which 
a ship is taken to have her bottom cleaned (the word dock comes 
to us through the O.Dut. dokke, a harbour, and low L. doga, a 
ditch, a canal, from Gr. doche, a receptacle, an enclosed basin into 
which a ship may be lifted or placed for repairs, and the word 
graving comes from the low Ger. greve, the refuse of lard, and to 
grave a ship was originally to smear the hull with graves, for which 
pitch is now employed). Here also the process of caulking goes on, 
i.e., the stuffing oakum (as if pressed with the foot) into the seams 
of a ship to make it watertight through the OF. cauquer, from 
L. calcare, to' tread under foot, from calx, 1 the heel. The word 
oakum which we have just used is the name given to old ropes 
untwisted and teased into loose hemp, for caulking the seams of 
ships, and is supposed to come from the AS. word acumba, 
aecemba, from cemb, that which is combed, from cemban, to comb. 
The word dock itself in this sense signifies a basin for ships, into 
which the water can be admitted or shut off at pleasure. It is 
described by Bailey as a pond where the water is kept out by 
great floodgates till a ship is built or repaired, and then opened to 
let in the water to float or launch her. It was probably to these 
floodgates that the word was first applied. We have lock, a sluice 
or floodgate, and docke, applied to the tap by which the water in 



1 From calx, the heel, we derive 
the word inculcate, for to inculcate 
is literally to press in with the heel 



We inculcate principles of conduct, 
rules of right and wrong, by frequent 
admonitions and exhortations. 



THE WATER. 41 

a fish-pond is kept in, or let off. The hull of a ship, meaning the 
frame or body of it, is supposed to be derived from the AS. hulu, 
a husk, as of corn, the outer covering of anything ; but certainly 
there is a mighty difference between the body and the husk, and 
the resemblance to a pea-shell does not seem a very likely figure to 
have given a designation to the body of a ship. It is of the hull 
or shell of the ship that we generally use the phrase to spring a leak, 
which means to open or crack to such an extent as to allow the 
passage of water. The word leak is from the Icel. leka, to drip, to 
leak, so in Dut. we have lekken, and Ger. lecken, a hole, or other defect, 
which permits the passage of a liquid. It signifies both to run, drop, 
dribble, and also to let through, leak. Not only do they say "the vessel 
leaks," " the ship leaks," but " the water leaks " ; " lekkende ogen " 
are streaming eyes. In Norse leka is " drop," and logr is " moisture," 
usually "lake," hence lake = L. locus, is implied. I think the 
word hull has a certain connection with the Dutch hoi, a ship's 
hold, and with the word hulk, which signifies the body of a ship, 
and originally a large merchant ship (from the low L. hulka), from 
the Gr. holkas, a ship which is towed, from helko, to draw. It is 
worth noting that the plural, when it has the article prefixed, 
" the hulks," means old ships used as prisons where some of the 
worst prisoners were confined, and I am reminded that there are 
really no conditions or positions in which self-righteousness may 
not flourish. A clergyman was preaching in the hulks one Sunday 
for a friend, to a set of the greatest scoundrels he had ever seen in 
his life ; and after the service was over, one of the prisoners said 
to him, " I have to thank you for your excellent sermon ; to my 
mind it had only one fault, but it was a very serious one, you 
didn't seem to leave any room for good works in the matter of 
salvation " ! In the dock we have a good opportunity of seeing 
the keel, that part of the ship which extends along the bottom 
from stem to stern, and supports the whole frame ; and so im- 
portant is it that the AS. word from which it comes is the word 
ceol, which signifies a ship. The old torture known on shipboard 
as keel-hauling consisted in hauling a man under the keel of a 
ship by ropes from the one side to the other. Bilge-water is that 



42 SIGNIFICANT ETYMOLOGY. 

which collects through leakage or otherwise in what is called the 
bilge of a ship that is, the bottom of a ship's hull or that part 
on either side of the keel which has more a horizontal than a per- 
pendicular direction, and upon which the ship would rest if aground. 
That water becomes disgustingly foul and noxious. The word 
"bilge" is very probably a corruption of bulge, though like French, 
and indeed bouge in French still means bilge, with reference both to 
a cask and to a ship. The helm is the instrument by which a boat 
is rowed or steered, which originally was an oar working at the 
stern (AS. rotJier, Ger. ruder, an oar). I am very much inclined 
to accept Home Tooke's derivation of the stern of a ship, from the 
past participle of the old verb styran, 1 to move, which we now 
write in English differently, according to its different applications, 
to stir, or to steer ; so that the stern of a ship is literally the 
moved part of a ship, or that part by which the ship is moved or 
steered. It is the same word and has the same meaning, whether 
we say a stern countenance or a moved countenance i.e., moved 
by some passion. The anchor is a hooked iron instrument which 
holds the ship by sticking into the earth (F. ancre, from L. anchora, 
from Gr. angkyra, from angkos, a bend, from the root angk, bent). 
There are various kinds of anchors : the most important are the 
sheet-anchor, the largest anchor on the ship, shot, or spread out 
(AS., sceat, scete, from sceotan, to shoot, to extend); the best 
bower, so called because it hangs at the bow, or curving forepart 
of the ship. The binnacle is the box in which the compass is 
placed on shipboard; it was formerly spelt bittacle, and I find 
it so spelt in a military dictionary which lies beside me, pub- 
lished in 1759. Bittacle comes from the Portuguese bitacola 
from L. habitaculum, a dwelling-place, from Tiabito, to dwell. 
The word compass itself probably comes through F. compos, 
a word from low L. compassus (con, together, and passus, a step, 
a way, a route). Now the mariner's compass goes round in a 



1 The same participle gives us 
also the following substantives, store 
and stour : store being the col- 
lective term for any quantity or 



into one place together ; and stour, 
formerly much used, meaning moved 
or stirred, was applied equally to 
dust, to water, and to men, all of 



number of things stirred or moved : them easily moved. 



THE WATER. 43 

circle, and what we call " compasses " is an instrument consisting 
of two movable legs for describing circles, &c. The two names 
starboard and larboard are very significant. Starboard is the right- 
hand side of the ship to one looking towards the bow, and signifies 
literally "the steering side"; the AS. is steor-bord, from steoran, to 
steer. Larboard is an obsolete naval term for the left side of a 
ship looking from the stern, now by command of the Admiralty 
superseded by the term port, to prevent the mistakes caused by its 
resemblance in sound to starboard. The etymology is uncertain, 
but I think it is most likely that it comes through the Belgic lever- 
bord, from L. hevus, the left. At sea it is often necessary to 
ascertain the depth of water, and this is done by sounding by 
means of a line and plummet, through the F. sonder, to sound 
from the low L. subundare, to put under the wave, from L. sub, 
under, and undo,, 1 a wave. The plummet is the weight of lead 
hung at the end of a line to sound the depth of water, and this 
piece of lead is called a plummet, from the F. plombet, diminutive 
of plomb from L. plumbum, lead. The word pilot, the name given 
to one who conducts ships in and out of a harbour, along a 
dangerous coast, is of uncertain origin, but the more likely is that 
it comes through the OF. pilote, a pilot, from the Dutch peil-loot, 
from peilen, to sound, and loot (Ger. loth), lead a sounding lead, 
literally, one who conducts a vessel by the sounding-line. Ballast 
is that which is placed in a ship to keep it steady when there is 

1 From unda, originally a wave, &c. The Goodwin sands were 

and afterwards water in general, caused by an inundation of the sea. 

but in motion, and its diminutive, To redound is to come back as a 

tindula, a little wave, we have un- consequence, to contribute ; we 

dulate, to move up and down as j speak of something redounding to 

waves. The sea undulates. Sound , one's glory. Redundancy is an 

is propagated by the undulations of excess of supply, a superfluity in 

the air. There is also an undula- some special things. "When an 

tory movement of standing corn author is redundant, mark those 

when the wind blows. Abound passages to be retrenched " (Watts), 

and abundance express large sup- : It is remarkable too that the Revised 

plies of anything. We speak of Version of the New Testament in 

abundance of food, and of a super- altering the word abundance, in 

abundance of words. To inundate Mark xii. 44, into superfluity, 

is to overflow with water, but we should still have taken a word 

also speak of a country being inun- which refers to the flowing of 

dated with vagrants, publications, I water. 



44 SIGNIFICANT ETYMOLOGY. 

no cargo. It is the etymology of the first syllable of the word 
about which there is any difficulty. It is generally agreed that 
the second syllable, last, is a load. The Danish bag-last has been 
understood as signifying a back-load, the load which a ship takes 
on board to steady her on her return voyage when she has dis- 
posed of her original cargo. It has been suggested that ballast 
was so called because the ballast was stored more in the after-part 
of the ship than in the front, so as to tilt up the bows. But the 
ballast was never stored mainly in the stern of the vessel, nor has 
the after-part of a ship ever been spoken of as the " back." Both 
theories, however, are founded on a mistake, for it has been found 
that bag-last is a modern form, having always been written ballast 
in the fifteenth, sixteenth, and seventeenth centuries. The truth 
seems to be that the original form of the word is to be found in 
the language of the Netherlands and low German, from whom we 
have taken many of our nautical terms. Now bal in Old Dutch 
signifies useless, bad, as in bal ded, a misdeed, balmenden, to act 
as an unfaithful guardian, bal hoorig, hard of hearing ; and in this 
way we may explain ballast as an unprofitable load, the worthless 
load that is taken on board merely to steady the ship. The verb 
to scuttle is used in cases where a ship has been sunk intentionally 
strictly speaking, by cutting holes in it. The noun scuttle 
originally meant the openings or hatchways of a ship, and after- 
wards a hole through the hatches or in the side or bottom of a 
ship, from OF. escoutille, a hatchway, and mod. F. ecoutille, but 
I can find no trace of either word in any French dictionary except 
that of Cotgrave. Bunting, the thin worsted material of which 
flags are made, is the same word as the West of England bunting, 
which means the sifting of flour, the open fabric used for the 
purpose having been found appropriate for the making of flags. 
The truth of Wedgwood's explanation seems to be established 
beyond question by the fact that the F. etamine is applied as well 
to the thin open tissue of which sifting or bolting cloths are made, 
as to the material of a ship's flag, and Littre' explains etamine as a 
nautical term, applied to the material out of which flags are made. 
A flag is said to have received its name from the Dutch flaggeien, 



THE WATER. 



45 



to flag or hang loose, also applied to the sound which is made by 
loose broad surfaces flapping in the wind, and a flag is such a 
piece of cloth fastened by one edge to a staff, in order that it may 
be conspicuous as an ensign floating in the wind. Quarantine is 
the word originally employed for the forty days during which a 
ship arriving at port l was kept from all intercourse with the shore 
if she were suspected of being infected with any contagious disease 
(through F. quarante from L. quadraginta, forty, from quatuor, 
four). The Admiralty is the board of commissioners for the ad- 
ministration of naval affairs, from the admiral, a naval officer of 
the highest rank (from F. amiral from Arabic amir, a lord, a 
chief). 

Commodore, the commander of a squadron or detachment of 
ships, and sometimes the leading ship of a fleet of merchantmen, 
is usually regarded as coming from the Spanish comendadm; 
which has an altogether different signification, while the Spanish 
word is regarded as coming from the L. commendo, which in late 
L. is said to signify command. Of this I have found no evidence ; 
but it is a corruption of the Portuguese capitao mor, or chief 
captain, a phrase precisely equivalent to our own term. We owe, 
in fact, more to Portuguese than to Spanish etymology, 2 and it is 
remarkable that many words now current almost over all Europe, 
and popularly supposed to be of African or East Indian derivation, 
are really native Portuguese. Thus fetishism or feticism, the low 
idolatry and sorcery of Western Africa, now so commonly used in 

1 Port comes to us through the 
F. port from L. portus, a port or 
harbour ; from it we have probably 
the words opportune and importun- 
ate, examples of marine terms of 
which the original signification is 
more or less forgotten : opportune 
is that which leads into the port 
(F. opportun from L. opportunus, 
fit, convenient, from ob, over, 
against, and portus, the harbour), 
well-timed, seasonable, convenient, 
hence opportunely and opportunity; 
importune, on the other hand (OF. 
importun, importunate from L. im- 
portunus, inconvenient, troublesome, 



from L. in, not. or without, and 
portus, the harbour), means ori- 
ginally hard of access, hence un- 
seasonable, inopportune, and to im- 
portune is to be unreasonably and 
unseasonably urgent, as those in 
distress are pressing their re- 
quests by very pertinacious and 
obstinate and vexatious means, 
and so we have the importun- 
ate widow, and importunity in 
prayer. 

2 Cargo and embargo are cer- 
tainly Spanish, trade and traffic 
probably so, but these stand almost 
alone in our vocabulary. 



46 SIGNIFICANT ETYMOLOGY. 

all parts of Europe to signify the most debased and superstitious 
material worship, and generally thought to be an African word, is 
only the Portuguese feitico, sorcery or witchcraft, which is prob- 
ably derived from the L. fascinum, a bewitching, or, as some 
think, from veneficium, a poisoning, a preparation of magic potions, 
then witchcraft, and so palaver, a council of African chiefs. 

Our word voyage was formerly used (as it still is in French) 
for any journey, whether by sea or land, but now only a journey 
by sea. It has come to us through the French, from the L. via, 
a way, which became in F. voie, a way. The etymology of via is 
uncertain, some deriving it from the L. eo, ivi, Hum, ire, to go, 
and others from veho, to carry (see vehement and vehicle). The 
L. via gives us also the word viaticum, which in classical L. signi- 
fied provisions for a journey, whether of meat or money, although 
in medieval L. it came to signify a street; while in the Eoman 
Catholic Church it is used to denote the sacrament administered 
to dying persons. From the same root also we have devious, 
what separates from the road ; obvious, originally what went 
before, and now generally what is found on the road, or lying in 
the way, what is self-evident, or which may be seen or known at 
the first glance ; while to obviate a difficulty is to remove it out of 
the way ; pervious means what there is a way through as glass 
is pervious to light, while boots and shoes should be impervious 
to moisture. 

Argosy is the name which is given to a merchant ship richly 
laden, and for long supposed to have taken its name from Argos, 
but now believed to be a corruption of Ragusan, the national 
designation of the vessels employed in the commerce of the import- 
ant port of Ragusa in Dalmatia. 

It will be more convenient to take the names of fishes here, 
when speaking of the element in which they live, instead of wait- 
ing till we speak of the animal kingdom generally. 



THE WATER. 47 



FISHES. 

The perch is so called from its dusky colour, F. perche, from L. 
perca, and Gr. perko, from perkos, dark -coloured, spotted. The 
gurnet or gurnard is supposed to be so called from the sound it 
makes when it is taken out of the water, through OF. gournauld, 
and Gr. grogner, from L. gi'unnio, to grunt. The haddock is a sea 
fish of the cod family, with the name possibly connected with the 
Welsh hadog, prolific, from had, seed ; but more probably from 
low L. gadus, a cod, from Gr. gados, and the diminutive termination 
ock. Herrings, which appear in great shoals and vast multitudes, 
derive their name on this account from the Ger. Tieer (AS. and 
Ger. haering), an army or multitude, instead of being as supposed 
a corruption of L. halec, fish pickle, a kind of brine ; for it does 
seem a little absurd to derive the name of a fish from what 
happens to it after it is dead. This would make the name some- 
what prophetic. The mackerel bears a considerable resemblance 
to the herring, but is easily distinguished by its spotted appear- 
ance. The word comes to us through the OF. mdk&rel (F. ma- 
quereau], probably from L. macula, a stain or spot, and so meaning 
the spotted one, whereas the herring is in this respect immacu- 
late. Lamprey, ME. laumprere, OF. lamprere (F. lamproie). 
The source is low L. lampetra, lamprey, in a vulgar form lam- 
preda, from L. lambo, 1 to lick, and petra, a rock. The limpet 
clings to bare rocks, whence its name, from L. and Gr. lepas, a 
bare rock, from Gr. lepo, to peel. Salmon are probably so called 
from salio, to leap, from their leaping obstacles on their way from 
the sea. On many rivers there are little waterfalls, which on this 
account bear the name of the salmon leap. The leviathan is the 
name given in Scripture to a great aquatic monster, and is the 
Hebrew word livyathan, a name referring to the coiling of a 
serpent. Ps. civ. 26 we have heard read thus : " there is 
that 'lively thing '(!) which thou hast made to play therein." 

1 The only word we derive from as descriptive of a flame which 
lambo, Iambi, lambZre, to lick, is plays or glides lying on the 
the word lambent, used by jpoets surface. 



48 SIGNIFICANT ETYMOLOGY. 

The Mollusca, or shell -fish, are described by their name. 
They are soft pulpy animals, have no bones, but consist of a 
soft substance L. molltiscus, from mollis, soft. Of the mollusca 
we mention only two, the oyster and the barnacle. The oyster 
is a well-known bivalve shell-fish OF. oestre (F. huitre), from 
L. ostrea, and Gr. ostreon, an oyster, from osteon, a bone. The 
barnacle also is one of the mollusca : its shell consists of five 
pieces, of which two are large valves somewhat resembling 
those of a mussel, two smaller pieces are jointed to these near 
the point, and one unites the valves along the back edge. 
These cover the whole of the mantle. They are abundant in 
our seas, and fix themselves in preference on wood, so that a 
piece of timber which has been for a short time floating in 
the ocean is almost sure to be partly covered with them; and 
ships' bottoms, if not protected by copper, are rendered so foul 
as greatly to impede their sailing. To the species common on our 
own coasts was once attributed the wonderful faculty of changing 
into a goose. The strange tales about this creature have arisen 
from a tissue of blunders. The L. bernacula is a small limpet, and 
bernacula (Port, bernaca, F. barnache) is the Scotch solan goose. 
Both words being corrupted into barnacle, it was natural to look 
for an identity of natures in the two creatures, and so it was 
given out that the goose was the offspring of the limpet. Gerard 
in 1636 speaks of " broken pieces of old ships on which is found 
certain spume or froth which in time breedeth into shells, and the 
fish which is hatched therefrom is in shape and habit like a bird." 

Eesembling these in many respects are the Radiata, so called 
from their figures being generally branched or radiated. We take 
only one specimen viz., the Medusa or sea fly. This name was 
in all probability given to the common kinds of jelly-fishes, from 
the likeness of their tentacles to the snakes on Medusa's head. 
The legend is that Medusa, the chief of the Gorgons, famous for 
her hair, presumed to set her beauty above that of Minerva, so 
the jealous goddess converted her rival's hair into snakes, which 
changed to stone any one who looked thereon. 



49 



CHAPTEE V. 

LAND. 

THE Land occupies about one -fourth of the earth's surface, 
and that surface is very unequal. In some cases there are plains 
but little above the level of the sea, in others there are hills and 
lofty ranges of mountains. Extensive plains are known as steppes 
in the south - east of Europe and in Asia (in Russia stepj) ; as 
prairies, extensive meadows or tracts of land without trees 
(F. from low L. praturia, meadow land, from the L. pratum, 
a meadow, while meadow itself, originally a place where grass 
was mown, is derived from the AS. word moed, to mow, allied 
to the L. meto, to mow) ; pampas, vast plains in South America 
(from the Peruvian word pampa, a field or plain) ; savannahs, 
vast meadows in the west of North America, from the Sp. savana, 
or sdbana, a bed, sheet, or meadow from L. sabanum, from 
Gr. sabanon, linen cloth. 

Very elevated land is called a mountain, from L. mons, montis. 
Some mountains have openings, or craters, at the .top. Crater is 
Latin as well as Greek, signifying originally a bowl that is, a 
large, deep vessel, in which the ancients used to mix wine, and 
poured it thence into smaller vessels, as we do into glasses. Pliny 
uses the word for the mouth of a volcanic mountain. The word 
in Gr. comes from Jeerannumi, to mix, and was called a goblet x 
originally, because things were mixed in it. The burning 
mountain received the name of volcano from Vulcan, or Volcan, 



1 Goblet, from the P. gobelet, a 
diminutive of the low L. gubellus, 
which again is a diminutive of L. 



cupa, a barrel, vat, or cask from 
which also we have our words 
cooper and cup. 



50 



SIGNIFICANT ETYMOLOGY. 



the god of fire, who was supposed by the ancients to have his 
forge under Mount Etna or Mount Vesuvius, engaged in forging 
thunderbolts for Jupiter, both being, as they have been, and still 
are, remarkable for such eruptions. The word " eruption " comes 
from the L. word eruptus, broken out, or burst (also from e, out 
of, and ruptus, 1 rent asunder, forcibly thrown out, as from 
a volcano). 

The largest portion of land is called a continent, not from 
containing many countries, but from L. continens or continuus, 
holding together, uninterrupted, not broken up by seas. The 
L. continens is the pres. part, of contineo from teneo, tenui, 
tentum, tenei-e, 2 to hold. Portions of land which are small 
in comparison with the seas that surround them are called 
islands, an island being a general term for a piece of land 
surrounded by water. The present spelling, or misspelling rather, 
leads to a wrong idea of its origin. The introduction of s into the 
word is quite a modern innovation. In the earlier versions of the 
Scriptures, and in the Revised Version as first printed in 1611, 
it is spelt " iland," which came from the AS. igland, compounded 
of ig, an island, and land, land, and so we still have in Dutch 



1 This word ruptus is the past 
participle of; the L. verb rumpo, 
rupi, ruptum, rumpere, to break, 
burst, or rend. A rupture is the 
bursting of something from within, 
as when a blood-vessel is ruptured. 
Abrupt means steep and sudden. 
A sharp rock is sometimes called 
abrupt, as if it had been broken off 
sharp, and an abrupt manner is 
one which breaks off short. Bank- 
rupt is one whose bench is broken 
and all his money scattered. We 
have corrupt (cor, and ruptus, 
broken), to turn from a sound 
to a putrid state, as when fruit 
is broken, and then tainted or 
vitiated, and so we have corruption 
and incorruption, &c. Disruption 
(dis, asunder), the act of rending 
asunder, or a great split. An in- 
terruption (inter, between) is really 
a bursting or breaking in, and,so 



stopping the progress of anything, 
as interrupting a conversation. An 
irruption (from ir, into, and rumpo, 
to break, or burst) is a bursting or 
breaking into, as a sudden or vio- 
lent bursting in of the sea, or a 
sudden invasion or incursion, as of 
an enemy. 

2 From teneo we have derived 
many words, tenacious, tenant, 
tenure, tenet, tenor (of his way), 
abstain (to hold from), appertain 
(to belong to), contain (to hold 
with or in), contentment, con- 
tinual, countenance (the contents 
of the face, the whole features 
taken together), detain, entertain 
(originally spelt with i for first 
letter inter, between, a holding 
together of two persons), pertinent, 
maintain (might and main, with 
manus, hand), obtain, retain, sus- 
tain. 



LAND. 5 1 

and German, eiland. The AS. ig is from a root which appears 
in AS. ea, and L. aqua, water, so that the word meant originally 
"water-land." The spelling was changed, and the s introduced, 
because it was supposed to be derived from the Latin word for an 
island, insula, as if our English word were a hybrid formation 
from the OF. " isle " and the English " land." The truth is that 
the OF. isle, which is still used by us in poetry, was derived from 
the L. word insula, an island, but the French have dropped the 
s, spelling the word now Me, while we have retained the s; or 
rather, we have substituted the OF. form " isle " in poetry for the 
"He" or "iyle" which Eobert of Gloucester and other early Eng- 
lish authors wrote, at a time when the only French orthography 
was "isle." We have the word again in peninsula, the name 
given to land so surrounded by water as to be almost an island 
(from L. pene, almost, and insula) ; while isthmus is the name 
given to the narrow neck of land which connects two large 
portions. Isthmus is the L. form, the Gr. isthmos, signifying 
a passage or a step, allied to ithma, a step, from root of Gr. eimi, 
to go. From this word also comes the familiar name Isthmian, 
used in connection with the famous games, which were celebrated 
in the Isthmian sanctuary on the north-east shore of the Isthmus 
of Corinth. 



52 



CHAPTER VI. 

THE MINERAL KINGDOM 

is composed of various kinds of rocks, earths, metals, and other 
substances. The rocks are divided into stratified and unstratified 
rocks. The stratified are arranged in beds or layers, whence their 
name, from L. stratum, the thing spread or laid (from verb sterno, 
stravi, stratum, sternere, to spread one thing upon another, to strew). 
The unstratified are those which are not so laid, but are always in 
huge irregularly shaped masses. These latter are the lowest, and 
constitute the basis or floor on which all the others rest. They 
have a hard crystalline and sparkling appearance. Four sub- 
stances enter into their composition : mica (through Sp. and F. 
mica, from L. micare, to sparkle, to glitter), quartz (from Ger. 
quarz, a name applied by them to rock-crystals), felspar (Ger. 
feldspafh, rock-spar, from feld, a field, and spath, a spar), and horn- 
blende, which is found in Syenite granite (Syenite, so called from 
Syene in Upper Egypt, where it is abundant, and granite, so called 
from its granular appearance and composition granum, a grain). 
The name hornblende itself is German. Then horn means horn, 
and blende, that which blends, from blenden, to dazzle, descriptive 
of its hornlike cleavage and peculiar lustre, or so named from 
blind, because it contains no ore. Asbestos is another variety of 
hornblende, and signifies incombustible, what cannot be consumed 
by fire (Gr. asbestos a, privative, and sbestos or sbcstikos, consum- 
able = without being consumed). Marble is the chief "sparkling 
stone " for taking on a good polish. The word comes through the 
F. marbre, from L. marmor, marble, from the Gr. marmaros, from 
marmairo, to sparkle or flash. Akin to this is alabaster, whose 



THE MINERAL KINGDOM. 53 

Gr. name aJabastron is said to have been derived from a town of 
that name in Egypt. Porphyry receives its name from its purple- 
and- white colour. It comes through the F. and L., from the Gr. 
porphyrites, a purple-coloured stone, from porphura, the purple fish, 
or purple (L. purpura). 

The Primary Eocks are so named from being the first formed 
of the stratified rocks and immediately above the unstratified. 
They partake generally of the same hard and crystalline character. 
Indeed one of these rocks called gneiss is so like granite as hardly 
to be distinguishable from it. The name is the German for a kind 
of granite which differs from granite in presenting a foliated appear- 
ance. Clay slate, closely allied to this, is capable of being cloven 
into thin slices, and is thus fitted for being used for the roofing of 
houses and other purposes. The word slate comes from OF. esdat, 
a splinter, OH.Ger. schlizan, to split. But foliated rocks (i.e., con- 
sisting of thin layers) like these are not termed slates but schists 
(Gr. schistos), derivable from Gr. schizo, I split, F. schiste. Above 
these, yet still in the Primary or Palaeozoic division (Gr. palaios, 1 
ancient, and zoe, life), we have the Carboniferous or Coal Measures, 
and immediately above these what used to be called the New Red 
Sandstone, but now the Permian system, from its extensive 
developments in the district of Perm in Central Eussia. We 
rather regret the change, as out of it, in the famous quarry of 
Craigleith, was got the stone of which the city of Edinburgh was 
built, and to which its beauty is in great measure owing. At 
the top of the Secondary Group we have the Oolitic and the Cre- 
taceous, the former so called from one particular kind of bed 
which is termed oolite, from the Gr. don, an egg, and liihos, a 
stone, resembling as it does the roe or eggs of a fish, and sorne- 



1 Palaeontology, the science which 
treats of the ancient life of the 
earth as seen in fossil plants and 
animals, from Gr. palaios, and onta, 
existing things. These ancient 
plants and animals are called fossil 
because they are dug out of the 
earth, the word coming through 
the F. fossile and L. fossilis, dug up, 
from L. fodio, fodi, fossum, fodSre, 



to dig. The name is not given in 
consequence of their being changed 
into a stony consistence where this 
is the chief feature it is called a 
petrifaction (through F. pttrifica- 
tion, from L. or Gr. petra, a rock, 
and factus, done or made, of facio, 
I make), the process of changing 
into stone, and also the thing petri- 
fied. 



54 



SIGNIFICANT ETYMOLOGY. 



times called roe-stone in consequence. The Cretaceous, which 
lies uppermost in the second group (cretaceus, chalky, from L. creta, 
chalk), is composed of lime or chalk. In them we have caverns 
in which the drippings from the roof form stalactites and stalag- 
mites, the stalactites (from Gr. stalaktos, trickling or dropping, 
from stalasso, I fall or distil in drops) are the icicle-like incrusta- 
tions of carbonate of lime which often hang from the roofs of 
caverns and fissures; while the stalagmites (from Gr. stalagma, 
a drop, from the same root) are the incrustations which cover the 
floor of the cavern and rise up towards the roof, so that not 
infrequently the stalactites and stalagmites meet together and 
form pillar -like masses. The Tertiary Rocks are those that lie 
immediately above the diluvial clay and alluvial sand and vege- 
table soil. Both diluvial and alluvial come from the L. word luo, 
to wash, the former referring to great accumulations or deposits of 
earth, sand, &c., brought together by the action of great bodies 
of water, and the latter to small accumulations of such deposited 
anywhere by the ordinary operations of nature (see p. 34). 

Among the metals x properly so called we have copper, named 
from the low L. cuper, from L. cuprum, a contraction of cuprium 
ces, Cyprian brass, because the Eomans obtained copper first in 
Cyprus. Brass, in AS. brces, is from braze, to harden by fire. 
In Swedish braza is fire, and in Icelandic signifies solder, a 
fusible metal cement which unites metals through fire. Solder 
literally signifies to make solid, OF. solider and solder, modern 
F. souder, from L. solidare, to make solid, from solidus, solid. 
Quicksilver (quick in the sense of living, and silver) is the familiar 
term for fluid mercury, in allusion to its mobility and silver- white 
colour. Properly speaking, the word alloy is given to the mix- 
ture of any of the precious metals with an inferior, as for instance 
in our British coinage, where our sovereign is 91*66 gold and 



1 The word medal, which now 
means a reward of merit of some 
kind, received its name from the 
material of which it was composed 
viz. , a piece of metal (L. metallum, 



metal). At first it signified a coin 
of very small value, struck or cast 
with an inscription, and afterwards 
something different from the current 
coin (F. mtdaille, from It. medaglia). 



THE MINERAL KINGDOM. 55 

8'33 copper; a shilling 92'5 silver and 7'5 copper; and a penny 
95 copper, 4 tin, 1 zinc. In jewellery gold is represented by 
carats : 24 carat is pure, 22 carat contains 22 parts of gold and 2 
of other metals. The word alloy is said to be composed of the 
two OF. words a loi, from L. ad legem, according to law, mean- 
ing to mix metals for coin according to rule, or according to 
law : now we use it as meaning to mix evil with good, to mingle 
pleasure and pain ; and when we speak of what is unalloyed we 
mean what is unmixed, pure, as when you occasionally hear of 
unalloyed happiness, or without alloy. 

Passing from the precious metals to the precious stones, we have 
the diamond, the hardest of all substances, through F. diamant, 
from Gr. adamas, a hard stone (a, not, and damao, I subdue), 
what cannot be broken, tamed, or subdued. Garnet, a precious 
stone resembling the grains or seeds of the pomegranate (F. grenat, 
from L. (pomum) granatum = grained apple, from pomum, an apple, 
granum, a grain). The ruby is so called from its colour red, from 
L. words signifying redness, rubes from iiiber, red. The amethyst 
is a bluish-violet variety of quartz of which drinking-cups used to 
be made, which the ancients supposed prevented drunkenness. 
The Gr. word is amethystos, compounded of a, privative, and methys, 
to be drunken, from methu, wine, and Sans, madhu, from which 
we have mead and methylated spirit. When quicksilver or 
mercury is mixed with any other metal it is called an amalgam- 
ation, or an amalgam. It has been supposed to come through 
the F. malgamer, from the Gr. word malakos, soft, tender, deli- 
cate, and Gr. malagma, softening or softness, by transposition of 
mcdagma into malgama, meaning a soft mixture ; but it has been 
suggested that the word comes from the two Gr. words ama gamem, 
to marry together, with an expletive I'. A jewel (in ME. jowel 
and jueT) is supposed to come from OF. jouel (whence Ger. juwel, 
Dut. guweeT). The present F. word is joyau ; all this is from 
the L. type gaudiale, from gaudium, joy. The remarkable thing 
is that our word joy has the same root as jewel ; for joy in 
ME. was joie from the F. joie, joy, the source of which is the 



56 SIGNIFICANT ETYMOLOGY. 

same word gaudium. I think to connect the word joy with the 
L. jocale rests on a false relation to jocus, a game ; and I cannot 
see anything but what is most appropriate in speaking of a jewel 
as a joyful thing, or as a great joy to the possessor, a thing of 
beauty being a joy for ever. 



CHAPTEE VII. 



THE VEGETABLE 1 KINGDOM. 

THE word Botany, from the Gr. botane, a plant, is the name given 
to the whole vegetable kingdom, for a plant is the word applied to 
a sprout of any kind, however insignificant, while at the same 
time inclusive enough to take in trees, which are plants having a 
single trunk. The vegetable kingdom is so extensive that only a 
few specimens of the more important names can be given ; and 
without distinguishing specially by classes or otherwise the differ- 
ent trees, shrubs, flowers, or fruit, it will on the whole be more 
convenient to take them in alphabetical order after a few prelim- 
inary remarks on some points connected with trees themselves. 

Trees, when grown in large numbers on uncultivated land, are 
called a forest. This word has come to us through the OF. forest 
(F. foret), from the low L. foresta, which in medieval writers 
means the open fields, as oppposed to the parcus (park) or walled-in 
" wood," from L. forestis, out of, not shut, from L. foris, out of 
doors (from fores, doors), meaning that it was out, or away from, 
the cultivated district. From this word also comes our word 
foreign, through the F. forain, and the It. word forestieri, foreigners 
or outsiders. The word wood, or " a wood," is generally applied 



1 The word vegetable, which 
comes from the L. vegetabilis, was 
not even in Latin originally con- 
fined to what belonged to plants, 
or what we term vegetables. It 
merely signified animating, invigor- 
ating. The L. word veyeto, are, sig- 
nifying to make lively, to strengthen, 
from L. vegeo, to make lively (ap- 



parently from the same root as vigeo, 
to flourish, to thrive), has very grad- 
ually come to be confined to plants 
exclusively, and from it, in this 
sense, we have vegetation, vegeta- 
rian, and we speak of plants requiring 
heat in order to vegetate, and figur- 
atively we apply the word to people 
when they lead an idle, stupid life. 



58 SIGNIFICANT ETYMOLOGY. 

to a collection of growing trees, but of small extent, and in a 
neighbourhood more generally cultivated than that of a forest. 
But wood, AS. ivudu, is applied also to the solid part of trees 
the wood, and afterwards to trees cut or sawed. The terms 
wood or timber, though in reality distinct, have often been con- 
founded. Timber, from the AS. tiiribran, to build, designates 
properly wood for building purposes (the cognate Ger. word 
zimmer signifies both a building and an apartment). Ligneous 
(from the L. lignum, wood) is a more scientific word than woody, 
with which in this usage it is otherwise synonymous. It is inter- 
esting to call to mind the original L. word for forest, silva or sylva. 
I think it was usually employed to describe the wildest forests, 
and in neighbourhoods most remote from the homes of men, 
although the word sylvan, which comes from it, is generally used 
for the more beautiful as well as tranquil aspects of wooded 
scenery, sylvan glades and such like. Yet from this L. word 
silva we have derived our word savage, through the F. sauvage, 
which, however, in OF. was written salvage, from, the L. silvaticus 
(in the seventh century written salvaticus). A savage man was 
originally a native of a wild uncultivated country, whose inhabit- 
ants were unacquainted with the arts of civilised life, and with it 
we are carried back to the time when, as Dryden writes, " wild 
in woods the noble savage ran," so that savage is wild, as through 
being more applicable to animals it reminds us always of ferocity. 

A garden of fruit trees, especially of apple-trees, is called an 
orchard, from the AS. orceard and octgeard (Goth, aurtigardo, a 
garden), probably an adoption of the L. hortus, with the h mute, 
as in the It. orto. The Goth, aurtja, gardener, and the OH. Ger. 
orzon, to cultivate, point also to the L. hortus. The ch of our 
English word is owing to a fusion of t and g (OE. ort, and geard, 
garden). Yard and garden are also worth comparing. Arbor, the 
Latin for tree, seems to have been originally another form of herba, 
and was in its primary use applied to everything that had sprung 
up, grown, or vegetated ; but in its more restricted meaning it came 
to signify a tree that is, a perennial plant with a simple shoot or 
stem, which, after rising from the root to a greater or less height, 



THE VEGETABLE KINGDOM. 59 

spreads out its branches and leaves. I am not sure, however, that 
it has given us an arbour, which, although covered with branches 
by trees, plants, &c., is supposed to be a contraction of harbour, a 
shelter. The stem, when cut off from the root and disencumbered 
of its top branches, is called the trunk, and the same name is given 
to the body of a man considered separately from the head and 
limbs. It comes from the L. trunco, to lop off the branches of a 
tree. To prune a tree, however, is very different from truncating 
it. It is not to cut down the shrub or tree, but merely to lop off 
such superfluous shoots or boughs as might injure its growth, or 
interfere with the quality or quantity of its fruit. The origin of 
the word to prune is rather uncertain. It is usual to derive it 
from the F. word provigner, which means to cut slips from the 
stock of a vine for the purpose of planting them and forming new 
stocks ; but our word to prune has no relation to the utility of the 
slips. The word graft is applied to the small branch used in 
grafting, by inserting it into another tree of a different kind, and 
the word comes from the L. graphium, a style or pencil, which 
the inserted slip resembled, from the Gr. grapho, 1 to write. The 
trunk of a tree after rising to a certain height from the root 
separates or breaks itself into divisions, each of which is called a 
branch. The word branch certainly was derived from the F. 
branche (in Breton, branca), as in Italy and Spain, and there can 
be little doubt, I think, that the F. branche was derived from the 
L. brachium, the arm. But a direct derivation from brachium is 
inadmissible. It is necessary for this to have h.ad a L. form 
brancia. Diez believes that the word branca belonged to the low 
Latin language, and alleges various reasons for thinking so ; while 
Neumann, founding on the German zw&ig, a branch, which is a 



1 No Greek word supplies us with 
more English words than grapho, to 
write. It gives us a graphic descrip- 
tion even in a paragraph, while 
biography (bios, life), geography 
(ge, the earth), bibliography (biblos, 
a book), ethnography (ethnos, a race), 
hydrography (hydor, water), litho- 
graphy (lithos, stone), photography 
(phos, light), topography (topos, a 



place), typography (tupos, a type), 
are all formed in part from 
grapho. Graphite is a form of 
carbon, called also plumbago or 
black - lead, used chiefly in the 
manufacture of pencils. A para- 
graph is a marginal mark set to 
call attention, or generally to 
indicate a new division or change 
of subject. 



60 



SIGNIFICANT ETYMOLOGY. 



diminutive of zwei (two), in consequence of the idea of bifurcation, 1 
proposes for the Latin branca the etymology of bi-ramica (bis, 
two, and ramus, a branch). Ramus is much more frequently used 
than brachium in Latin, but it has few compounds in English 
beyond ramify and ramification, through the F. ramifier, from the 
L. ramus, and facio, I make. 

Acacia is the name given to a class of thorny leguminous plants, 
from the Gr. ake, a sharp point. 

Acanthus is another prickly plant, from the same root, and Gr. 
anthos, lit. the prickly plant. 

Aconite in English, monkshood, from the shape of its flower 
receives its name from the Gr. word akoniton, signifying without a 
struggle, alluding to the deadly virulence of its juice, which is said 
by an old writer to be the most hasty of all poisons. 

Acorn, the fruit or seed of the oak, was in AS. cecern, in Goth. 
akran, used originally for any fruit of the field (Goth, dkrs, a field), 
but afterwards in its present limited sense. The present spelling 
is possibly owing to the supposition that it was compounded of oak 
and kern or corn, seed, which indeed may be the case. 

Amaranth, from the Gr. amarantos, unfading (from a, privative, 
and maraino, to waste away), is the name given to a genus of richly- 
coloured flowers which last a long time without withering. The 
original species was one which, from the quality of reviving its 
original colour when put in water, was much used by the ancients 
for winter chaplets. 

Anemone, from Gr. anemos, the wind, lit. the wind-flower, 
either because some of the species live in exposed situations, or 
because it was believed that it never opened but when the wind 
blew. 

Artichoke comes directly from the Italian articiocco, probably 
from Arabic ; the last syllable was formerly pronounced chock, but 
has been latterly re -spelt and re -pronounced under the influence 
of the verb to choke. A still better example of popular etymology 



1 Bifurcation, a dividing into two 
(from L. bifurcatus, two - pronged, 
from bis, twice, and furca, a fork), 



forked, separated into two heads 
or branches. 



THE VEGETABLE KINGDOM. 61 

is seen in Jerusalem artichoke, which has nothing to do with 
Jerusalem, but is compiled from It. girasole (turning to the sun), 
the sunflower which gyres or turns round with the sol, sole. This 
sort of artichoke, however, has as little to do with the holy city 
as Jordan almonds have to do with the sacred river. Jardyne 
almaunde, as the word was at one time spelt, is merely the almond 
of the jardyne or garden. I suspect that along with the disap- 
pearance of Jerusalem from the artichoke will disappear the 
supposed appropriate name given to the puree made from it viz., 
Palestine soup. 

Asparagus has not fared much better at the hands, or in the 
mouths, of those who had to pronounce it, or to eat it. The cause is 
ignorance of its origin in the Gr. word asparagos (from a, privative, 
and speiriosthai, to sow), because it grows many years without 
being sown, continually seeding itself. The learned knew that 
it was the Greek word borrowed intact, and the fact that it had 
no relatives in English made no difference to them, for they 
associated it with the Greek. To the unlearned, however, who 
knew nothing of its origin, it was an English word like any other ; 
and their minds unconsciously attempted to associate it with some 
other word or words with which they were familiar. It was long 
enough to be a compound. Its last syllable sounded like a slovenly 
pronunciation of grass. There were already many plant names in 
which grass was the last syllable. A is easily lost, and sparrow is 
vulgarly sparra. The result was mentally sparrow-grass a form 
which immediately satisfied the popular conscience. True, the 
plant had nothing to do with sparrows, but one cannot have every- 
thing in this world. What has dog-grass to do with dogs 1 In 
general this sort of etymologising is easily satisfied. Half a loaf is 
better than no bread. Walker, in his celebrated Pronouncing 
Dictionary, says, " This word is vulgarly pronounced sparrowgrass. 
It may be observed that such words as the vulgar do not know how 
to spell, and which convey no definite idea of the thing, are 
frequently changed by them into such words as they do know how 
to spell, and which do convey some definite idea. The word in 
question is an instance of it, and the corruption of this word into 



62 SIGNIFICANT ETYMOLOGY. 

sparrowgrass is so general that asparagus has an air of stiffness 
and pedantry." 

Belladonna, It., lit. beautiful lady, is the name given to the 
deadly nightshade, so called according to Tournefort, &c., from its 
berries, known in France as guines de cotes, being used by the 
Italian ladies as a cosmetic. Kay also says it was called belladonna 
from the increased brilliancy it gave to the eyes. 

Bent-grass is the name given to any wiry or rush-like grass near 
the sea-shore, such as usually grows upon a bent i.e., common 
or other broken ground, as "Poor men bickered on the bent" 
("Chevy Chase"), and preserved in Scotland to this day. The 
name of the grass seems to have been taken from the place of 
growth, as in the case of heath, brake, or briar. Under the name 
of bent are comprised Agrostis vulgaris and Triticus junceus. 

Borage, a name given to a genus of plants in consequence of 
the roughness of their foliage, from late Latin burra, a shaggy 
garment. 

Burnet, from F. brunette, brown, from the dark -brown colour 
of its flowers. 

Butcher's broom, the common name given to Ruscus aculeatus, 
a long-growing shrub. The whole plant was gathered by butchers, 
and made into besoms for sweeping their blocks and their shops, 
and hence has received the name of butcher's broom. 

Cabbage. There is good reason for believing that this comes, 
like the German Jcappus, from the L. caput, the head. 

Carline thistle (Carlina vulgaris), from F. carline, Sp., It., 
and mediaeval L. carlina, reported to be from Carolina, from the 
Emperor Carolus Magnus, Charlemagne, because it was said to 
have been divinely shown to him as a safeguard against the 
plague. 

Chestnut, a nut or fruit enclosed in a prickly case, not from 
chest, as might be supposed, but through the OF. castaigne, from 
L. castanea, Gr. kastanon, from Castan in Pontus where the tree 
abounded. Its use as slang for a stale joke or story an old 
"Joe," something frequently said or done before originated in 
America, but by whom is not certain. Lord Halket in 'Notes 



THE VEGETABLE KINGDOM. 63 

and Queries' says, "I first heard the -word in 1882 in a theatrical 
chop-house (Brown's) in New York : the explanation given to me 
by Mr Brown once a well-known member of Wallack's company 
was, ' Chestnut, because it is old enough to have grown a beard,' 
alluding to the prickly, bristly husk of the nuts." 

Cinnamon is the Hebrew ginnamon, which is borrowed from 
some other Eastern tongue. The older English form is cinnamom, 
from L. cinnamomum, itself from the Hebrew. But this English 
form was made even by scholars who were familiar with Hebrew 
and thought cinnamon erroneous. 

Clematis, a climbing plant, from Gr. Jclematis, from Jdema, a 
twig or vine branch, is popularly called travellers' joy, and Tenny- 
son in " Aylmer's Field " describes a hut as being " parcel-bearded 
with the traveller's joy." The French name of the plant is viorne, 
which is derived from the L. arburnum. This in botanical Latin 
having become viorna, was interpreted by old Gerarde, the herb- 
alist, 1597, as standing for viam ornans, as if the plant which 
decks the wayside with its flowers so cheers the traveller on his 
journey that it has become " the traveller's joy." His own account 
of his ingenious invention is as follows : " It is commonly called 
viorna, quasi vias ornans, of decking and adorning ways and 
hedges where people travel, and thereupon I have named it The 
Traveller's Joy" (Herbal, i. 739). 

Coltsfoot, the usual name given to a plant with large soft 
leaves, from the resemblance they bear to the shape of a colt's 
foot before it has been shod. The botanical name is tussilago, 
the cough -dispeller, from the two L. words tussis, a cough, and 
ago, I dispel or drive away, because it was believed to be very 
efficacious in removing coughs. It is used in medicine for this 
purpose under the name of coltsfoot rock, and in Scotland it is 
still occasionally smoked for a cough, instead of stramonium, and 
is called by the common people dishelago, which is merely a 
corruption of tussilago. 

Columbine is the English name for plants such as Aquilegia 
vulgaris or common columbine, the inverted flower of which has 
some resemblance to five pigeons clustered 6 together, the L. word 



64 SIGNIFICANT ETYMOLOGY. 

for pigeon is coluniba. The L. name aquilegia comes from aquila, 
an eagle, and has been given to it because its nectaries bear a 
fancied resemblance to an eagle's claws. 

Currant, said to be so named from Corinth, and applied first to 
a small kind of raisin or dried grape imported from the Levant, 
and afterwards to the fruit of several garden shrubs. 

Daffodil is a variant of affodil. The initial d has not been 
satisfactorily accounted for. It has been variously suggested as 
due to childish or playful distortion, as in Ted for Edward; to 
final d of and, "fennel an(d a)ffodil"; to union of the Dutch 
or Flemish article, as de affodil ; and to French d , as in flew 
d'asphodele. As in English the word has gained a letter, in six- 
teenth-century French it sometimes lost one (see Littre^ asphodele). 
Affodil and its popular variants, daffodil, daffadilly, were origin- 
ally and properly the asphodel. Then, by popular misconcep- 
tion, due apparently to the application to both plants at their first 
introduction into England of the fanciful name Laus Tibi, it was 
applied, especially in the popular variations, to species of narcissus, 
&c. Botanists, after resisting this misapplication, compromised the 
matter by retaining affodil for the asphodel, while daffodil was 
restricted in popular use to the yellow narcissus or yellow daffodil 
of English fields and gardens. The form daffodilly perhaps origin- 
ated in the name of lily, so frequently applied, at least in Scotland, 
to the white narcissus, there called the white lily. 

Daisy, from OE. doges cage, or eye of day, in allusion to the 
appearance of the flower, and to its closing its ray so as to conceal 
the yellow disc in the evening and opening it again in the mor- 
ning. As Leyden writes (1803), "Scenes of Infancy," 1. 291 

" When evening brings the merry folding hours, 
And sun-eyed daisies close their winking flowers." 

Dandelion, originally written dent du lion by Douglas in his 
translation of the ^Ineid, being the French words for " tooth of the 
lion," as in L. dens leonis, so called from the toothed and jagged 
outline of the leaves. The botanical term Leontodon is from 
the Gr. leon, a lion, and odous, odontos, a tooth. It is called in 



THE VEGETABLE KINGDOM. 65 

Scotland dandelion, and so spelt without any thought of its 
meaning. 

Devil's bit. The name given to the plant Scdbiosa sticcisa (from 
succido, to cut off), in consequence of the root having the appear- 
ance of having been cut off. It is a translation of the medieval 
L. morsus diaboli, the devil's bite, and in Ger. Teufel's Abbitz. 
According to Gerarde in his Herbal, the devil bit it for envy, 
because it was a plant whose root had so many good qualities 
and was so beneficial to mankind. However this may be, 
it has no good qualities now, although the flowers are very 
attractive. 

Drosera, or sundew, receives its name from the Gr. drosys, the 
leaves being covered with red hairs which exude drops of a viscid 
fluid, especially when the sun is shining, when it appears as if 
tipped with dew. 

Dwale is the name frequently given to the deadly nightshade, 
from the stupefying and poisonous effects of a draught of that 
plant, probably from the Scandinavian. In Dan. dvale, dead 
sleep. 

Eglantine. The name given by Milton in " L' Allegro " to the 
sweet-briar, and by botanists to other species of rose as well, 
whose branches are covered with sharp prickles. The word is 
from the French. The OF. is aiglent, possibly from the L. word 
acidentus, prickly (from acus, a needle, and suffix lentus). In L. 
we have aculeus, a sting or prickle. 

Elm. At one time spelt Ulrtw (e), showing that the Ger. ulme 
and the Dutch olm are all due to the influence of the L. word 
ulmus. 

Feverfew. In the seventeenth century the word was spelt 
feuer fue, showing more clearly its origin and meaning. It was 
adapted from the late L. febri-fuga, a febrifuge, an herb good 
against fevers (from feber, febris, a fever, and fugare, to drive 
away.) 

Fritillary, the English name of the Fritillana Meleagris, a 
plant which grows in moist meadows in east and south of England. 
The name is derived from the L. fritillus, a dice-box, or the table 

E 



66 SIGNIFICANT ETYMOLOGY. 

or board on which men played chess or draughts, with square 
chequers the name referring to the chequered markings on the 
corolla, not to its shape, as usually supposed. 

Fumitory. This name comes from the OF. fumeterre, adopted 
from medieval L. fumus terrce, the smoke of the earth, because 
it springeth out of the earth in great quantity as smoke doth ; 
or rather, because the smoke of it was believed by the ancient 
exorcists to have the power of expelling evil spirits. 

(Jean, the name of the wild cherry, both tree and fruit. The 
name, used now chiefly in Scotland, is of unknown origin, and 
can be traced no farther back than to the F. guigne, which in the 
fourteenth century was spelt guine, and is now not unfrequently 
spelt with us guean. 

Geranium, from Gr. geranos, a crane, because the fruit resembles 
the beak of that bird. English name, Crane's-bilL 

Gillyflower, a popular name for " the stock," &c., so called from 
its clove-like smell, is a modern corruption of an older word, 
which is variously spelt in earlier writers gyllofer, gillorer, gelever, 
gelofer, gilofer, &c., all through F. giroflee, girofle, derived through 
L. caryophyllum, possible Gr. karyophyHon, the clove-tree, from 
Tcaryon, a nut, and phyllon, a leaf. Many old writers further 
transform gillyflower into July-flower, with reference to the fact 
of its blossoming in that month ! 

Gooseberry is a word whose etymology is very perplexing, 
although it seems so simple ; but it does not seem to have any 
connection with goose. The oldest form of the word gooseberry 
is in an old French grammar of 1532, where it is supposed to stand 
for gors, or gros-berry, for we find groser, a gooseberry, in Turner 
in 1548. I think the origin is either the word gors (gorse), from 
the connection between the whin, as it is called in Scotland, the 
prickly shrub generally called gorse in England, while the berry 
distinguishes it from gorse, which has no berries but only pods ; 
or the word grose, for great or coarse, as it is both larger and 
coarser than other berries, especially from the hairs with which it 
is covered. 

Heliotrope means literally a turning towards the sun (from Gr. 



THE VEGETABLE KINGDOM. 67 

helios, the sun, and trope, a turning), the name given to a popular 
garden and window-flowering plant, but properly given to the turn- 
sole or sunflower. 

Kale or kail, the northern form of cole ; and as kail was long 
the chief constituent of dinner in Scotland, the word was often, 
and still is occasionally, used for the meal itself. 

Knapweed was originally knop-weed, from the hard, roughly - 
mounted head or involucre. 

Lettuce, from L. lactuca, from L. lac, milk, so called on 
account of its milky juice. 

Loosestrife, just the translation of the botanical name Lysi- 
machia (lusis and mache, the loosing of strife). Pliny says the 
name was given after a certain King Lysimachus, but nevertheless 
in deference to the popular notion that if it were laid on the yoke 
of oxen when they quarrelled it would quiet them. 

Nasturtium, cress, received its name from the L. nasus, a nose, 
and tortus, twisted or distorted, " a distorted nose," on account of 
the pungent properties of the plant inducing many to twist or 
writhe their nose when they smelt it. 

Parsley F. persil, from L. petroselinum, from Gr. petroselinon, 
from petros, a rock, and selinon, a kind of parsley. 

Primrose, literally the first rose, F. prime rose, L. prima rosa 
(from primus, first), the name given to an early spring flower, 
very abundant in our woods and meadows. 

Ranunculus this name has been given to the crowfoot, from 
the L. word rana, a frog, as frogs frequent the places where such 
plants grow. 

Rosemary> literally sea-spray, the name given to a small ever- 
green plant of a pungent taste, which usually grows on the sea- 
coast. It has no connection with a rose, or with the Virgin, but 
is composed of two L. words, ros, dew, and marinus, from mare, 
the sea. 

Samphire, the name given to Crithmum maritimum, the sea 
samphire, a perennial plant, fleshy, small, salt, and pungently 
aromatic in flavour, with stems about a foot high, grows on rocky 
sea-shores and cliffs, near Dover, notably below what is called 



68 SIGNIFICANT ETYMOLOGY. 

Shakespeare's Cliff, from the description which he gives of it in 
"King Lear," IV. i., where he says, 

" There is a cliff, whose high and bending head 
Looks fearfully in the confined deep," &c. ; 

and when standing on its summit, he says, IV. vi., 

" How fearful 

And dizzy 'tis, to cast one's eyes so low ! 
The crows and choughs that wing the midway air 
Show scarce so gross as beetles : half way down 
Hangs one that gathers samphire, dreadful trade ! 
Methinks he seems no bigger than his head," &c. 

The leaves of the herb were used as an old-fashioned pickle, 
and they are still sold in the London shops, but there are many 
plants generally preferred for the same purpose. It is also called 
the herb of St Peter, and the word samphire is supposed to be a 
corruption of French Saint Pierre, and the resemblance in pro- 
nunciation is more clearly seen when the word is spelt, as in 
Smith's 'English Flora' and elsewhere, "sampire." 

Saxifrage, the name given to a genus of Alpine plants generally 
found growing in rocky places, gradually wearing away the rocks 
and stones from which they find nourishment, and so were named 
saxifraga, or stone-breakers, from L. saxum, a stone, and frango, to 
break. Some think that they have received the name because at 
an earlier period they were believed to be useful for dissolving 
stones in the bladder. 

The Tansy the true tanacetum, and not the senecio or ragwort, 
a little aromatic plant with small yellow flowers, has received the 
name of tansy, which signifies literally "the immortal plant," 
from the length of time during which, after being pulled, its 
flowers retain their shape, fresh appearance, and smell, from the 
F. tanaisee, through late L., from Gr. athanasia, immortality. 

Wormwood is the name given to the bitter plant absinthe. A 
very common intoxicating drink, under the name of absinthe in 
France and of vermuth in Germany. There is good reason for 
believing that the word was originally written wer-mod, so that the 



THE VEGETABLE KINGDOM. 69 

theories about its having been originally werm-od, from the root of 
warm with affix od, from having been originally taken to warm the 
body, is entirely erroneous, and that Professor Skeat's idea is 
correct that the word is to be analysed as wer-mod i.e., ware- 
mood, or mind -preserver, a name due to a primitive notion that 
the plant, like hellebore, was a specific for mental diseases, being 
derived from AS. warian, to protect, and mod, the mind. 
Similarly, Ger. vermuth, from weliren, to protect, and muth, the 
mind. That some such belief existed is evident from Tusser's 
saying, in his 'Husbandry,' published 1580, that "It is a comfort 
to the heart and brain," and Burton, in his 'Anatomy of Melan- 
choly,' says that it was " much prescribed, especially for hypo- 
chondriac melancholy." It has also been employed as a vermifuge, 
and this seems to have suggested both the wrong spelling and the 
wrong division of the word. 

Before leaving the vegetable kingdom, there are two words 
intimately connected with it of which something should be 
said. These are flower and fruit. The word flower (from L. 
flos, floris) signifies like the L. word (1) a flower or blossom, and 
(2) the best of anything. Our word flour comes from the same 
root, and was originally spelt in the same way, so that in Dr 
Johnson's Dictionary of 1753 there is no such word as flour, but 
he gives as one of the senses of flower, " the edible part of corn, 
meal." The original spelling of the word was flour, which con- 
tinued to be occasionally used in all senses until 1700, though 
flower, introduced in the fifteenth century, was latterly the pre- 
vailing form. Flower and flour are now unquestionably two 
words, with slightly different pronunciations. The word fruit 
comes through the F. fruit, from the L. fructus (originally enjoy- 
ment of anything from fruor, fructus, to enjoy), which soon came 
to signify profit or advantage arising from the produce of land and 
trees that is, fruit. The connection between it and frugality, 
which comes from the same root, is shown on p. 305. 



70 



CHAPTEE VIII. 

THE ANIMAL KINGDOM. 

Animal, from anima, breath (from Gr. ao, breath. i.e., air exhaled 
and inhaled, and then the vital principle). 

This kingdom embraces the whole of that department of natural 
history which treats of animals, and is called zoology, from Gr. 
zoon, an animal, and logos, a discourse. It is arranged in two 
divisions, each distinguished by some broadly marked peculiarity 
of structure. The divisions are first, vertebrata, literally, back- 
boned animals, from L. vertebra, the backbone ; second, inverte- 
brata, without a backbone. 

THE FIRST DIVISION, VERTEBRATA, 

is subdivided into four clases : (1) mammalia, or suck -giving 
animals, from L. mamma, the breast ; (2) aves, birds, from L. 
avis, a bird; (3) reptilia, reptiles, from L. reptilis, from L. repo 
or serpo, to creep or crawl ; and (4) pisces, fishes, from L. piscis, 
a fish. Each of these is again subdivided into orders. 

Class 1. Mammalia 

embraces nine orders (1) Bimana (having two hands), from 
L. bis, twice, and manus, the hand, is the term applied to the 
highest order of mammalia, of which man is the type, and the only 
species. Few persons of the present day will assert that "men 
have four legs by nature, and 'tis custom makes them go errone- 



THE ANIMAL KINGDOM. 71 

ously upon but two." For not only are they infinitely pre-eminent 
by their high and peculiar character and power of mind, but 
stamped with a bearing lofty and dignified, with "far nobler 
shape, erect and tall, god-like erect, with native honour clad." 
"We therefore propose to keep man entirely distinct, and 
to consider him after we have finished the merely animal 
kingdom. 

(2) Quadnunana (having four hands), from L. quatuor, 1 four, 
and manus, a hand. This order includes the monkey tribe. Its 
members are remarkable for the resemblance they bear to the 
human race, and I cannot but think that in the different names 
given to these belonging to this order we have more references to 
men than have been generally recognised. Most philologists 
content themselves with showing that the word ape was in AS. 
apa, and in Dutch and Icel. aap and api, in Ger. a/e, in Gr. 
Jceposo, in Sans. Itapi, a monkey. Skeat explains that the loss 
of the initial k is not remarkable in a word which has had so far 
to travel, as it is commonly supposed that the same loss has taken 
place in the case of Sans, kam, to love, as compared with L. 
amare. Max Miiller notes that the Heb. koph, an ape (IK. 10, 
22), is not a Semitic word, but borrowed from Sanscrit. The 
Sans, kapi stands for kampi, from kamp, to tremble, vibrate, 
move rapidly to and fro. Baboon is said to be from the F. babuin, 
a little ape, but that the remoter origin is obscure ; while 
monkey is supposed to come from O.It, monna, the nickname for 
an old woman, an ape, a contraction of It. madonna, mistress. 
These learned etymologies seem to have all missed the point, for 
I think these three different names of ape, baboon, and monkey 
are all names, nicknames if you choose to regard them as such, 



1 From quatuor we have quad- 
rangle, a square surrounded by 
buildings, a quadrant, the fourth 
part of a circle, or an arc of 90 
degrees, quadrate, squared, quad- 
ratic, belonging to a square, quad- 
rille, a game of cards played by 
four, also a dance made up of sets 
of dancers having four couples each 
(through It. quadrylia), quadroon 



(F. quarteron), the offspring of a 
mulatto and a white person, so called 
because their blood is one-fourth 
black, quadruped, a four - footed 
animal, quarter, the fourth part, 
quaternion, a file of four soldiers, 
quaternions, a kind of mathe- 
matical investigation, so called 
because four independent quantities 
are involved.} 



Y2 



SIGNIFICANT ETYMOLOGY. 



arising from a certain likeness which these creatures bear to the 
human species. The word ape, for instance, seems to be merely 
a varied pronunciation of the Gothic word aba, a man; while 
baboon is the sort of augmentative of babe, as if we were to say a 
large child ; while monkey I regard as the diminutive of man, or 
tnon as it was often spelt so that monkey would signify the 
mannikin a sort of double diminutive, as the word donkey is dun 
(as regards its colour) and ik + ie, and so here mon-ik-ie. While the 
Latin simius signifies an ape, and is said to come from simiis, pug- 
nosed, I think it may be yet possible, through some presently 
missing link, to associate it with similis, like, so that everything 
connected with the nomenclature of this order would connect it 
some way or other with a similarity to man. The name orang- 
outan is said to come from Malay outan, signifying wild, and 
orang, man, "the wild man." The lemur is also found under 
this order, it is closely allied to the monkey, but it prowls about 
only at night, hence its name lemur, which is the Latin for a 
ghost lemures being the general name for the departed spirits 
of men. 

(3) Cheiroptera (hand- winged animals), from Gr. cheir, 1 the 
hand, and pteris, a wing, for they have a pair of wings, formed 
by an extension of the skin over the very elongated fingers of the 
fore legs, and connected also with the hind legs. The bats belong 
to this order ; the name probably comes from beat, from the beat- 
ing of their wings, an etymology rather confirmed by what we 
are told of the vampire bat. 

This name of vampire has been given to the bat from the rather 
vamped-up story of the vampire, who is said to be a dead man 
who returns in body and soul from the other world and wanders 
about the land doing mischief to the living. He sucks the blood 
of persons asleep, and these persons become vampires in their turn. 
The vampire lies as a corpse during the day, but by night, especi- 



1 From cheir, the hand, we have 
surgeon (from F. chirurgien), one 
whose business it is to heal dis- 
eases and injuries of the body 
by manual operations (Gr. ergon, 



work), such as cutting, bandag- 
ing. Surgery is thus a medical 
art ; a surgery is a place where 
such surgical operations are per- 
formed. 



THE ANIMAL KINGDOM. 



ally at full moon, wanders about. Sir Walter Scott, 'Rokeby,' 
iii. 2, 3, alludes to the superstition, and Lord Byron in his 
' Giaour ' says 

" The first on earth as vampire sent, 
Thy corse shall from the tomb be rent, 
Then ghastly haunt thy native place, 
And suck the blood of all thy race. :! 

(4) InsectivSra (insect -devourers), from insedum, and voro 
insectum from inseco (of in, into, and seco, 1 to cut), so that an 
insect is literally cut into as with the body cut in the middle, and 
voro, 2 avi, atum, are, to devour. Under this order are included 
the moles and the hedgehogs. The word mole is an abbreviated 
form of molde-warp, the mould-caster, from ME. molde, mould, 
and ME. werpen, to cast, from the little heaps of mould which the 
small animal casts up as he burrows in the ground. The mowdie- 
warp is still a common name for the mole in Scotland. The 
hedgehog is so called from his living in a hedge and having a 
likeness to a hog or pig. It was at one time much more frequently 
called the urchin, a name which is now generally confined to boys, 
and to sea-urchins. But urchin was not an inappropriate name for 
the hedgehog, inasmuch as the word comes through the F. herisson 
'from the L. ericius, their name for hedgehog. 

(5) Carnivora (flesh -devourers), from L. caro, flesh, 3 and voro, 
to devour. These are divided into two tribes (1) the planti- 
grade, and (2) the digitigrade. (1) The plantigrade walk on the 
sole of the foot, from L. planta, the sole, and gradior,* to walk ; 



1 From seco, seem, sectum, secare, 
to cut, we have section, sectional, 
sect, bisect, dissect, intersect, vivi- 
section the dissection of animals 
yet alive for scientific purposes. 

2 Voro, to swallow up greedily, 
gives us devour, voracious, voracity, 
carnivorous, flesh-eating, gramini- 
vorous, grass-eating, insectivorous, 
insect - eating, and omnivorous = 
animals that eat all kinds (omnia], 
both animal and vegetable sub- 
stances. 



3 From this word caro, carnis, we 
have carnage, carnal, carnation, 
a flesh - coloured flower, carnival, 
a farewell to flesh (carni vale), or 
a solace to the flesh (levdmen), being 
just before Lent, carrion, dead, 
putrefying flesh, a charnel house 
contains carcases. Incarnate means 
embodied in flesh. 

4 From gradior, gressw, gradi, 
to step, walk, or go, or rather from 
gradus, a step or degree, from which 
it is derived, we have not merely 



74 



SIGNIFICANT ETYMOLOGY. 



and (2) the digitigrade, that walk on their toes, L. digitus, 1 
finger or toe, and gradior, to walk. Of the plantigrade the best 
known species are the bear (AS.), the racoon, a carnivorous 
animal of ]STorth America, valuable for its fur, the word is a 
corruption of F. raton, a diminutive of rat, a rat. The badger 
is said to be a corruption of bladger (through OF. bladier, from 
low L. bladarius, a corn-dealer, from bladium, corn), because the 
badger was popularly believed to store up corn. (Whether he really 
does so is on etymological grounds a matter of indifference.) It 
has come as a verb to signify to pester or worry, especially by 
superior numbers. This is in allusion to the ancient custom of 



grade, but gradient, the rate of 
ascent when a railroad is not quite 
level. Gradual means proceeding 
step by step, as a gradual increase 
of knowledge, a gradual descent. 
Men acquire a fixed character 
gradually. We graduate scales, 
thermometer, &c., that is, we mark 
the degrees upon them. To grad- 
uate also means to take or be ad- 
mitted to a degree in a university, 
or some professional incorporated 
body. An aggressor is the person 
who begins a quarrel ; an aggres- 
sion leads to hostility. War is 
aggressive on the part of those who 
begin it. A congress is an as- 
sembly for settling affairs. To 
degrade is to reduce to a lower 
level, moral or social. We speak 
of the lowest degradation of human 
nature. Art is degraded when it is 
only regarded as a trade. Degree 
means extent, step, or rank, as a 
degree of a circle, or of the earth's 
circumference, a degree of excel- 
lence, an Oxford, Cambridge, Edin- 
burgh, or Aberdeen degree. To 
digress is to turn aside from the 
main subject in writing or speak- 
ing : and we often make a digres- 
sion. Egress means going out, 
ingress, entrance into, or going in. 
An ingredient is that which enters 
into the composition of some mix- 
ture : we speak of the ingredients 



of a cup of tea. Progress is motion 
onwards ; to progress is to go on- 
ward, to make progress. A pro- 
gressive state is opposed to a 
retrograde or stationary one. A 
progression is a regular and con- 
tinued increase or decrease of mem- 
bers, or a movement of the parts 
in harmony. To retrograde is to 
move backward. The state of the 
Arts in the Dark Ages was a 
retrograde state, and continued to 
be retrogressive for some centuries. 
A child may transgress the com- 
mand of a parent. "The way of 
transgressors is hard." " Sin is 
any want of conformity unto, 
or transgression of, the law of 
God." 

1 From digitus, a finger or toe, 
we have the English word digit, 
literally a finger, a finger's breadth, 
or f -inch. Then from the habit of 
counting with the fingers, any one 
of the nine figures ; we have also 
digital, pertaining to the fingers, 
from the L. digitalis the beautiful 
plant called in English foxglove, 
or perhaps more correctly the 
folk's-glove, the " folk " being the 
fairies, and the poetical idea being 
that these are their gloves that 
grow on that lovely plant. We 
have also digitate, consisting of 
several finger - like sections, and 
digitigrade, walking on the toes. 



THE ANIMAL KINGDOM. 75 

badger-baiting. A badger was kennelled in a tub, where dogs 
were set upon him to worry him out. When dragged from his 
tub the poor creature was allowed to retire to it again, till he had 
recovered from the attack. This was repeated several times. 
Badger-baiting was at one time a common exhibition at the 
licensed bear-gardens, for the amusement of those who could not 
pay for the expenses of bear-baiting. The Puritans were accused 
of objecting to bear-baiting, not so much because it gave pain to 
the bear, as because it gave pleasure to the spectators. Baiting 
in this sense is from the Icel. beita, from the root of to bite, and 
to bait an animal originally meant to provoke it by inciting 
dogs to bite it. " Drawing the badger " originally meant draw- 
ing the badger out of his tub by means of dogs figuratively it 
means extracting with difficulty something which you are anxious 
to know and which another is unwilling to tell. But to "over- 
draw the badger" is now "to overdraw one's bank account," as in 
Hood's poem of " Miss Kilmansegg," 

" His checks no longer drew the cash, 
Because, as his comrades explained in flash, 
He had overdrawn his badger." 

In many parts of Scotland the badger is called a brock, from 
its black and white streaked face. In Gaelic broc is a badger 
(from breac, speckled). In Scotland, too, we use the adjective 
broket, meaning spotted, variegated, striped, white -faced. The 
glutton also is plantigrade, and receives his name from his 
voracity, through the F. glouton, from L. gluto, from glu, to 
eat to excess. 

Among the Digitigrade group of the order of Carnivora, some 
of the most significant names are those of the Cat tribe, such as 
the lynx, the leopard, the panther, and the cat. The lynx, 
proverbial for its piercing eyesight, was a fabulous animal. Its 
sight was said to be so penetrating that it could see even through 
opaque bodies. But the cat-like animal now called a lynx is not 
remarkable for keen-sightedness. The name is the same in Gr. 
and L. lynx, probably from Gr. lyke, light, and so called rather 



76 SIGNIFICANT ETYMOLOGY. 

from its Irright eyes. Leopard is made up of the two Latin words, 
leo, a lion, and pardus, a pard, or panther, with which it is often 
confounded, "bearded like the pard." 

The word " cat " is found in a very much similar form in at least 
a dozen languages, such as Teutonic, Celtic, Slavonic, Arabic, Turk- 
ish, and late Latin. It has not given rise to many other words 
in English. It has originated the word catkin, from the resem- 
blance between the loose cluster of flowers growing on willows 
and a cat's tail. The grass, Phleum pratense, is called cat's- tail 
grass, from the very striking resemblance which that grass bears 
to it. The phrase cat -o'- nine -tails, a whip with nine lashes, 
evidently had reference to the nine lives of a cat, and implied 
that whoever was subjected to it would be lashed within an inch 
of his life. We have also the expression of a cat's-paw, applied 
to the slight ripple on the water during a calm, and indicating 
a storm, the phrase is the relic of a superstition that cats were 
witches or demons in disguise. Of course the phrase " to make 
a cat's-paw of" is in allusion to the fable of the monkey, which 
wanted to get from the fire some roasted chestnuts, and took the 
paw of the cat to extract them from the hot ashes. The kitten 
is in Middle English Tcyton, a diminutive of cat. In Scotland a 
kitten is still called in many quarters a kitling, and the Scotch 
pronunciation of the word for tickling has the same sound, 
"kitlin'." On one occasion the precentor had a cold and hoarse- 
ness, which interfered so much with his singing that when 
he came into the vestry after the service the minister said to 
him, " What was the matter with your voice to - day, George 1 " 
George replied, " I had a kitlin' in my throat, sir ; " to which the 
minister answered, " I'm glad that was all, for it sounded to me 
like a big Tarn cat ! " An old cat is often called a grimalkin 
originally greymalkin. It is supposed by some that malkin 
is from the Teut. mal, from the L. macula, a spot usually a 
spot which disfigures, although not necessarily, for Cicero speaks 
of a horse with its white spots] as " equus maculus albis." The 
general belief is that malkin is an old diminutive of Moll and 
Mary, and was used to designate a mop, as well as a scullion 



THE ANIMAL KINGDOM. 



77 



(a servant so called from working in the scullery), a kitchen wench 
Now this word wench, from the AS. wende, a maid, connected 
with Welsh gweine, to serve, soon came to signify a low, coarse 
drab of a woman, so that grimalkin, as applied to an old cat, is not 
a complimentary expression. The name of puss, although derived 
originally from the sound made by what is called the spitting 
of a cat, has come to be both its familiar and its affectionate name. 
From the original Latin word for cat, felis, we have the word feline, 
signifying what pertains to the cat that is, to tigers, lions, &c., 
and as many as are of the cat kind. It may not be out of place 
before leaving the subject of cat and kitten to mention that Kit- 
Cat has no connection with either cat or kitten. The Kit-Cat 
Club was the name of a London club formed in 1688, which met 
in the house of Christopher Cat, that being the name of the 
pastrycook who supplied the nmtton- pies, and after whom the 
club was named. Sir Godfrey Kneller painted forty-three por- 
traits of the club members for Jacob Jonson, the secretary, whose 
villa was at Barn Elms, and where latterly the club was held. 
In order to accommodate the paintings to the height of the 
club room he was obliged to make them three -quarter -lengths, 
hence a three-quarter portrait is still called a Kit -Cat. The 
only opportunity which most of us have had of seeing the more 
formidable specimens of the feline tribe is that which is fur- 
nished by a menagerie. This word, which is now associated in 
our minds with the place where foreign or wild beasts are kept, 
comes to us through the F. from the L. mansionaticum, pro- 
nounced first masinatico, and then became maisnage. Mansion- 
aticum is a derivative of mansionem, F. maison, a house, and the 
F. verb menager, to look after, administer, or manage everything 
connected with the house. The word menagerie was applied not 
so much to domestic administration as to the management of 
cattle on a cattle farm, and afterwards both in French and English 
exclusively to a travelling show of wild and foreign animals, also 
a collection of them kept for the purpose of exhibition. 1 



1 Manage also comes to us from 
the Latin through the French, and 



although sometimes confounded in 
spelling with menage, has really 



78 SIGNIFICANT ETYMOLOGY. 

Leaving the Felidce, or cat tribe, we now come to the Canidae, 
or dog tribe, from L. canis, a dog, including all those whose type 
is the common dog. It is remarkable, though, that the name of 
dog does not occur in AS., but we find dog in Dutch and dogge in 
German. I do not think that dogs had been at an early period held 
in very high esteem in our country, for the words and phrases into 
which it enters are not generally complimentary : dogged, as 
applied to all the animals of this tribe, is in one sense compli- 
mentary, and certainly appropriate enough; but when you use it 
in a metaphorical sense, dogged means sullen, like an angry dog. 
Dog cheap, again, does not mean cheap as dogs' meat, as is gener- 
ally taken for granted, but as dogs themselves, showing the low 
estimate which, even pecuniarily, was formed of them. Doggerel, 
in regular measures in burlesque poetry, is named from dog, in 
contempt. The word is found first in Chaucer : the host objects 
to "Sir Thomas" as rym doggerel, using the term, however, as 
a kind of quotation "this may well be rym doggerel" i.e., 
"this must be the rhyme doggerel that I have heard tell of." 
Dog -Latin is bad Latin, or perhaps mongrel Latin, or, as 
mongrel signifies, of a mixed breed. The dog's letter, meaning 
the letter R, from the sound made by the dog in drawing up 
its nose and uttering a sound between its teeth, like the rough 
pronunciation of the letter r, nar, nar, this we call snarl or 
growl. Probably dodging, signifying shifting, scheming, tricky, 
comes from the way in which a dog wanders in his courses 
and eludes your vigilance when he wishes to escape your 
notice, so that he may well be regarded as the original "artful 
dodger." 

Dogmatism, which almost every one knows has no connection 
with this animal, was cleverly and punningly associated with it in 
Douglas Jerrold's answer to the question, What is Dogmatism 1 ? 
"Puppyism come to its full growth," this latter word signifying con- 
ceit in young men ; while a puppy is the common name given to a 



nothing in common with it, the 
F. being manege, which signified 
literally the handling or managing 
of a horse (L. manus, the hand), 



and then it came to signify the 
careful and skilful treatment of 
anything, such as a house, or affairs 
in general. 



THE ANIMAL KINGDOM. 



79 



very young dog, sometimes called a whelp. The word hound was 
originally applied to the dog generally, from the AS. hund, and 
the term greyhound has no reference to the colour, but is in reality 
the Icelandic word grig, a dog, the whole word meaning doghound. 
It is akin to the Gr. kuon, kunos, and to the L. canis, dog. From 
both of these we have derivations in English. From kunos 1 we 
have cynic and cynical, meaning doglike, surly, snarly, contempt- 
uous ; while from L. canis, a dog, we have canine, like or pertain- 
ing to a dog ; while the word kennel is through the OF. chenil, 
and low L. and It. canile, a place where dogs are kept from 
canis, a dog, a house or coop for dogs. The words dog, hound, 
whelp, puppy, and cur, are all terms of contempt when applied to 
men. The word cur, as applied to a worthless degenerate dog, is 
said to come from the Dan. kurre, from its growls, or, as we some- 
times say, gurring. This is probable enough. It may have been, 
however, that it came from the word curtail, originally, perhaps, 
curt-tail, from the word curtus, short, and the F. tailler, to cut. 
According to the old Forest Laws, dogs which did not belong to 
the lord of the manor were ordered to be mutilated by having 
their ears cropped or their tails shortened. These were at one 
time called curtals, or curtal dogs. It may have been in course of 
time that the word as well as the tail was shortened, and cur, 
instead of curt, became the name for a dog. In writing thus of 
cur and dog, I am reminded of the now obsolete verb condog, 
which is generally believed to be a whimsical imitation of the 
word concur, although no evidence has been found of its actual 
origin. There is a tradition that when Dr Adam Littleton was 
completing his Latin-English Dictionary, published in 1678, he 



1 From kunos we have also cyno- 
sure, which signifies literally the 
dog's tail (from Gr. kuon, kunos, 
a dog, and oura, a tail), which 
is the name given to the constella- 
tion called the Lesser Bear, or 
rather to the three stars composing 
the tail of it, the last of the three 
being the pole star, or north star, 
as we often term it, and which, 
speaking generally, is the centre of 



attraction to the magnet. It was the 
star by which seamen used formerly 
to steer, and consequently for which 
they were on the outlook. And 
so it has come to mean anything 
which strongly attracts our atten- 
tion, or which becomes a centre 
of attraction, as when Milton 
says in "L' Allegro," "where per- 
haps some beauty lies, the cynosure 
of neighbouring eyes." 



80 



SIGNIFICANT ETYMOLOGY. 



employed an amanuensis, who wrote at his dictation, and when 
they came to concurro, the amanuensis said " to concur, I sup- 
pose, sir]" "To condog, I suppose, sir," was the Doctor's reply, 
and accordingly " condog " was set down. I had always been 
sceptical of the truth of that story, but now on looking whether the 
word is given in Murray's English Dictionary, I find the word 
"condog" with a reference to the tradition I have quoted; but 
for all that, the story must have been a pure fiction, for we find 
instances of the use of the verb in Lyly's Galatea, published in 
1592 ; in Cockeram's Dictionary, 1623 ; in Heywood's Eoyal 
King, 1637; and in the News Letter of 1649; and last of all 
in Littleton's English Dictionary, 1678, "concurro, to concur, to 
condog." 

I have said that the association of dog with different words 
generally gives them a degraded or inferior character, whether 
animals or plants : the only exception is in the astronomical 
world, where the dog -star, otherwise called Sirius or Canicula 
(from L. cants, a dog), is the brightest and apparently the largest 
of the fixed stars ; and the dog-days are the forty days, twenty 
before and twenty after the day on which the dog -star rises at 
the same moment as the sun, sometime between the 3rd of July 
and the llth of August. These were called dog-days, and being 
the hottest season of the year it was supposed that these were 
so named because on these days dogs frequently went mad. This 
madness of a dog is called hydrophobia (Gr. hudor, 1 water, and 

1 From Gr. hudor, hudatos, water, 
we have the word dropsy (origin- 
ally spelt hydropsy), being an un- 
natural collection of serous (watery) 
fluid in the body, as in dropsical 
diseases of the head, the abdomen, 
or the cellular tissue. Hydraulics 
(from Gr. aulos, a pipe or tube) is 
the science of the motion of fluids 
(through pipes or tubes). Hydro- 



dynamics treats of force (Gr. dyna- 
mics) applied to fluids. Hydro- 
statics relates to the pressure and 
equilibrium of non - elastic fluids 
like water. Hydrogen is a very 
light gas, forming about one-ninth 



part of common water. Hydro- 
pathy, water - cure. The hydra 
was a fabulous water serpent said 
to have been killed by Hercules. 
A new head had always up to his 
time grown on when the old was cut 
off: hence some evils are spoken 
of as many - headed hydras. A 
hydrant is a machine for discharg- 
ing water. A hydatid is a watery 
cyst or vesicle, sometimes found in 
animal bodies, fromhudatos (the geni- 
tive of hudor, water). Hydrangea, 
literally " the water vessel," so called 
from the cup - shaped seed - vessel 
(anggeion, a vessel). 



THE ANIMAL KINGDOM. 81 

phobos, fear), from the unnatural dread of water which the animal 
manifests, especially if the disease results from the bite of another 
mad dog. A very clever answer was given by a Scotch clergyman 
who, when asked by a gentleman if he knew why Sirius was called 
the dog-star, replied, " I suppose it is because it is a Skye terrier " 
(i.e., a sky-tamer). The names given to the different kinds of dogs 
are very interesting. This name terrier comes from L. terra, the 
earth, because he pursues animals to their earth or burrow. The 
spaniel, which was once believed to be of Spanish origin, received its 
name on that account (from old Ger. espagnol, F. epagneul, spaniel). 
A poodle was long supposed to be so called because it waddled 
after its master, or looked fat and clumsy on account of its thick 
hair, being allied to the low Ger. word pudeln, to waddle, used of 
fat persons and short-legged animals ; but it has been pointed out 
that the poodle is neither peculiarly fat nor short-legged, neither 
has he a waddling gait. He is properly a water dog, and a more 
satisfactory origin of the name may be found in the Dut. poedele, 
to puddle in water, whence poedel-hond, a poodle or rough water 
dog. Probably the word puddle (any small pool of muddy water) 
has the same origin, or from putteln, puhteln, to paddle with the 
hands in water, while to puddle clay is to make it up with water, 
and we have the Ger. pudel, signifying nass, wet thoroughly. 

Among the Canidae or dog set, and certainly among the most 
ferocious of the carnivora, we must include the hyaena, as having 
more points of resemblance than of difference. This bristly-maned 
brute, however, is so named from its likeness to the sow, for its 
L. and Gr. name hyaina, literally sow-like, comes from the Gr. hys, 
a sow. 

Very different in many respects from all the carnivora of which 
we have spoken, yet as being carnivorous to be included among 
them, are the amphibious tribe of the Phocidae. This word 
phocidae comes from the L. phoca, or Gr. phoke, a seal, and in- 
cludes what are called the seal family. They are called amphibi- 
ous, as capable of living both on land and under water (from 
Gr. amphi, both, and bios, life). The English word seal is only 
slightly changed from the AS., Icel., and old Ger. forms of th- s 

p 



82 SIGNIFICANT ETYMOLOGY. 

word. One of the family is the walrus, literally the "whale 
horse," from the Ger. wall-ross (wall, a whale, and ross, a horse), 
and generally called by us the sea-horse. The other name which 
is applied to it viz., that of morse is from the Russian word for 
the walrus viz., morjs. 

(6) Cetacea (animals partaking of the character of the whale), 
from Gr. Jceton, a whale. The English word is AS. hwael, sup- 
posed without much reason to come from AS. hwelan, to rush or 
roar (Ger. is wallfisch), the largest of sea animals, or of all living 
creatures. Other members of this order are the dolphin (Gr. 
delphin, L. delphinus) : the word has assumed the form it has in 
our language through the OF. daulphin. The dolphin is the fish 
so famed in classic story as the friend, and, as far as he could be, 
the companion of man. When Arion was doomed by the sailors 
to be thrown into the sea, a dolphin, charmed with the music of 
his funeral-song, received him on its back and bore him safely to 
Sparta. It was for this proof of philanthropy (of which, however, 
he furnished no subsequent example) that, as some say, the dolphin 
was placed among the stars, along with his friend Arion or Orion, 
who exhibits one of the noblest constellations in the heavens. 
Others say the dolphin was placed in the sky because his fondness 
for music made him the favourite of Apollo, who assumed the 
shape of that fish when conducting Castalius and his colony from 
the island of Crete. A temple was erected to Apollo Delphinus, 
and the Delphinia were feasts which the inhabitants of uEgina 
held in honour of the god. The dolphin was therefore a sacred 
fish, and the ten stars in that constellation, first observed by the 
early astronomers, were considered as a representation of Apollo 
and the nine Muses. The Greek delphax signified a pig or young 
swine, and delphin meant not only a dolphin, but also a large 
lump of lead, or of iron, which was thrown upon an enemy's ship 
for the purpose of sinking it. This was called pig-lead or pig- 
iron ; and, strangely enough, we still talk of pig-iron, which has 
with us received that name because it is made to flow, when 
melted, in channels called pigs, branching from a main channel 
the sow. The grampus, a very large voracious fish of the 



THE ANIMAL KINGDOM. 



83 



same family, is a corruption, after passing through many languages, 
of the L. grandis piscis (grandis, great, and piscis, a fish). The 
porpoise, or porpess, OF. poiyeis, signifies literally the hog -fish. 
The Germans call it me&r-schicein that is, sea-swine, sea-hog. 
The name comes originally from L. porcus, a hog, from. its hog- 
like appearance in the water, or from the fact that when its food 
is scarce it dives, and, like the hog, burrows for sea-worms in the 
sand. 

(7) Rodentia (gnawing animals), from rodens, rodentis, pres. part, 
of L. rodo, 1 to gnaw, are so called because they are furnished with 
teeth which do not directly cut or tear, but file through or gnaw 
what they are disposed to eat The powers of the common mouse 
in eating its way through hard wood are only too well known. 
They are divided into seven families, of which the best known 
are the Sciuridae, or squirrel tribe, from L. sciurus, a squirrel, in 
. Gr. skiouros (from skia, a shade or shadow, and oura, a tail lit. 
shadow-tail), because they shade themselves with their tails. The 
dormouse is so called from L. dormire, to sleep (from which we 
have also dormant and dormitory), and mus, a mouse, because 
it goes to sleep in winter, or hibernates, from L. hiberna, winter 
quarters (from hiems, winter). While it resembles the squirrel 
in its tail, it is like a mouse in its dentition ; and the marmot 
in all probability derives its name, not, as has almost been taken 
for granted, from It. marmotto, from L. mus, a mouse, and mons, 
montis, a mountain (signifying literally a mountain -mouse), but 
from the F. marmotter, to mutter, from the peculiar muttering 
sound which they make when they are feeding. This derivation 
is confirmed by the German name for the marmot, murmel-thier 
" the murmuring animal." 

The Muridae, or the mouse family, are so called from the L. 
mus, muris, a mouse : it is literally the stealing animal, as we 
find it called in Sans, musha (applied also to a rat), possible 



1 Rodo, rosi, rosum, rodtre, gives 
us not merely such words as 
rodents and rodentia, but cor- 
rode, to eat or waste away. 
Acids are corroding or corrosive 



substances. Rust is a sort of cor- 
rosion. Erosion means the eating 
or wearing away. Cancer erodes 
the flesh. The action of glaciers 
is erosive. 



84 SIGNIFICANT ETYMOLOGY. 

root, mus, to steal, as seen in Sans, mush, to steal. The word rat 
is more suggestive of the animal's gnawing than of its thieving 
peculiarities. It is called raet in AS., cognate with Ger. ratte and 
Gael, radan, but probably all allied to the L. word we have con- 
sidered above viz., rodo, to gnaw. This also seems the idea in 
the Scotch word "rottan." The word rat has also come to be 
used figuratively for a renegade through self-interest, as rats are 
said to desert a falling house or a sinking ship ; and so we find it 
used in politics to express a deserter, and among trades unionists 
a workman accepting lower than the union rate, or working when 
his mates have struck ; and so the verb to ratten has been formed, 
and is used in the sense of to destroy tools and appliances, to 
intimidate fellow workmen (or masters), to lock out employees, 
or engage non-union (or free) labour. 

The family of the Hystricidae are recognised at the first glance 
by the stiff and pointed quills with which they are armed, the Gr. 
name of hystrix being derived from the two Greek words hys, a 
swine, and thrix, hair or bristles. It is the Porcupine family, a 
name which is corrupted from the OF. porc-epin, " the spiny hog," 
and from L. porcits, a pig, and spina, a spine, expressive of the 
pig-like aspect and grunting voice of these animals, as well as of 
their spiny covering. 

The last family of the Rodentia is the Leporidse, from the Latin 
name for the typical members of this group viz., lepus, leporis, a 
hare. Its AS. name is hara. There was an old English verb to 
hare (from the OF. harier), to frighten, so as to make one run 
heedlessly or wildly, like a hare. In another spelling it was to 
harry, which was the precursor of the modern verb to hurry. 
Hurry is haste, either in flight or in other active motions, accom- 
panied with that confusion of mind which attaches to a timid 
animal fleeing -from its pursuers. It is characteristic of a person 
having such a habitual temperament that we call him hare- 
brained, or harum-scarum, like a scared hare. The AS. form 
stands for an older form, Jiasa (s and r being often interchange- 
able), as shown by the Dut. haas, Ger. hose, and Sans, hasa, 
a hare, lit. a jumper, all the forms being from a root has, to 



THE ANIMAL KINGDOM. 85 

jump, to move along by leaping, and so connected with the English 
word haste. Haste and hurry are, then, words of kindred origin 
which have taken different departments of the language. Among 
dogs we have those called harriers, because they are employed in 
chasing hares. Some children are born with the upper lip cleft 
in two, which from its similarity to that of a hare is called a 
hare-lip. The Ger. word is hasen-scharte i.e., a hair-notch or 
slit ; and in some parts of Scotland it is called a hairshaw or 
hareshaw, being a corruption of hare-schard, as being a gap, 
fissure, or shard, like the lip of a hare. The word leveret signifies 
a young hare under a year old, through the OF. levrault and mod. 
F. lievre, from L. lepus, leporis. The word rabbit existed in ME. 
in the form of rabet, and although it is alleged that no reason can 
be shown for that name being given to it, yet I think a fair 
etymology would be from the Hebrew rabbe, to multiply, from 
their great fecundity. The Welsh rabbit is not only not a dis- 
tinct species of rabbit, but is of an entirely different genus, being, 
according to Trench and others, a corruption of rare-bit ; but until 
the archbishop made the suggestion no evidence was produced 
of rare-bit having been ever so used. Since that time, however, 
some superfine restaurateurs have displayed their learning by 
admitting " Welsh rabbits " into their mentis, but in the bills of 
fare of mere eating-houses it is still vulgar rabbit. It is the name 
for a dish of toasted cheese, and is supposed to have originated, 
like many other slang expressions, from some dainty article of 
food which it was humorously supposed to equal or surpass. 

(8) Edentata (animals without front teeth), from the L. e, out 
of, or without, and dens, dentis, a tooth. Theirs is the negative 
agreement of " no incisor teeth." Of these animals the armadillo 
is the chief. It derives its name from the Sp. diminutive of 
armado, armed (from L. armdtus), because its body is armed with 
a tesselated shell or scales fitted together into squares, like stones 
in a pavement (from L. tessella, dimin. of tessera, a square piece). 
The sloth belongs to this order, and from his tardigrade or tardy 
steps (L. tardus, slow, and gradus, a step) it is seen how well he 
deserves his name viz., from the slowness of his movements. 



86 



SIGNIFICANT ETYMOLOGY. 



Sloth signifies literally " slowness," and should be pronounced long, 
in order to feel the full significance of the word. With the order 
of the Edentata terminates the series of the unguiculated, or clawed, 
true mammalia from L. unguis, a nail or claw, and claw being 
connected with cleave, to stick to, or hold on. 

(9) Pachydermata (thick-skinned animals), from Gr. pachys, 
thick, literally firm, from root pak, and Gr. derma, dermatos, the 
skin. These are divided into three groups: (1) Proboscidea ; (2) 
true PachydermSta ; (3) the Solidungula. (1) The Proboscidea, 
or literally "the front feeders," of which the elephant is the repre- 
sentative. The elongated nose or proboscis comes from the Gr. 
proboskis, from pro, in front, and bosko (L. pasco), to feed. The 
name of elephant is also from the Gr. elephas, elephantos, supposed 
to be from the Heb. elepli or aleph, an ox ; for the Gr. alpha, the first 
letter of the Greek alphabet, comes from Heb. aleph, an ox, which in 
its original shape resembled an ox's head. (2) The true Pachy- 
dermata, the first family of these is that of Suidae, the pig kind, 
from L. sus, a sow. Of swine in general we have already spoken, 
and we select as a representative the hippopotamus, or river horse, 
from Gr. hippos, 1 a horse, and potamos, a river. Among the true 
pachydermdta is certainly to be included the rhinoceros, an animal 
with a very thick skin and two horns on the nose hence the 
name, Gr. rhinokeros, from rhin, rhinos, the nose, and keras, a 
horn. (3) Solidungula, from L. ungulus, a hoof = having a solid 
hoof, including the horse, the ass, and the zebra. The horse is 
called in AS. hors, in Icel. hross, in old Ger. hros, and in Gr. ra?& 
The word is supposed to be taken from the Sans, hresh, to 
neigh; but more probably connected with the L. curro, cur sum, 
to run, a swift horse being still with us called a courser. 
Manger, an eating-trough for horses or cattle (from the F. man- 
geoire, from manger, to eat, from L. manducus, a glutton, from 
mando, mansi, mansum, mandere, to chew) ; from this word also 



1 From hippos we have in a round- 
about way the word philippic, mean- 
ing a discourse full of invective, 
this being the name given to one 
of the orations of Demosthenes 



against Philip of Macedon : now 
Philip (in Greek) is Philippos, and 
Philippos signifies a lover of 
horses (philos, a lover, and hippos, 
a horse). 



THE ANIMAL KINGDOM. 87 

we have mandible (L. mandibulum, the jaw), the upper and lower 
part of the beak of a bird. The word neigh, as describing the cry 
of the horse, is from the AS. verb kncegan. The Scotch word 
nicher is from the same root ; and probably the word nag, the 
name especially of a small horse, may have had the same origin. 
From the Latin name for horse, equus, we have the words equine and 
equestrian, but not equip, as is sometimes taken for granted, for 
it, as well as equipage and equipment are from the F. equipei', 
originally esquiper, which signifies properly to provide a ship with 
all that is necessary for its outfit. It originally signified " to quit 
the river and take to the sea," and came from the subst. esquif, 
OF. eschtf. This primitive is the OH.Ger. skif, Goth, and AS. skip, 
and modern Ger. schiff. The pastern is that part of the horse's 
foot from the fetlock to the hoof, where the shackle is fastened, 
and comes from the OF. pasturon (F. paturori), from OF. pasture, a 
tether for a horse at pasture. The fetlock is the tuft of hair that 
grows behind on horses' feet, or the part where this hair grows, 
from root of foot and lock (AS. loce, a tuft of hair). Where wool 
is concerned it is called a flock, not from a flock of sheep, but from 
the OF. floe, from L. floccus, a flock of wool. Only one other part 
of a horse I must mention viz., the withers, the place where the 
two shoulder-blades approach each other between the neck and the 
breast. A piece of iron placed on the under part of the frame of 
the saddle, a little above the withers, to keep the two pieces of 
wood that form the bow tight, is called the wither-band. A 
defect in the construction of this part of the saddle is apt to gall 
the horse, and it is when hurt in this place that he is said to be 
wither-wrung. He then winces that is, twists his body from 
pain and attempts to throw his rider. Shakespeare applies this 
action metaphorically, " Let the galled jade wince, our withers are 
un wrung." It has been said, indeed, that the word comes from the 
Saxon word withan, to join ; but there are no traces of any such 
Saxon word having ever existed. There is evidence, however, of 
the AS. mthre, resistance, and also AS. wither, against. Now 
it is supposed that withers have been so called because they are 
the part which the horse opposes to his load, or on which the stress 



88 SIGNIFICANT ETYMOLOGY. 

of the collar comes in drawing. May they not have received the 
name in consequence of their being opposite or opposed to each 
other at the place where they approach each other? This ety- 
mology is rather confirmed by the modern Ger. word wider-rist for 
" withers," where rist signifies not only the wrist, or back of the 
hand, or instep, but the withers of a horse. 

The colours also of horses are various ; we have, for instance, 
dapple-grey and dapple-bay. It is usual to connect this word 
dapple with the English word dimple, a small hollow, while the 
verb signifies to mark with dimples ; but there is evidently a close 
connection with the word apple so that to dapple ought to 
signify to cover with round or apple-like spots ; and this is con- 
firmed when we find in French the word pommeler (from the F. 
pomme, an apple, L. pomum) signifying the same thing, to mark 
with spots in the form of a ball ; while we find also in German 
ye-apfelt, dappled (lit., dapplet), and apfel schimmel, a dapple-grey 
horse. "We have also horses described as bay. This word comes 
from the L. badius, signifying chestnut-brown, and appears in It. 
as baio, Sp. bayo, and F. bai, brown or chestnut-brown. A sorrel 
has nothing to do with the plant of that name, either in colour or 
in etymology. It indicates a colour between red and yellow, and 
lighter than a light bay. It is the colour indicated by the F. sauve, 
and seems to have some connection with, if it be not derived from, 
the English sere and yellow. There is also the colour called 
roan. A roan horse is either a bay, or sorrel, or of a dull colour, 
but thickly interspersed with grey or white hairs. The word 
comes from the F. rouan or roan, It. roano, of unknown origin 
according to Littre, but why not from the Ger. rot, red, or from 
the radical rub of the L. ruber, red 1 The Germans translate rouan 
as well by the red horse as by the grey horse. 

Palfrey. The most natural derivation of this word would be to 
regard it as a contraction of the French words par le frein, by the 
bridle (L. frcenwri), a horse used on state occasions, and distin- 
guished from the war horse ; a horse led by the bridle, menu par le 
frein. It is evident that the Sp. palafren and the It. palafreno have 
been formed on the supposition that the word came from frenum, a 



THE ANIMAL KINGDOM. 89 

bridle. But another derivation which goes much farther back has 
still stronger claims. The modern F. palefroi and the OF. pale- 
froid connect the word very closely with the low L. parafredus or 
palefridus. This last is an alteration of the L. paraveredtis, an 
extra horse, which comes from Gr. para, beside, and L. veredus, a 
swift-paced horse, or a horse meant for extra service. It is therefore 
supposed, with good reason, that paraveredus is also the source of 
the German pferd (OH.Ger. pherit), a horse. The change of r into I 
is habitual. 

Hobby-horse seems to come from the OF. hobin, the French name 
given to a strong little active Scotch horse with an ambling gait 
i.?., moving up and down. The name was afterwards given to 
the stick on which young boys place themselves astride, and ride 
in play, and by-and-by to the figure of a horse on which boys 
delight to ride, and which has been called a hobby-horse ; and 
later on, in consequence of the pleasure which boys took in this, 
for them, favourite enjoyment, it came to signify the favourite 
object or sole pursuit of any one, and was called his hobby. 

Stalking-horse. To stalk (AS. stealcian, to go warily, Dan. 
stalke), to stride, to go along softly ; and a stalking-horse was a horse 
which was trained to walk with long slow steps and so as to pretend 
to be eating, while the sportsmen behind him or on the off-side shot 
at their game, and so the phrase came gradually to have its present 
meaning of a mask or pretence. 

The word mare is the AS. mere, the feminine of mearh, a horse, 
cognate with Ger. mehre ; and foal is the AS. fola, Ger. fohlen, 
Gr. polos, L. puttus (pulla, feminine), probably a contraction of 
puellus, diminutive of fmer, a boy ; while colt is simply the AS. 
word unchanged. 

The ass is not only a well-known animal throughout all the 
world, but the name itself, probably originally Semitic, has spread 
into all the European languages. The AS. word was assa, L. 
asinus, Ger. esel. It is a diminutive in all languages but the 
English, which has, however, introduced another diminutive for 
the same animal viz., donkey, which is supposed to be a double 
diminutive of the word dun (AS.), being of a dark colour, partly 



90 SIGNIFICANT ETYMOLOGY. 

brown and partly black dun-ik-ie. If this be the origin of the 
word donkey, it is strange that the pronunciation should be 
dong-key, whereas monkey, supposed as we have seen to be 
from mon, at least should be pronounced mungJci. In the Hew 
English Dictionary it is said that donkey is a recent word, ap- 
parently of dialect or slang origin, and that the original pro- 
nunciation apparently rhymed with monkey (whence the spelling). 
Suggestions have been made that the word is a derivative of dun 
(adj.), or more probably a familiar form of Duncan. In a lecture 
delivered in the Town Hall, Hawick, on " The World of Words," 
by the editor of the Dictionary, Dr J. A. H. Murray, of which a 
brief report appeared in 'The Scotsman ' of 20th September 1906, 
he adopts the latter suggestion as his own, and says that " donkey 
was slang in the beginning of the nineteenth century and is now 
colloquial. It was the colloquial form of the word Duncan, and 
probably the name of some one's ass." Pannier, through F. panier 
and low L. panarium, a bread-basket, from L. panis, bread, origin- 
ally a basket, and one of considerable size, for carrying provisions ; 
but latterly restricted to those carried by a donkey or other beasts 
of burden, usually in pairs, one on each side slung across the back, 
each of which is called a pannier. From the ass's hide when dry, 
especially that portion above the tail, as being the firmest, is made 
a rough-grained leather, used in this country as a rasp or file for 
wood, &c. From its employment in the arts as a species of file, 
it has come metaphorically to be applied to the mind, and we 
speak of chagrin when we mean a state of vexation and f retfulness. 
In French there is only one word chagrin for both. In It. we have 
zigrino, in Rom. sagrino all possibly derived from the Turkish 
word sagri, the name they give to the rump of the ass, while the 
Arabs call it zargab. The common idea that a shagreen case, say 
for a pair of spectacles, was so called from its colour, is absurd. 
Though the substance is extremely hard, it becomes soft and 
pliable when steeped in water, and may be dyed of various colours, 
and frequently may have been dyed green as well as red, &c. 

The persons who cure the diseases and repair the accidents and 
injuries of horses, cows, and other animals are called veterinary 



THE ANIMAL KINGDOM. 



91 



surgeons, and some have supposed that this word has come from 
L. vetus, veteris, old, ancient, from the " vet " having had to deal 
originally with broken-down and worn-out animals, which he was 
to doctor up, But the word is an English form of the L. word 
veterinarim, which signified a veterinary surgeon, and comes from 
veterinus, a contraction of veheterinus, from veho, 1 to carry, from 
which also we have vehicle and such like, implying that at first 
he attended to those animals which were beasts of burden, or were 
employed in carriages of different kinds. 

(10) Ruminantia (ruminating animals). The animals of this 
order are so called from the L. verb ruminor, to ruminate. They 
have four stomachs. The first of these, called in L. rumen (mean- 
ing throat or gullet), is capable of containing a large store of 
grass or vegetable food, which the animal swallows, in the first 
instance, without mastication or chewing. In the second stomach 
this matter is formed into pellets, which, when duly macerated 
(L. macero, to steep), the animal has power to bring back into its 
mouth and thoroughly to chew. This process is called ruminating, 
or chewing the cud, from the name L. rumen, English cud, given 
to the second stomach, from which it is thrown back into the 
mouth to be chewed. After this rumination the food is passed 
into the third stomach, and thence into the fourth stomach, where 
it is digested. When we speak, therefore, of animals chewing the 
cud, we mean something like chewing a quid, indeed, in all proba- 
bility, the quid and the cud have the same origin in an old past 
participle of chew, cheiced or cud. Without chewing the cud the 
animal could not get the good of the food which he had swallowed ; 
and so, metaphorically, without rumination, without thinking over 
and over again what he has heard or read, without pondering and 
musing over it, it would do a man very little good, and so the poet 
speaks of "retiring, full of rumination, sad." Many may be 



1 From veho, vexi, vectum, vehere, 
to carry, we have, as I said, vehicle, 
and such like ; but we have also 
vehement, a person who is carried 
away by his impetuosity, rage, or 
energy. We have also to vex, 



vexatious. We have convex. To 
inveigh is to attack in words, to 
declaim in speech or write vehe- 
mently against. An invective is 
usually directed against character 
and conduct. 



92 



SIGNIFICANT ETYMOLOGY. 



surprised that we do not quote Shakespeare rather than Thomson, 
for it would be far more appropriate to quote " chewing the cud 
of sweet and bitter fancy," as most of us believe it to read; 
but on turning up the passage and looking out for various readings, 
we found the uniform reading to be, " chewing the food of sweet 
and bitter fancy." The Ruminantia are perhaps of all animals the 
most useful to man. But beyond the name of the order, which we 
have just considered, there are few names of any special signifi- 
cance, as most of them are AS. and monosyllabic, and scarcely 
admit of tracing their etymology farther back. Among the deer, 
however, there are one or two names which have a special signifi- 
cance. The word deer itself, from Ger. tkier, a wild beast, was at 
that time the name for wild animals in general, Shakespeare in 
" King Lear" speaks of "rats and mice and such small deer," and 
gradually came to be specialised in this country for the deer, not as 
being the wildest, in the sense of ferocious, but as being the most 
easily frightened, and so the wildest, as being the most readily 
startled and as running the fastest. 1 The reindeer is the name 
given to a species in the north which are valuable for the chase 
and for domestic use. It is supposed by some to be derived from 
the Lap. reino, pasture, by others from Ger. rennen, to run, but I 
think with a certain likelihood from rein, the strap of a bridle, an 
instrument of curb or governing, from L. retento, to hold back (re, 
back, and teneo), because it is a species of deer employed for 
drawing burdens and harnessed accordingly. That it was at one 
time spelt ranedeer and raindeer is no argument against this, for 
when the word was so spelled our spelling was unsettled. The name 
of hart for the stag or male deer signifies literally "a horned 
animal," from AS. heort. Of the word antlers there is no 
satisfactory etymology ; but hartshorn, the name still frequently 
given to a solution of ammonia, was first obtained by boiling the 
raspings or shavings of a hart's horn in water for a considerable 



1 The flesh of the deer when 
killed is called venison (F. venaison), 
from L. venario (venor, atus, dri, to 
hunt) ; just as we see that the 
sheep when killed and cooked be- 



comes mutton. As the parsimoni- 
ous Jewish father said to his ex- 
travagant Jewish son, " I prefer 
mutton because it is sheap, you 
prefer venison because it is dear." 



THE ANIMAL KINGDOM. 93 

time. Hartshorn jelly was produced, and by distillation of this 
an ammoniacal liquor was procured, which, freed from its oil and 
rendered liquid by successive distillations, is commonly called 
"spirits of hartshorn." It is a carbonate of ammonia dissolved 
in water, which when saturated deposits the carbonate in the form 
of a salt, usually termed salts of hartshorn, or volatile salts. The 
name of ammonia was given to this pungent gas from being first 
obtained from sal ammoniac, a smelling salt near the temple of 
Jupiter Ammon. 

The silvery-footed antelope, a beautiful creature, partly like 
a deer and partly like a goat, derives its name from the beauty 
of its eyes (Gr. anthos, beauty, and ops, the eye). The name 
of gazelle, given to a small species of antelope with beautiful 
dark eyes, is so called from the Arabic ghazal, which signifies 
a wild goat; while the word buffalo comes through Sp. bufalo, 
from L. bubaliis, and Gr. boubalos; the word ox, from Gr. bous, 
an ox; and bull, of somewhat uncertain etymology, is certainly 
connected with AS. bellan, to bellow. The dromedary is so 
named from its speed. The low L. dromedarius is from the 
Gr. dramas, dromados, running, from the root drem, to run, from 
which also we have hippodrome (Gr. hippos, a horse, and dromos, 
a running-course), a circus, a horse and chariot racing-ground. 

(11) The Marsupialia (animals carrying the young in a pouch), 
from L. marsupium, and Gr. marsupion, a pouch. Kangaroo 
and opossum, both Australian and American names. Nearly 
one hundred years ago, when Australia -w,*&":uGi, so well Known 
as it is now, and when limitary emigrants were very few, 
although re?.:Uj of the productiveness of the great island had 
from time to time come back, a countryman of our own intimated 
to a neighbour his intention of going to Australia to make his 
fortune. When his friend remarked that there was nothing 
there but kangaroos, his reply was, " An' isna a kangaroo's siller 
as good as any other man's?" He had evidently heard of the 
pouches of the kangaroos being well filled. 

(12) Monotremata (having one excretory opening), from Gr. 
monos, one, and trema, tremdtos, an opening thus resembling 



94 



SIGNIFICANT ETYMOLOGY. 



birds. The chief animal in this class is the ornithorynchus, an 
animal in Australia with a body like an otter and a snout like the 
bill of a duck, also called duck-bill, lit. "bird-snout," from Gr. 
ornis, ornithos, a bird, rhynchos, a snout. 



Class 2. Aves x (Birds). 

The science of Birds is generally spoken of as Ornithology, 
from Gr. ornis, ornithos, a bird, and logos, a discourse on, or the 
science of, birds. There are several orders in this class. 

(1) Incessores, from L. incedo, to walk slowly or stately. 
These include the crow, so named from the croaking sound 
it makes, and the AS. and Scotch are still nearer that sound, 
crawe and craw. The magpie is a chattering bird of the same 
genus as the crow, with pied or coloured feathers. The word is 
composed of Mag, a familiar abbreviation of Margaret, and pie, 
from the L. pica, a magpie, from pingo, pictum, to paint. The 
word pica is akin to L. picus, a woodpecker. The word pied 
means variegated, like a magpie, and piebald means of various 
colours and patches. It is for pie-balled, literally streaked like 
the magpie, from pie, and Welsh and Celtic bal, a streak or white 
spot on a horse's forehead. The Scotch word is pyat. The 
thrush or throstle is the bird called the mavis (F. mauvis, 
probably from Breton milfid, a mavis), a song-bird of remarkable 
pi/>.~J> -cognate -wjth, Ger. drossel and L. turdus, a thrush. Our 
hedge-sparrow is a member 01 ui> thrush family, and the word 
sparrow is in L. passer, evidently from a root, ^presented by 
Gr. psaros, "brown ash-coloured." From psaros come also by 
confusion of consonants p*ar = Ger. staar, starling, L. sturnus. 
By a like confusion sparrow is in Gr. strouthos, which is identical 
with L. turdus, thrush, throstle, Ger. drossel. The Teutonic 
forms of sparrow are AS. speara, spearua, Icel. spore, Ger. 
sperling, spatz, Sw. sparf. What we now call the sparrow- 



1 From avis, a bird, we have 
aviary, a place where birds are 
kept, auspices (see p. 10), bustard 
(F. outarde), for avis tarda, a slow 



bird, the initial t being dropped. 
Ostrich is from avis and struthio, 
the Gr. for ostrich being strou- 
thion. (Seep. 100.) 



THE ANIMAL KINGDOM. 95 

hawk is not specially a sparrow-hunter, but a brown ash-coloured 
hawk. The AS. is spear -hafoc, sperhauk in 'Piers Plough- 
man,' vi. 199, and in Spelman, as late as 1687, sparhauk, F. 
epervier. A starling, also called a stare, is in AS. staer, translated 
by ^Elfric, turdus, sturnus ; and in the Lindisfarne Gospels, 
Matth. x. 29 and Luke xii. 6, sparrows are staras. It is thus 
plain the sparrow, the starling, the thrush, and the sparhauk, 
being all of one colour, derive their English, Greek, and Latin 
names from one root. Bulbul is said to be the name of the 
Persian nightingale, and according to Archbishop Whately, the 
feminine of bulbul is the coo-koo ! (cuckoo). This is surpassed, 
however, by another question and answer of the same prelate, 
viz., "What is the feminine of John Doreyl" Answer "Anne- 
chovy." There is a singing -bird called specially the warbler. 
To icarble is to sing in a vibratory manner, from OF. warbler, 
to warble, to make turns with the voice, from Ger. wirbeln, to 
make a turn. The word nightingale is the AS. nihtegale, from 
niht, night, and galan to sing, Ger. ndchtigall. The kingfisher 
is a bird with very brilliant or kingly plumage, which feeds on 
fish frequently called the halcyon, because it was at one time 
believed that that bird made a floating nest on the sea, which 
remained calm while it was hatching. The word has come as an 
adjective to signify calm, peaceful, or happy; and halcyon days 
are expressive of a time of peace and happiness. The Latin 
words for the kingfisher are alcedo, used by Plautus and Varro ; 
and alcedonia (tempora), the calm season in which the kingfisher 
broods. Virgil and Ovid use alcyon, alcyonis, for the kingfisher 
itself, and Pliny speaks of alcyonides dies and Columella of 
dies alcyonei. The word alcyoneum is used by Pliny for foam 
of the sea, thus confirming the supposition of the belief of the 
Latins that the word is connected with halkyon, the Gr. word, 
from hats, the sea, and kuein, to breed or brood. It must be re- 
membered that the dropping of the aspirate is not so remarkable, 
as it is not an h in Greek, but merely an aspirate, and my 
recollection of the description which Aristotle gives of the 
halkuon applies in the main very well to the Alcedo hispida or 
kingfisher of Linnaeus. 



96 SIGNIFICANT ETYMOLOGY. 

(2) Raptores (birds of prey), from rapio, 1 to seize or snatch. 
The falcon received its name from its hooked claws. The 
French word is faitcon, from L. falco, and this from falx, a hook 
or sickle. A falconer is a person who breeds and trains falcons, 
the origin of the Scottish name of Falconer given at a time when 
they trained or hunted with falcons. The eagle F. aigle, from 
L. aguila, from root ac, sharp or swift is probably so called from 
its having a piercing eye, so much so that we speak of eagle-eyed. 
What pertains to the bird generally may be termed aquiline ; 
but this adjective is scarcely ever used, except in the phrase an 
aquiline nose, which denotes one that is curved like the beak 
of an eagle. The nest of the eagle in which she breeds is called 
the eyry, eyrie, or aerie, and sometimes applied to a brood of 
eagles. The F. is aire, from Gr. oar, an eagle, cognate with 
Icel. ari, an eagle : but our word may come from the lofty or aerial 
situation in which the nest is built, and the same name has in con- 
sequence been given to the nests of certain other birds (especially 
those of the falcon tribe) which choose the ledges of rocks or the 
summits of trees. Eagle-stones, supposed to have sanative and 
magical virtues, were called by the Greeks aetites, from the Gr. 
aetos, an eagle (or originally a standard having the effigy of an 
eagle), and were incrustated yellow clay ironstones, the nucleus 
of which, being of a different texture, had by drying become 
detached from the surrounding crust so as to rattle loosely in the 
hollow. It is this kernel, generally roundish, and often found in 
pebbles, which is properly denominated the eagle-stone, from the 
ancient belief that the eagle found it necessary to have one in her 
nest before she could lay her eggs. The superstition had prob- 
ably originated in the practice of the henwife (the woman who 



1 From rapio, rapui, raptum, 
rapere, we have rapine, the snatch- 
ing by robbers of whatever comes 
within their reach. Rapt means 
transported, or carried away by 
some elevating inspiration or de- 
lightful emotion. We read of 
"rapt Isaiah," of the raptures of 
devotion, of rapturous joys. We 
speak of rapacious birds, of the 



rapacity of pirates. To eat raven- 
ously (from raven = rapine) means 
to grasp at food and devour it 
hungrily. Rapid implies energetic 
swiftness or quick succession the 
rapidity of a bird's flight. To 
ravage is to mar and spoil. 
Ravish, to carry away . with joy 
and delight. "With ravished ears 
the monarch hears " (Dryden). 



THE ANIMAL KINGDOM. 



has charge of the poultry), who, whenever she robs the common 
hen of her eggs, always leaves one which is called a nest-egg, lest 
the fowl should either forsake her nest or cease to lay. Some 
greedy housewives cheat the hen by substituting a pebble for the 
nest-egg a trick which often answers the purpose. The word 
hawk I think was taken from the hook of its bill, hauk and 
hooked being only different forms of the same word, for hook-nosed 
differs very little, if any, from hawk-nosed. The common expression, 
" I know a hawk from a handsaw," is a little obscure, until we 
remember that handsaw is a corruption of hernshaw, originally 
a heronry, from heron (a waterfowl with long legs), and shaio, a 
wood. The word her(o)n-shaw came to signify a young heron, 
and the meaning is, "I know a hawk from a heron," "the bird of 
prey from the game flown at." The proverb means, I know one 
thing from another (Hamlet, II. ii.). The phrase, neither "hawk 
nor buzzard," means, of doubtful social position, too good for the 
kitchen but not good enough for the family. Not hawks to be 
fondled and petted like the tasselled gentlemen of the days of 
falconry; nor yet buzzards, a dull kind of falcon, synonymous 
with dunce or plebeian. In French, " N'etre ni chair ni poisson," 
"neither flesh, fowl, nor good red herring." The word buzzard 
comes through the F. busard, from L. buteo, a kind of falcon. 
The osprey, a species of eagle, is so named through a corruption 
of ossifrage, which signifies literally "the bone-breaker," L. ossi- 
fr&gus^ breaking bones (os, a bone, and frag, the root of franr/o, 1 
fregi, fractum, frangere, to break). The vulture is from the L. 



1 From this verb we derive frac- 
tion, fractionally, fractious (one 
who breaks out into bad temper), 
fractive, fragile, frail, frailty, frag- 
ment, fragmentary, frangibles, in- 
frangible. To defray expenses 
means to pay or bear them. It 
comes from the F. frais, derived 
from fractus, and means expenses, 
or from low L. fredum, a fine ; Ger. 
friede, peace. We speak of the 
infraction of public rights, and the 
infringement of minor claims, as 
when one infringes on our time or 



convenience, or upon the laws of 
good manners. Irrefragable evi- 
dence or argument is that whose 
force cannot be broken. Rays 
of light are refracted when they 
pass from one medium to another, 
and the media into which rays 
pass have different refractive 
powers according to their den- 
sity. Refractory means perverse- 
ly breaking rules and rebelling 
against control, as in the case of 
a refractory child or a refractory 
horse. 



98 



SIGNIFICANT ETYMOLOGY. 



vultur, probably from the verb vello, velli (velsi), vulsum, vellere, 1 to 
pluck or tear. The griffin strictly belongs to the vulture class, 
yet connects the falcons and the owls. They are the largest 
raptorial birds of the eastern continent, lambs, goats, chamois, 
and even children, having been carried away and devoured by 
them. Their crooked beak has secured for them their name of 
griffon in French, L. and Gr. gryps, from Gr. grypos, hook-nosed. 
Their strength and bloodthirsty character may have led to 
the creation of an imaginary animal, the offspring of the lion 
and the eagle. Its legs and all the shoulder to the head are like 
an eagle. The rest of the body is that of a lion. This creature 
was sacred to the sun, and kept guard over hidden treasures and 
golden mines ; and there was a one-eyed people of Scythia, called 
Arimaspi (from arima, one), who adorned their hair with gold, 
who were continually at war with them. To them Milton alludes 
when, in 'Paradise Lost,' ii. 943-46, he says 

" As when a gryphon through the wilderness 

Pursues the Arimaspian, who by stealth 
Had from his wakeful custody purloined 
The guarded gold." 

The owls are those carnivorous birds named from their howls. 

(3) The Scansores (or climbing birds), from the verb scando, 2 
to climb. Of these the cuckoo utters its own name; while the 



1 From this verb we have to con- 
vulse, to shake with violent irreg- 
ular action, and we often experi- 
ence a revulsion of feeling. 

2 From the verb scando, scandi, 
scansum, scandere, to mount up or 
climb, we derive such words as to 
scan i.e., to go through step by 
step, as when we scan or show the 
metrical structure of verse. To 
scan means also to examine with 
care. To ascend is to mount. We 
speak of the ascent of Mont Blanc ; 
while Ascension Day is the Thurs- 
day but one before Whitsunday. 
To descend is to go down. We 



speak of a steep descent. A de- 
scendant is one sprung from a 
common ancestor. To condescend 
is to stoop to the level of inferiors, 
to the level of equality with them. 
We have also condescension ; and 
transcend means to excel in a 
signal manner. AVe speak of 
transcendental worth, brightness, 
or valour. According to Kant, 
transcendental knowledge is that 
not derived from experience ; 
while transcendentalism is that 
for the most part wly'ch goes 
beyond the sphere of man's know- 
ledge. 



THE ANIMAL KINGDOM. 



99 



names of the other birds in this group, such as the toucan and 
parrot, throw no light upon the significance of their names. 

(4) The Kasores (the scrapers), from the L. rado, rasi, rasum, 
radere, 1 to scrape. Our domestic fowls mostly belong to this class. 
The first group of these is the Phasianidse, named from the most 
beautiful member of the pheasant tribe, from Phasis, a river, which 
gives its name to the district from which it comes, on the eastern 
part of the Black Sea, whence " the Phasian bird," literally, was 
brought to Europe. We have adopted the name from the F. faisan, 
and added a t. In English we have often added a letter to a word 
from mere laziness, such as the d in sound (F. son, from L. sonus), 
lend, but there is no d in loan. In provincial English we find 
they make a gownd ; while ancient, pheasant, tyrant, are a few 
examples of t, which has also added itself to words introduced 
through France. The word partridge comes from the L. perdix, 
perdlcis, through the F. pcrdrix, which was first perdiz, perdris, 
by the not unusual insertion of an r, and then came to be written 
perdrix, with the termination of the Latin nominative. The Scotch 
word for partridge is pairtrick, which sounds so much like the French 
that when Sydney Smith heard a Scotch girl reading the verse in 
Acts vii. 9, " And the patriarchs, moved with envy, sold Joseph into 
Egypt," and calling it "the pairtricks, moved with envy," ex- 
claimed, " My little girl, you should not make game of the 
patriarchs." The other birds in this group, known by the generic 
name of poultry, are so well known to us, and their names so 
familiar, that it is unnecessary to explain their origin, with the 
exception of poultry, the name given to domestic fowls, from the 
word poult, which signifies a little hen or fowl, a chicken. The 
F. is poulet, diminutive of poule, hen, fowl ; while the word fowl 
itself corresponds to AS. fugel, while the Ger. is vogel, and Icel. 
fugl, a bird. There is manifestly some connection with AS. 
fleogan, to fly. 



1 To rase a city means to level 
it with the ground. We shave by 
means of a razor. A rascal is one 
of the scrapings of men, a knave 
or villain. Glaciers abrade or 



scrape down the rocks, and leave 
marks of their abrasion. Words 
are erased when they are scraped 
or blotted out. A letter may con- 
tain several erasions or erasures. 



100 



SIGNIFICANT ETYMOLOGY. 



(5) The Cursores (the running birds), from curro, 1 cucum, cursum, 
cwrere, to run. We select the ostrich as a typical specimen, being 
the largest of birds, found in Africa, remarkable for its speed in run- 
ning, and prized for its feathers. The origin of the name is to be 
found in OF. ostruche, F. autriche, from the L. avis-struthio, from the 
Gr. strouthos, little bird, megale strouthos, the large bird, the ostrich. 
The bustard is akin to the ostrich family, of which the Great 
Bustard is the largest of European land birds. The name is de- 
rived through the F. bistard, a corruption from the L. avis tarda, 
a slow bird, from the slowness of its flight. 

(6) The Grallatores (the waders), from the L. yrallatw, one 
who walks on stilts, from grallce, stilts, contraction of gradulce, 
diminutive of gradus, a step, from gradior, to step. The heron 
is one of the best known of this group (see p. 97). The 
bittern is a bird of the heron family, said to have been named 
from the resemblance of its voice to the lowing of a bull (ME. 
bittour, through F. biitor, from low L. butorius bos, an ox, and 
taurus, a bull). The plover, or the rain bird, is the name given 
to a family of birds associated with rainy weather, through the F. 
plovier, from the L. pluvium, rain. The best known in our country 
is the lapwing, from its peculiar movement, which can be described 
scarcely as running or flying. The AS. name is hleapwince, from 



1 From curro, to run, we have 
courier, a messenger sent with 
haste ; any line of movement is a 
coarse, a corridor is a long', running 
gallery, a current is a flow showing 
some degree of force. Current his- 
tory is history now in progress. 
A curricle is an open carriage with 
two wheels. Cursory means run- 
ning over anything in a hasty sort 
of way, as in one of the titles 
of imaginary works suggested by 
Thomas Hood, "Cursory remarks 
on swearing." A concourse is a 
flowing or running together. To 
concur is to unite voluntarily in 
other people's opinions. Discourse 
is the consecutive speech of one or 
more people. An essay or a con- 
versation may become discursive 



when it passes over a wide field. 
An excursion is a trip for pleasure 
or health. To incur is to run into. 
An incursion is a hostile entering 
of another's territory. Intercourse 
is any kind of friendly dealing. 
To occur is to happen to one, to 
come in one's way. A shower 
of rain may be an untoward occur- 
rence. A precursor is that which 
goes before as a prognostic or in- 
dication. To recur is to come back 
repeatedly or regularly. We speak 
of the frequent recurrence of an 
event, of recurrent pains in a dis- 
ease, and we have recourse to our 
friend to help us out of a diffi- 
culty, while to succour is to give 
timely aid to those in want or 
distress. 



THE ANIMAL KINGDOM. 



101 



hleapan, to leap or run, and root of wink, which, like Ger. wanken, 
originally meant to move from side to side. The name is descrip- 
tive of the movement of the bird. It also bears the name of 
peewit, from its cry. (Compare the Dutch pieitrit or keeicit.} 
Akin to this is the Scotch name teuchit or targuheit, still fre- 
quently used in connection with the bad weather which so fre- 
quently accompanies their migration in autumn, called " the 
teuchit storm." Ortolan is the name given to a kind of bunting, 
very common in Europe. The name signifies literally a frequenter 
of gardens. It comes through the F. and It. ortolano, from L. 
hortolanus, belonging to gardens, from hortulus, diminutive of 
hortus, a garden. 

(7) The Natatores (the swimmers), from the L. verb no, 1 to 
swim. Of these a good type is the duck, so called from its ducking 
or dipping its head in the water. A drake is said to signify a 
duck-king, being a contraction of end-rake, ened being AS. for 
duck (cognate with L. anas, anatis, a duck), of which, however, it 
preserves only the single letter d. Ger. ente, a duck, and en- 
terich, a drake. Bake is the same as Goth, reiks, ruk, reike, and 
ric(k) in bishopric, &c. Dr Latham ('English Language,' 2nd 
edition), speaking of the assertion that drake is derived from a 
word with which it has but one letter in common viz., the Latin 
anas says, "There can be no doubt that drake and anas are 
related, as being both derived from a common root ; but to assert 
that drake is derived from anas is not only a violation of the 
legitimate rules of etymological deduction, but it involves the 
historical improbability of affirming that a people as old as the 
Romans themselves were without a name for one of the commonest 
and most important game-birds of their climate, until they borrowed 
one from their foreign invaders." The pelican is so called from 
his enormous bill, in the shape of an axe (L. pelicaniis, Gr. pelikan, 
from pelicos, an axe). Goose is from a very old word, found in a 

1 From no, navi, na(ta)re, to swim, natatory appendages ; and natant 

and frequentative, nato, natdvi, in botany is applied to leaves float- 

natdtum, nature, to swim, we have ing on the surface of the water, 

natation, the art of swimming, as the leaves of some aquatic 

natatorial, swimming. Fins are plants. 



100 



SIGNIFICANT ETYMOLOGY. 



(5) The Cursores (the running birds), from curro, 1 cucuiri, cursum, 
cuirere, to run. We select the ostrich as a typical specimen, being 
the largest of birds, found in Africa, remarkable for its speed in run- 
ning, and prized for its feathers. The origin of the name is to be 
found in OF. ostruche, F. autriche, from the L. avis-struthio, from the 
Gr. strouthos, little bird, megale stroufhos, the large bird, the ostrich. 
The bustard is akin to the ostrich family, of which the Great 
Bustard is the largest of European land birds. The name is de- 
rived through the F. bistard, a corruption from the L. avis tarda, 
a slow bird, from the slowness of its flight. 

(6) The Grallatores (the waders), from the L. grallator, one 
who walks on stilts, from grallce, stilts, contraction of gradulce, 
diminutive of gradiis, a step, from gradior, to step. The heron 
is one of the best known of this group (see p. 97). The 
bittern is a bird of the heron family, said to have been named 
from the resemblance of its voice to the lowing of a bull (ME. 
bittour, through F. httor, from low L. butorius bos, an ox, and 
taurus, a bull). The plover, or the rain bird, is the name given 
to a family of birds associated with rainy weather, through the F. 
plovier, from the L. pluvium, rain. The best known in our country 
is the lapwing, from its peculiar movement, which can be described 
scarcely as running or flying. The AS. name is Tileapwince, from 



1 From curro, to run, we have 
courier, a messenger sent with 
haste ; any line of movement is a 
course, a corridor is a long, running 
gallery, a current is a flow showing 
some degree of force. Current his- 
tory is history now in progress. 
A curricle is an open carriage with 
two wheels. Cursory means run- 
ning over anything in a hasty sort 
of way, as in one of the titles 
of imaginary works suggested by 
Thomas Hood, "Cursory remarks 
on swearing." A concourse is a 
flowing or running together. To 
concur is to unite voluntarily in 
other people's opinions. Discourse 
is the consecutive speech of one or 
more people. An essay or a con- 
versation may become discursive 



when it passes over a wide field. 
An excursion is a trip for pleasure 
or health. To incur is to run into. 
An incursion is a hostile entering 
of another's territory. Intercourse 
is any kind of friendly dealing. 
To occur is to happen to one, to 
come in one's way. A shower 
of rain may be an untoward occur- 
rence. A precursor is that which 
goes before as a prognostic or in- 
dication. To recur is to come back 
repeatedly or regularly. We speak 
of the frequent recurrence of an 
event, of recurrent pains in a dis- 
ease, and we have recourse to our 
friend to help us out of a diffi- 
culty, while to succour is to give 
timely aid to those in want or 
distress. 



THE ANIMAL KINGDOM. 



101 



hleapan, to leap or run, and root of. wink, which, like Ger. icanken, 
originally meant to move from side to side. The name is descrip- 
tive of the movement of the bird. It also bears the name of 
peewit, from its cry. (Compare the Dutch piemt or keeivit.) 
Akin to this is the Scotch name teuchit or targuheit, still fre- 
quently used in connection with the bad weather which so fre- 
quently accompanies their migration in autumn, called " the 
teuchit storm." Ortolan is the name given to a kind of bunting, 
very common in Europe. The name signifies literally a frequenter 
of gardens. It comes through the F. and It. ortolano, from L. 
hortolanus, belonging to gardens, from hortulus, diminutive of 
Jwrtus, a garden. 

(7) The Natatores (the swimmers), from the L. verb no, 1 to 
swim. Of these a good type is the duck, so called from its ducking 
or dipping its head in the water. A drake is said to signify a 
duck-king, being a contraction of end-rake, ened being AS. for 
duck (cognate with L. anas, anatis, a duck), of which, however, it 
preserves only the single letter d. Ger. ente, a duck, and en- 
terich, a drake. Rake is the same as Goth, r&iks, ruk, reike, and 
ric(k) in bishopric, &c. Dr Latham ('English Language,' 2nd 
edition), speaking of the assertion that drake is derived from a 
word with which it has but one letter in common viz., the Latin 
anas says, "There can be no doubt that drake and anas are 
related, as being both derived from a common root ; but to assert 
that drake is derived from anas is not only a violation of the 
legitimate rules of etymological deduction, but it -involves the 
historical improbability of affirming that a people as old as the 
Romans themselves were without a name for one of the commonest 
and most important game-birds of their climate, until they borrowed 
one from their foreign invaders." The pelican is so called from 
his enormous bill, in the shape of an axe (L. pelicanus, Gr. pelikan, 
from pelicos, an axe). Goose is from a very old word, found in a 



1 From TIG, navi, na(ta)re, to swim, 
and frequentative, nato, natdvi, 
natatum, natdre, to swim, we have 
natation, the art of swimming, 
natatorial, swimming. Fins are 



natatory appendages ; and natant 
in botany is applied to leaves float- 
ing on the surface of the water, 
as the leaves of some aquatic 
plants. 



104 SIGNIFICANT ETYMOLOGY. 

"the sharp-sighted"), from edrdkon, aorist of derkomai, to see, to 
look at. 

Under the name of basilisk we have a genus of reptiles which 
have as much resemblance to the basilisk of old marvel relaters 
as the draco has to the fabulous dragon. The most ancient authors 
have mentioned it as a serpent, which had the power of striking its 
victim dead by a single glance. The approved method of catching 
it was to carry a mirror, by which the animal's death -striking 
glances would be reflected upon itself. Pliny assures us that it 
had a voice so terrible that it struck terror into all other animals, 
so that it chased them from the spot which it inhabited, retaining 
the sole and undisputed dominion of it. The name, indeed, im- 
ports the kingly authority. The word comes from the Gr. 
tasiliskos, the diminutive of basileus, a king. It is a kind of 
crested lizard, and called a king from having on its head this 
mitre -shaped crest. According to the representations of the 
older naturalists it had eight feet, two large scales for wings, and 
its head " the likeness of a kingly crown had on." It is well to 
know something of such fables, however absurd they may seem, 
since, in ignorance of them, we lose the force of many fine passages 
in poetry and fiction. Thus, in " Richard III.," Shakespeare makes 
the Lady Anne retort to Richard, who is praising the beauty of 
her eyes, " Would they were basilisks to strike thee dead." The 
cockatrice seems to have been a kind of basilisk, and is still 
reputed among many as having a real existence, instead of an 
entirely fabulous being, with the wings of a fowl, the tail of a 
dragon, and the head of a cock, and believed to have been 
hatched by a serpent from a cock's egg. The name, however, 
has nothing to do with cock : the OF. cocatrice meant a croco- 
dile, from the low L. cocatrix, a corruption of low L. cocodrillus, 
a crocodile. 

The third order, Ophidia (from Gr. ophis, a serpent), embraces 
many kinds of serpents and vipers. The boa constrictor, thirty or 
forty feet in length, is capable of killing and eating deer and even 
oxen. The word boa is properly connected with bos, an ox, and 
constrictor, lit. that which draws together, here that which crushes 



THE ANIMAL KINGDOM. 



105 






its prey in its folds, from con, and stringo, 1 strixi, strictum, stringere, 
to draw tight, to tighten. The word viper comes from vipera, a 
contraction of vivip&ra, " those who bring forth their young alive," 
from L. vivus, alive, and pario, 2 peperi, paritum or partum, par ere, 
to bring forth, to produce. The viper received its name because it 
was at one time believed to be the only serpent that produced its 
young alive, although from eggs. The word adder has come by 
mistake into use, instead of natter, which is still the Ger. word for 
that reptile. In the AS. it was ncedre, and in course of time 
instead of saying "a natter" they came to say "an atter" or "an 
adder," the n which belonged to the noun having parted com- 
pany with it and joined the preceding article, thus depriving the 
noun of its first letter. This in all probability is the explanation 
of the phrase u as mad as a hatter," which originally may have 
been "as mad as a natter." 

Eesembling these in many respects are the Arachnides (from 
Gr. arachne, a spider), almost entirely creatures of prey. The 
spider is remarkable for spinning nets to catch its prey. The 
word signifies literally the spinner, for spinder, from spin. Com- 
pare Dan. spinder, O.Ger. spinna, and Ger. spinne. Tarantula, 
another of the same class, is a kind of poisonous spider found 
in the south of Italy It. tarantula, from L. Tarentum, a town 
in S. Italy where this spider abounds. The word caterpillar 
has had grave doubts thrown upon its origin by Wedgwood 



1 From this verb stringo we have 
many words. To strain, a strait 
waistcoat, straitened circumstances. 
Stress is pressure specifically applied 
we lay stress on a word, and a 
ship may be obliged through stress 
of weather to take refuge. We give 
strict injunctions, and we enforce 
the laws strictly. We pass strictures 
on people's conduct. We speak of 
a stringent rule, and we read of 
astringent medicine which contracts 
the organic textures of the body. 
To constrain is to confine action or 
movement, or to force it to take 
one direction. To distrain is to 



seize goods for rent or payment. To 
restrain is to hinder or keep from 
actions, and laws are a restraint 
on the vicious. To restrict im- 
plies moral restraint within cer- 
tain limits. There are restrictions 
on trade, and there are restrict- 
ive laws concerning the sale of 
spirits, &c. 

2 From this verb we derive parent, 
whether father or mother, we speak 
of parental affection, and of a person 
of good parentage. Animals are 
either viviparous, or oviparous, 
that is, producing their young by 
eggs, from ovum, an egg. 



106 SIGNIFICANT ETYMOLOGY. 

and others. It comes nearer the form of cattepelasure, the 
name given in Guernsey to wood-lice, weevils, and millepedes. 
As these animals are not hairy, Metivier well observes that it 
must be from their habit of rolling themselves up like a pill 
(in Guernsey pilleure, pilure, pelure) that the Guernsey name as 
well as the corresponding English name of caterpillar is derived. 
The etymology is put almost beyond doubt by the fact that in 
America the name of pill-bug is given to wood-lice, centipedes, and 
such animals as have the habit of rolling themselves up into a 
little ball. The corruption to F. chatepeleuse may be understood 
from the form pilleuso, preserved by Palsgrave, " Pylle for a large 
pilleuse, pilleure." Why the name of a cat should be given to a 
grub or caterpillar is not so obvious, but it is a fact that these 
were very generally known by the name of cat or dog e.g., 
Guernsey catte, the grub of the cockchafer ; Lombard gatta, 
gattola Swiss teufelkatz (devil's cat), caterpillar ; Kentish hop-dog, 
a pale yellow grub that infests the hops ; Milanese can-caygon, a 
silkworm ; and F. chenille, from canicula, a little dog, a caterpillar. 



107 



CHAPTER IX. 

MAN IN GENERAL OR IN RELATION TO MANKIND. 

IN considering the great divisions of the animal kingdom, and 
particularly the different orders of the class Mammalia, we found 
that the first order, that of Bimana (having two hands), embraced 
but one creature viz., Man, the most highly endowed of all ani- 
mated beings, and distinguished from all the others by a great 
superiority of intelligence and by the possession of a moral and 
spiritual nature. Though an animal, yet he is much more, and 
entitled to distinct and separate consideration. "We shall in this 
chapter consider man in general or in relation to mankind, and in 
some subsequent chapters bring under your notice at greater length 
the significance of many of those words which are employed in 
connection with his bodily structure, his mental faculties, his 
moral powers, and his spiritual nature. 

Our English word man signifies literally " the thinking animal," 
coming from the AS. manu, from the root man, to think, and 
therefore closely connected with the L. mens and' the Gr. menos, 
the mind, and the Sans, manas, mind, as they all come from the 
root man, to think. The Latin word homo was equivalent to our 
word man in its general sense, including both sexes, but in its 
origin was intended to remind man that as regards his body he 
was only of the earth, earthy, for homo 1 (or humo) is derived 



1 From homo we have homage, 
homicide, human, belonging to man 
in general; humane is the same word, 
varied in the orthography of mod- 
ern times to mean being possessed of 
those feelings of compassion which 
are supposed to be inherent in man. 



We speak of an inhuman monster, 
and of our common humanity ; while 
" man's inhumanity to man makes 
countless thousands mourn." We 
speak of prisoners being humanely 
treated, and of all the humanising 
influences of civilised life. 



108 



SIGNIFICANT ETYMOLOGY. 



from humus, and implies earth-born, formed from the earth. The 
Romans had also another word, vir, 1 which was limited to the 
male of the species ; and from it we have many important deriva- 
tives, but all expressive of true manliness. There is another word 
for man, the Gr. word anthropos, man in general, which also 
furnishes us with a few compounds : combined with phago, to eat, 
we have the anthropophagi, or man-eaters ; and with morphe, form 
or appearance, we have anthropomorphism, that is, the representa- 
tion of Deity under a human form, or with human organs and 
affections, as when we speak metaphorically of God's hands or of 
God's eyes. We have philanthropy (from pJiilos, love), the love 
of mankind or the readiness to do all men good. Such a benevo- 
lent person is called a philanthropist, and his actions are called 
philanthropic or philanthropical. The opposite of philanthropy 
is misanthropy (from Gr. misein? to hate). A misanthrope or 
misanthropist is a hater of mankind. 

The word man, as we have seen, is generic, and includes male 
and female : it is still the same word that is used in contradistinc- 
tion to woman. Originally in our language they were spoken of 
as man and wife, but the generic terms are now man and woman, 



1 We have virility, meaning true 
manhood, and virago, a woman 
whose actions are rudely masculine. 
Whether the L. word vis (with its 
plural vires), strength or power, 
originated the word vir, or whether 
that word expressive of power was 
derived from the superior strength 
of the masculine gender, we can 
hardly determine. They are cer- 
tainly intimately connected, and also 
with the L. word virtus (our virtue), 
which signifies manhood, and which 
certainly comes from vir. It de- 
notes what is highest and best in 
everything to which it can be 
applied. The highest qualities 
among the Romans were courage 
and strength, and to these the 
word virtus more immediately re- 
ferred. Modern times have brought 
other virtues to the front. Virtue 



is that power in every age, the 
exertion of which is useful to others. 
We speak of the virtue of a plant 
or of a medicine, meaning its useful 
power or efficacy. Virtue among 
the Italians signifies knowledge as 
well as virtue, and is applied by 
them as a general name to the 
sciences, as more noble than the 
arts. Inherent power may operate 
to the hurt as well as to the happi- 
ness of others. This kind of virtue 
the Latins expressed by the word 
virus, which they applied to the 
poisonous properties of any plant, 
and we speak of virulent and viru- 
lence. 

2 From the Gr. verb misein, to 
hate, we have also misogynist (Gr. 
gune, a woman), a woman-hater; 
misogamist (Gr. gamos, married), a 
hater of marriage. 



MAN IN GENERAL OR IN RELATION TO MANKIND. 109 

man and wife being restricted to a married couple. The word 
woman, from AS. wimman, wifmaun, is a compound of wif, wife, 
and man. She was the wife-man who remained at home to weave 
(wife being supposed to be derived from weaving), as distinguished 
from the weapman, or him who goes out to use the weapons of war. 
The sword and the distaff 1 were taken as types of the two sexes. 
Wifman and weapman are the words of the Saxon Bible in 
Matthew xix. 4 : "In the beginning He made them male and 
female." 

Bachelor and spinster are two suggestive names. The etymo- 
logy of bachelor is very doubtful and very uncertain. Most ex- 
planations of the original meaning are conjectural, such as bas 
chevalier, because the title knight bachelor was applied to a knight 
of the lowest order, and so a bachelor came to be a junior, or an 
inferior member of any company in which he expected promotion. 
The title is also applied to any one who has taken the lowest 
degree at a university, who is a B.A. but not yet an M.A. Partly 
in consequence of this last, the etymology has been frequently 
given seriously and not in jest, as baccalaureus, as if composed of 
bacca lauri, laurel berry, as if he had already been crowned with 
the laurel. More likely than either of these is its derivation by 
Brachet (generally a very safe guide) from the late L. baccalarius, 
a farm-servant or cowherd, from baccalia, a herd of cows, and this 
from bacca, not a berry, but late L. for vacca, a cow. The word 
spinster, now applied to an unmarried woman, was originally the 
name given to those who span, and occasionally to those who 
knitted ; and we find in Platt-Deutsch the name of spindel given 
to a knitting-needle, for the spindle was a very thin rod, and was 
taken as the type of anything long and slender, hence spindle- 
shanks. It has become the fashion of late to say, and on the 
authority of Prof. Sayce and M. Breal, that sweetheart, which 

1 The distaff (AS. distcef) was I the idea of roundness, and is again 
the staff on which the flax or tow used, in 2 Sam. iii. 29, for a 



was rolled in spinning. The instru- 
ment is obsolete, though the word 
is still well understood. The 
Hebrew (Prov. xxxi. 19) conveys 



(round) staff, and three times by 
Jeremiah, iii. 12, 14, 15, for the 
circuit or region round about 
Jerusalem. 



110 SIGNIFICANT ETYMOLOGY. 

is spelt as if it meant my sioeet heart, is really formed of the 
same suffix as niggard, sluggard, coward, and that it ought to be 
spelt sweetard, full of sweetness. Breal admits that sweetheart 
has what he calls more colour, but it has more than this, it has 
more truth on its side and more antiquity as well as more colour. 
The word is composed of the two words sweet and heart ; and so 
we have it from the earliest times. That there is no room for 
doubt is evident from Chaucer, and from one poem alone, and one 
book of that poem viz., ' Troilus and Cressida,' book iii. line 78, 
" swete herte deere " ; 127, "deere herte"; 1134, "myn owene 
sweteherte"; 1161, "my swete herte deere"; 1771, "his owen 
herte swete." As if this were not enough, we find in Mincheu's 
Etymology, published in 1626, a sweet heart, for which he gives the 
Belgian (i.e., Platt-Deutsch), soet-hertchen, and Teut. (i.e., German), 
suss-hertzichen ; while N. Bailey (philologos) knows of no other 
form of the word. Bridegroom and bride are very closely related, 
and on the brink of becoming more so. The OE. bryd-guma, guma 
signifying a man, was the original name for bridegroom, literally 
the bride-man. It was spelt for a time brideguma, but when it 
became gome, and then became obsolete, its place was taken in 
the sixteenth century by grome, from groom, a lad. On the occa- 
sion of the marriage, and up to the time of it, the bride was the 
pivot around whom everybody else revolved. 

The engagement is the being bound by a gage, or pledge, as in 
the phrase an " engagement ring." The word comes from gage, a 
pledge, security for the fulfilment of a promise, from the F. gage, 
gager, to wager. To engage is to covenant, of which the gage was 
the security, and this explains a good many of the apparently differ- 
ent meanings of the word. Gage was also a challenge to combat, 
in which sense it was a pledge, such as a glove or gauntlet which 
the accuser or challenger threw on the ground, and the other took 
up as accepting the challenge. These pledges were held by the 
seconds or friends of the parties, and he who was overcome was 
bound to pay the mulct (L. midcto, to fine), or penalty agreed on. 
The word wage had a similar meaning, in fact was the same word, 
OF. wager, through F. gager. To tcage is the verb, as to wage 



MAN IN GENEKAL OR IN RELATION TO MANKIND. Ill 



war, which is now used without adverting to the ancient pledge, 
gage, or wage, of the combatants. The wage was the reward for 
which they fought. The plural wages is the payment for stipu- 
lated services, according to the time during which the servant is 
engaged, or during his engagement. A wager is to be paid by the 
loser, when two persons bet or speculate on the chances of a 
future event happening or not happening. To lay a wage is to 
engage to pay or deposit such a bet. From this origin it is 
obvious why not only an ordinary contract or promise, such as 
that of marriage, but a battle, is termed an engagement. To 
engage a servant is to hire him. To engage an enemy is^to fight 
him. When land is pledged to a creditor for payment of a debt, 
it is said to be mortgaged, because it becomes dead (F. mart, dead, 
from L. mortuus) to the debtor if it is not paid on a certain day. 

The banns of marriage are frequently supposed to be the bands 
of marriage, as if the reference was to the union of the two in the 
bonds of matrimony. I have often had letters asking me to 
publish the bands of marriage on a particular Sunday. The 
mistake is an old one. In the old poem, "Song of Anarchus" 
('Shepherds Oracles,' 1646), ascribed to Quarles, we find 

" "We'll crush and fling the marriage ring into the Roman see ; 
"Well ask no bands, but e'en clap hands, and hey ! then up go we ! " 

This perversion of meaning is increased by certain phrases such 
as the "bands of Hymen," 1 "the marriage tie," and "tying the 
knot " ; so Mrs Bolton in ' Pendennis,' chap, xlviii., " They 'ad 
their bands read qxiite private." The word is bans or banns, not 
bands, and signifying, as ban itself did, a proclamation the AS. 
word being gebaun, a summons or proclamation. 

The word wedlock, too, is regarded by many as referring to the 
bands of marriage, and people, not otherwise ignorant, seem to 
think that wedlock is the state of being engaged in the marriage 



1 Hymen, in ancient mythology, 
the son of Bacchus and Venus, was 
regarded as the god of marriage, 
who with his chaplet of roses and 
his yellow robe, with a torch in 



his right hand and a flame- 
coloured veil in his left, presided 
over the nuptial ceremonies, at 
what was called the Hymeneal 
altar. 



112 



SIGNIFICANT ETYMOLOGY. 



tie or band, as specified by the word lock. But " lock " here is 
merely the AS. word lac, for gift ; while " wed " is from the AS. 
wedd, a pledge, and the wedding is the fulfilment of all this. 

The word marriage itself is the name given to this ordinance 
originally from the husband's point of view (taking a wife), from 
the L. maritus, a husband, from L. mas, maris, a male ; while 
nuptials is the name applicable to the marriage, or the wedding 
ceremonies, from the wife's point of view, from the L. nuptialis, 
from the verb nubo, nupsi, nuptum, nubere, which signifies origin- 
ally to cover or veil, and afterwards to marry, and used of a woman 
marrying, because at her marriage she puts on a veil ;" The Greek 
word for marriage, gamos, is found only in such words as bigamy 
(bis, twice), the crime of having two wives or two husbands at once, 
polygamy, many wives, and monogamy, a single marriage (from 
Gr. monos, one). To espouse is another name for to give in 
marriage, literally to give as spouse, or betroth, to make as spouse, 
for spouse comes to us through the OF. espous, F. epoux, fern. 
Spouse, from the L. sponsus, past part, of spo-ndeo, 1 to promise, 
and to promise in marriage now signifies a husband or wife. 

The word husband is often taken as meaning one inhabiting a 
house, from AS. husbonda, from hus, a house, and bonde, for buandi, 
to inhabit or occupy, but I prefer to regard it as carrying its mean- 
ing on its very face, and that the husband is so called as being really 



1 This verb, spondeo, spondi, 
sponsum, spondere, to pledge one's 
word, to promise, came from the 
Gr. word spondai, a solemn promise, 
and a spouse is a promiser of love, 
honour, and obedience to the man, 
who on his part espouses, that is, 
makes promises to, the bride the 
term is applied both to man and 
wife ; and so to correspond is to 
answer or agree with one another, 
correspondents are those who com- 
municate by letters and messages, 
and correspondence is greatly facili- 
tated by the post office. To de- 
spond is to take a very unhopeful 
view of things. Despondere in 
Latin signified originally to prom- 
ise one's daughter in marriage to 



any one, and as frequently the 
parting was looked forward to with 
foreboding, it came to signify to de- 
spond, to be cast down, to be filled 
with apprehension. To respond is to 
answer suitably, and the responses 
made in church are the answers of 
the laity. A respondent is one who 
answers in certain legal suits. A 
responsible office has some import- 
ant duties attached to it, for the 
due discharge of which he is an- 
swerable to society. A responsible 
being is one who is possessed of 
reason, and we speak of his moral 
responsibility or responsibleness 
for what he does. Pope speaks of 
"the vocal lay responsive to the 
strings." 






MAN IN GENERAL OR IN RELATION TO MANKIND. 113 

the band of the house, he who ought to keep the house and the 
family together ; and although in too many cases the wife in this 
sense is the true husband, yet the name continually should suggest 
to the husband his special duty and privilege. A recent writer 
has pointed out a striking instance of word-making through mis- 
understanding viz., in the case of "helpmeet," as applied to the 
wife. In the Bible of 1611 (our Authorised Version) the Hebrew 
words of Gen. ii 18 are literally rendered "an help meet [i.e., fit, 
suitable] for him." But readers mistook the two words "help" 
"meet" for a compound, and so helpmeet became current as a 
synonym for one's partner in life. Bradley, who mentions this, 
says that people have been known to suppose that it meant one 
who helps " to make ends meet," but commonly, when the word 
has been analysed at all, the second element has been supposed to 
be synonymous with mate, or perhaps an incorrect form of it. 
This notion suggested the formation of helpmate, which is a very 
good and correctly made compound, though it did originate in a 
blunder. I may mention (as even a more natural, though not a 
more ingenious, mistake than helping to make ends meet) the 
spelling "meat," which I have got on three different occasions in 
answer to the question, "What did God give as a reason for 
creating woman ? " " It is not good that the man should be alone ; 
I will make an help-meat for him " ! 

Matrimony is also a name for the married state, literally 
motherhood, from L. mater, a mother, and we speak of matri- 
monial happiness and maternal affection ; while a matron is a 
motherly woman, or a lady superintendent of some public insti- 
tution. To matriculate is to enrol one's name on the register of 
some society, as a university, which is an intellectual mother, or 
alma mater, and we are said to pass a matriculation examination. 
Many of the words coming from pater and mater resemble each 
other very closely, as in paternal and maternal, but we must not 
rashly infer from this that they differ merely in being applicable 
the one to the father and the other to the mother. If we do, we 
may find ourselves as far from the mark as the boy did who, being 
asked " What is patrimony ? " answered correctly, " Something left 

H 



114 SIGNIFICANT ETYMOLOGY. 

by a father " ; and being further interrogated, " And what is matri- 
mony ? " promptly but erroneously answered, " Something left by 
a mother." 

The word widow, in exactly the same sense in which it is now 
used, is of great antiquity, and the remoteness of its origin, and the 
vast distance which it has travelled through ages without alteration 
of any kind, except as to the pronunciation of v and w, which 
are continually interchanging, not only in various languages but 
in the same language, make it an unusually interesting word. 
How many thousand years this name for a bereaved woman has 
been used, by what variety of nations, and over what extent of 
the earth's surface, it would not be easy to determine. Our Anglo- 
Saxon forefathers used it a thousand years ago, and in North 
Germany they spelt it ividmve or mdewe. The Moeso-Goths in the 
fourth century, for the same person, used the same word widotvo. 
But nearly a thousand years before that time it was used by the 
Latin people, who wrote it vidua. And yet again, a thousand 
years more backward, on the slopes of the Himalayas a bereaved 
wife was called a widow, for in the Sanscrit of the Rig Veda we 
find the word vidhavd. Pronounce the v as w, and, as Grant 
White says, we see how simply each stricken woman has taken 
this word from her stricken sister and passed it on from lip to 
lip, as they were bearing our fathers in the weary pilgrimage of 
war and suffering, through untold ages, from what are now the 
remotest bounds of civilisation. The Sanscrit vidhavd is merely 
the word dhavd, a man, and vi, without, so that the word at its 
original formation meant simply a woman left without a man, just 
as it does to-day, and it has remained all these ages materially 
unchanged both in sound and meaning. Widow is one of the 
very few words of which the feminine form is the original. It 
was an adjective in Latin, as doubtless it was first in Sanscrit, and 
it became a noun also, like many adjectives in most languages. 
By metaphor it came to mean deprived, deprived of anything. 
Until lately our Latin lexicons gave deprived, without anything, 
as its primary meaning, and deprived of wife or husband was given 
as its secondary and dependent meaning. It was, however, applied 



MAN IN GENERAL OR IN RELATION TO MANKIND. 115 

first to women, then to men, and last to things in general, which is 
the natural manner of growth in language. Widower is a poor 
word, which should mean one who widows, not who is widowed. 
Its etymology seems uncertain, for it can hardly be a modern form 
of iciduwa, which is given by some as the masculine of mduwe. 
The phrase a widow woman, which we sometimes hear, is an 
unnecessary superfluity of words, and it would be as absurd to 
speak of a female lady or a she cow as to say a widow woman. 

The word weeds, as applied to mourning garments, and especi- 
ally to a widow's weeds, has nothing in common with "weed," 
a plant, which is from the AS. weod, an herb. But this word is 
the AS. wcede, a garment, or clothing, said to be from old Ger. wdt, 
cloth, corrupted into Ger. wand (as in lein-wand), from a Teutonic 
root seen in Gothic vidau, to bind. Many quotations from our 
early poets show that the word originally signified clothes, or a 
garment generally, and was not limited to the attire of a widow ; 
and indeed it would seem as if "weed" was derived from the L. 
vestis, a garment. A very clever use of the word "weeds," in the 
ordinary acceptation of the term, I once heard made by an Irish 
lady who had gone down to the hotel garden with a friend, and 
on her return was found to have a bunch of flowers in her dress, 
which she had gathered in the garden. Her husband rebuked her, 
half in jest, half in earnest, saying, "You shouldn't have pulled 
these flowers, Mary." " Why not 1 " she said ; " you wouldn't have 
me wear weeds, would you ? " 

Passing from husband and wife to father and mother, we find 
that father comes from the root pa, which means to guard, to 
protect, and also to support, so that the father is he who supports 
and protects. We find it as fader in ME., as voter in Ger., in 
L. pater, in Gr. pater, and in Sans, pitar, while in all these 
words we have also more or less preserved the suffix ter, which 
usually denotes the agent. The word mother, in ME. moder, in 
Ger. mutter, in L. mater, in Gr. meter, Sans, metd, has the same 
suffix ter, and the root ma, which means " to shape," " to form," 
she who shapes, or forms, the family. The change in spelling 
from fader and moder in ME. to father and mother, although 



116 



SIGNIFICANT ETYMOLOGY. 



remarkable, is probably due to the th in brother, where it has 
always been found, or to the th in the Icel. father. The name 
infant has been given to a babe, from the L. word infans, com- 
pounded of L. in, not, and fans, speaking, pres. part, of fari, to 
speak lit. "not speaking, one who cannot speak." A babe is a 
child before it can speak, and hence to babble is to speak unin- 
telligibly. In many churches, when a child is baptised, it is 
customary to have sponsors, who are termed godfathers and god- 
mothers to the children, for whom they undertake to be responsible. 
These children are then godsons and goddaughters, and in the 
Romish Church a dispensation is necessary before a godfather and 
godmother to the same child can be married to each other. The 
Saxon word sib signified akin, related, as it still does in Scotland, 
and so a sponsor was godsib, one related to the child in the service 
of God ; and when godsib was afterwards changed into gossip, the 
gossips, who were literally the joint sponsors for the child, had a 
good deal of conversation with those they met at these christening 
feasts. To gossip was to attend a christening feast, and now 
means only to indulge in the gossip and idle chatter and irrelevant 
talk which is so common on these occasions. 

The word youth, originally, like man, included both sexes, but 
taken generally denotes the son : it was formerly spelt youngth, 
equivalent to younghood. 

Son and daughter have next to be spoken of. Son, ME. sone, 
properly two syllables, from AS. sunu, Sans, sunus, all from the 
Aryan verb su, to beget or generate, so that son means the gener- 
ated one. This word son helps to form many family names, such 
as Johnson, the son of John, and Richardson, the son of Richard, 
&c. In daughter, Ger. tochter, Gr. thugater, AS. dohter, Sans. 
duhita. we have the usual suffix ter, denoting the agent, and the 
Sanscrit root dud, for dhugh, which means "to milk." Very 
likely, it is said, the young girl was called by this name when in 
the plains of India our ancient fathers, in their pastoral life, used 
to send her to milk the cows. Orphan is the name given to 
either son or daughter deprived of parents. The original word 
resembles widow very much in this respect, that originally it signi- 



MAN IN GENERAL OR IN RELATION TO MANKIND. 117 

fied bereft or deprived of parents or children, and afterwards to be 
deprived or destitute of anything. This was the meaning of the 
Latin word orbits, from which it comes, and which is derived from 
Gr. orphos, whence orphanos. The step-, prefixed to son, daughter, 
and child, in step-son, &c., is not from stoeppan, to go, to take a 
step, but from steop, which signifies destitute or bereaved, so that 
step-son or step-child is the same as orphan, which comes from the 
Greek for bereaved. The simplest and consequently the original 
forms (Icel. stiupr, old Ger. stiuf) do not denote step-father or step- 
mother, but step-child, orphan. Step-father and step-mother are 
therefore terms which could have arisen only after the step- had 
lost its proper sense. A step-mother is not a " bereaved mother," 
but one who takes the place of a mother to the bereaved children. 
Brother (Ger. bruder, OH.Ger. bruodar, Gr. phrater, Sans, bhratar) 
is probably from the root bhar, which means to carry, to support, 
to guide. The brother, the support, the guide of the sister. 
Sister is a more difficult word etymologically. The AS. was 
sonstar, the ME. form was suster, the Ger. is schwester. The Icel. 
form is syster, and the Sw. the same. It is strange that the 
Scand. form sister should have supplanted the OE. form. Its 
etymology is uncertain : possibly it is connected with Sans, svastar, 
from the root vas, to live, to inhabit, so that in this view a sister 
is the woman who lives under the same roof, our companion. 
It is curious to note that all the current terms of family relation- 
ship outside the immediate circle of the household have been 
adopted from the French. Uncle, aunt, nephew, niece, and 
cousin very soon displaced even native equivalents. The word 
uncle comes through the F. oncle, from the L. avuncultis, the 
brother of one's father or mother, a diminutive of the L. avus, 
a grandfather, the word from which we derive L. at&vus, an 
ancestor, and our English atavism, the name given to the recur- 
rence of any peculiarity or disease of an ancestor in a late genera- 
tion. Aunt comes to us also through the F. (OF. ante, and modern 
F. tante), from the L. amita, a father's sister, or a paternal aunt, 
There is a slang meaning attached to the words uncle and aunt 
with reference to the origin of which there is room for greater 



118 SIGNIFICANT ETYMOLOGY. 

difference of opinion. The word "uncle" has for a long time 
been slang for the pawnbroker or the pawnshop. It has been 
supposed, and I think it is likely, that the slang use of the word 
originated in the fact that rich uncles have often been very 
generous, that many nephews have often been indebted to them 
in times of need, and that it was not uncommon to speak of 
some mythical rich relative, such as an uncle, from whom they 
had great expectations, and so gradually the word came to be 
applied to the pawnbroker, and to the help which they received 
from him. In Dickens's ' Martin Chuzzlewit ' we find him making 
constant reference to an uncle, in respect of whom he would seem 
to have entertained great expectations, as he was in the habit of 
seeking to propitiate his favour by presents of plate, jewels, books, 
watches, and other valuable articles. So far back as 1607 we 
find Decker in his ' Northward Ho ' saying, " Four score pounds 
draws deep, . . . I'll step to my uncle not far off, ... and he 
shall bail me "; and in Hood's " Miss Kilmansegg," published in 
1828, we read 

" Brothers, wardens of city halls, 
And uncles rich as three golden balls, 
From taking pledges of nations." 

It has been suggested that the word uncle in this sense is only a 
poor pun on the L. word uncus, a hook, as pawnbrokers employed a 
hook to lift articles pawned, before spouts were invented (' Notes 
and Queries,' 7 S., vii. 56). The spout is the shoot or lift from 
shop to store-room, hence "up the spout" means pawned. I 
scarcely think that uncle, even in this sense, has anything* to do 
with unciis, otherwise it would be very difficult to explain how the 
French came to call the pawnshop ma tante, in humble imitation 
of our uncle, 

If we turn for a moment from those who have descended from 
us, or been our contemporaries, to those who have preceded us, 
we find that they are called our ancestors or our forbears. Our 
ancestors are those from whom we have descended, our forefathers, 
those who have gone before us, derived from the OF. ancestre 



MAN IN GENERAL OR IN RELATION TO MANKIND. 119 



(now ancetre), from the L. antecessor, from ante, before, and cedo, 1 
to go. The Scotch word for ancestors, "forbears," as Skeat has 
shown, has nothing to do with the verb " to bear " in etymology. 
The proper spelling is fore-beers, which gives the clue to it. It 
is precisely fore -be -era, fore-existers, those who are (or exist) 
before. The spelling is due to the nse of ar for er in lowland 
Scotch, which has makar for maker and the like, the plural being 
written makaris, later makari, instead of ME. makeres or mod. E. 
makers. Hence be-ar stands for be-er, and be-aris or bears is the 
equivalent of be-ers, formed with the suffix ar or er from the verb 
" to be." "We actually use the suffix ar for clearness in the word 
li-ar, because the spelling Her looks dubious. The Scotch for liar 
was leear or lear. The simplest proof that the old pronunciation 
is in accord with the etymology is to observe the following lines 
in Montgomery's Poems, ed. Cranstoun (Scot Text Soc.), p. 211, 
11. 213, 214 

" whilk has begun they saw by thaer forbears, 
Some held them true and others held them lears." 

The evidence afforded by this rhyme is so satisfactory that it 
frees the etymology from all doubt. Jamieson adds that the word 
appears in no other language. Nevertheless it is fairly paralleled 
by the Ger. vorweser, a predecessor. 

Genealogy, now the history of the descent of a person or family, 
in its more ancient meaning was used to denote the task of tracing 
the origin not of privileged families or castes merely, but of races 



1 From cedo, cessi, cessum, cedere, 
to go or come, to yield, we have to 
cede, and the cession of territory. 
"We have an abscess in some tissue 
of the body, and we accede to cer- 
tain terms. Access is a means of 
approach, we concede, and make 
concessions. Decease is another 
word for death, and the deceased 
person's property passes into other 
hands. To exceed is to go beyond 
in measure or degree, and excess 
is beyond proper limits. We in- 



tercede, and make intercession. 
We proceed according to a form 
of procedure, and we march form- 
ally in procession. We recede or 
move back mechanically. We 
secede or withdraw formally, join 
the seceders, and form a se- 
cession. We succeed in conse- 
quence of the rights of succes- 
sion, and we speak of military 
successes, or a successful experi- 
ment, or of an unsuccessful 
attempt. 



120 



SIGNIFICANT ETYMOLOGY. 



and groups of races, then of the species itself. It comes from 
the Gr. word genos, 1 a race (from Gr. gennao, to produce, and 
ginomai or gignomai, I am bom or produced). 

Pedigree, a word of much the same meaning, is not, however, 
so easily traced to its source. From the last syllable having been 
occasionally grue and grewe, Skeat gives the guess that there may 
be a reference to F. grue, a crane, and he quotes Cotgrave as his 
authority that danser la grue meant to hop or to stand on one leg 
only, in allusion to the crane's frequently resting on a single leg ; 
and there is a proverbial phrase, a pied de grue, in suspense, on 
doubtful terms, or not well, or but half-settled, like a crane that 
stands but on one leg. Thus a pedigree would be so named in 
derision from its doubtfulness or from the crane's legs (single 
upright stalks) used in drawing out a pedigree. This seems a most 
unlikely origin, while the theory that the pedigree was so named 
in derision from its doubtfulness overlooks the fact that this 
name was given not by those who laughed at pedigrees, but who 
believed in them. Not much importance can be attached to the 
spelling pedigrue, for in the old Anglo-Latin Dictionary, where the 
word occurs, it is spelt in at least seven different ways. A good 
deal is to be said for Wedgwood's suggestion in 'Notes and 
Queries,' that as pied has the sense of " tree," pied de gres would 
thus signify a " tree of degrees." I can find no satisfactory proof 
that pied ever signifies a tree. But why not pied, a foot, and F. 
degre, a step i.e., a foot-step, the word degre coming from the 
low L. degradum for gradum, while degradum became first degret 
and then degre, 1 Or, if this be not perfectly satisfactory, why not 
derive it from the French adverbial phrase par degre, by degrees 
or by steps 1 



1 From the same root we have, 
of course, the word genesis, signi- 
fying the first origination or pro- 
duction, and the first book of Moses 
is so called because it begins with 
an account of the formation of all 



things. Oxygen, hydrogen, and 
nitrogen are simple or elementary 
gases, so named from their form- 
ing part of acid (oxys), water 
(hydor), and nitre (saltpetre), 
respectively. 



121 



CHAPTEE X. 

HIS BODILY STRUCTURE. 

(1) His Osseous System; (2) his Muscular System; (3) his 
Nervous System ; (4) his Sanguineous System ; (5) his Digestive 
System ; (6) his Secretory and Excretory Systems. 

A^ itomy, through F. anatomie, and L. anatomia, from Gr. 
ana me, dissection (ana, up, and temno, I cut, lit. a cutting up), 
is t e art of separating the different parts of an animal or a plant, 
and also the science which deals with the structure and organisa- 
tion of living things. 

(1) His Osseous System, called the skeleton. Osseous from 
L. os, ossis, a hone, and skeleton from Gr. skello, to dry up, to be 
parched or lean. The word is applied to a human body preserved 
by the Egyptian art of embalming, in which wax, spices, &c., were 
employed (from Persian mum, wax). The word skeleton meant in 
Gr. a dried-up body, a mummy ; and by a skeleton we now mean 
the bony framework upon which the animal body is constructed. 
The principal part of this is the spine, OF. espine (F. epine), from 
L. spina, a thorn, applied to the backbone because of its sharp 
pointed projections. On the top of the spine is the skull (from 
Icel. and Dan. skal, a shell), the idea being that of a thin plate 
or case, with which a body is covered, or in which anything is 
contained. The word is connected with shell and scale, a thin 
plate. The collar-bones run from the neck to the shoulder. The 
word collar comes from the L. collum, the neck, and the collar- 
bone is also frequently called the clavicle, from its resemblance to 
a Eoinan key, the Latin for which is clavis. The elbow is so 
called, being the joint where the arm " bows " or " bends." The 






122 SIGNIFICANT ETYMOLOGY. 

AS. is dboga, from eln = L. ulna, the arm, and boge, a bow or bend, 
from bugan, to bend. The funny-bone, or, as the Americans more 
frequently term it, the crazy-bone, is the term popularly applied to 
what anatomists call the inner condyle of the L. humerus (a 
shoulder), a blow on which jars the ulnar nerve and produces a 
funny tingling sensation. A good dissecting-room joke for first- 
year's students is, Why is the funny-bone so called 1 " Because it 
borders on the humerus." This jest is seriously taken by a recent 
etymologist who explains the word funny-bone as a pun on the 
word "humerus." In the ' Ingoldsby Legends' we find, 

" They have pulled you down flat on your back, 
And they smack and they thwack, 
Till your funnybones crack, 
As if you were stretched on the rack." 

The ankle-bone is supposed to be so called as being at the joint 
between the foot and the leg, and so forming an angle or bend. 

(2) His Muscular System. The word muscle is through F. 
from L. musculus, the diminutive of mus, a little mouse, so called 
from its appearance under the skin. They are the moving organs 
of the animal frame. The muscles are bundles of soft red fibres of 
a cylindrical form, and running in a parallel direction. Parallel, F. 
from L. parallelus, from Gr. para, beside, and allelon, of one 
another (from olios, another), signifying literally "beside one 
another." 

(3) His Nervous System, including the brain itself (AS. brcegen), 
the spinal marrow, and the nerves, as they are apparently united in 
one order or function. A nerve originally signified a tendon or 
sinew, through F. from L. nervus, and Gr. neuron, a sinew. 
The word nervous signifies having nerve, and is ambiguous, 
meaning sometimes strong and vigorous, and at another time, 
having the nerves easily excited or weak. Where this is the 
meaning, I agree with those who think that the word should be 
written " nervish," as in Scotch. Perception of the external world 
is communicated to the brain by the senses, which are five in 
number : (1) Sight, which is effected by the eye. The pupil or the 



HIS BODILY STRUCTURE. 



123 



apple of the eye is so called from the baby-like figure seen on it 
(F. pupille, from L. pupillus, pupilla, diminutive of pupus, a boy, 
and pupa, a girl). Retina is the innermost coating of the eye, 
consisting of a fine network of optic nerves (optic, from the Greek 
word for eye, ops). The word eye, the organ of sight, must be 
traced back to the AS. eage, Gothic augo, Ger. auge, and L. oculibs^ 
for all come from the root ak, which means properly to pierce, to 
be sharp, and (in meaning closely allied) to be quick. This AS. 
dcegeseage, a day's eye, dwindles down to y in daisy (eye of day), 
and to ow in window, supposing that window is the old Norse 
vendauga, the Swedish vindoya, the ME. windoye. In Gothic it 
is called augadauro, in AS. eagduru, i.e., eye-door. Closely con- 
nected with this is brow, the forehead, and also the eyebrow, also 
the edge of a hill or cliff, which comes from the AS. bru, Scot. brae. 
The word vision, the act or sense of seeing, is from L. visio, visionis, 
from video, 2 vidi, visum, videre, to see from the root md, as in 
Gr. eido and Sans, vid, to see. It is by the eye, too, that we are 
able to distinguish the different colours. Though the word colour 
itself is Latin (color), yet all the common colours have Anglo- 
Saxon names, such as white, black, green, yellow, blue, red, brown. 
The word scarlet was, I think, originally given not to a particular 
colour, but to a particular kind of cloth which happened to be of 
the colour now known as scarlet, and this cloth in Persian was 



1 Oculus, the eye, supplies us with 
ocular, monocle, a binocular, an 
opera-glass with sights for both the 
eyes, as well as an eye - doctor, 
called an oculist. 

2 From this verb we have in- 
numerable derivatives : we have viz. 
for videlicet (videre licet, one may 
see), namely, or in old Eng. to wit. 
To view is to look at, the visage 
is the face. Many things visible 
through the microscope are invisible 
to the naked eye. Many men are 
visionaries, led away by imaginary 
projects. We speak of the visit of 
a friend, and we have often visitors. 
A vista means a view, and we speak 
of the visual organs. Vivid is what 



is lively, or true to the life. We 
advise others more readily than we 
take advice ourselves. We speak 
advisedly or unadvisedly. Envy, 
through F. envie, from L. in- 
vidis, is directly caused by see- 
ing another's success. Invidious 
tasks are such as cause envy to 
others. Evident and evidence, pro- 
vide, providence, and provision, all 
come from this word. To improvise 
a speech is to make it on the spur 
of the moment ; to review is to look 
over again or make a critical ex- 
amination ; to revise and to supervise 
are both necessary, while survey, 
surveyor, and surveillance may well 
conclude the list. 






124 SIGNIFICANT ETYMOLOGY. 

called* saJcirlet, which presumably came from the Arabian Sikelia, or 
Sicily, for in Sicily, during the times of the Arab domination there, 
the cotton and silk and coloured manufactures were in the highest 
perfection. The name came into our language through the French, 
who called it escarlate, from the low L. scarlatum. A closely 
allied colour, vermilion, has been so called from vermiculus, a little 
worm (diminutive of vermis), 1 doubtless cognate with our English 
worm, which it also signifies. In the same connection we find the 
origin of the words carmine and crimson, common to all the Europ- 
ean languages. They come from the word kermes, the Arabic and 
Persian name for the scarlet grain -insect, and the word occurs in 
a still older form krmi in Sanscrit. So cochineal, which is the 
name both of an American insect and of a dye, gets its name, 
through the Spanish, from coccus, the Latin name of the Spanish 
insect. Again, to tell you that our noun and adjective purple is 
the anglicised form of the L. purpureus, a word of similar significa- 
tion, is to tell you nothing ; but when we go further and tell you 
that purpura was the name of the shell-fish which in time gave its 
name to the famous Tyrian dye which we obtain from it, we have 
added something to your stock of knowledge. Azure also came to 
us through the French. It is a sort of mutilation of the Oriental 
original, or rather a corruption of the low L. lazurruin, lazur, 
which is the Persian lazur or lajuard, the stone which we at this 
day call lapis lazuli, a precious stone of a light -blue colour, of 
which the best varieties are found in Persia and China. Ultra- 
marine, called in medieval Latin ultra marinum azurur, is 
literally "the azure colour from beyond the seas," viz., from 
Assa, whence comes the lapis lazuli from which that colour is 
made. 

(2) Hearing, or the pei-ception of sound, is in like manner effected 
by a nerve spread out like a membrane, called the tympanum, 
which stretches like the cover of a drum across the hole of the ear. 
To hear is to perceive by the ear sounds of all kinds, from L. 



1 From vermis, a worm, we have 
the word vermicelli, which is 
wheaten flour made into worm-like 
threads or tubes ; while vermin, 



from the same root, is applied to 
any kind of small destructive or 
disgusting animal ; for example, rab- 
bits are often spoken of as vermin. 



HIS BODILY STRUCTUKE. 



125 



sono, 1 sonui, sonitum, sonare, to sound. The science of sound is called 
acoustics, from the Greek verb akouo, to hear, and the acoustic prop- 
erties of a church are good or bad, according as a speaker is well or 
ill heard in it. Some voices are more distinctly heard than others. 
The word voice literally signifies a sound from the mouth, from 
vox, vocis, a voice, akin to L. voco, z to call. Some sounds are much 
more audible than others. This word comes from the L. word 
audire, 3 to hear. From the Latin word auris, the ear, itself con- 
nected with audire, to hear, we have the word aurist, a person who 
makes the ear and its diseases his special study. The auricle of 
the ear (from L. auricula, a little ear) is the external part of the 
ear, the ear flap. Auricular means whispered in the ear, secret. 
Auricular confession is made in secret to a priest called a confessor. 
Before leaving the subject of hearing it may be well to remember 
that we speak of the reverberation of sound, lit. "the beating 
back of sound," from L. verber, verberis, a scourge, lash, or stroke ; 
.and sound is reverberated, e.g., in the case of the echo (L. and Gr. 
echo, a sound, perhaps from Gr. ao, to blow), for an echo is just 
the repetition of a sound from some object, and the phrase "to 
applaud to the echo " is just to applaud so loudly as to produce an 
echo. According to the Eomans, Echo was a nymph in love with 



1 Sono, sonui, sonitum, sonare. This 
verb gives us the L. sonus, sound, 
and also sonata, properly a tune for 
an instrument, sonnet, a short poem, 
a sonneteer, a composer of such. A 
consonant is a letter always sounded 
with a vowel, and dissonant means 
harsh - sounding, jarring. Milton 
speaks of "barbarous dissonance." 
To resound is to sound again, to 
sound loudly. 

2 From voco we have vocal, vocal- 
ist, vocabulary, vocation (a man's 
calling), the vocative, to vociferate. 
To vouch meant at one time to call 
to witness, to vouchsafe is to con- 
descend or to deign to grant ; the 
vowels, an advocate, avocations, 
avouch, avow, convoke, convocation, 
equivoca.te, evoke, invoke, provoke, 
revoke, irrevocable. 



3 The verb audio, ivi, itum, ire, to 
hear, supplies many words to our 
language. The proper meaning of 
audience is a hearing, as in Acts xxii. 
22, and Shakespeare's ." Julius.Caesar," 
III. ii. Although the word is [still 
used in this sense when a king is 
said to grant an audience to a subject, 
yet it is now more commonly used 
to designate the people who are 
hearers of what is spoken. We 
have also the word auditor, as the 
name of a person who audits, that 
is, literally, hears the final accounts 
of a money transaction. Obedience 
also comes from the same root. It 
means a diligent and attentive hear- 
ing the prefix ob being used aug- 
mentatively. Obeisance, too, is 
an act of deference and rever- 




126 



SIGNIFICANT ETYMOLOGY. 



Narcissus, but her love not being returned she pined away till only 
her voice remained. We use the word also to imply similarity of 
sentiment " that is an echo of my views." The word deafness 
originally meant " dull of hearing," but gradually it came to mean 
" not able to hear at all." The Latin word for deaf, however, is 
surdus, hence the word absurd, from L. ab, from, and surdus, deaf, 
lit. " from a deaf man," so that absurd means such an answer as 
might come from a surdus or deaf man who, knowing nothing of 
the question, would of course be apt to answer absurdly, and so 
"absurd" came to be almost equivalent to "ridiculous." 

(3) The Sense of Touch. The verb to touch comes through 
the F. toucher (It. toccare) and Ger. zucken, to move, from L. 
ducere, 1 to lead or draw, because touch implies a drawing nearer 
so as to be in slight contact with, or to touch. 

The word tact, which comes from the L. tango, laudum? to touch, 
signifies literally, touch, feeling, so that instead of rushing full tilt 



1 Duco, duxi, ductum, duo&re, is 
one of the most fertile of verbs. 
From it we have a duke (from dux), 
which originally meant a leader, a 
dukedom is the territory of the 
reigning duke, and a ducat issued 
by such, named after the ruler, 
similarly to our sovereign. The 
Doge of Venice was the Duke of 
Venice. We have duct, a tube or 
canal through which a fluid is con- 
veyed, especially in plants and 
animals. Gold is a ductile metal, 
being easily drawn out in wires and 
thread. There is abduct, to carry 
away wrongfully. To adduce is to 
bring forward such as arguments 
or illustrations. An aqueduct (from 
aqua, water) is an artificial struc- 
ture for leading water from one 
place to another. We have con- 
duce, and deduce, and educe, and 
induce, and introduce, produce, re- 
duce, reproduce, seduce, superin- 
duce, and traduce, besides con- 
duits (surface drains for water), 
deduction, induction, educate. We 
have also conduct, both as a verb 
and a noun. As a verb it signifies 



to lead with, and the channel or 
agent in so doing is called a con- 
ductor, whether of a car or a choir. 
As a noun a man's conduct signifies 
the manner in which he conducts 
himself that is, how he leads his life 
with himself. A man's conduct re- 
fers more to the general tenor of his 
life. We speak rather of his be- 
haviour in particular cases. To 
reduce, to bring back, but in this, 
its primary meaning, it has become 
obsolete. "Abate the edge of 
traitors, gracious Lord, that would 
reduce these bloody days again " 
(Shakespeare). The word is now 
used in the sense of diminishing, 
that is, to bring back to its former 
state, to its component parts : 
"Under thee, as Head Supreme, 
thrones, princedoms, powers, do- 
minions I reduce " (Milton). 

2 The full verb is tango, tetftgi, 
tactum, tangSre. We attain some 
proposed end, as an object worth 
reaching. We have also, I think, 
the word tainted, with refei. nee to 
meat that has just been touched with 
decay (generally derived f ror i tingo, 



HIS BODILY STRUCTURE. 127 

against a man's prejudices, you have a nice perception, or delicate 
discernment, which enables you to say or do what is best suited 
to the circumstances. 

(4) The Sense of Taste. Taste is from the same root as tact 
(tango, to touch), but it is to perceive by the touch of the tongue, 
or of the palate (OF. taster, F. tdter). The word palate comes 
from the L. palatus or palatum, meaning the palate, but that seems 
to be derived from the Palatine, one of the seven hills in Eome, 
on which many fine edifices were erected, especially Augustus's 
famous dwelling there, which was called on that account the 
Palace ; and royal residences afterwards, wherever situated, were 
called palaces, and so the word palatum came to be applied to the 
arch or vault of heaven, and also to the palate, as being so im- 
portant as the dome of speech and as the roof of the mouth 
touched by the food. We sometimes employ it in the same sense 
as taste : " Men of nice palates could not relish Aristotle as 
dressed up by the Schoolmen." How utterly sensuous, you may 
say. Shakespeare, however, follows in the same direction 
"Devotion, patience, courage, fortitude, I have no relish of them." 
Now of the force of relish we all have a keen enough appreciation, 
but our unexpressed passive understanding of it is brought out in 
bold relief when we think of the etymology of it viz., OF. relecher 
(given in Cotgrave), to lick or taste again, that which is so pleasant to 
the palate as to tempt one to lick his lips. So, too, we express one 
of the strongest mental repugnances by disgust (from L. dis, and 
gusto, 1 avi, atum, are, to taste), that is, distaste or dislike; while any- 
thing that is unsystematic and chaotic in intellect finds expression 
in the word crude, which is simply the state of being raw or un- 
cooked, from L. crudus, raw. Caustic, from Gr. kaio, kauso, to burn ; 

to wet or moisten). We have tangent 
in geometry, a line which just meets 
or touches a curve or a circle in one 
point but does not cut it. What is 
tangible is capable of being touched 
or grasped. Two bodies are said to 
come in contact when they meet 
without any intervening space. 
Contagion, the communication of dis- 
ease by contact. Contiguous has the for tastes." termed, is divided 



whole of one side or part of it touch- 
ing that to which it is in contiguity. 
A thing is contingent when it may 
not happen, and intac'- is untouched. 

d in '^cavity 
is no phrase me these all together 



128 



SIGNIFICANT ETYMOLOGY. 



mordant, lit. biting into (from L. mordeo, morsi, to bite), and 
piquant (from F. piquer, to prick), have also alike reference to the 
sense of taste, and sufficiently explain themselves in their biting, 
burning, and stinging allusion. Saucy is just L. salstis, salted. 
Saucy talk is therefore too highly salted, in general too spicy; 
and racy always reminds us of the root (L. radix l ) from which 
it springs : thus Cowley's 

" Fraught with brisk racy verses, in which we 
The soil from whence they came taste, smell, and see." 

The phrase is also very appropriate, " racy of the soil." Savoury 
and insipid are both from one root, L. sapio, to taste, to savour. 
The one signifies tasty, and the other tasteless ; while the highest 
intellectual endowments can result in nothing more exalted than in 
a man of sapience, which is also just a man of taste. So, too, our 
Parisian friends have sublimated their conceptions of all that is 
highest in modes or morals into their "bon gout." In this the 
Romans set the example, for their word sapientia, which signifies 
wisdom of the highest kind and good sense, comes from this word 
sapio, to taste, and so the word savour from sapor. 

(5) The Sense of Smell. The organ of smell is the nose, the 
most prominent feature of the face, of which the origin, whether to 
be found in Ger. nase or in L. nasus, is uncertain, but it seems 
that it meant simply a stretching forth, or prominence. In 
Beowulf (V. 371) we read "sae nassas" for "promontories." But 
the root of nostril is more intelligible, although somewhat obscured 
by the way in which it is now spelt. By Spenser and his con- 
temporaries it was always spelt nose-thrill. Now, to "thrill" 
meant to " drill " or " pierce," so that the word plainly signifies 



1 From radix, radicis, a root, we 
have the plant called a radish, which 
is nearly all rop^ radicle, a little 
tRQje," reproduce, si n g tothe root,as 
duce, and traduce, -*<lical change ; 
duits (surface drains professes to 
deduction, induction, e <P rinci P les of 
have also conduct, botf as a word 
and a noun. As a verb sense of to 



plant deeply, which now exists only 
as part of the verb eradicate (from 
e, out of, and radix, the root), to 
pull up by the roots. It is figuratively 
applied to errors, &c., but never to 
people or races, like extirpate (from 
L. stirps, a stem or root, either of a 
tree or of a family), which is indis- 
criminately used of either. 



HIS BODILY STRUCTURE. 



129 






the orifice or opening with which the nose is thrilled, drilled, 
bored, or pierced. That the word smell is allied to the low Ger. 
smellen, to smoke, as the Ger. reichen comes from ratich, smoke, is 
rather confirmed by the word perfume, which comes through the 
F. parfum, from the L. per, through, and furmts, smoke. The 
word aroma is just the Gr. word for any spice or sweet-smelling 
herb, for the aroma of plants is what constitutes their fragrance 
(from L. fragro, to smell). Olfactory, the adjective, is often 
applied to these nerves, and signifies pertaining to, or used in, 
smelling, from L. olfacio, to smell, from L. oleo, to smell (from the 
root od, to feel, which has also given us L. odor, smell), and facio, 
to do or make. 

(4) His Sanguineous System is so called from the fact that the 
whole body is pervaded by a red fluid termed the blood, called in 
L. sanguis, sanguinis, the blood. The Greek word for blood 
viz., Jiaima, haimatos forms many medical compounds, and a 
bloodless condition is said to be anaemic (from a, without, and 
Tiaima, blood). This circulates by means of vessels or tubes 
called veins and arteries. The word veins, F. veine, comes from 
L. vena, probably from veho, to carry ; while the word arteries 
is a little more complicated. There is no doubt that the word 
artery is from the Gr. word arteria, an artery, but it is said 
to have meant originally the windpipe, being derived from two 
Greek words, aer, the air, and tereo, to keep or preserve, and so was 
an appropriate word for the windpipe, but not for the vessels which 
convey the blood from the heart to all parts of the body. Our 
ancestors gave to these the name of arteries, because, finding them 
always empty after death, they supposed them to be air-vessels. 
The error died out only very slowly, even after Harvey's discovery 
of the circulation of the blood, but the old names remained on. 
The organs necessary for propelling this flow through the body, 
and the organs required for communicating to it the food and air 
necessary for sustaining its vital character, are placed in the cavity 
of the ribs in the upper part of the chest, and these all together 
receive the name of the Sanguineous System. The chest (L. cista, 
Gr. kiste, literally a box), as this cavity is termed, is divided 




130 



SIGNIFICANT ETYMOLOGY. 



from the lower region of the body by a horizontal muscle called the 
diaphragm, which rises and swells according as we are drawing or 
expelling our breath, in Gr. diaphragma, a partition wall, from 
dia, through, and phrassein, to fence or enclose. The old name 
for it, viz., the midriff, from the AS. midhrif (mid, the middle, 
and hrif, the belly), is as good a name for this muscular partition. 
The heart itself has two divisions called auricles and ventricles : 
the auricles, the two ear-like cavities of the heart (from L. auri- 
cula, diminutive of auris, the ear) ; the ventricles, from L. ventri- 
cula, little belly-like cavities (from L. venter, the belly). The lungs 
are the organs of respiration and breathing. They are called from 
their light or spongy texture in AS. lungan, from a root seen in 
Sanscrit meaning light, not heavy, while in Scotland and also in 
England they are occasionally called "lights." 

(5) His Digestive System. Beneath the diaphragm are situated 
the alimentary organs. Alimentary, from L. alimentum, nourish- 
ment, from alo, to nourish ; and the word organs, by which any 
natural operation is carried on, comes through the F. organe, and 
the L. organum, from the Gr. organon, akin to ergon, work. These 
organs consist chiefly of the stomach and the intestines, from the 
L. stomachus and Gr. stomachos, originally the throat, gullet, then 
the orifice of the stomach, and lastly the stomach itself, from Gr. 
stoma, a mouth. The intestines are so called from the L. intestina, 
from intus, within, in the inside. When food has descended 
through the gullet (from F. goulet, the gullet, diminutive of OF. 
goule, F. gueule, from L. gula, the throat) into the stomach, the 
process of digestion begins. From the root gul, to swallow, we have, 
by a not infrequent transposition of the letters, L. glutio, swallow- 
ing, and our word deglutition, the act of swallowing. Digestion 
is the L. digestio, from the L. verb digero, digestus, to carry 
asunder, or dissolve, from the L. de (dis\ asunder, L. gero, 1 to 



1 This verb gero, gessi, gestum, 
gerere, to carry, or to carry on, has 
several derivatives. A gerund is a 
part of a Latin verb expressing 
something to be done or to be 
carried on. A gesture is a signifi- 



cant movement of the body. These 
are sometimes so vehement as to be 
called gesticulations. A jest was 
originally a merry tale (from gesta, 
a thing done), then a joke. Belli- 
gerent (L. bellum, war) means waging 



HIS BODILY STRUCTURE. 



131 



bear or carry. The great agent in this is the gastric juice (from 
Gr. gaster, the belly, and L. jus, juris, broth or soup). Jus is a 
better origin of juice than the L. sucus, with which the word is 
connected. 

(6) His Secreting and Excretory Systems. The word secretory 
is derived from L. se, aside, and the word excretory from the prefix 
ex, out of, while common to them both is cretus, sifted or divided 
(from cerno, crevi, cretum, cernere, to distinguish) ; hence secretory 
is applied to organs which separate, or set aside, certain fluids of 
the body for particular purposes, and excretory to those which 
throw certain fluids out of the system altogether. The principal 
secretory organs are the liver, the pancreas, the salivary and 
lachrymal glands. The word liver (from AS. lifer] contributes no 
other word to the language, but the word hepatic, signifying per- 
taining to or connected with the liver, is derived through the L. 
hepaticus, from the Gr. word hepar, hepatos, the liver. The pan- 
creas, commonly called the sweetbread, signifies literally, " all 
flesh," from the Gr. pas, pan, all, and kreas, flesh. It secretes a 
saliva-like fluid called the pancreatic juice, which assists digestion. 
The salivary glands in the mouth secrete the fluid (L. saliva, Gr. 
sialon) which mixes with the food and aids digestion. A gland 
is a flesh organ which secretes some substance from the blood (F. 
glande, from L. glans, glandis, an acorn, from its likeness to the 
shape of the acorn). From this we derive the word glanders, a 
disease in horses of the glands of the lower jaw and of the 
mucous membrane. The lachrymatory or tear glands are so called 
from L. lachryma (properly lacrima), a tear, akin to Gr. dakru, a 
tear, hence also lachrymatory and lachrymose. 

The principal excretory organs are the kidneys (Gr. nephros, a 
kidney, whence nephritis, inflammation of the kidneys), the skin, 
and the bowels. The kidneys (AS. cuicl) and the skin remove 
what appears to be a refuse of the blood, while the office performed 
by the skin is to pour off what is termed the insensible perspira- 



war or pertaining to a state of war. 
We have not only digestion, but con- 
gestion and indigestion. A register, 
originally res gestcc, is a book where 



regular records are kept, kept by 
a registrar, and their insertion is 
called registration. To suggest is to 
put before the mind for consideration. 



132 SIGNIFICANT ETYMOLOGY. 

tion or sweat, the latter being the AS. name (svaf), and the former 
from L. perspiro, to breathe (per, through, and spiro, to breathe). 
The word bowels is derived from OF. boel, Port, budel, It. budello, 
a gut, low L. botellus, an intestine, and so it occasionally is used in 
the sense of interior, as when we speak of the bowels of the earth. 
We still speak of bowels of mercy and bowels of compassion, 
although the days are long gone by when the bowels were regarded 
as the seat of pity. The usage was transferred to our language 
from the translations of the Bible, in which it was common. Thus 
in the letter of Henry V. to the French King, given by Hall (Henry 
V., fol. 116), "We exhort you in the bowells of our Saviour Jesus 
Christ, whose evangelical doctrine willeth that you ought to render 
to all men that which you ought to do." "There is no lady of more 
softer bowels" (Shakespeare, "Troilus and Cressida," II. ii. 11). 
"Thou thing of no bowels, thou" (ibid., II. i. 54). In the Scotch 
Paraphrases, No. xl., the most unfortunate example occurs in the 
description of the return of the prodigal, verse 4 : 

" He said, and hasten'd to his home, 

to seek his father's love : 

The father sees him from afar, 

and all his bowels move." 

In the Authorised Version of the Bible we have Phil. i. 8, " How 
greatly I long after you all in the bowels of Jesus Christ"; ii. 1, 
"bowels and mercies"; Col. iii. 12, "bowels of mercies": rend- 
ered in the Revised Version "tender mercies," "tender mercies 
and compassions," and "a heart of compassion." 



133 



CHAPTER XI. 






BODILY HEALTH, SICKNESS, DISEASE, AND DEATH. 

MAN'S bodily health can be maintained only by the body being 
preserved in such a condition as to allow the whole of the organs 
to exercise their functions in the way intended by nature. We 
have been provided with organs calculated to perform labour ; but 
if that labour were too continuous and protracted, the body would 
soon get worn out. Hence the necessity of rest, especially in the 
form of sleep, a word which comes in all probability from the 
O.Ger. slaf, signifying relaxed ; Icel. slapa, to hang loose, through 
AS. sloepan and Ger. sMafen, to take rest by relaxation, for in 
sleep one's bodily organs are all relaxed. Slumber denotes a 
lighter form of sleep, AS. slumerian, to slumber, cognate with 
Ger. schlummern; but where tbe b comes from is unknown. Som- 
nambulism is the act or practice of walking in sleep, from L. 
somnus, sleep, and ambulo, 1 avi, atum, are, to walk. From somnus 
we have somniferous, somnolence, and insomnia, want of sleep, or 
sleeplessness. Nightmare is a dreadful dream occurring in sleep 
during the night, accompanied with intense pressure on the chest. 
The Germans give to it the name of Alp, as it feels like the weight 
of a great mountain ; while our form of the word has been sup- 



1 From ambulo we derive the verb 
to amble, either to move with a 
peculiarly easy pace, as a horse 
lifting two legs on one side, or to 
move affectedly, as Cowper says 

" Frequent in park with lady at bis side, 
Ambling and prattling scandal as he goes." 

An ambulance is the moving hos- 



pital of an army ; the ambulance 
waggon removes the sick or the 
injured to the hospital. The 
preamble of a document is the 
introductory statement. To per- 
ambulate is to walk over (for in- 
vestigation, inspection, &c. ), but a 
perambulator means chiefly a child's 
carriage pushed by a nurse. 



134 SIGNIFICANT ETYMOLOGY. 

posed to be like the weight of a mare pressing on the chest. But 
the AS. form was mara, which signifies a crusher, from a root 
mar, which signifies to pound, crush, or bruise, the feeling of some 
monster crushing us. The now common word hygiene comes 
from Gr. Hygeia, the goddess of health (from Gr. hygieia, health), 
whose symbol was a serpent drinking from a cup which she held. 
Hygiene is now applied to the science of health in its widest 
aspect, embracing laws of personal health, rules for diet, for hours 
of recreation and work, &c. The word health signifies properly 
wholeness or soundness, and health, or wholth, means being whole 
every whit. On the contrary, disease is the want of ease or com- 
fort (from dis, privative, and ease, freedom from pain). A remedy, 
L. remedium (re, back, again, and medeor, to restore, cure), is 
the particular treatment that cures disease. Even although a 
disease cannot be cured, it may be palliated. There are many 
palliatives adapted to the different diseases; and they are so 
called because they soften or lessen the pain of the disease with- 
out removing it. The word comes from L. palliatus, clothed 
(from pallium, a cloak or mantle), and now signifies, in the figur- 
ative sense, to extenuate or lessen by favourable representations, to 
cover with excuses as with a cloak or mantle. Pain itself signifies 
bodily suffering, and has received the name from the L. poena, 
penalty or punishment, through the F. peine, cognate with the Gr. 
poine, penalty or fine ; and pain is generally the penalty of wrong- 
doing. The L. poena meant first a fine of money, compensation 
for an offence, but was generalised so as to comprehend all sorts of 
punishments ; and our pain, its descendant, has come to compre- 
hend all acute bodily or mental suffering, whether inflicted by way 
of punishment or not. Frequently pain is a means by which we 
are guarded against disease, by warning us in time of its approach. 
Different diseases are recognised by different symptoms, and a 
symptom is that which attends and indicates the existence of 
something else, not as a cause but a constant effect, from the 
Gr. symptoma (syn, with, and ptoma, a fall, from pipfo, to 
fall), something that happens in concurrence with something 
else. In medicine the word has come to signify a token, 



BODILY HEALTH, SICKNESS, DISEASE, AND DEATH. 135 



mark, or sign which indicates disease, especially the kind of 
disease. 

Exercise is no less necessary than sleep for the preservation of 
our bodily health. The word exercise is so called from L. exerceo, 
to train by use (ex, out, and arceo, to drive). It may therefore 
have received its name from its enabling us to get quit of waste 
products. Where a man's daily work is of such a kind as not 
to provide a sufficient amount of bodily exercise, he must devise 
means himself for securing it. This purpose may be served in some 
measure by athletic exercises, called athletic from Gr. athletes, a 
contender for victory in feats of strength, such as running, wrest- 
ling, &c., from athlos, a contest ; or gymnastics, being only another 
name for the same thing, and also from the Greek, viz., gymndzo, to 
exercise, from gymnos, naked, because these exercises were carried 
on with the body for the most part naked. On that account the 
place where these took place was called a gymnasium, although 
the word is often used now as the name of a school for the higher 
branches of literature and science. Pedestrian exercise, or that of 
walking (from L. pes, 1 pedis, a foot), is perhaps the best of all for 



1 From pes, pedis, the foot, we 
have many words, such as pedal, 
the key of a large pipe in an organ 
moved by the foot ; the pedestal is 
the basis of a pillar or statue. Con- 
nected with this word pes we have 
the somewhat unlikely relative pion- 
eer, from the F. pionnier, having 
the same meaning, but the OF. 
peonier was an extension of peon, a 
foot-soldier ; low L. pedo, a foot- 
soldier, from L. pes, the foot 
originally one of a company of sol- 
diers trained to work with pick, axe, 
spade, &c., and employed in the 
field to clear the road before an 
army, throw up works, &c. , and 
generally employed now as the name 
of an early explorer of a district or 
country who has gone before to 
pioneer i.e., to clear the way for 
others. A hiped, an animal with 
two feet ; a quadruped, with four 
feet ; a centipede, having a hundred 



feet. The word dispatch, some- 
times spelt despatch owing to the 
word having been thus spelt in 
Johnson's Dictionary although 
Johnson himself spelt it with the i 
and not the e inasmuch as the 
word is compounded of the Latin 
prefix dis, apart, and L. pedtca 
(from pes, pedis, a foot) a fetter = 
fetterless, so that the verb dispatch 
signified originally to set free, to 
dispose of promptly or quickly ; 
and the noun signified prompt set- 
tlement, or rapid accomplishment. 
We speak of quick dispatch, and 
happy dispatch is the humorous 
name given to the Japanese form 
of suicide called hara kiri ; and 
spatchcock is an abbreviation of dis- 
patchcock an Irish dish upon any 
sudden occasion, consisting of a 
fowl cut down the back and ex- 
panded to the purposes of a grill. 
As the word pedica comes from pes, 



136 



SIGNIFICANT ETYMOLOGY. 



those who are able to walk vigorously; but the mere stroll or 
saunter can be of little service, except to keep people out in the 
fresh and open air. What a strange tale, too, does the word saunter 
tell ! There rise up before our mind's eye the Crusades, those en- 
thusiastic expeditions against the infidels and the miscreants, send- 
ing out to saunter to the Holy Sepulchre whole bands of pilgrims 
who come home palmers. The Crusades, that is the Croisades or 
Crossades, the Cross being the banner under which they marched ; 
each crusader, however, bearing about with him "the dear remem- 
brance of his dying Lord." The Holy Land, we know, was the 
place where the pilgrims (the pelerins, the L. peregrini, i.e., the 
wanderers) were wont to bend their steps. Knowing this, we can 
easily imagine how the pilgrimage might soon degenerate into a 
mere sauntering, and the palmers returning with their branches of 
palms wore this symbol as a sanction for mendicity. 

" I am a palmer, as you see, 

Which, of my life much part have spent 
In many a far and fair countrye." 



the foot, so the word fetter, which 
it signifies, comes from the AS. 
fetor (from fet, feet), a fetter having 
been originally a chain or shackle 
for the feet. Expedite comes from 
expedire, to extricate the foot, to 
get ready ; expeditious, and exped- 
ition. To impede comes from im- 
pedire, to entangle the foot, to 
hinder. Impediment, impedimenta 
(pi.), literally impediments, was the 
name given by the Romans to the 
baggage of an army or company, 
and by which it was hindered on 
its march. In the same way we 
speak of luggage, which we have to 
lug about by one ear ; and also of a 
hamper, because it hampers and 
hinders us so much on our journey ; 
and we speak of a hindrance, and 
call it so because it hinders us and 
tends to make us behind time, be- 
hind the others, and perhaps the 
hindmost of all. The word imped- 
iment, however, is sometimes used 



in cases where its original meaning 
is entirely forgotten, or when re- 
membered makes the use of it look 
very absurd. The word comes from 
the L. verb impedire (correctly rend- 
ered by us to impede) ; but impedire 
originally signifies to entangle by 
the feet, as a bird caught in a snare, 
being composed of the two words 
im and pede (of pes, pedis, the foot). 
An impediment, then, is really any- 
thing in the way, or on the path, 
which obstructs our progress, or 
against which our feet come, so that 
we stumble or are caught. But 
when we talk of a man having 
an impediment in his speech, the 
metaphor is about as mixed as 
the well-known description given 
by an Irishman of his opponent's 
oratory, " He never opened his 
mouth without putting his foot in 
it," for it might be said in that 
case that he had an impediment in 
his speech. 



BODILY HEALTH, SICKNESS, DISEASE, AND DEATH. 137 




Another version of the same story is told by Trench, that those 
people that wandered idly about, justified their indolence by 
saying that they were going to the Holy Land (la Sancte Terre), 
but they were so long about it, and took their own time to do 
it, that they were called saunterers or Saunct-terrers. Of course 
no amount of exercise or activity can remedy original weakness 
or deficiency, neither can we make sure of avoiding the numerous 
diseases which are extended by contagion or infection. There are 

any severe diseases which we generate ourselves, or inherit from 
those who have preceded us, such as cancer, the L. word for 
crab, and so called because the eating, spreading humour is 
supposed to resemble a crab. Rheumatism, a very painful 
disease, but wrongly named from Gr. rheo, 1 to flow, from a 
notion that the pain was occasioned by a rheum, or humour, 
flowing through the part affected. Our English word rheum 
(from Gr. rheuma) is very properly applied to the thin watery 
or serous fluid secreted by the mucous membrane, as in catarrh 
and diarrhoea, both of which words come from the same source. 
Pneumonia is the inflammation of the lungs themselves, from 
Gr. pneumon, the lungs (from Gr. pneuma, air, and this from pneo, 
to breathe). Dyspepsia from Gr. dys, hard or difficult, and 
Gr. pesso, pepso, to digest, and haemorrhage, or discharge from 
the blood-vessels, from G. haima, blood, and rhegnumi, to burst 
through. Contagious diseases are those which are contracted by 
touching, from L. coniingo, contactum, to touch, con = completely, 
and tango, to touch ; infectious diseases are those which are 
communicated by the breath, from inficio, fed, fectum, from in, 
and fatio, to make, literally to dip anything into. Some diseases 
are said to be endemic, i.e., peculiar to a people or district, 
Gr. endemos (in, and demos, a people or district) ; others are 
epidemic, epi, upon, and demos, affecting a whole people, general, 
falling on great numbers, such as cholera, smallpox, and influenza. 
A preventive of smallpox and its deadly ravages was discovered 



1 From rfi/M we have also the word 
rhetoric, meaning a flow of words, 
and rhetorician, a man who is said 



to have a great command of lan- 
guage when language has a great 
command of him ! 



138 SIGNIFICANT ETYMOLOGY. 

by Dr Jenner towards the end of the eighteenth century, viz., 
vaccination, i.e., inoculating with the cow-pox, or matter obtained 
from cows. It was called vaccination from the L. word vacca, 
a cow ; and vaccine is the matter that is got from cows. Cuvier 
has said that if vaccine had been the only discovery of the 
eighteenth century it would have served to render it illustrious 
for ever. Yet when it was introduced at first it was denounced 
from the pulpit as diabolical. It was averred that vaccinated 
children became ox -faced, that abscesses broke out to indicate 
sprouting horns, and that the countenance was gradually "trans- 
muted into the visage of a cow, and the voice into the bellowing 
of bulls." Yet in Jenner's own lifetime the practice of vaccina- 
tion had been adopted all over the civilised world; and when 
he died his title as a benefactor of his kind was recognised far 
and wide. Inoculation is the insertion of an eye or bud to 
communicate disease by inserting matter in the skin, and to 
infect with the matter of smallpox is inoculation, whereas to 
vaccinate is to inoculate with the matter of the cow-pox. The 
word inoculation comes from the L. inocula, from in, into, and 
oculus, an eye. Most diseases, too, if taken in time and rightly 
treated, as well as many accidents and injuries, are curable. 
Hence there are many whose Profession is the treatment both 
of diseases and injuries. Those who concern themselves chiefly 
with diseases are called physicians, while those who occupy 
themselves chiefly with accidents and injuries are called surgeons. 
Physicians received their name not because they were skilled in 
the use of physic, which is the modern sense, but because they 
were at an earlier period the only men who were naturalists, or 
who had any true knowledge of nature, and the name comes 
from Gr. physis, 1 nature. Of course doctors differ now, as pro- 
verbially they have ever done, and the profession is divided into 
two classes, not, however, of equal size, viz., horc eopathists and 
allopathists. The homeopathists are those who av.tempt to cure 



1 We have also from this word 
physical science, physiology, phy- 
siognomy, physiography, treating 
of the earth's physical features, 



literally a description of nature 
in its external aspects, physique, 
a man's natural constitution or phy- 
sical structure, also metaphysics. 



BODILY HEALTH, SICKNESS, DISEASE, AND DEATH. 139 

diseases by small quantities of those drugs which excite symptoms 
similar to those of the disease (literally, similar feeling or affection, 
from Gr. homoiopatheia, from homoios, like, from homos, the same, 
and pathos, 1 feeling.) The allopathists are those who, according to 
the homeopathists, prescribe medicines producing effects different 
from the symptoms of disease, or contrary to them, from Gr. olios, 
different, and pathos, feeling ; but allopathy is the name given by 
homeopathists to the current or orthodox medical practice. 

The ills that flesh is heir to are too numerous, unfortunately, to 
permit of the different diseases being mentioned here, so we shall 
confine our attention to one or two of those names which throw 
some light upon their nature. Obesity, for instance, though 
scarcely reckoned a disease by many, is in reality such in numerous 
cases, meaning, as it does, excess in fatness or corpulence. In 
many cases it is brought on by excessive eating, hence the name, 
from ob, and edere, to eat (participle esum), to eat away, in the 
sense of the man eating himself away ; but afterwards it came 
to describe the result of what he did eat, signifying no longer 
lean and slender, but plump, fat, well-favoured, in good condition ; 
obese, having an excess of adipose tissue (L. adiposus, fatty, from 
adeps, fat), as opposed to atrophy (Gr. atrophia = a, without, and 
tropho, nourishment), a wasting away without manifest cause. 
Pleurisy is an inflammation of the membrane which covers the 
lungs, and which shows itself generally by a stitch of pain in the 
side. The word comes from the Gr. word pleura, which signifies 
a rib, or the side, now the membrane covering each lung. In 
the time of the Elizabethan writers there was a word plurisy, or 
possibly the same word spelt without an "e," and was used 
in the writings of the dramatists of the period in the sense of 
plethora, or too much, as if it were derived, like plural or plurality, 
from the L. plus, pluris, more. In " The Two Noble Kinsmen " 
man is represented as curing the world " o' the plurisie of people " 
(V. i. 66), and Shakespeare (" Hamlet," IV. vii. 118) uses it in the 



1 From Gr, pathos, feeling or 
Buffering, we have our English 
words pathos and pathetic, apathy 
and apathetic, antipathy and 



antipathetic. Pathology, hydro- 
pathy, hydropathic establishments, 
sympathy, sympathise, sympa- 
thetic. 




140 SIGNIFICANT ETYMOLOGY. 

same sense, " for goodness growing to a plurisy, dies of his own 
too much." Quinsy, the name usually given to an inflamma- 
tory sore throat, is not merely a contraction of squinancy into 
squinsey (Jeremy Taylor), and then by the omission of s to 
quinsy, so early as Dryden, "Palamon," 1682, "the throttling 
quinsey," but it is formed from the Sanscrit root anh, which means 
to press together, to choke, to throttle. In Latin it appears as 
ango, anxi, anctum, angere, to strangle, to distress, and angor, suf- 
focation ; but angor meant not merely quinsy, or compression of 
the neck, it assumed a moral import, and signified anguish or 
anxiety. In "quinsy" the root anh has completely vanished, but it 
was there originally, for quinsy is the Gr. Jcunanche, dog-throttling. 
The name of croup has been given to a throat disease of children, 
from the sound produced by the harsh screaming cough, as the 
child struggles for breath through a contracted windpipe ; hence 
the Scotch name for it "roup," and the adjective "roupy." 
Hooping-cough also has received its name for a similar reason; 
and when the word is spelt "whooping-cough," the reason of the 
name is clearly seen and heard from the convulsive cough resem- 
bling a whoop. Chincough is another English name for the same 
ailment, but this has no connection with chin, for it was origin- 
ally chink cough. The k has now been merged in the following 
c that is, a cough which makes one chink, which in the north of 
England means to have a catch (or kink) in one's breath. The 
Scotch name for it is still kinkhoast. The Dutch kinkhoest and 
the German keuchhusten both mean the cough which produces a 
hitch or temporary suspension of the breath. In the North it has 
sometimes been royalised into King Cough ! Megrim, through 
IT. migraine (and often now called megraine by us), a peculiar 
pain affecting half the head, from the Gr. hemikranion (hemi, half, 
and kranion, the head or skull). Bronchitis is a name given to 
the inflammation of the bronchi, or ramifications of the windpipe. 
The word is more remarkable for being so often mispronounced, 
and mispronounced by so many of those who are its subjects. I 
have myself heard it called " brown crisis " and " brown creatures," 
and " information of the lungs " is nearly as common a description 



BODILY HEALTH, SICKNESS, DISEASE, AND DEATH. 141 

of the disease as " inflammation " of them. Among internal 
maladies have been reported a "porpoise" and a "dissenter," 
which proved to be nothing more serious that a " polypus " and 
"dysentery." A recent explanation given me by a bride as to 
why the intended bridesmaid was not present at the wedding was 
that she had an " ulster " on her throat ; and on another occasion, 
asking a woman what the doctor said was the matter with her 
husband, I got the answer that the doctor thought he had a kind 
of " prelatic saviour," which, from the symptoms described, I took 
to be a "paralytic seizure." Still one other throat affection, 
diphtheria, in which the air -passages become covered with a 
leather-like membrane, which gives its name to the disease, from 
the Greek word for leather, diphtli&ra. Dropsy must not escape 
our notice, but we shall search in vain for the origin of the name, 
unless we first restore it to its original spelling, hydropsy, and 
then we at once get the derivation of it through L. hydropesis, 
from Gr. hydrops, from hydor, water. Hollingshed, vi. 8, speak- 
ing of the virtues of brandy, says, " It lighteneth the mind, it 
quickeneth the spirits, it cureth hydropsy," &c. 

In addition to the regular practitioners there is another class, 
outside the profession, who pretend to great knowledge and skill 
in the art of healing almost all diseases. They are known by vari- 
ous names, such as mountebanks, quacks, empirics, and charlatans. 
They are called mountebanks, from mounting a bank or bench or 
a cart (frequently with their medicines in it), from which they can 
harangue the gaping crowd, extol their boasted skill, and sell their 
marvellous medicines. A quack, or quack doctor, generally means 
one who doctors by quackery, from qvaken, to cry like a duck, to 
cry out loud. We have also from the German quacksalber, quack, 
who deals in salves, ointments, &c., a quack salber, of which quack 
is the abbreviation, and has been for two centuries, the full form 
not having been used since the seventeenth. An empiric, F., 
from L. empiricus, from Gr. empeirekos (Gr. em, in, and peira, a 
trial), is one who sets up as a doctor without a medical education, 
but depending on his experience alone. So also with charlatan, 
from It. ciarlatano, a travelled empiric, who cackled about his 



142 SIGNIFICANT ETYMOLOGY. 

wares. All these had each for the most part a panacea, an all- 
healing remedy, or universal medicine, which cured all diseases 
(Gr. panakeia, from pas, pan, all, and akeomai, to heal). All 
employ medicines i.e., substances applied for the cure or relief 
of disease and pain, from the L. medicina, from medeor, to heal. 
Even the quacks have their medicines ; they do not profess to 
cure without. They have their nostrums, in regard to which 
they say, Id nostrum est that is ours, a secret which nobody 
else possesses. It is literally "our own," from the L. nos, we. 
Those who dispense the medicines to the medical men are called 
chemists and druggists. Chemist was spelt chymist, and chem- 
istry, chymistry, and the old spelling derives the word from the 
Gr. chumos, sap, as if it had been first employed in distilling the 
juice and sap of plants ; but the favourite spelling at present of 
chemist and chemistry implies that the amalgamation of metals 
was its first occupation, and many see in that form of the word a 
reference to Chemia, which is, according to Plutarch, an old name 
of Egypt, in which this amalgamation was first practised with 
success. The word druggist came from the drugs he sells. The 
word drug comes through the F. drogue, from the Dut. droog, 
dry, and Ger. trocken, to dry, as if applied originally to dried 
herbs ; yet it is the prevalent opinion that it is the Persian word 
droga, which signifies aroma, odour, or flavour. Dispensary is 
the name generally applied to the place where medicines are dis- 
pensed, especially to the poor gratis, from L. dispenso, aw, atum, 
are, literally to weigh out to several persons, frequentative of dis- 
pendo (dis, apart, and pendo, pensum, 1 to weigh), and so dispensary 
now signifies the place where medicines are prepared or given out 
or dispensed. The verb dispense, from meaning to weigh out and 
to distribute by weight, came to signify to distribute, or to bestow 
in portions from a general stock. About the fifteenth century it 



1 From pendo or pensum we have 
compendium, a concise (weighed 
together or summed up) exposi- 
tion of science or similar subject. 
To compensate is to give an equal 
value, weight, or equivalent for 
what has been lost or parted 



with ; a recompense is a reward 
for something done. Indispens- 
able is what cannot be done with- 
out or omitted. Prepense means 
premeditated, and we have also 
expend, expense, expensive, ex- 
penditure. 






BODILY HEALTH, SICKNESS, DISEASE, AND DEATH. 143 

came to signify to administer, such as a sacrament or justice, then 
to make up (medicine) according to a prescribed formula, to put 
up (a prescription). The phrase dispense with seems to have 
originated in dealing, administrating with a law, rule, or person; 
and as such dispensations were generally obtained by paying or 
weighing out a certain sum of money, an obligation might be 
set aside or dispensed with, or his services might be dispensed 
with. Dispensation, too, in the sense of ordering or arranging 
anything in a particular way, is sometimes used with reference 
to some special dealing of Providence with an individual, a family, 
or a community, as a mysterious or afflictive dispensation ; and 
again, as a divinely instituted order or system, with reference to 
the time it has prevailed, as the Patriarchal, Mosaic, Jewish, or 
Christian dispensation. Closely connected with a dispensary in 
the art of healing is the hospital, which very frequently has a 
dispensary connected with it. This word comes from L. hospes, 
Tiospitis, a guest, a host or entertainer, but this comes from 
L. hostis, 1 an enemy. The root host means properly a stranger, 
a foreigner ; and hence the word hospes (or hostipets, according to 
Professor Skeat) means a guest-master, one who receives strangers. 
The word hospital now means a house for the reception of the 
sick, but originally it meant a place for the reception of strangers, 
or those who were in any way needy, as is still seen in the Hospice 
of St Bernard ; and the remains of several places of the same sort 
in this country are known by the name of spital, such as the 
Spital of Glenshee, or " the spital " generally. A hospitable man 
is a man who is kind to strangers ; and the hospitality which is 



1 The word hotel (ME. hostel, OF. 
hostel, F. htitel) is from the same 
root. In France the word hotel is 
often applied to a large private 
house or palace. The word ostler 
or hostler is from the same root 
also, meaning first a man who kept 
a hostelry, or house for strangers, 
and then a man who takes care 
of the horses at an inn, a better 
etymology than that which I have 
heard alleged, viz., that he was 
called an "ostler" because he took 



care of the ' ' 'osses, " or, worse still, 
that it was a contraction for oat- 
stealer ! The word tavern, com- 
monly in use with us for two cen- 
turies before hotel, is from the L. 
taberna, a tent or inn, for Cicero 
speaks of those "qui divertuiit in 
tabernam" who turn aside to an 
inn : from it we have tabemaculum 
(a double diminutive of taberna), a 
tabernacle, the movable building 
carried about by the Jews in the 
wilderness. 



144 SIGNIFICANT ETYMOLOGY. 

urged in Scripture, when we are enjoined to use hospitality one to 
another without grudging, is not merely the conventional hospi- 
tality, but the true hospitality of asking to our house, or otherwise 
keeping, those who could not ask us, or otherwise keep us, in 
return. The chemist is often called an apothecary. This word 
is also of Greek origin, from the Gr. prep, apo, away, and theke, 
a place, and the Greek word apotheke signified nothing more than 
" a store " or " warehouse." In the Greek New Testament the word 
is frequently used to signify a barn or storehouse for corn, one 
instance of which, in Matthew xiii. 30, will suffice, "Gather ye 
together first the tares, and bind them in bundles to burn them : 
but gather the wheat into my barn," where the Greek word for 
barn is apotheke. From this Greek word the Romans framed their 
word for a shop or warehouse, apotheca. Pharmacy, the use or 
administration of drugs, and latterly the making or compounding 
of medicines, signified first of all a medicine or medicinal potion 
even more, a poison; at least, the Greek word pharmakon, from 
which it comes, signified this, and indeed at the present day the 
most effectual medicines are, in larger quantities, poisons. From this 
word we have pharmacopoeia (pharmaco +poios, making, maker), 
a book containing a list of drugs, and pharmaceutical, relating to 
the preparation, use, or sale of medicinal drugs. In early times 
in England spices, sugar-plums, and medical drugs were sold at 
the same shops by the grocers. Grocers with us were originally 
people who sold their goods not by retail but in the gross, and we 
find accordingly that the word was at first spelt grosser; but 
drugs did not go off so quickly or in such large quantities as other 
goods, and were not sold at that time wholesale. We are told by 
Stone that the Company of the Apothecaries divided themselves 
from the Ancient Society of Grocers, directing that four physicians 
should be annually chosen in London to inspect these drugs. It 
seems probable that when the apothecaries separated from the 
grocers, they adopted the name of apotheke for the place where 
their drugs were sold, and thus acquired the name of apothecaries. 
The word grocer, originally spelt groser (as in Mincheu's Ductor), 
is from the F. grassier, a wholesale dealer (gros, gross, great), but 



BODILY HEALTH, SICKNESS, DISEASE, AND DEATH. 145 

this etymology is lost by the present spelling, although its meaning 
has changed so much that its modern use is the very opposite of 
its original meaning. A grocer nowadays is one who sells tea, 
coffee, sugar, &c., generally in very small quantities, even in penny- 
and halfpenny-worths, instead of on the larger scale which justified 
him in calling himself a grosser. We have even greengrocers, 
palpable retailers of greens, &c., by the single bunch, as well as 
turnips, carrots, parsnips, and vegetables of every colour and 
variety. Tho word retail, signifying to sell in small quantities, 
is from the OF. retail, a shred (from re, again, and tailler, to cut). 

The other branch of the healing art is carried on by surgeons. 
A surgeon was originally called a chirurgeon, from Gr. ergon, a 
work, and cheir, the hand, through F. chirurgien, from Gr. cheir- 
ourgos (now corrupted into surgeon), signifying the medical prac- 
titioner working with his hands, and dealing with outward cases, 
being prohibited from administering medicines internally. Surgery 
was originally practised in London by the Company of the Barbers ; 
and we find that Thomas Colard, citizen and barber, in 1467, be- 
queathed his book of Fysyk and Surgery, called ' Eossi and Con- 
stantine,' to the Hall of Barbers, to be laid in the library. Another 
society, however, existed afterwards, which also practised surgery. 
In 1540 these two companies were united by an Act of Parliament 
which provided that no barber should practise surgery, letting of 
blood, or anything relating thereto, except drawing of teeth ; 
and that no surgeon should exercise the craft of barbery, 
which is described as washing and shaving, and other feats thereto 
belonging. 

In surgery sometimes, in order to save the life of a patient, the 
amputation of a limb is necessary, and this word is etymologically 
a very interesting one. It comes from a root pu, which meant 
clean, and thence came the L. adj. putiis, clean, and purus, pure, 
while from putus we have the L. verb, puto, 1 to clean. In a vine- 



1 From puto, putavi, putatum, pu- 
tare, to prune or think, the Romans 
had in mercantile language the 
phrase putare rationes, to clear up 
or to settle accounts, which became 



a common expression for reckoning, 
and finally the word "accounts" (ra- 
tiones) was dropped and puto came 
to be used for ' ' reckon " in general, 
as in computation. From " reckon " 



146 



SIGNIFICANT ETYMOLOGY. 



bearing country cleaning is particularly pruning, and from that 
idea specially applied in surgery we get amputation (from amb, 
round about, and puto, to cut). 

But however skilful or however successful physicians and 
surgeons may be, and even although none of the human race were 
to die prematurely (L. prcematurus, from prce, before, and maturus, 
ripe), yet old age brings infirmities with it, many of which go by 
the name of senile, as pertaining to old age, or attendant on it, 
from the L. word senilis, which comes from the L. word senex, 1 
senis, old, or an old man. A person of eighty years of age, for 
example, is called an octogenarian, from octogenarius, from octo, 
eight. Gardeners proverbially make sad havoc with the Latin 
names of their flowers and suchlike ; but I think the old gardener 
made a very happy hit when in answer to a gentleman who said to 
him, " You must be a very old man now, Thomas : what's your 
age 1" answered, "I am what you might call an octogeranium, sir." 
Death, however, lies at the close of the longest life. Man on this 
account is said to be mortal, from the L. word mortalis, from mors, 
mortis, death. In many cases it is brought about not by disease 
or old age, but by accident or intention, either on one's own part 
or on that of others. Sometimes a man dies by his own hand, 



or " account " the transition is easy 
to "think," and this has become the 
ruling sense of puto (as in the adj. 
putative). From the same mer- 
cantile dialect comes imputo, to 
bring into the reckoning, to credit 
or charge to the account of, whence 
we get imputation, and by thinking 
over a person's conduct again and 
again, we form an opinion of him, 
we help to form his reputation, 
which may not be exactly what he 
is, but it is what people think he 
is ; while deputation is derived 
from the same word de, signifying 
from or of, and puto, still in its 
original sense of cutting, and here 
a cutting off, so that a deputation 
consists of certain persons who are 
cut off from the main body and 
deputed or selected to go instead 



of the others. Thus from a root 
signifying originally "clean," the 
imagination of the race, utilising the 
mechanical means which the laws of 
derivation and composition afford, 
has gradually formed a group of 
words of the most varied meanings : 
vine-dressing, singing, arithmetic, 
commerce, and folding are all in- 
cluded within this circle, and one 
word (reputation) is general enough 
to apply to all men. 

1 From senex we have senate (a 
council of elders), senators. Senile 
and senility are used in an unfavour- 
able sense. We speak of senile 
garrulity, and other senile weak- 
nesses. Senior means older, as op- 
posed to junior, and people are 
sometimes arranged according to 
seniority. 



BODILY HEALTH, SICKNESS, DISEASE, AND DEATH. 147 

and is called a suicide, from the two L. words, sut, himself, and 
ccedo, to kill. One of the most common forms of suicide is by 
poison. The word comes from the L. potto, potionis, a drink 
(poto, I drink), and now signifies any substance which, when 
swallowed, destroys life; but originally, like potion (from the 
same root), signified a draught or potion a medicine to be taken 
at a draught, a dose, literally that which is given, from Gr. dosis, 
from didomi, I gave. Many poisons are among the most valuable 
medicines, although when taken in excess they become deadly 
poisons. As an instance of this let us take the word laudanum. 
Webster has been held up to ridicule for suggesting in the first edition 
of his Dictionary that laudanum is derived from laudandum, as 
meriting praise, the gerund of laudo, laudavi, laudatum, laudare, to 
praise. The word seems to have been employed first by Paracelsus, 
being the name given by him to a prescription which he invented, 
and which was early suspected to have opium as the principal 
ingredient, and by-and-by it came to be applied to certain opiate 
preparations which were sold as identical with his famous remedy. 
The name is still given, and given exclusively, to the simple 
\lcoholic tincture of opium which is the Latin word for the gummy 
lice of the poppy ; and when we find how frequently distinguished 
lysicians have thanked God for opium, we are convinced that 
tudanum originally was laudandum, "the Lord be praised." All 
\ e same, it is right to say that the greater number of authorities 
\ re in favour of deriving the word from the sweet-smelling trans- 
^rent gum of the cistus ledon, from which they made ledanum, 
which name was gradually transferred to this preparation of opium. 
A much farther -fetched derivation would trace laudanum back to 
anodyne, considering it a corrupt Latinised form of the Gr. nodunon, 
an imagined neuter adjective from nodunia, the absence of pain. 
The word anodyne itself, meaning any medicine that relieves pain, 
is from Greek an, not or without, and odiine, pain. The name 
morphia, or morphine, is given to a peculiar alkaloid, the narcotic 
principle of opium, from Morpheus (from Gr. moi-phe, form or 
shape), the god of dreams, or shaper of them, and in consequence 
of the peculiar dreams which opium occasions. The word nar- 



148 SIGNIFICANT ETYMOLOGY. 

cotic comes from the Gr. narke, numbness, for narcotics are those 
drugs which allay morbid sensibility, relieve pain, and produce 
sleep or stupor. When a man kills another the crime is murder, 
if the person is put to death intentionally and from malice, 
the word coming from the AS. mortJior, from morth, death, akin 
to L. mors, mortis, death, and Sans, mri, to die. We speak of 
perpetrating a murder. This verb perpetrate comes from the L. 
verb perpetrare, to carry through, from per, through, and patro, 
patrare, to effect, accomplish. In Latin the word perpetrare was 
applied to anything gradual or indifferent, and they could perpetrate 
anything and use the word with reference to peace or war, to the 
fulfilment of a promise or the commission of a crime. But in our 
language, where it was first used in statutes in reference to the 
committing of crimes, it is constantly associated with evil deeds. 
A man with us may perpetrate a crime or offence of any kind, an 
atrocity however bloody, a murder however fiendish. But we 
never use the word with reference to any good action. No doubt 
it is sometimes used humorously of something which the speaker 
professes to regard as execrable or shocking, as when a man speaks 
of another as having perpetrated a pun, but this merely implies 
that he has done something very bad, as, according to the judgment of 
some, he that would make a pun would pick a pocket. The verb to 
burk, signifying originally to smother, is taken from a proper name, 
that of Burke, an Irishman, who was hanged in Edinburgh in 
1829. Along with another of the name of Hare, he murdered by 
suffocation a large number of people to provide bodies for dissec- 
tion, for which he was well paid by the surgeons. They smothered 
their victims that the bodies might show no marks of violence. It 
is now used only in the figurative sense of smothering or passing 
over in silence, as " his book was burked by the critics," and to 
burk a question is to smother or suppress it by unfair means before 
it has been fairly discussed. Another name given to death in- 
flicted by another is homicide, or manslaughter, from L. homicidium. 
Homicide may be of two kinds, culpable and justifiable, the latter 
being when a man kills another in seH-defence. The name of 
assassination has been given to secret murder, from the French 






BODILY HEALTH, SICKNESS, DISEASE, AND DEATH. 149 

word assassin, signifying one who kills by surprise or secretly, but 
this word assassin comes from the Arabic haschischin, which is 
the name of a religious sect, whose adherents have taken a vow to 
commit any murder which has been ordered by their chief, and 
who fortify themselves for this purpose by partaking of an intoxi- 
cating drink prepared from haschish, which is made from hemp. 

Where there is any suspicion that death has not come from 
natural causes, the funeral does not take place until a post-mortem 
(lit. after death) examination has been held of the body: it is 
called an autopsy, which signifies literally a personal inspection, 
from Gr. autos, 1 self, and opsis, sight. The dead body of a human 
being is called the corpse, from the L. corpus, 2 corporis, the body. 
In many parts of Scotland the word corpse is pronounced corp. 
Only lately the explanation was given to a funeral party waiting 
at the railway station, when asked why the body was not there, 
that "the corp had missed the connection." A ministerial friend 
was once asked to conduct a funeral service by the euphemistic re- 
quest that he would come and " gie the corp a prayer " ; while at 
another funeral, a person who was taking a good deal of charge, 
being asked by some one to whom he was giving directions what 
he had to do with it, answered, " I'm the corp's brother." 

The word funeral, which I have mentioned several times, is 
from the L. funus, funeris, a dead body, and then a funeral, which 
has been supposed to come from the L. fumus, smoke, which would 
arise from the burning of the bodies, which was then common, but 
it more likely has come from the Gr. phonos, which signifies death 
or slaughter. In any case, the word funeral with us includes the 
whole pageant of the procession, as well as the religious rites and 
the burial of the body, which closes the scene. Undertaker, the 
person who undertakes the arrangements for the funeral, has for 
a century almost usurped this name, which formerly was applied 



1 From autos, self, we have 
such words as autobiography, a 
person's life written by himself; 
autocrat, one who rules by his 
own power (kratos, power) ; auto- 
graph, one's own writing ; auto- 
maton, a self -moving machine ; and 



autonomy, self-government (nomos, 
law). 

2 From this word we have several, 
both literal and figurative, such as 
corps, a body of soldiers ; corporal, 
corporeal, corpulent, corporate, in- 
corporate, corporation. 



150 



SIGNIFICANT ETYMOLOGY. 



to any one who took upon himself to carry anything out, out 
why it should now be exclusively applied to him who undertakes 
to bury the dead it is difficult to see, unless it be, as in all prob- 
ability it is, because he is really an under taker, as he under- 
takes to see that the body is talcen under the sod. It was with 
reference to this exclusive meaning of the word that the late Dr 
Haig Brown, of Charterhouse, when a lady wrote to him to say 
that she intended to inter her son in his school, if he had no 
objections, wrote back to say (with reference to her misspelling) that 
he would have much pleasure in undertaking the job. "Well for him 
that his correspondent was not so far left to herself as the woman 
who wrote to a country schoolmaster the following letter : " Sir, 
as you are a man of no legs (knowledge), I intend to inter (enter) 
my son in your skull (school) " ! The word obsequies applies to all 
the last services which belong to the dead, originally perhaps to 
the funeral procession : the word comes from the L. obsequire, from 
ob, near, and sequor, to follow, meaning literally " a close following," 
as in a procession. The word obsequious signifies almost too com- 
pliant, as following a person too closely. To bury is to cover 
closely and completely, to hide, and (as the most effectual means 
of accomplishing the design) it is particularly applicable to putting 
anything underground AS. byrgan and Ger. bergen, to hide. In 
this country generally when a man dies he is buried, that is, he is 
interred (L. in, and terra, the earth), and the act of burial is the 
interment. To inhume, and inhumation, have sometimes been 
written for to inter, and interment, with which they are syn- 
onymous, being derived from L. in, and humus, 1 the earth. When 



1 Humility, the Christian grace, 
derives its name, L. humilis, lowly, 
from humus, the ground, but the 
word humble does not always de- 
scribe what is lowly or meek. The 
expression humble - bee is not so 
called because it is humble enough 
to construct its byke or hive on the 
ground. The word is supposed to 
come from the Dutch hommelen, to 
hum, and so also Ger. hummel, a 
humble-bee, but it is not necessary to 



go to any other language to get the 
name for the sound made by a bee, 
the humming sound, which is the 
same in all countries and in all 
languages. Probably from the 
sound made by the busy, buzzy 
bee we have the American phrase, 
"to make things hum," meaning to 
force the pace, to keep moving ; so 
with another American phrase, "to 
hum around " = to call to account. 
The word bee itself comes from the 



BODILY HEALTH, SICKNESS, DISEASE, AND DEATH. 151 



a body is taken from the grave to be interred elsewhere it is said 
to be exhumed (ex, and humus), and possibly from the same root 
we have the word posthumous, generally supposed to be from the 
lu.postumus, superlative of posterns, and meaning latest or last; but 
as a posthumous work means more than an author's last work, and 
a posthumous child more than the last child in the family, it does 
seem better to regard the word as composed of post, after, and 
humus, the earth, so that a posthumous work signifies a work 
published after the death of the author, and a posthumous child a 
child born after the death of the father. The hearse, which is the 
name given to the carriage in which the coffin is conveyed to the 
grave, was originally the name given to the triangular framework, 
with spikes, for holding candles at a church service, and especially 
at a funeral service, and seems to have come through F. herse and 
It. erspice, from L. hirpex, a harrow, which, from its triangular 
shape then, but especially from its teeth, it somewhat resembles. 
Some one has described a hearse as suggestive of mors omnibus ! 
literally, death to all. The word grave signifies literally that 
which is dug out, the pit in which a dead body is laid, from AS. 
grcef, grave (grafen, to die). The word tomb is supposed to 
signify originally a pit or vault in the earth in which a dead body 
is placed, from the F. tombe, through late L. tumba, from Gr. 
tumbos, which signifies originally a tumulus or mound of earth 
raised over a dead body. A sepulchre also is a place of burial, 
through F. from L. sepulchrum, from sepelio, sepelli, sepultum, 
sepelire, to bury. Mausoleum is the name given to -a magnificent 



Aryan bhi, to tremble, in the sense 
of to buzz, Ger. biene. 

There is another use of the word 
humble, or, indeed, another word 
which bears this name, in the phrase, 
"to eat humble-pie," which means 
to eat one's own words, to knock 
under, to cave in, to be obliged to 
act in a very humiliating way 
i.e., to stoop and to eat a pie made 
of humbles or umbles. And what 
were humbles? They were entrails 
of a deer or of any other horned 
animal. The word was originally 



French, where it signified the 
muscles of the inner part of the 
thigh of a stag, called nomble (or 
lomble, from L. lumbulus, diminutive 
of lumbus, the thigh). Of course, 
a pie made of these was not very 
appetising, and as Thackeray says in 
his 'Philip,' chap, xxvii.: "If this 
old chief had to eat humble-pie, his 
brave adversaries were anxious that 
he should gobble up his portion 
as quickly as possible, and turned 
away their honest old heads as he 
swallowed it." 



152 SIGNIFICANT ETYMOLOGY. 

tomb or monument, and is said to have received its name from 
Mausolus, King of Caria, to whom his widow erected a splendid 
tomb. A sarcophagus is a kind of limestone used by the Greeks 
for coffins, and so called because it was thought to consume the 
flesh of corpses L. and Gr. sarcophagus, from Gr. sarks, sarkos, 
flesh, andphago, to eat, literally flesh-eating. Mummy is the name 
given to a human body prepared by the Egyptian art of embalm- 
ing, in which wax was employed. The Persian name is mumayim, 
a mummy, from the Persian mum, wax. Cemetery is the name 
commonly given to a burial-ground now, from the low L. coemeter- 
ium, for Gr. koimeterion, from koimao, to lull to sleep, so that a 
cemetery = a quiet resting-place. Catacomb is a grotto for burial, 
a sepulchral vault, from Gr. kata, downwards, and kumbe, a hollow. 
Closely connected with this is a cenotaph, an empty tomb, or a 
monument to one who has been buried elsewhere, from the 
Gr. adj. kenos, empty, and taphos, a tomb ; and so also we have 
an epitaph, an inscription, epi, upon, and taphos, a tomb. In 
some cities the cemetery is sometimes dignified with the name 
necropolis, literally a city of the dead, from Gr. nekros, dead, 
and polis, a city. 



153 



CHAPTER XII. 

HIS CLOTHING. 

IT has been said that the highest distinction of man, taken as an 
animal among animals, lies not in his two-handedness nor in his 
erect figure, but in his necessity and right of dress. The inferior 
animals have no option concerning their outward figure and ap- 
pearing. Their dress or covering is a part of their organisation 
growing on them, or out of them, as their bones are grown in them. 
Be it feathers or fur, hair or wool ; be it in this colour or that, 
brilliant as the rainbow, or shaggy, or grizzled, or rusty and dull, 
they have no liberty to change it (even if they could desire the 
change) for one that is glossier and more to their taste. But man, 
as a creature gifted with a larger option, begins at the very outset 
to show his superior dignity in the necessary option of dress. It 
is given him, for his really high prerogative, to dress himself and 
come into just what form of appearing will best satisfy the tastes 
into which he has grown, or, what is very nearly the same thing, 
will best represent the quality of his feeling and character. "With 
this kind of liberty, as Bushnell says, there comes of course an 
immense peril, for there is a peril that belongs to every kind of 
liberty. As dress and equipage may create a difference of appear- 
ing that very nearly amounts to a difference of order and kind, the 
race of ambition, as soon as ambition is born, will begin here. 
And now the tremendous option of dress, given as a point of 
dignity, becomes under sin a mighty instigator in the fearful 
race of money, society, and fashion. There is something very 
significant in the intimation which is made in Genesis iii. 21, 
that "Unto Adam also and to his wife did the Lord God 



154 SIGNIFICANT ETYMOLOGY. 

make coats of skins, and clothed them." This, as Trench shows 
in his sermon on the text, was immediately after they had 
fallen into sin, and when shame had followed close on sin, and 
under the influence of this shame they proceeded to make for 
themselves such coverings as they could, yet such as they were 
conscious to be slight and insufficient ; and in proof that they felt 
them so, when they heard the Lord calling them in the garden 
they were afraid, because in Adam's own words they were naked, 
and they went and hid themselves from Him. But now, having 
been drawn forth from their hiding-place, and having received 
from the mouth of their Judge at once the sentence of death and 
the sentence of life, the Lord God proceeds at once to do for them 
what they had vainly attempted to do for themselves, to make 
clothes for them such as shall be indeed effectual, such as shall 
enable them to endure His else intolerable Eye. This, however, 
He can do only at the cost of a life. Some harmless beast which 
would not have been killed if they had not sinned must perish, by 
God's immediate decree and act, that they may be clothed ; that 
what covered it may henceforth cover them, being the garment in 
which they may not be ashamed to appear before God. As there 
was no grant of animal food before the flood, it would appear that 
if animals were slain it was in sacrifice, and sacrifices of atonement 
were rendered necessary only through man's sin ; and as just ira- 
mediately before this, but after man had sinned, there was uttered 
the prophecy of Christ in words, "The seed of the woman shall 
bruise the head of the serpent," so we have here a prophecy in 
act, in this first of the long series of sacrifices which were to follow, 
a type and shadow, a prophecy and fulfilment of that crowning 
Sacrifice on Calvary of the Lamb of God, in whom was no sin, to 
take away the sin of the world by the sacrifice of Himself, that by 
His righteousness we may be clothed. Spiritually we are taught 
that we are not to attempt to manufacture a suit of righteousness for 
ourselves, in patches of character gotten together and laid upon the 
ground of our sin, but that we are to take the whole robe of Life, 
graciously fitted and freely tendered in the humanly divine excel- 
lence of Christ our Saviour, who is thus made unto us wisdom, 



HIS CLOTHING. 155 

righteousness, sanctification, and redemption. But coming down 
from the figurative dress of the soul to the literal garments of the 
body, it is certainly remarkable that we are still wearing the coats 
of skin. The end of the world is almost upon us, and yet to this 
day we have not got beyond the dress which was worn by Adam 
and Eve on their expulsion from Eden. It is a curious thing to 
enter a great international exhibition and look upon the display of 
costly raiment worn by different nations in various climates, wrought 
in all manner of costly workmanship, and brought together to show 
the artistic skill with which our garments are now prepared, and 
then to let the mind revert to the alpha of these things when the 
Lord God saw the nakedness of our first parents, made coats of 
skins, and clothed them. But for this early lesson we might never 
have learned the art which is now our boast and our pride. It is 
remarkable with how much of our clothing the skins of animals 
are involved, and in how many of our words are we reminded of 
this origin of dress and brought back to the coats of skin. Pelisse, 
said now to be a silk habit worn by ladies, was originally a furred 
coat or robe. It comes through the French from the Latin word 
pdlis, a hide or skin, but properly I think it signifies a skin with 
the hair on. The English noun pelt, from the same pellis, signified 
the skin of a furred animal ; the word peltry is used exclusively 
for the skins of furred animals, and the word peltry-monger, 
common enough in the beginning of last century, was what we 
term a furrier. A pelisse, then, if accordant with its name, is a coat 
of prepared skins on which the hair has been preserved a fur- 
coat. In this country it was an article of female dress having 
sleeves, which distinguished it from a cloak or mantle, and covered 
the whole body from the neck to the ankles. The French, from 
whom the word has been borrowed, consider a lining, or at least 
linings of fur, as a necessary constituent of the dress, so much so 
that they give the name of la pelisse to fur alone, but in this 
country pelisses are often made of woollen cloth or of silk, even 
without linings. We have said that this is an article of female 
dress, but there is an exception in the case of certain cavalry 
regiments, in which both officers and men wear each a short jacket 




156 



SIGNIFICANT ETYMOLOGY. 



(called a pelisse) trimmed with fur and attached to the right 
shoulder of the other jacket, from which it hangs after the fashion 
of the Italians. Closely connected with pellis is the Old English 
pall or palliament (AS. peel and L. palla), signifying a robe of 
office, and to pall was to clothe in general, and particularly to 
invest with the furred mantle of power. The noun pall is still in 
the language, but it is most limited in its application, being used 
solely to denominate the sable velvet cloth of ceremony which is 
spread over the coffined corpse during the funeral rites that pre- 
cede the burial of the dead. It is also the English equivalent of 
the L. pallium, 1 a cloak, which is the kind of scarf worn by the 
Pope and sent by him to every archbishop on his appointment, 
and it is made of lamb's wool, reared exclusively within the grounds 
of the Convent of St Agnese in Rome, so that the pallium is one 
of the coats of skins after all The word fell 2 (AS. fet), also from 
the L. pellis, 5 was formerly a common name for skin, and fell- 
monger is yet equivalent to pelt-monger, though neither of these 
words is often written, being superseded by the periphrasis, "a 
dealer in skins." Felt was once synonymous with pelt, of which 



1 Palliate, paUiatus, cloaked, from 
pallium, a cloak or mantle, meant to 
hide, cloak, cover, lessen, extenuate, 
mitigate. 

a From fell, the skin, we have 
the word film, a thin skin or 
membrane (formed by adding the 
suffix m to the root of fell). It 
is a pellicle, or thin skin, but is in 
most cases associated in idea with 
that part of a plant or animal which 
it covers or lines. It has, besides, 
some peculiarities of usage. The 
popular conception of the causes of 
blindness in general is that which 
exists in a certain species of cataract, 
in which an opaque film or skin 
hangs across the pupil of the eye, 
like a curtain, so as to exclude the 
rays of light. This circumstance has 
given rise to frequent metaphors : 
thus the intellectual darkness that 
confessedly surrounds the mass of 
mankind, and in which it would 



seem they are for ever doomed to 
wander, is ascribed to superstition, 
which, by drawing a film over the 
eyes of the mind, excludes the rays 
of reason and the perception of the 
real objects of knowledge, while 
she peoples the gloomy wood with 
the phantoms of her own creation. 

s Derivatives from the L. pellis, a 
skin, appear in our language under 
various forms. The rind (or skin) 
of a vegetable, and particularly of 
fruit, is called the peel, and hence 
we speak of orange peel, lemon 
peel, &c. To peel is to take off the 
rind, and he who does so is some- 
times called a peeler. The slang 
name "peeler" applied to a police- 
man has no reference to this, but 
refers to Sir Robert Peel, by whom 
the force was instituted, and for a 
considerable time they were called 
peelers in consequence, and some- 
times "bobbies." 




HIS CLOTHING. 157 

it is obviously only a varied orthography, arising from a difference 
in pronunciation ; but the word now denominates a sort of artificial 
skin, in place of a real one. To felt or to felter is to form a 
matted tissue of wool, or other short hair, in which the fibres are 
so interlaced by their curls, and so closely united to one another 
by the almost imperceptible patches of their scaly coats, as to form 
a consistence like that of thick cloth. The term felting is em- 
ployed in the manufacture of hats, felt hats, which are called 
"wideawake" hats, probably because, unlike the ancient beaver, 
they have no nap ! 

In the same manner as the English pelt is transformed into felt, 
so the L. pellis appears again with some difference of application in 
L. vellus, velleris, a fleece i.e., wool shorn from a sheep, but still 
hanging together and other words of similar orthography. Velare 
is to hide or clothe as if with a L. veldmen, which in its primary 
acceptation was the skin of an animal, and subsequently any sort 
of garment or veil (velum, a curtain). To veil or vail is to cover or 
conceal, and to unveil is to draw aside the curtain and to hold the 
object to view. A veil or vail, generally speaking, is anything that 
conceals, but in a specific sense it is the name of a piece of thin cloth 
which women wear over their faces either for the sake of conceal- 
ment or of ornament. It varies in size and texture with the 
manners of the age or the country, and according to the purpose 
intended, from the sacred impenetrable screen of a Turkish 
beauty to the flaunting gossamer-like gauze of an English belle. 
In Roman Catholic countries the veil is a necessary constituent in 
the costume of a nun. At the moment when she has just pro- 
nounced the fatal and inevitable vow which separates her for ever 
from the affections of the world, when in her eyes "the shrines 
all tremble and the lamps grow pale," she is then said to have 
taken the veil. To reveal, then, is L. revelare, to lay open, either 
literally or metaphorically, what has been hidden, to draw aside 
the veil by which an object has been concealed. 

The L. vellere is closely connected with pellis and vellus. We 
saw that vellus, velleris, signified literally a fleece ; now the verb 
vello, velli, vulsum, vellere, is to pull off or to pluck out, to pull, 



158 SIGNIFICANT ETYMOLOGY. 

evidently by taking hold of the skin; to tear the skin from a 
beast, or the hair from the beard. 

I have mentioned that the L. rxOue was not only a skin in 
general, but particularly the skin of a sheep, and in a still more 
restricted sense the whole woolly covering, or what we call the 
fleece a word which may be derived either from its Latin name 
or, as some say, phloroe, the bark of a tree. Wool (AS. wutt, ob- 
viously contracted from vellus) denotes that soft curled hair of any 
animal which is capable of being spun into yam and wrought 
into cloth, and the compounds sheep's wool and lamb's wool 
are therefore not unnecessary. That it may be span is indispens- 
able to the definition of icool, for hair, the fibres of which are too 
rigid for being twisted into yarn, is nevertheless manufactured 
into haircloth. To fleece is to clip the wool from the sheep with 
shears, and figuratively to deprive a person of the whole or of a 
great part of his property by fraudulent means. Linsey-woolsey 
is cloth fabricated with linen warp and woollen woof. Worsted 
yarn is twisted thread, or yarn spun out of long combed wooL It 
is termed worsted, from a town of that name in the county of Nor- 
folk, near Norwich, these are the worsted stockings of the hosier. 
The woollen yarn is made from short wool, and it is from this 
sort of yarn only that the strong compact cloths used for men's 
clothes are woven; and the manufacturers of these are called 
clothiers. The verb to card, used in combing wool, comes from 
the L. carduuSj a thistle, it having been employed to completely 
separate all the fibres. The cloth woven from woollen yarn needs 
to be cleansed from the oil grease required in the previous opera- 
tions. This cleansing is the first of the manipulations of the 
fuller, who in that part of his trade is more properly termed a 
scourer, because he scours or washes the cloth from impurities. 
Scour comes through O.F. escurer and F. ecttrer and Ger. scheuem, 
probably all from low. L. sturare, to sweep, from L. ex, curare. 
Another possible, if not probable, etymology of scour is from the 
F. escorer, from the L, ereorurre, to rub, scrub, or scratch the skin, 
or to rub it so hard as to take the skin of from the L, ex, from, 
and cerium, the skin. After the cloth is scoured, and all the 






HIS CLOTHING. 159 

knots and inequalities of the threads removed, the web is returned 
to the fuller to be fulled that is, to be condensed into a closer 
and thicker fabric by the fulling-mill : thence the denominations 
of twilled cloth and double-twilled cloth, from the verb twill 
(from low Ger. twillen, to make double, from the root of two), to 
weave cloth so as to produce the appearance of diagonal lines or 
ribs on its surface. To full in this sense is to press or pound cloth 
in a mill, so as to scour and thicken it. It comes through the 
F. fouler, to tread, to full or thicken cloth, from L. fullo, fvllonis, 
a cloth fuller. A twill of the best sort, termed superfine cloth, is 
thus rubbed until it is reduced to one half of its original surface, 
and might be raised to a much more solid consistence if required. 
The cloth has again to be scoured, and it is at this stage that a 
preparation of fuller's earth, &c., is used for softening the cloth 
and cleansing it from the soap. Fuller's earth is a soft earth or 
clay capable of absorbing grease, so named from its being used in 
fulling or bleaching cloth. The name of the bleacher or cleanser 
of cloth is a well-known surname. Thomas Fuller, the great 
Church historian, was perhaps the worthiest who bore the name, 
and he left instructions that the only inscription to be put on his 
tombstone should be "Fuller's earth." Another distinguished 
Baptist minister was the Eev. Andrew Fuller of Kettering, who 
on one occasion, walking with Mr Jay of Bath, said, pointing to a 
bird in the adjoining wood, " I believe that's a jay." On which 
Mr Jay replied, " No, it is not a jay. It is fuller in the breast, 
and fuller in the body, and fuller in the tail, and fuller in the 
head in fact, it's fuller all over!" 

The peculiar construction of the trough and beaters of the full- 
ing-mill (L. fullonia), into the trough of which the folded web is 
put, soaked with warm soapsuds and beaten with two wooden 
mallets, and rolled about continually and regularly amid the fluid 
in which it was immersed, has in several languages given a name 
to the machine. To suppose that the L. ftdlo and volvo are kin- 
dred words might be reckoned too great a stretch of literal ety- 
mology, but the OK and almost still used Scotch name, a walk-mill 
(or in Scotland a wauk-mill), is doubtless from the AS. walurian, 



160 SIGNIFICANT ETYMOLOGY. 

or wealcian, to roll. The Saxon fuller was a wealcere, and he is 
still termed a walker or a wauker in many parts of the island, 
where to wauk is not only to scour and cleanse, but also to felt or 
thicken, which applied solely to woollen cloth, for linen and cotton 
goods are scoured in the wauk-mill without being condensed. A 
practice which must have given rise to the invention of the fulling- 
mill is still common in some parts of Scotland. A tub containing 
the cloth to be scoured or the clothes to be washed, soaked in 
water mixed with soap or other cleansing materials, represents the 
trough, and the naked feet of the washerwoman are used for 
beaters. This is called tramping. To tramp is to tread with 
force ; and in the mouths of common people a tramp denotes one 
who is obliged to travel on foot. To trample upon is a frequent- 
ative of more common use. The trampler, either literally or meta- 
phorically, treads another person, or thing, under foot. The 
tramping (or trampling) of clothes is as old as history. In Scot- 
land still the word tramp signifies as one of its meanings " to wash 
by stamping with the feet." We have seen in the paintings found 
on the walls of a fullonica at Pompeii, one which represents four 
persons employed in tramping the clothes, which were soaking in 
tubs or vats. The four persons represented are three boys, prob- 
ably under the superintendence of the man, with their dress tucked 
up, leaving their legs bare ; while the clothes are being trodden 
upon and stamped by the feet of the fullones. 

The cloth having acquired a close and uniform consistency in 
the fulling-mill, the real object of the clothier is to give it still 
more of the qualities of a skin by raising the wool upon its sur- 
face so as to cover it with a thick soft down, which is called the 
pile, from the F. pott, from L. pilus, a hair. This is accomplished 
by drawing forth a portion of the wool with cards made of the 
prickly heads of the teasel, which has received its name of teasel 
or fuller's thistle from the use to which it has been put. 

I have hitherto spoken only of the plain milled fabrics that 
are chiefly used for men's clothes ; but there are several sorts 
of cloth of woollen or of worsted, or of both combined, differing 
from each other in the mode of manufacturing, or in the finish- 



HIS CLOTHING. 161 

ing, and sold in the shop of the woollen-draper under various 
names. 

Blanket (F. blanquette, from blanc, white) is so called as being a 
white woollen covering for beds; and blanketing is undyed and 
used chiefly for bed-clothes, for which purposes it is cut into oblong 
squares, each being called a blanket. Scotch blankets are plaid- 
ing (from Gael, plaide, a blanket, contraction of peallaid^ a sheep- 
skin, from peall, a skin, cognate with L. pellis), so that by night as 
by day, asleep as awake, we still have the coats of skins with us. 
The L. lana, wool, is the etymology of the Welsh gulatien, and the 
English flannel, a soft woollen cloth of loose and open texture. 

Turning from woollen to linen, most people know that the word 
linen comes from the L. linum, lint or flax, from which linen is 
made ; and there was not merely a waulk-mill for the woollen, but 
also a beetling-mill for the linen. Long before any one thought 
of preparing linen by a beetling-mill, the exclusive method was to 
pound the linen with a sort of mallet, which was much like a 
cook's rolling-pin provided with a handle at the end, or still more 
closely resembling a brass roasting-jack turned upside down. The 
implement goes by the name of a beetle, and is generally and most 
naturally derived from the verb to beat, as exactly describing the 
use to which it is put. When large quantities of linen had to be 
treated, another method was used for shortening labour, and the 
mangle in its various forms was introduced. It became further 
necessary to glaze the linen by an extension of the process, and so 
the art of calendering was introduced, which required the use of 
cylinders filled with hot coals. Now it is very natural and very 
reasonable to suppose that the word calender came from cylinder, 
through the F. calandre, a calender, a mangle a machine for 
smoothing cloth. We are all familiar with the word calender from 
Cowper's poem of " John Gilpin," in which he says his " good friend 
the Calender will lend his horse to go." Unfortunately John's 
orthography and grammar are not perfect, for he speaks of riding 
" on horseback after we," and also of " the calender " instead of 
the calenderer, for "calender" is the machine, and calenderer is 
the person who runs it or uses it. Now there are certain diffi- 

L 



162 



SIGNIFICANT ETYMOLOGY. 



culties in the form of either calender or calander which prevent us 
deriving it from the Gr. kulindros, a cylinder. The regular and 
correct form of a word so derived would have been colender. A 
more legitimate form of deduction would have been from L. caleo, 
calui, calere, to be hot, as the linen was pressed between heated 
rollers to finish it off. It is a very curious coincidence although, 
perhaps, not much value can be attached to it that the word 
calandre in French and calendra in Spanish is the name of a sort 
of beetle, for which we have the authority of Cotgrave in the 
seventeenth century; and it may be the case that the general 
shape of the insect the head representing the handle, and the 
body the thick round part of the instrument gave the name first 
to our beetling and afterwards to our calendering. 

But turning your attention now rather to the names of the differ- 
ent articles we wear than to their substance, and proceeding from 
the centre to the circumference, we find the word chemise, a French 
word from the late L. camicia, an under-garment or night-gown. 
This word is of comparatively recent introduction instead of a shift, 
which was originally a euphemism for smock ; but as refinement 
of a certain kind progresses, greater reluctance manifests itself to 
mention various parts of the body in plain terms, and this avoid- 
ance is extended by association to different articles of attire. The 
extreme of vulgar prudery was thought to be reached in using limbs 
for legs (even for the legs of chairs), but the substitution is not 
different in kind from those I have just mentioned ; for smock, 
which was first displaced by shift, was the AS. word smoc, likely 
from the AS. smeogan, to creep, and literally signified a garment 
crept into; while shift, which has been displaced by chemise, 
meant originally a shift or change of linen a very delicate idea, 
one would have imagined. The word petticoat (literally a little 
coat), in itself a sufficiently inoffensive term, has shown a tendency 
to give way to skirt. By the irony of fate, this substitution is 
made in ignorance of the original meaning of skirt, which is in 
fact merely the old Norse word for shirt, and less delicate therefore 
than petticoat. Garter, in ME. gartere, is borrowed from OF. 
gartier, F. jarretiere, derivative of F. jarret, the small of the leg 
behind the knee, from Bret, gar, the shank of the leg. Trousers is 



HIS CLOTHING. 163 

from the OF. tromses, originally worn by pages on the lower limbs 
and trussed or fastened up at the waist, and this from the OF. 
trosser, to bind together. Pantaloon was originally a ridiculous 
character in Italian comedy, also a garment worn by him, all of 
one piece, breeches, stockings, &c. Jacket is from the F. jaquette, 
and is a diminutive of jack (F. jaque), a leather coat. This seems 
to have been originally soldier's slang, for there is little doubt that 
it is a jocose application of the proper name Jacques. Crinoline 
was the name given by French modistes to a stiff fabric of hair- 
cloth, but afterwards expanded by hoops, through F. crin, from L. 
crinis, the hair, and tin, from L. tinum, 1 flax. An apron is really 
originally a napron, as is seen in the OE. and F. naperon, from 
F. nappe, cloth, and meant originally a cloth, or piece of leather, 
before one to protect the dress. This comes out still more distinctly, 
as the meaning of pinafore is a loose cover of cotton or linen over 
a child's dress, only pinned in front of it or afore or before. A 
surtout is a close-bodied frock-coat, and the word is French, liter- 
ally, sur, over, and tout, all, over all, from the low L. super totum, a 
garment worn over all others. It is generally agreed among 
philologists that the word cloak is radically the same word as 
clock, and further, that the original sense of " clock " was a bell, 
from the old Irish form doc, a bell, duly given by Windisch. 
Skeat points out that the similarity to a bell, of at least one form 
of the cloak, must once have been very noticeable, and that the 
likeness did not escape the observant eyes of Chaucer. In his 
famous description of the Frere (Friar) in the Prologue to the 
' Canterbury Tales,' lines 262 and 263, he took particular care to 
describe his outer dress in the words 

" Of double worsted was his semi-cope, 
That rounded as a belle out of the presse." 

Here rounded means "stood out stiffly all round" or "raised," and 
" presse " refers to the mould in which the bell was cast. 



1 While we perceive at once the 
origin of our word linen, it would 
scarcely be thought that from this 
same word we have the name 
linnet, the seed of the linum, or 
lintseed, being the favourite food of 



that bird. This origin of the name 
does not occur to us, because we 
have doubled the letter n, while the 
French have in this instance in 
their word linotte adhered closer to 
the parent word. 



164 SIGNIFICANT ETYMOLOGY. 

The covering for the feet is still for the most part composed of 
skins, as were the garments of our first parents, both soles and 
uppers being generally of leather. But the name of pumps given 
to the thin -soled shoes to which we were accustomed in our 
dancing days, and on which we often exercised our etymological 
powers in vain, we now find to have originated in the fact that 
they were at first worn by persons in full dress for pomp and 
ornament, and that to express this they had the French word 
pompe, state, magnificence, ready to their hand. These thin soles 
remind us of the word sole itself the sole of a boot or shoe, from 
the L. solea, the sole of the foot or a shoe, from L. solum, the 
ground or earth, whence also we have our English word soil. The 
name of slipper is given to a loose easy shoe for indoor wear, 
which slips on easily, and so we speak of slipshod, careless in 
manners or style ; but the adjective meant originally wearing shoes 
down at the heels, only slipped on. Somewhat akin to this is the 
word galoshes, supposed to be from the Greek word kalos, beautiful, 
but they must have been different from the articles which now 
usurp the name if that be the true etymology. The earliest use 
in our language of the word is with reference to a kind of wooden 
shoes which went over the others to protect them, as we do with 
our galoshes, now made of caoutchouc or india-rubber, and called 
with us over-shoes. I think the most probable history of the 
word is that it came to us through the F. galoche, from the L. 
yoMiea, the name given to the foot-gear of the ancient Gauls, and in 
France still the word galochier is a maker of sabots. In America 
they are generally called "rubbers," from the material out of which 
they are made. But over-shoes of this material are not universally 
called rubbers even in America. In Philadelphia, with reference to 
the substance of which they are made, they are colloquially called 
" gums." A Philadelphian gentleman and his wife were going to 
pay a visit to a house in New York, where they were very much 
at home, and his wife remaining for a moment outside while he 
entered the parlour alone, the question at once was put, "Why, 
where is Emily ? " To which he answered, " Oh, Emily is outside 
brushing her gums upon the mat." Thereupon there was a 



HIS CLOTHING. 



165 



momentary look of astonishment, and then a peal of laughter. 
Now, there is no need for the use of any of these words in this 
sense. The proper word is simply over-shoes, which expresses all 
there is occasion to tell except to a manufacturer or a salesman. 
There is neither meaning nor propriety in our going into the 
question of the fabric of what we wear for the protection of our 
feet, and of saying that a lady is either ruhbing her rubbers, or 
cleaning her gums on the mat, any more than there is for saying 
that a gentleman is brushing his wool (meaning his coat), or that 
a lady is drying her eyes with her linen (meaning her handkerchief). 

The word caoutchouc is the name given by the inhabitants of 
the province of Quito, where tributaries of the Amazon flow down 
southwards from the neighbourhood of Chimborazo. As the 
Amazon is a river of great length, it is useful to know that the 
name is used only near the source of that river, not near its 
mouth. The name signifies juice of a tree, which we call india- 
rubber. The name india-rubber has been objected to, because it 
was supposed to have come from Brazil, which was confounded with 
the West Indies, and thus originated the name india-rubber. But 
West Indies of itself is a misnomer, due in the first place to 
geographical confusion. But the name India is appropriate 
enough, because it was among the American Indians that the 
name originated, while the name of rubber, applied to this sub- 
stance in which there is now so enormous a trade, was originally 
given to it from the only use to which they thought it could be 
put, viz., a rubber out of pencil marks. The single word is now 
greatly used as an adjective, or as the first part of a compound. 

As we have just spoken of the sole, this is the proper place to say 
a word or two about the vamp that is, the front or upper leather 
of a boot or shoe. It is a corruption of the F. avant-pied (avant, 
before, and pied, a foot ; L. pes, pedis, a foot), the forepart of the 
foot ; according to Cotgrave, " the part of the foot that's next to the 
toes, and consisteth of five bones." This form of the word has 
been arrived at by shortening it both at the beginning and the end. 
However, this etymology is verified by the fact that the word 
appeared originally in English as vaumpe and vampay. When it 



166 SIGNIFICANT ETYMOLOGY. 

came to be used as a verb, to vamp, it meant to put a new upper 
leather on, to furbish, generally with up, to patch old with new, 
to give a new face to. 

The verb dress itself signifies properly to put straight, or in 
order, from the OF. dresser, to make straight, and so a dress has 
come to be the name for the covering of the body, or a lady's gown, 
or the style of dress ; and yet among the epithets of a disparaging 
kind applied to dress there is none more frequent, or of which the 
origin is less known, than tawdry. The word is said to be a 
contraction of St Audrey (or St Etheldreda), a name commonly 
applied to an annual fair held on St Audrey's day, and at which all 
kinds of frippery, and trinkets, and laces, were bought and sold, 
while these articles generally possessed more glitter than gold ; and 
as their splendours were too often sadly tarnished and faded, it 
soon came to acquire the meaning which we now attach to the 
word "tawdry" as "that which was bought at St Audrey's fair," 
and so, tawdry. The fair saint herself is said to have been rather 
attached to finery so much so, indeed, that she died of a swelling 
in the throat, sent, as was believed, as a special visitation, on 
account of an ardent youthful fondness for fine necklaces. 

Of more general articles of dress we may mention, attire 
originally meant a hood or woman's head-dress, from OF. atour 
or attour, and to attire originally meant to put on a head-dress. 
"Noblewomen," we read, "used high attire on their heads, piked 
like horns " (Storr's ' Annals ') ; and it gradually came to mean 
dress for the whole body, especially of a more sumptuous kind ; 
but the word tire itself is almost entirely confined to decorations 
of the head. So Jezebel tired her head, and the person who 
attended to this was called a tire- woman. The word is the 
same as tier, or row, and to tire the head would be to arrange it 
in tier upon tier, or row upon row, of natural or artificial bands. 
No doubt from the account given of the way in which the hair was 
piled up tire upon tire, as they sat with head erect and back stiff 
in their coaches up to London, they, if not their heads, must have 
been tired enough when they reached their destination. Raiment 
is that in which one is arrayed or dressed. The word garment 



HIS CLOTHING. 167 

is a contraction of the OF. garnement, decking or trimming, from 
the F. garniej; to deck or adorn or garnish ; but it is now restricted 
to the meaning of garnishing or decorating the body by dress, 
so that garment signifies any article of clothing, and in the plural, 
dress in general It has been said that raiment by good writers 
is used only with reference to clothing of a very splendid or 
expensive character, such as was used by Solomon, of whom our 
Authorised Version says that "even Solomon in all his glory 
was not arrayed like one of these " ; but the same translators 
speak of a poor man in " vile raiment." The word livery 
(F. livree, from livrer, to deliver or give, according to Du Cange, 
from L. liberare, to deliver, to give freely) was originally applied 
to the suit of clothes given out to servants in stated quantities 
and at stated times, the distinctive uniform of servants marking 
them out as belonging to a particular household, and which the 
master does not require them to procure by purchase, but grants 
them freely, that is gratuitously. It also was used to denote the 
food or provisions so dispensed, or the allowance of food served 
out. Then it was applied to the provender for horses, and soon 
after to a stable, hence called a livery stable, where horses were 
kept for the owner, and fed and groomed at a fixed charge, and 
such horses are said to be at livery. A liveryman sometimes 
means a keeper of, or attendant at, a livery stable but more fre- 
quently now a freeman of the city of London, who is entitled 
to bear the livery of the Company to which he belongs, and to 
exercise other privileges. The derivation of kerchief in the form 
keverchef, as it is written in Chaucer, is obviously from the 
F. couvrechef, a covering for the head, from couvrir, to cover, 
and chef, the head. It was originally a square piece of cloth used 
by women to cover the head, and so neckerchief, a kerchief for 
the neck; but in handkerchief the meaning is slightly altered, 
although it is still applied to the head. A cloth for wiping the 
hands, also a handkerchief, is called a napkin, a diminutive of 
the F. nappe, a tablecloth, from the L. mappa, a napkin. The 
guests at an entertainment among the Romans used to bring 
their own mappce with them ; and persons used frequently to 



168 SIGNIFICANT ETYMOLOGY. 

put into them what they could not eat at table. Handkerchiefs 
require to be hemmed before they are used. The fundamental 
purpose of a hem is to protect the substance of a texture, to 
confine the threads of which it is composed, and prevent them 
from ravelling out. The essential character of a hem, then, may 
be signified by the Ger. hemmen, to hinder or stop the motion 
of a body, to stop the flow of water, to drag a wheel, to hinder 
a proceeding, &c. To hem one in is not merely to surround 
him, but to prevent his action in any direction. The different 
people employed in making and fitting on these varied articles 
of wearing apparel are called by various names. The tailor is 
so named because his businesa is to cut out and make men's 
clothes, from the F. tailleur, from tattler, to cut. A milliner, or 
one who makes head-dresses, bonnets, &c., for women, was 
possibly milaner, a trader in Milan wares, especially female 
finery; whilst a mantua- maker may have received her name, 
not so much from the mantuas, cloaks, or mantles that she made, 
and so from the F. manteau, a mantle, but from the city of 
Mantua in Italy, which was famous for its dressmakers. Boot 
and shoe makers need no special mention, but when they are 
called cordwainers, they bring us back to the coats of skins 
again, for the name of cordwainer was given to those who 
worked in cordwain or cordovan, the name of a kind of goat- 
skin leather originally brought from Cordova, in Spain. It was 
important for all those workers, and especially for the customers 
of the cordwainers, that whatever they made should fit. This 
word fit seems a shortening of the OE. feat, or fete, neat, well 
made, good, from F. faict, fait, made, fashioned after a certain 
pattern or certain requirements. A coat is a fit when it is made 
to measure. However, the shoemaker should not go beyond his 
last. Now this last word, which means either the wooden mould 
of the foot on which boots and shoes are made, or the verb to 
fit with a last, is an AS. word, from the Gothic word lai*t*, 
a footmark. 

Closely connected with dress is the word fashion, and the 
fashions. Fashion signifies properly the make or cut of a thing, 



HIS CLOTHING. 



169 




prevailing mode or shape of a dress, from F. fapon, from 
L. factum, from facio, to make. But as this changes so often 
in Paris and other cities, it is generally expressive of that which 
changes, as in Scripture, "the fashion of this world passeth 
away." There are several countries where the same shape of 
garments lasts for centuries, and then the same garments last 
a long time. "The Israelites," as the writer of the Homily on 
Excess of Apparel says, "were contented with such appare* as 
God gave them, although it were base and simple. And God 
so blessed them that their shoes and clothes lasted them forty 
years ; yea, and those clothes which their fathers had worn, their 
children were contented to use afterwards. But we are never 
contented," says the homilist, " and therefore we prosper not, so 
that most commonly he that mffieth in his sables, in his fine 
furred gown, corked slippers, fur buskins, and warm mittens, is 
more ready to chill for cold than the poor labouring man which 
can abide in the field all the day long, when the north wind 
blows, with a few beggarly clothes about him. We are loth to 
wear such as our fathers have left us : we think not that sufficient 
or good enough for us. We must have one gown for the day, 
another for the night, one long, another short, one for winter, 
another for summer, one through furred, another but faced ; one 
for the working day, another for the holy day ; one in this colour, 
another in that colour; one of cloth, another of silk or damask. 
We must have change of apparel, one afore dinner and another 
after ; one of the Spanish fashion and another Turkey, and, to be 
brief, never to be content with sufficient. Our Saviour Christ 
bade His disciples they should not have two coats, but the most 
men, far unlike to His scholars, have their presses so full of 
apparel that many know not how many sorts they have." Now 
this homily was published in the year 1522, and yet we find that 
even then, according to the writer, we in this country changed 
the fashion so often that the writer could say, "Therefore a 
certain man that would picture every man in his accustomed 
apparel, when he had painted all other nations, he pictured the 
Englishman all naked, and gave him cloth under his arm, and 



170 SIGNIFICANT ETYMOLOGY. 

bade him make it himself as he thought best ; for he changed his 
fashion so often that he knew not how to make it." 

Had space permitted I should have liked to dwell upon the 
long -established custom among different classes and bodies of 
men of adopting a peculiar mode of dress as a sign of brother- 
hood, or denoting similarity of pursuit, profession, or opinion. 
There is such antiquity in the habit that we hardly know how 
and with whom it first originated. In our Lord's time the Scribes 
walked about in long robes, while the Pharisees made broad their 
phylacteries. Of later years the custom has prevailed to a greater 
extent than ever. Thus we have amongst us the garments 
of freemasonry, the orders of chivalry, the colours of political 
opponents, and the singular, and for long unchanging, attire of 
the Society of Friends. Each profession has its own garb : the 
soldier, the collegian, the judge, the clergyman, has his distinctive 
dress. In all ornaments of dress generally, or trappings, the 
word paraphernalia is frequently employed. This word, which 
now is used when speaking of articles of attire or adornment, the 
trappings or decorations connected with any function, had orig- 
inally a strictly legal significance, and meant those articles of 
personal property which the law allowed a married woman to 
keep, and to a certain extent deal with as her own. In Roman 
law they were those articles of property held by a wife over and 
above the dowry which she brought to her husband, and which 
remained under her own control. The word comes through the 
Latin from the Gr. parapJierna, from para, beside, and pherne, 
a dower. This word dower, which now signifies that part of a 
husband's property which his widow enjoys during her life, comes 
through the F. douaire, and the low L. doarium or dotariurn, 
from L. doto, to endow, from dos, dotis, a dowry (F. dot). A 
dowager, too, is a widow with a dower or jointure, this title being 
given to a widow to distinguish her from the wife of her hus- 
band's heir. Habit, through the OF. habit (from L. habitus, 
dress), is a very old and a very common word applied to dress 
in general, but its meaning has become more and more restricted, 
even as applied to ladies' dress, so that there are perhaps only 



HIS CLOTHING. 



171 



two cases in which it is now so used. We still speak of habit in 
general, meaning a coat with a long skirt worn by ladies on horse- 
back; a habit - maker, a tailor who makes long cloth riding- 
dresses for ladies ; and also a habit-shirt, a thin muslin or lace 
garment worn over the neck or breast of women. The word 
Twhitus comes in turn from the L. verb habeo, habere, to have 
or hold, and so it was applied to dress, inasmuch as a man's dress 
holds him or contains him, and is that in which he usually appears. 1 
Articles of dress in general were formerly called habiliments, from 
the same word habilis, fitting well (and I suppose a suit of clothes 
was so called from their suiting, or at least being intended to suit 
or fit, the wearer). Our word habiliments, however, though it 
came to us from the Latin, came through the French, who have 
a word habillement, clothes (habiller, to dress). From this word 
the French have formed the verb deshabiller (composed of the 
particle des (L. dis), apart, and habiller), to take off one's clothes, 
or to undress ; and they have also a noun, a substantive participle 
of deshabilier, viz., deshabille", meaning easy clothing which one 
wears at home and when not expecting any one. We have not a 
word that exactly takes its place, and yet although it has been 
struggling for a place among us as an English word for several 
centuries, it is very seldom heard in conversation. In the French 
word there are at least two problems (h and U) of which most of 
us fight shy, and so we take the word and attempt to spell it as 
if it were English. No fewer than fourteen varieties of spelling 
have been tried, dishabille being the most frequent : by this 
spelling and want of accentuation it is really quite cut off 
from deshabille (pronounced de - zd - bi - ye), and I agree with the 
authors of ' The King's English ' in thinking that it is a pity it 
was not further deprived of the final e : that would have encour- 
aged us to call it dish - abil, and it might have made good its 
footing. 



1 From the verb habeo we have 
also able, unable, ability, and 
inability ; exhibit, to show in 
public, to hold forth what one 



has ; inhibit is to hold in, and an 
inhibition is a restraint upon, and 
prohibit, to hinder and to forbid 
formally. 




172 



CHAPTEE XIII. 

FOOD. 

Food is literally what one feeds on, that which being digested 
nourishes the body, or whatever promotes growth. The AS. word 
is foda, from a root pa, to nourish. A plant derives its food from 
the earth, the air, the light, the rain. We also need our food, 
and in the case both of man and other animals this is taken 
through the mouth, both meat and drink. In England I think 
the word meat is generally used with reference to the flesh of 
animals used as food, while in Scotland we use it in contra- 
distinction to drink, and apply the word to anything eaten as 
food, almost equivalent to victuals, literally that which is neces- 
sary for living, food for human beings, meat (from low L. 
vidualia, from L. victualis, relating to living), from vivo, 1 vixi, 
victum, vwere, to live. Viands also are articles of food, F. 
viande, from low L. vivanda (for vwenda), literally " things to be 
lived on," food necessary for life. We should not, however, apply 
the words viands or victuals to uncooked provisions or raw food. 
Appetite, or the desire for food, comes through the French from 
L. appetitus, from the L. verb appeio, from ad, to, and peto, to 

of an animal for scientific purposes 
while yet alive. Convivial, social 
in matters of feasting. To revive 
is to renew animation. We speak 
of a revival of learning, of a relig- 
ious revival, of a revivalist, and 
of revivalism. To survive is to 
outlive. Darwin's theory of the 
survival of the fittest is well known. 
One who escapes where others 
perish is called the survivor. 



1 From this verb (and vita, life) we 
have vital, meaning pertaining to 
life, and also highly important. We 
speak of vital energies, a vital part 
of the body, of the vitality of seeds, 
of vitalised blood. Vivaciousness 
or vivacity is liveliness. An exam- 
ination held viva voce (with the 
living voice) is carried on by spoken 
questions. Vividness is living bright- 
ness. Vivisection is the dissection 



FOOD. 



173 



seek after, from the root pet in different languages, and all the 
three senses of "desire," "seek," and "ask" are found in the 
L. verb peto, 1 petivi, petitum, petere. And now with a good 
appetite let us take the first meal of the day first, viz., breakfast, 
a noun formed of the two words break (break, a verb) and fast, 
meaning abstinence from food, from the AS. /test. To breakfast, 
then, is literally to put an end to fasting by eating. The natural 
meaning of the compound when employed as a noun is in the 
sense of the meal whereby that process is effected, after the night's 
fasting, i.e., the first meal taken in the day. When once the verb 
had thus acquired this meaning and was afterwards applied, even 
in cases where so little food had been taken before that meal as to 
be hardly worth considering a meal, the meaning of " breaking the 
fast " had been effaced by the new sense of eating the first important 
meal of the day. The word fast itself has given rise, as Mr Bradley 
has shown, to considerable difference of opinion as to whether 
the words, whatever their different meanings now are, had come 
from the same root originally, or whether they are originally from 
different roots which have come to be pronounced alike : for we 
have the three meanings of fast (a verb and noun) in the sense of 
abstinence from food ; and fast (an adjective), meaning in some 
places firm, immovable, and in others fast in the sense of rapid or 
quick, such as running fast. It is quite possible, and I think very 
likely, that they were in the beginning one and the same word, 
which has come in course of time to express the notions apparently 
so entirely opposite, the one being " immovable " and the other 
" rapid " in motion. But in the case of fast, in these two instances, 
I think it is the meaning that has altered, and the alteration is 



1 Thus from the one root we have 
a petition, petulance, centripetal, 
seeking or leaning to the centre. 
To compete is to strive to obtain 
some desirable things which others 
are also aiming at. Competition 
does not necessarily imply any feel- 
ing of emulation or rivalry. We 
have at present numerous com- 
petitive examinations. Darwin 
represents animal species as com- 



peting in the struggle for exist- 
ence. Competent means fitted by 
attainments, as well as by natural 
endowments. Without such quali- 
fications a judge would be incom- 
petent to decide, or a doctor to 
prescribe. A competence is a suf- 
ficient livelihood, while impetus, im- 
petuous, impetuosity, tell their own 
tale. To repeat is to speak or do 
again,and there are many repetitions. 



174 SIGNIFICANT ETYMOLOGY. 

quite easy to account for. The primary meaning of fast is firm, 
immovable, "but the notion of firmness which appears in the 
expression " to stand fast " was developed by an easy transition 
into that of strength and unwavering persistence of movement. 
Hence it became possible to speak of running fast. The adverb 
in this connection originally meant " without slacking," but when 
that acquired this meaning it was natural that it should pass into 
the modern sense " rapidly." A later development of this sense is 
exemplified when we speak of living too fast : a fast liver and a 
loose liver are expressions practically equivalent, although origin- 
ally, and still in other connections, the two adjectives are exactly 
opposite to each other. It is quite true that the distinction between 
fast in the sense of abstinence from food, and fast in the sense of 
firm or immovable, is by no means so great as between fast in the 
sense of firm and fast in the sense of quick, for a fast-day might 
mean a day on which the fasting is firm and strict, but I think 
it conies from the L. fastus dies (from the Gr. phao), a day 
marked in the calendar as a fast or festival ; and as many of these 
days were introduced into the Church of Rome as saints' days or 
days on which a fast was to be observed, the word came to be used 
as a noun, and not, as it had been, an adjective, and was applied to 
fasting in general, and to be applied to any abstinence, and so the 
word " breakfast " in the breaking of the fast observed through the 
night. As for the usual materials for breakfast there is no great 
etymological difficulty with their names, tea, coffee, and cocoa, 
all bearing the names given them in the countries where they are 
produced. The word bread being AS. is susceptible of no further 
explanation ; but the word morsel, often used in connection with 
it, comes through the OF. marcel and morsel, a bite or mouthful, 
a small piece of food, a small quantity, from L. morsiis, from mordeo, 1 
morsum, to bite ; but the origin of the word butter is not so 
obvious. I think it comes from the Gr. bouturon, L. Iwtyrum ; and 
Galen, the Greek medical writer, derives the Greek word from bom, 

gnawing pain or anguish of con- 
science excited by the recollection of 



1 From this verb we have also the 
word mordant, signifying literally 
biting into, serving to fix colours ; 
remorse, literally a biting again, the 



grief. We speak of remorse of con- 
science and of remorseless enemies. 




FOOD. 175 

the Greek for an ox or cow, and twos, cheese. It is likely that 
the name is of Scythian origin as well as the thing ; and Pliny 
speaks of butyrum as the most splendid food of barbarous nations, 
and which distinguishes the rich from the poor. Sugar seems to 
have, from its sweetness, suggested the F. sucre as its origin, yet 
sugar came from India, and it is there called sdrkhara, which is by 
no means sweet-sounding. It originally signified grains of sand, 
and was applied to sugar because occurring in grains. This sarkhara 
is the same word as sugar, and we still speak of saccharine juice, 
which is sweet juice. The Latin word for sugar is saccharum, 
which was a kind of sugar collected from reeds. Our sugar was 
not known in Europe before the time of the Crusades. Barley- 
sugar it has been said in explanation of the origin of this word 
that the sweetmeat so named was formerly made with a decoction 
of barley. Of this there is no evidence. The fact is that it has 
nothing to do with barley at all. The first part of the word is 
here an inversion, and at the same time a corruption, of the F. 
bruit, burnt. The whole word was originally F. sucre brule, burnt 
sugar, and it is still sometimes called sugar-barley. Molasses (the 
kind of syrup that drains from sugar during the process of 
manufacture) must be restored to its original spelling, melasses, 
before we can get at its derivation from the Spanish word melaza, 
the dregs of honey, from the Latin word mel, honey. A closely 
allied substance, treacle, has in its name a very interesting history 
which has been often told. The word is undoubtedly derived from 
the Greek word therialwn, pertaining to a wild beast, from Gr. 
therion, at first a wild beast of any kind, but afterwards applied 
more especially to animals that had a venomous bite or sting ; and 
by many Greek writers the term was used to denote a serpent 
or viper specifically. In Acts xxviii. we are told that a viper, 
which the natives called a venomous beast, came out of the heat 
and fastened on Paul's hand, and the word ih&rion is twice used, 
proving that it refers to this species of serpent. But what is the 
connection between a serpent and treacle ? How came so sweet a 
substance to have so venomous an origin 1 It was a popular belief 
at one time that, on the principle of taking a hair of the dog that 



176 SIGNIFICANT ETYMOLOGY. 

bit you, the bite of the viper could be cured only by the application 
to the wound of a piece of the viper's flesh. Galen, the celebrated 
Greek physician, who lived in the second century, describes the 
custom as prevalent in his time, decoctions being made by boiling 
the flesh in some fluid or other. The name given to the extraordin- 
ary electuary of viper's flesh (electuary is from L. electuarium, a 
medicine that dissolves in the mouth, made up with honey or sugar, 
from the Gr. ek, out, and leicho, to lick up) was theriake, from 
therion, a viper. By the usual process of alteration which goes on 
in the course of a few generations, in words that are commonly 
used, theriake became fheriac. Then it was transformed into the 
diminutive theriade, afterwards triacle, in which form it continued 
till the days of Milton. It changed its meaning and application with 
its various changes of form, signifying first the concoction of viper's 
flesh applied to the wound inflicted by the viper's sting ; then any 
antidote, whatever might be its nature, or whatever might be the 
origin of the evil which it was intended to cure. The word anti- 
dote, Gr. antidoton, a remedy (anti, against, and didomi, to give), 
is originally a medicine to counteract the bad effects of poison. 
Afterwards medical prescriptions came to be prepared in some 
substance intended to cover their nauseous taste or 'disagreeable 
look, and this vehicle was generally some kind of sweet or sugary 
confection to which the name of treacle was applied. Throughout 
our older literature we find frequent allusions to treacle in the 
symbolical sense of an antidote against evil, and in one of the early 
editions of the English Bible the familiar text in Jeremiah, instead 
of the question, " Is there no balm in Gilead?" &c., reads " Is there 
no treacle in Gilead ? " and so it has given to that edition the name 
of "The Treacle Bible." It is usual (in Scotland at all events) to 
have some kind of preserve at breakfast, such as marmalade, which 
comes from the Portuguese marmalada, from marmelo, a quince, 
L. inelimelum, Gr. melimelon, a sweet apple. A rasher of bacon is 
almost the only article of food used at breakfast whose name would 
occasion any perplexity. It seems to be generally taken for granted 
that this name has been given to it because it is rashly or hastily 
roasted, but I think it would be difficult to arrive at a rasher con- 



FOOD. 177 

elusion than this. As a rasher of bacon means a thin slice, I think 
it had heen originally a rasure of hacon (like the word erasure), a 
thin slice, a shaving, from the verb rado, rasi, rasum, radere, to 
scrape, shave, scratch. In Scotland still, with a large number of 
the population, the breakfast consists almost, if not entirely, of 
oatmeal porridge. The word porridge is said to signify a kind of 
broth, and to be derived from the low L. porrata, from the L. 
porris, a leek, literally leek soup. This does not seem likely, the 
contrast is so great. The word has evidently got confused with 
pottage, which probably may be nearer the original, although the 
word porringer is produced triumphantly to show that the povr (or 
leek) is an essential part of it ; yet pottanger has been found for 
porringer, and meaning a dish of pottage, so that we are inclined 
to think that whatever was made in a pot was called pottage, 
or porrage, or porrridge. 

A spoon is with us the most useful implement at all meals. In 
the younger or prose 'Edda,' near the beginning, we read thus, 
"thak heunar var lagt gyltum a kjbldum svo sem spdnthak," 
" thatch of it was laid with gilt shields so as a spoon-thatch," " its 
roof was laid with gilded shields as it were shingles " (Dasent's 
translation). Here we see plainly enough that thak = thatch = Gr. 
tegos = stegos = tectum. But what is this phrase, a spoon-thatch 1 
Speun = spoun, in Icelandic is (1) a chip, Dan. spaan, a chip, a shingle, 
a shaving or filing, and (2) skje, sJcee, a spoon. The two significations 
are reconciled, for the first spoons were but chips of wood. The 
Greeks and Latins gave them the name of cochleavia, of or belong- 
ing to snails or spoons (from cochlea, a snail or snail's shell), because 
originally used for drawing snails out of their shells, and afterwards 
for eating with generally. A traveller in Holland two centuries 
ago came upon some turf-cutters whose name for a spoon was a 
gape-stick, a chop-stick. In this word we have the origin of the 
phrase " spick and span new," literally " spike and spoon new," 
where spike means a point and spoon a chip bright as a spike or 
nail just made, and a chip just split, bright, quite new, or, as we 
say in Scotland, " spleet new." 

The second meal of the day (where an intermediate meal is taken) 



178 SIGNIFICANT ETYMOLOGY. 

is luncheon, or lunch, which is in one sense a mere contraction 
of the longer word, but in another is really its basis ; for the word 
lunch (connected with lump) signified originally a lump or a large 
piece of bread, and so luncheon originally would be taking a piece 
of bread between breakfast and dinner. As a corroboration of this 
we have the fact that many people frequently call a sandwich their 
lunch. It is sometimes called a repast, not a heavy meal generally 
literally a feeding again (re, again, and pastus, food, from 
pasco, I feed). A sandwich has received its name from the 
Earl of Sandwich, a very keen and eager gambler, who is said 
once to have saved time at a game by stratifying the bread and 
meat which his servant brought to the card-table. Archbishop 
Whately's reason why the Israelites did not starve in the desert is 
clever and amusing " on account of the sand-w(h)ich is there." 
" But how came the sand which is there 1 " " Noah brought Ham 
and his descendants mustered and bred." There is no foundation 
for supposing that the word was originally nuncheon. There was 
a word nuncheon, but it had relation to drinking rather than to 
eating. We find it spelt in ME. nonechenche, the obvious etymo- 
logy being none (noon), and schenke (a pouring out or distribution 
of drink). It was then liquid refreshment taken at noon ; and so 
in this country, up to a comparatively recent period in Scotland, 
refreshment taken at noon went by the name of meridian. Ante- 
meridian was a morning dram; meridian, refreshment taken at 
noon ; and post-meridian, an appetiser before dinner. Sir Walter 
Scott, in 1818, writing 'The Heart of Mid-Lothian,' says, "Plum- 
damas joined the other two gentlemen in drinking their meridian 
(a bumper-dram of brandy)." And this may be as good an oppor- 
tunity as any of mentioning some of the words connected with 
drink and drinking. The Saxons, like most of the Northern 
nations, were hard drinkers, and it is a subject of regret that their 
descendants at the present day have not altogether lost this not 
very creditable characteristic. They were not less remarkable for 
their hospitality than for their love of strong drink, and did not 
like to see their guests any more than themselves leave a drop in 
the bottom of their very capacious tankards. Hence they called it 






FOOD. 179 

a carouse, when they drank all out, the word gar signifying 
all, and ous meaning out, hence, the g being changed to c, 
to carouse (anciently garousz) meant to drink all out. So Shake- 
speare says, " The Queen carouses to my fortune, Hamlet." This 
carousing tending to frequent quarrels, the Saxon king Edgar 
enacted a law which he strongly enforced, ordering that certain 
marks should be made in their drinking-cups at a particular height, 
above which they were forbidden to fill their glass under a heavy 
penalty. This law, however, as Kapin relates, was but a short 
time in continuance, being too much opposed to the national 
character to be long maintained. The word wassail, defined 
by Dr Johnson as a drinking-bout, came from the old Saxon words 
wes and hdl, ices being the imperative of the Saxon verb to be, and 
hdl, signifying hale or healthy, literally, may you be in health ! 
The custom of pledging healths arose, it is probable, out of the 
savage habits of the times when every man dreaded violence, but 
when at the same time the most cruel among them respected a 
pledge and strictly kept his word. When a man took up the large 
tankard to drink, he pledged his word to his neighbour that he 
would protect him from violence while drinking, if the other would 
pledge him his troth, i.e., his truth, in like manner for his safety 
while he was in the act of drinking, and thereby obstructing his 
view by the large drinking-vessel and exposing his throat to an 
enemy. 

It has been usual to derive quaff from the Sc. quaich, a small 
drinking-cup, making the word to signify to drink out of a cup. 
This etymology, however, does not explain the characteristic mean- 
ing of the word, viz., to drink deeply, to drink in full draughts. 
" A richt gude willy- waught " means a copious draught. Now, as 
the bodily action in drawing a deep breath and in taking in a full 
draught of liquid is much the same, and as we speak accordingly 
of a draught of water and a draught of air, it seems as if the words 
quaff and waucTit are close relations of the English waff, whiff, waft, 
expressing movement of the air to waft, to blow along, to carry 
on by the movement of the air. 

Tipple, to drink in small quantities, has been explained by Skeat 



180 SIGNIFICANT ETYMOLOGY. 

as the frequentative of tip, to cause to slant, to incline, and means 
continually inclining the drinking-glass (and never declining it !), to 
be always tipping wine or beer down the throat; but, as Wedg- 
wood shows, tip itself is never used in this sense, and the origin of 
the signification is so clear in the case of the Bavarian zipfeln, an 
exactly parallel form with tipple, that we need seek no other 
explanation of the later word. Bavarian zipf or zip/el is the top 
or narrow end of anything ; the secondary diminutive zipfelein is 
used in the sense of a small portion of anything wet or dry. 

It is said that the word bumper, as indicating a full glass, 
originated in the fact that in drinking toasts if a man filled his 
glass to the brim, almost to overflowing, he justified himself by dedi- 
cating it to le bon pere, i.e., the Pope, and so the word bumper 
came to be a full glass, and afterwards a bumper house, &c. 

The various vessels employed for holding and drinking liquor 
are generally clearly marked by significant names, but the one 
attended with most difficulty is the word demijohn, which was 
a very common word half a century ago, but now it is wellnigh 
obsolete. It was the name of a large glass bottle covered with 
wicker-work, which occurs in most European languages. It has 
been a great puzzle to etymologists. It is often written in English 
with a hyphen between the second and third syllables, as if, notwith- 
standing its capacity, it were but the half of a whole John. In France 
it is made a compound, dame-jeanne Lady Jane, and a French 
etymologist has fabled that it took its name from its introduction 
into Europe by an apocryphal Lady Jane, a distinguished dame of 
that nation. Every one who has been in the East will remember 
that the portly vessel is there called damagan or damajahn, and the 
name as well as the thing is generally supposed to have been 
borrowed from the Christians by the unbelievers. The fact is, 
however, that the demijohn was formerly largely manufactured at 
Damaghan, a town of Khorassin, a province of Persia, once famous 
for its glass works, and hence the name. In a note to the American 
edition of ' Wedgwood's English Etymology,' Mr Marsh has re-ex- 
amined the etymology of this word, and is now inclined to think that 
the Orientals borrowed it from Europe, and that it is descended 






FOOD. 181 

from the medieval demionus (see Du Cange, who says that it con- 
tained two quarts, and that it is made up of demi, for dimidtus, 
half, and onus, a load or charge, and that it was half a chopin). As 
for the contents of these vessels it is not necessary to say much, 
as most of them, such as port, sherry, and champagne, are named 
after the countries in which they are grown, but some are not so 
obvious. Whisky is said to be composed of the two Gaelic words 
utsge, water, and beatha, life, having the same meaning as aqua 
mice, water of life, and is obviously from the same Gaelic words 
as the Irish usquebaugh. Brandy, which with us originally was 
brandy wine, from the Dut. branden, to burn, to distil, meant 
burnt wine, like the German name for it still, branntwein. The 
word punch is the Hind, pantscli, from the Sans, pantschan, five, 
and it received this name at an early period (seventeenth century), 
being made out of the five elements, spirits, water, lemon-juice, 
sugar, and spice. Grog perpetuates the memory of Old Grog, the 
nickname given to Admiral Edward Vernon, who first ordered his 
sailors to dilute their rum with water. He was named Old 
Grogram because he used in dirty weather to wear a cloak made 
of grogram (a corruption of the F. gros and gram, meaning coarse 
gram), a kind of cloth made of silk and mohair, of a coarse grain 
and texture. A book just published (1907), entitled 'Admiral 
Vernon and the Navy : A Memoir and a Vindication,' by Douglas 
Ford, gives a valuable and closely studied account of the admiral's 
career both at sea and in Parliament, where he championed the 
cause of the Navy and the common sailor against the indifference 
and the interest of Sir Robert "Walpole and his followers. His 
great services to his country by his achievements at sea were 
belittled by those who were embarrassed by his action and by his 
writings in the pamphlets in defence of the sailor against the 
oppressiveness of the hard discipline of those times, against such 
institutions as the press-gang, &c. ; and even the kindly nickname 
by which the admiral was known to the seamen of his day, " Old 
Grog," has been perverted. It used to be said that he made the 
sailors save half of their rum, because he made money by the 
dilution. Mr Ford has no difficulty in showing that he gave 



182 SIGNIFICANT ETYMOLOGY. 

orders that water should be mixed with the rum because the drink 
supplied by the Admiralty was poisonously bad, and taken raw 
drove the men to acts of madness, for which they were put in 
irons, lashed, and (no doubt) pickled. Negus is said to have 
derived its name from its first maker, Colonel Negus, in the reign 
of Queen Anne. The butler or bottler is the person who has 
charge of the liquors, &c., in a large establishment, and he was so 
called from the F. bouteiller, from boutettte, a bottle, diminutive of 
bottle or vessel for liquids. It is almost worth while in this con- 
nection to quote one of the most delightful specimens of mixed 
metaphor of which we have any record. It is contained in the 
following peroration to a speech addressed to a dishonest butler 
who had been convicted of stealing large quantities of wine from 
his master's cellar. " Prisoner at the bar, you stand convicted on 
the most conclusive evidence of a crime of inexpressible atrocity, a 
crime that defiles the sacred spring of domestic confidence, and is 
calculated to strike alarm into the breast of every Englishman who 
invests largely in the choicer vintages of Southern Europe. Like 
the serpent of old, you have stung the hand of your protector. 
Fortunate in having a generous employer, you might without 
dishonesty have contrived to supply your wretched wife and 
children with the comforts of sufficient prosperity and even with 
some of the luxuries of affluence ; but dead to every claim of natural 
affection, and blind to your own real interest, you burst through 
all the restraints of religion and morality, and for many years have 
been feathering your nest with your master's bottles." The word 
buttery, too, has a closer connection with " butler " than appears 
at first sight. It has no connection with " butter," but it is a cor- 
ruption of buttery, a place for bottles. It was originally a place 
for storing casks or jars of liquor, and by-and-by came to signify a 
place in colleges and schools from which provisions are served out. 
In opposition to all these drinks we have the teetotaller, 
rendered by a recent French novelist by totoliserer du the, as if it 
were tea-totaller, though it is, in fact, from teetotal, which is sup- 
posed by many to be merely a reduplicated form of total. Perhaps 
the best explanation of its origin is that it was the result of a 



FOOD. 



183 



stuttering pronunciation of the word total by Kichard Turner of 
Preston in 1833. Eecent slang has given the name of tee-totum 
to a tea or coffee house, conducted by the philanthropic as a 
counteraction of the dramshop. This is merely a poor pun, and 
nobody ever thought that teetotum and teetotaller were etymo- 
logically connected, but its coinage differs from folk-etymology 
merely in being jocose and intentional. Teetotum, by the way, is 
T totum. When used for gambling, the teetotum had a T on one 
of its four sides, standing for "take all the stakes." The game 
was at one time very popular in Scotland, so popular that an old 
minister in warning his congregation against the temptations that 
presented themselves about Christmas time, exhorted them in 
these words, " Beware of cards and dice, my friends, and that 
bewitching game the totum." A thoroughly established institution 
in this country about four or five o'clock is afternoon tea, 
which in addition to tea consists for the most part of cakes or 
biscuits of different kinds. Biscuits, so called by us from the 
OF. bescuit (now biscuit), but bes, the regular form of L. bis, 
twice, and cuit, the past part, of F. cuire, cuisant, cuit, to cook (from 
L. coquo, to cook, past cocttis, cooked), the twice-cooked or baked 
bread having been so prepared by the Roman soldiers. From the 
Latin through the French the Germans have taken the word zwie- 
back (It. bis cotto, twice baked), the form zwie instead of zwei, two, 
being that assumed as the first member of a compound word. This 
zwieback is in German what we are accustomed to call a rusk, the 
best being made at Friedrichsdorf, 1 near Homburg bread or 
cake sliced and exposed in a slow oven until of a pale-brown 
colour and of a crackling consistency, from the low Ger. rusken, 
to crackle, and hence called by the Americans crackers. 

We come to dinner, the great meal of the day. The two learned 
explanations of the origin of this word, the one from the supposed 
L. deccenare, to take supper, from L. coena, the other from desinwe, 



1 This little town was founded in 
1657 by 32 French Huguenot fam- 
ilies, who found refuge and protec- 
tion from the Landgraf Friedrich 
IL In Church and in school, and 



in their daily life and intercourse, 
until a comparatively recent period, 
the French language was exclusively 
spoken. 



184 SIGNIFICANT ETYMOLOGY. 

to cease, as denoting a meal taken at the midday rest, the cessation 
of work, are conclusively negatived by the fact that the word 
dinner was originally applied to the earliest meal in the morning, 
immediately after mass. The word, in fact, seems rather to be 
only another form of dejeuner. In many parts of France diner 
and dine are still used for the early meal. It is unnecessary 
to go over the names of the different animals and birds that 
are used as food, but it is interesting to remember that these 
animals while alive are called by their Saxon names, but when 
killed and cooked for the table are called by their Norman-French 
names. Thus the cow becomes beef, the sheep, mutton, the calf, veal, 
the deer, venison, the pig, park, and the fowl, poultry. This arose 
from the circumstance of the Saxons rearing the live stock, while 
the Normans cooked and ate the animal food. Of this we have an 
amusing illustration by Sir Walter Scott in his novel of ' Ivanhoe.' 
"Swine is good Saxon," said Wamba the jester to Gurth the 
swineherd, "and pork, I think, is good Norman French ; and so 
when the brute lives and is in the charge of a Saxon slave, she 
goes by her Saxon name, but becomes a Norman and is called pork 
when she is carried to the castle hall to feast among the nobles. 
Nay, I can tell you more. There is old Alderman Ox continues to 
hold his Saxon epithet while he is under the charge of serfs and 
bondsmen such as thou, but becomes beef, a French fiery gallant, 
when he arrives before the worshipful jaws that are destined to 
consume him. Mynheer Calf, too, becomes Monsieur de Veau in 
the like manner : he is Saxon when he requires tendance, and 
takes a Norman name when he becomes matter of enjoyment." 

While it is not necessary to say anything further about beef 
itself, the word beef-eater has a much more interesting history. 
The attempt has been made to show that the word has no connec- 
tion with beef at all, but that it has come from buffetier, one 
who attends to the buffet or side-board or table near the door 
of the hall ; but no such word as buffetiei- or beau-fetier has ever 
been found in French, and the French substantive which was sup- 
posed to mean a waiter at a buffet or sideboard is still imaginary 
and undiscovered. I do not see why etymologists should have 



FOOD. 



185 



been so reluctant to admit that beef -eaters could mean " eaters of 
beef," which was the melancholy fact. The word occurs not only 
in 'The Spectator,' No. 625 (1714), but in 'Histrio Mastix,' 3, 99 
(1710), and specifically for Yeomen of the Guard in Crowne, 1671. 
They were famous for their consumption of beef. Cowley says : 

" Chines of beef innumerable send me, 
Or from the stomach of the Guard defend me." 

Sir William Davenant speaks in 1673 of 

" Beef that the greasie stomached Guard would please.' 

Earle in his ' Micro-Cosmographie,' 1628, says that "the plain 
country fellow is a terrible fastener on a piece of beef, and you may 
hope to starve the Guard off sooner." 

Another instance of this inept striving after far-fetched ety- 
mologies which have been often too rashly accepted is the sirloin 
of beef. It has for generations had an absurd story told about it, 
that it got its title of sir, to distinguish it from the commonalty of 
loins, from some monarch or (according to Swift, ' Polite Conver- 
sation, II.') James I., who loved it so well that he gave it the 
accolade 1 and knighted it Sir Loin. It is, of course, a mere mis- 
spelling of sur-loin, F. sur longe, L. super lumbum, the joint of beef 
above the loin, the supra-lumbar part. Following up the mistake, 
the joint which consists of a double sirloin receives the more 
honourable title of a baron of beef, "the knightly sir-loin, the 
noble baron of beef," supposed to be a pun on the word Sir Loin. 

Among the vegetables which, until lately, appeared most 
frequently at dinner is first and foremost the potato, which is 
simply the native Haytian name batata, slightly altered by the 
Spaniards patata. The American sweet potato is a plant of 
quite a different family, a convolvulus, but it has the best of rights 
to its name, for it was called potato before that name was given to 
the white tuber which is now regarded as the true potato. There 



1 Accolade means the blow over 
the neck or shoulder with a sword 
given in conferring knighthood, a 



French word, from L. ad, to, and 
collum, the neck. 



186 SIGNIFICANT ETYMOLOGY. 

have been confusion and corruption in the names given to it, both 
in the German, French, and Italian languages. The Germans call it 
Icartoffel, a corruption of the name of tartiiffel, properly the name of 
the truffle, but which not the less was transferred to the potato, on 
the ground of the many resemblances between them. The Italians 
transferred the name, but with a qualifying or distinguishing ad- 
dition. They also called the potato tartuffo, but added bianco, the 
white truffle, a name which has now given place to patata. 
Thus, too, it was with the French who called it pomme, apple, 
but pomme de terre, apple of the earth, even as in many of the 
provincial dialects of Germany it bears the name of erdapfel, or 
earth apple, to this day. 

There are many condiments and sauces and spices used dur- 
ing dinner. The word condiment comes from the L. con- 
dimentum, that which serves to season, or gives a flavour to food 
(condio, ivi, itum, ire, to season, spice, render more savoury). 
Pepper, from L. piper and we also speak of peppercorn, the corn 
or berry of the pepper plant, and now signifying something of no 
value. Vinegar, through the F. vinaigre, (win, wine, and aigre, 
sour), from L. vinum, wine, and acer, sour, an acid liquor obtained 
from wine, cider, and the like by the acetous fermentation. 
Mustard, OF. motistarde, F. moutarde, from OF. moust, F. mout, 
from L. mtistum, must, or wine pressed from the grape but not 
fgjmented. Spice is the same word as species or specie. It 
comes from the L. specie?, or kind, through OF. espice, and in ME. 
meant both "a kind" and "spice." The latter sense is a queer 
specialisation, and must have come through trade. There were 
different kinds of these aromatic substances, and so spices came to 
be used for the substances themselves. Allspice is so called from 
its supposed composite flavour of clove, nutmeg, and cinnamon. 
Cloves receive their name, not from their fragrance or taste, but 
from their resemblance to a nail, which all must have observed, 
which in Latin is clavtis, a nail, while the Spanish name for clove 
is clavo. Nutmeg is in ME. note-mur/e, a hybrid compound of 
ME. note, nut, and OF. muge, musk. Cinnamon is the Hebrew 
ginnamon, which is borrowed from some other Eastern tongue. 
The older English form is cinnamom, from L. cinnamomum, itself 









FOOD. 187 

from the Hebrew. But this English form was made over by 
scholars who were familiar with Hebrew, and thought cinnamoin 
erroneous. Ginger is also an Eastern word. Its earliest English 
form was gingwer, from OF. gengivre, from L. zingiber, or zinziber, 
from Sans, cnngavera, where cringa signifies a horn, and vera, 
shape, the name being given to ginger because the root is shaped 
like a horn. 

I must not omit the word kickshaws, which is a corruption of 
the F. quelqiiechose, something. It is amusing to notice the varia- 
tions that are played on the French words. It meant a " trivial 
thing " when the phrase was taken up by English writers as a term 
of the cuisine for a dainty and unsubstantial dish. Shakespeare 
has " kickshawses," "Twelfth Night," L iii. 122; T. Brooks, in 
1662, " kickshaws " ; Dryden, " kec shose " ; Milton, " kic shoes " : 
"kickshowes" in "Jack Brian's Entertainment, 1616," II. i. 424. 
The word from its form was soon mistaken for a plural, and people 
spoke of a kickshaw. The latter part of the word seems to have 
been mentally associated with pshaw ! the interjection of contempt, 
and the word assumed a connotation of something contemptible. 
Thus, in Ludlow's 'Memoirs,' 1697, " They made a very kickshaws 
of him " (p. 49). In the dialects it is applied to one haughty and 
contemptuous, " a proud kickshew " (TV. York), and in a Cumber- 
land poem dancing is called the kicksheaw of pride. The Germans 
have sometimes read their own word geek, a simpleton, into 
qudque chose, and so got geckschoserie out of it, as if foolery. 

With dessert dinner ends : and the dessert is so called from the 
table being to a large extent cleared before the component parts 
of the dessert are partaken of, and the word comes from the F. 
desservir, literally to clear the table, from des, away, and servir, to 
serve. The talk is now very much over the walnuts and wine. 
The walnut has no connection with a wall, as if it were so called 
from growing against one. It means merely the foreign nut AS. 
wealh, foreign, and Imutu, a nut. The AS. tcealh is, however, not 
a native word, but comes from the name of the Celtic tribe of 
Volcce, whence also the word Welsh. The Teutonic race regarded 
the Celts as foreigners par excellence. In some parts of America 
the name walnut is given to the shagbark, a kind of hickory nut ; 



188 SIGNIFICANT ETYMOLOGY. 

and the true walnut is known as the English Walnut, a term which 

involves a curious etymological contradiction. Filbert is the nut 

of the cultivated hazel, but how canie filbert to be there? (1) 

Learned people hitched on the name to the classic story of Phyllis, 

the Thracian maiden, who, being deserted by her lover Demophon, 

was metamorphosed into a tree (G. phyllis, a leafy tree), " The 

tree of Phyllis for her Demophon " (Chaucer, " Man of Lawes," 

Tale 63). Neckham, about 1200, calls the nut "mix Phillides," 

De Nat. Rerum, 484 ; and Gower tells the story how Phyllis was 

shaped into a nut tree, "and after Phyllis, phillibert, yet for 

Demophon to shame unto this day it beareth that name." (2) 

Others, asserting that the original form of the word was phillibert, 

tell us that it was so named after Philibert, a king of France, who 

cultivated it according to Peacham, who speaks of the Philibert 

that loves the vale. (3) Other learned people say that it was 

probably so called because it was introduced into France by Sanct 

Philibert (or Filebert), of the Abbey of Jumiego, whence its 

Norman name (Noix de Filibert), or because it ripened about St 

Philibert's Day i.e., August 22, old style. For a similar reason 

the German name of the filbert is supposed to have originated in 

the time of its ripening, Lamberts Nuss, from St Lambert's Day, 

which is September 17 ; but this is a popular travesty of its 

historic name, Lombardische Nuss, "Lombard's Nut." (4) 

The truth is that the name of filbert is known only in England. 

There is no corresponding name either in France or Germany. 

The spelling with ph seems to be adopted only by those whose 

theory led them to connect it with Phyllis or Philbert. The name 

filberde is exclusively English, and expresses exactly the distinctive 

characteristic of the nut, the fact, namely, that it just fills the 

beard (i.e., the beards of the calyx with which it is surrounded), 

while the beard of the common hazel leaves about half of the nut 

exposed. It seems needless to look beyond the plain meaning of 

the elements of the word. It is an interesting instance of the 

ingenuity with which the folk contrive to read the right meaning 

into a word, in spite of all the theories of the learned. 

The institution of afternoon tea has given occasion to the con- 
sumption of a great variety of cakes, and this leads me to speak of 



FOOD. 189 

two cakes marzipan and simlin which originated at a far 
earlier period than afternoon tea. I confess that I had never 
heard of the cake, either by its name of marchpane, which it bears 
in this country, or by its name of marzipan, which it bears in 
Germany, until about fifteen years ago, when I was in Liibeck, one 
of the towns of the old Hanseatic League, and found from the 
notices in the confectioners' windows that marzipan was the 
specialty of the place, and I soon afterwards learned that this 
sweetmeat is now imported chiefly from Germany, and in Germany 
largely from Liibeck, under the German name of marzipan, which 
has at least equal currency with the traditional English form of 
marchpane. I was more interested in the composition of the word 
than I was in the composition of the sweetmeat itself, and although 
not aware then that the etymology and history of the word was a 
sort of philological romance, I have ever since felt an interest in it. 
I was very much inclined to acquiesce in the etymology generally 
adopted for the latter part of the word \iz.,pan or pane, from L. 
pants or panem, bread. As for the first half, marci or Martins 
(Marcus Brolen, German), it has now very generally been aban- 
doned as an etymology, notwithstanding Hormayer's History of a 
Famine in the year 1407, in which he says that in Saxony, in 
memory of that sad time, are little cakes baked on St Mark's Day, 
which are called marci panes. The derivation from maza panis 
has found most favour. It seems to have been given first by the 
Venetian, Ermolao Barbara, who died in 1494. He says " they are 
called mazapanes, from maza and pane, as I think, although called 
marcipanes by others." Diez, Mahn, and Heyne have also given it 
their countenance. Maza, from L. massa (Gr. masso, to knead), 
that which united together like dough, would suit the famous con- 
fectionery very well. The difficulty however is, as we find the 
word marzipan used in four senses (1) as the name of a famous 
confectionery, (2) as a little box, (3) as the name of a measure, and 
(4) as the name of a coin how we are to reconcile these widely- 
differing meanings. The most thorough and the most recent 
investigation has been conducted by A. Kluyver, and the 
results are given by him in a most interesting article in the 
sixth volume of the ' Zeitschrift fur Deutsche Wortforschung,' 



190 SIGNIFICANT ETYMOLOGY. 

edited by Frederick Kluge, 1904. He endeavours to prove that 
the name given to the coin is the source of all the other mean- 
ings. He identifies the word with the medieval L. matapanus, 
a Venetian coin, bearing a figure of Christ on a throne, for which 
we have the authority of Du Cange, who, under the head of 
Matapanus, defines it as a species of Venetian money, and then 
quotes from a MS. of Andrea Danduli (the grand old Dandalo ?) of 
1193, "Subsequently the Doge ordered silver money to be made 
for the first time, commonly called ' grossi Venetian!,' or Matapani, 
with the image of Jesus on a throne on the one side, and on the 
other the figure of St Mark and the Doge." I think there is 
evidence enough to show that the name of Marzapane in Italy, and 
Marzapanu in Sicily, was given to the boxes in which the marzipan 
was brought, these being of a uniform shape ; and as these were of 
a uniform size, a marzipan box came to be a standard of measure- 
ment, so that ten marzipani came to be equal to one moggio and 
so becoming accustomed to its signification of a tenth in weight, it 
came to be applied to the tenth in value of the standard coin, and 
coins of its value and of its name were manufactured. At the same 
time, it was found that there were Eastern coins in use of the same 
value, and with very much the same name. When the Crusades 
began, numerous Byzantine coins circulated among the merchants of 
the Levant which showed the above-described figure of Christ. The 
Saracens named the figure, and later the coin itself, mantJiaban 
the sitting king, or the king that sits still. About the year 1100 
the Romans learned to know this expression, and made themselves 
very familiar with it in the above-mentioned manner. The word 
manthabdn came through the vulgar form by the Venetians, down 
finally to matapan, and as they in the year 1193 introduced a coin 
of the same value, it received in the mouths of the common people 
the same name. Either from the example of the Venetians, or 
from their initiative, the Italian rulers of the East issued such 
money. Thus there was in Bathrun, in the year 1202, whose 
ruler was a native of Pisa, a mazzapan agreeing so entirely with 
the Venetian m-atapan, that both stood in the same relationship 
of a tenth to the chief coin of the country. If, then, matapan and 



FOOD. 191 

marsapan are so like in meaning, both also being names of coins 
which have the same value, and if, further, the pronunciation 
of marsapane and massapan was much the same, the question 
presses, should these three words not be led back to the same 
ground form? The question also is worth considering, that as 
the Fabyan Chronicles, vii. 587, in 1494 speak of a "marchpayne 
garnished with diverse figures of angels," there may not have been 
also upon the surface of these cakes figures of St Mark, or of Christ 
as afterwards He appeared upon the coins, and thus would all the 
names be united and harmonised. 

Simnel cake, or Simlin, is the name given to a kind of rich 
sweet cake made of fine wheat flour, and offered as a gift, especially 
on Mid-Lent Sunday, which is called also from this custom Simnel, 
Eefreshment, or Mothering Sunday. The name of Eefreshment or 
Refection has been given to it with reference to the feeding of the 
multitude mentioned in the Gospel for the day (John vi. 1-14) ; 
the name of Mothering Sunday has been given to it in consequence 
of the rural custom of visiting one's parents and giving them presents 
on Mid-Lent Sunday, supposed by many to be derived from the 
custom in former times of visiting the mother church on that day. 
Herrick in his poem to Dianeme says, 

" I'll to thee a simnel bring, 
'Gainst thou go'st a-mothering." 

The name of simnel comes from the L. word simtla, fine wheat 
flour, used by the great physician Celsus in the first century. 

We close this chapter on Food with the word post-prandial, 
which signifies, after a meal, now generally after dinner, and is 
composed of post, after, and prandium, a breakfast or luncheon, 
from prandeo, prandi, pransum, prandere, to eat before the 
principal meal, to breakfast, to eat in the morning. The Romans 
had only one regular meal, somewhere about three o'clock. Who- 
ever could not, or would not, wait till that time, ate something 
before, as bread or fish, or even meat, &c. ; but the nobler and 
higher classes of the Romans thought it improper to make this 
a regular meal with wine, &c. 



192 



CHAPTEE XIV. 



HIS DWELLING. 

THE place where stones are dug for building purposes is called a 
quarry : it literally signifies a place where stones are squared, from 
L. quadrare, to cut square, through F. quairer, to cut square. 1 
The house, as it is called in AS., or domicile, as it is sometimes 
termed, from the L. domus, a house, whence we have also domestic, 
and domesticate, and domiciliary. Habitation signifies a place of 
abode, a dwelling (from L. Jidbitare? to dwell, and habeo, to have or 
possess). A habitation means a shelter as well as an abiding-place. 
The word edifice, from L. cedes, a house, is generally applied to 
a large structure, but it gives one or two words which are useful 
in a figurative sense, such as edify, to build up mentally or spirit- 
ually : a discourse may be edifying or unedifying, and in the former 
case it tends to the edification of the hearers. At an earlier period 
most of the houses in this country were thatched, as a very few of 
the older and the poorer are still. The thatch was put on the 
roof as a covering and a protection. The verb to " thatch " comes 
from the AS. theccan, to cover, and it is closely allied to the 
Ger. deckan and the L. tego, 3 to cover. The eaves are literally 



1 Quarry, the word used among 
falconers, &c., for game, especially 
that got by hawking (from OF. 
corde, F. curte), originally meant 
the entrails of the game (from L. 
cor, the heart), and given to the 
dogs at death, and now any game 
flown at and killed, dead game. 

2 The habitat (literally, it dwells) 
of a plant is its natural abode, the I 



place where it is found. To in- 
habit means to dwell in it. The 
extreme north is not habitable or 
not inhabitable, and there are no 
inhabitants there. Cohabitation 
means dwelling together, especi- 
ally as husband and wife cohabit. 
3 From tego, text, tectum, tegere, 
to cover or weave, we have tegument 
and integument. A person is de- 



HIS DWELLING. 193 

the dipt edge of the thatch,* this being the meaning of the AS. 
efese, and now they signify the edge of the slates or of the roof 
projecting over the wall. The eavesdrop is a fact of some im- 
portance in law. It frequently happens in the case of adjoining 
proprietors that neither is allowed to build quite up to the ex- 
tremity of his possession, but each is obliged to leave a space for 
the eaves, and for the water which falls in drops from the eaves. 
This space is called the yfesdrype (eaves drip), and so an eaves- 
dropper is a person who places himself under the eaves drip, that 
he may the better overhear what is said in the adjoining house or 
field. Shakespeare, hi " Eichard III.," V. iii., uses the word, "Under 
our tents I'll play the eavesdropper, to hear if any mean to shrink 
from me." A mansard roof has wrongly borne this name, for the 
architect, Francois Mansard (1598-1666), did not invent this kind 
of roof, the lower part of which is almost vertical and covered with 
windows. Such a roof permits the establishment of an upper 
storey but little inferior to the others, in place of a mere garret. 
"What Mansard did was to reintroduce or to revive the use of such 
roofs in Paris about 1650, after they had for nearly a century before 
been employed by Lescot in the Louvre. We have still a dormer 
window, a vertical window also, but on the sloping roof of a house 
(a hundred years ago the word dormer was used by itself, and was 
the name for a sleeping-apartment), from the Latin verb dormire, 
to sleep ; the same word from which we have our present word 
dormitory, which means a large sleeping-chamber with many beds. 
The window itself is an opening in the wall of a 'building for air 
and light (literally wind-eye, ME. windaga, Icel. windauga, from 
vtndr, wind, and auga, eye). A window sill is the timber at the 
foot of a window, the lower piece in a window frame, from L. solum, 
the lowest part of anything, and sometimes called with us the 
window sole. The Saxon thrycan meant to trample under foot, 



tected when he is found out in what 
he wishes to conceal. We speak 
of the detection of thieves, and 
a detective is a policeman in plain 
clothes to find out criminals secretly. 
A tile is the L. tegula. To protect 
is to defend ; we have the protection 



of the laws, and we had in this 
country a Protector, whose rule was 
called a protectorate. A prot6g6 of 
mine means one whom I have taken 
under my care and protection. We 
speak of undetected crime and of 
unprotected innocence. 



194 



SIGNIFICANT ETYMOLOGY. 



and threscan or therscan was to thresh. Threshold is the Saxon 
thersh-wold, the wood (wold) that forms the tread or step immedi- 
ately under the door or gateway. A necessary preliminary to enter- 
ing the house is to cross the threshold, the Latin name for which 
is limen, liminis, a threshold, the word thus being composed of 
pre, before, and limen a threshold, and so meaning whatever pre- 
cedes the main discourse or business, so that preliminary remarks 
are introductory. So, too, the word eliminate, L. elimindre, to 
turn out of doors (e, out of, and limen, the threshold), has 
come to mean to get rid of anything, to throw out or reject some- 
thing from an argument. In Scotland it is still called occasionally 
the door-stane, or sole of the door ; and in antiquated English it is 
the sill, from F. seuil and Saxon syl. The door sill is usually a 
step higher than the ground without, for the purpose of keeping 
the house dry, and hence the phrase (generally metaphorical) of 
stumbling at the threshold. As we enter the door we find that it 
has been left ajar, a word used only in connection with door or 
window, and meaning " on the turn." A charwoman is one who 
is engaged for an occasional turn. So the Swiss say, Es ist mi 
cheer, it is my turn. This comes from the AS. cerre, 1 a turn, from 
ceiven, to turn ; hence a door is said to be ajar when it is on the 
turn ajar (being perhaps a corruption of a-char ; AS. a, on, 
and OE. char, a turn). Where there is more than one storey 
(from F. estorer, to build), a stair is necessary to ascend. The 
stair has received its name from the AS. stceger, which is derived 
from the verb stigan, to ascend or climb, which in the form sty or 
stie was in use as an English verb as late as the time of Spenser. 
Stceger and stair, though sometimes confounded with step, properly 
signify alike the entire system of successive steps by which we sty or 
climb from one floor to another, and they may therefore be considered 
as collective nouns. Thus Milton, " Paradise Lost," iii. 540-3 

" Satan from hence, now on the lower stair, 
That scaled by steps of gold to Heaven-gate, 
Looks down with wonder at the sudden view 
Of all this World at once." 



1 From the same root we have 
the word churn, as to churn milk, 



literally to turn it about : comp. 
Ger. kehren, to turn. 



HIS DWELLING. 195 

But it is usual to divide the stair, where the height of the stones 
is considerable, into flights or sections separated by landing- 
places, and each might not improperly be considered as an in- 
dependent stair. Now in the great majority of stairs there was 
but one intermediate landing-place, and of course the whole ascent 
from floor to floor was divided into two flights of stairs, and thus 
formed a pair of stairs, a phrase which, although used by Pal- 
grave, Hakluyt, Shakespeare, and others, and found in many 
English classics in the best age of our literature, has been supposed 
to be incorrect, in consequence of those who criticise the phrase 
imagining that stair is synonymous with step, or tread. 

The word room, in AS. rum and in Ger. raum, signified origin- 
ally space, generally ample space, or, as we say, roomy, and gradually 
came to mean a room or space in a house. The drawing-room, 
originally withdrawing-room, is the room to which the company 
withdraws after dinner. The mirror is so named from the F. 
miroir, to look at with wonder. There is often a pier-glass in 
the space between the windows, so called because the stone-work 
between the windows, like the mass of stone-work between the 
openings of a building, is called a pier, through the F. pierre, a 
stone, from L. petra, a stone or rock. In the drawing-room, as 
well as in the dining-room, are many beautiful paintings, or 
pictures, both words being derived from the L. pinyo, pinxi, pie- 
turn, pingere, to paint ; but the word painting comes through the 
OF. paint, past part, of F. peindre, to paint, while the word picture 
comes from the past. part, of pingo, viz., pictus. There is also a 
most excellent miniature. This word, although now employed to 
describe a portrait painted on a small scale and with minute finish, 
and although the phrase " in miniature " has come to signify on 
a small scale, or in a brief or abridged form, has no etymological 
connection with the L. minor, less, minimus, least, or minuo, to lessen 
or diminish. It comes through It. miniatura and F. miniature, 
from L. miniare, to colour with red or vermilion (p. 124), from 
minium, the Latin name for vermilion or red -lead. The name 
of miniature was originally given to the red letter traced with 
minium on MSS., missals, &c., to adorn the beginning of the 
chapters, then the fine painting of small subjects made on vellum, 



196 



SIGNIFICANT ETYMOLOGY. 



parchment, in the MSS. and missals, and now fine painting in very 
small dimensions, usually on ivory or vellum, formerly always in 
water-colour, now often in oiL No doubt the small size of the 
miniature has led to its being connected in the minds of many 
with minus, small ; so that it has ended by signifying a work of art 
of small dimensions, and a thing of small proportions in general. 
In the drawing-room is often seen a very fine mantelpiece, but 
although it is now differently spelt from mantle, a cloak, yet they 
were the same originally in spelling and meaning, for the old 
mantelpiece or mantelshelf was formed like a hood to intercept 
the smoke, and both came from the OF. mantel, from the L. 
mantellum, a cloak, but which itself came from the L. manus, a 
hand. Chimney-piece signifies also a piece, or shelf, over the 
chimney or fireplace. The word chimney comes through the French, 
from the L. caminus (Gr. kamenos), a forge, or smelting furnace, or 
oven. It came to be used for any fireplace or hearth (the earliest 
meaning in English), and then, in particular, for the smoke-flue 
or vent The fireplace, within the fender and below the grate, 
is often laid with mosaic, and partly with encaustic, 1 tiles. The 
fender is merely a contraction of the word defender, as its pur- 
pose is to defend the carpet from the hot cinders or ashes ; while 
grate comes from the L. crates, a framework composed of bars, 
with interstices, originally of wood or hurdle, but afterwards of 
iron bars, as of a grating, and especially a grate made of iron 
bars for holding coals when burning. The mosaic tiling has 
nothing to do with Moses, or with the Mosaic economy, but is so 
called as being specially a work of art, and by the Eomans was 
spelt musaicum opus, " musaic work," as being work carried on by 
the inspiration of the Muses. Sometimes where there is a wood 
fire and logs are burned, the iron bar which supports the end of 
the logs is called andiron. The word is so much more used in 
America than here that it is supposed by many to be an American 
word. So far from this being the case, we find the OK auntyre, 
also aunderne, aundyrne (from OF. andier, now spelt Vandier by 



1 Encaustic signifies literally 
wrought with fire, from Gr. enkaus- 



tikos (en, in, and kaustikos, caustic, 
from kaio, to burn). 



HIS DWELLING. 197 

coalescence with the definite article). These were naturally cor- 
rupted at an early date to andyron or andiron. Other varieties 
are end -iron (A.V., Ezekiel xl. 43, margin), hand -iron (Florio 
Quarles), and land-iron. In 1541 "three old great laundirons" are 
valued at 5s., and in 1557 two " laundeirons " are again mentioned 
in company with " one payr of tonges " ; and in an inventory 
dated 1685 we find "one iron pot and one land-iyron." In the 
drawing-room we greatly admired the ceiling, so called from its 
being above or over the room, and derived from the F. del, 
which has the same meaning, although it signifies also heaven, and 
comes from the Latin word for heaven, viz., ccelum, from which 
also we have the word celestial. A smaller but prettily furnished 
room near the drawing-room is called the boudoir, F., lit. a place to 
sulk in, being the lady's private sitting-room : the word is French, 
and comes from the verb bouder, to pout or sulk. The origin of 
the French verb bouder is not known, neither is the origin of our 
word sulk very certain. It was not in use in our language at 
least, it was not found in our dictionaries earlier than Todd's 
edition of Johnson, where it appeared at the same time, with much 
the same meaning, as sullen, which meant at first solitary, and came 
through the French (OF. solain) from L. solus, alone (whence our ad- 
jective sole). It then had very much the same meaning as, and has 
a certain connection with, sulky, which means sullen and solitary, 
and wishing to be left alone in the sulks. In the bedrooms we 
also saw a cheval-glass, so called from the F. cheval, a horse, either 
because it is so heavy that it required a strong support, or so big 
that a horse might see himself in it, as the whole person can be 
seen from head to foot. In most of the bedrooms we saw chests 
of drawers, and only then did it dawn upon us that they were so 
called becaiise they contained a great many sliding boxes which 
could be drawn out. In one of the bedrooms we saw what was 
called a tester-bed, with a flat canopy over its head, from the OF. 
teste, F. tete, the head, from the L. testa, an earthen pot, hence a 
hard shell, the skull. Counterpane, a stitched cover for a bed, 
is so called from OF. coute, a covering, and L. pannus, a cloth 



198 



SIGNIFICANT ETYMOLOGY. 



coverlet, altered to F. courte-pointe, a counterpane, corrupted into 
contre-pomte ; or from OF. coulte-pointe, from L. culcita puncta, a 
stitched quilt, the upper covering of a bed, having the stitches 
arranged in patterns for ornament. The Latin word culcita signi- 
fies anything stuffed with feathers, down, wool, &c., as a feather- 
bed, cushion, mattress, pillow, and from this Latin word culcita 
our word quilt is derived. The Latin word puncta is from the verb 
pungo, pupiigi, punctum, pungere, to prick or sting, to penetrate as 
with the point of a needle, a small hole. From this word, too, we 
have pungent, meaning sharp and prickly to the taste or smell. We 
speak of the pungent taste of mustard and of the pungent smell of 
ammonia, while compunction expresses our bitter feeling at having 
done wrong, differing from remorse in our sometimes feeling com- 
punction before doing wrong. As the word point comes from 
punctum, we appoint a man his work, and he may often be dis- 
appointed. To expunge is literally to strike out with the point of 
a pen. Also an alcove, a recess in a room, from It. alcova, a place 
in a room railed off to hold a bed, from the Arabic al gobah, a 
tent. In almost all the rooms were carpets. A carpet is a thick 
covering for floors, originally made of different rags pulled to 
pieces, corresponding to the Scotch word still used, "a clouty 
carpet," made up of snippings and clippings of various kinds got 
from tailors as well as saved up from mendings and makings at 
home from the verb carpere, 1 to pluck or pull in pieces. It seems 
to have been used originally as a carpet for the table, and after- 
wards for the floor. Hence the phrase, perhaps, " on the carpet " 
may mean " on the council table," under consideration or discussion, 
if not from the F. sur le tapis. On the walls of one of the rooms 
we saw a kind of carpet-work with wrought figures, specially used 
for decorating walls, called tapestry, from the Latin word tapes, 



1 The verb carpo, carpsi, carptum, 
carpere, to pick, pluck, or seize, 
gives us also to carp at, to find 
fault with one's words and actions 
in an unreasonable and ill-natured 
spirit. An excerpt is a piece ex- 



tracted (gleaned) from an author 
or from a writing. Scarce (from 
low L. scarpsus for excerptus) 
means scantily supplied, to be 
had in very diminished quan- 
tity. 



HIS DWELLING. 



199 






tapetis, a carpet, and F. tapis, a carpet. It is often called an 
arras, from Arras, in Northern France, where it was first manu- 
factured. 

The kitchen, the scullery, the pantry, and the laundry are about 
the only parts we have yet to visit. The kitchen is the room 
where the food is cooked, and on that account it has received its 
name, for it comes from the same root as the cook who rules in it, 
as does also the German word Jdiche and the F. cuisine, all from 
L. coquina, the kitchen, from L. coquo, 1 to cook. There are a 
great variety of utensils (vessels or implements used in domestic 
economy), so called from F. utensile and L. utensilis, fit for use, 
from L. utor, to use. The word tureen signifies a large dish for 
holding soup at table according to one view, so called from the 
material of which it is made, " an earthenware dish," through the 
F. terrine, from the L. terra, the earth, and said to have been 
spelt at one time terreen. According to another etymology, it was 
first used at Turin, in Piedmont, and has from that city derived its 
name. A trivet excited my curiosity as to its signification, until 
I found out that this movable iron frame on the fire-grate for 
supporting kettles had originally three feet, and with this it stood 
so firmly that to say anything was "right as a trivet" was to 
say that it was perfectly right, or stood steadily, as a tripod. The 
name comes through the OF. trepied, from L. tripes, tripedis, from 
ires, three, and pedes, feet. Lumber-room is a very convenient 
room in any house, however large, but the word has had a 
strange history. The Langobardes, or Lombards as the name was 
contracted into, became at an early period the competitors with 



1 From L. coquo, coxi, coctum, 
coquVre, to cook, we derive also 
biscuit (see p. 183), literally twice 
cooked (through F. biscuit from 
L. bis, twice, and F. cuit, done or 
baked, from L. coctus), a kind of 
bread baked hard for keeping. To 
decoct is to extract the flavour of 
anything by boiling. If a plant be 
boiled in water, the strained liquor 
is called a decoction. Precocious, 
L. prcecox, c<5cw, or cdquis, soon 



cooked, but metaphorically almost 
= mature, means ripe in mind be- 
fore the usual time. The apricot 
is allied to the plum, and seems to 
have got its name from its ripening 
early -prce, beforehand, and coquere, 
to ripen. Our word culinary, sig- 
nifying belonging to the kitchen 
or to the art of cookery, or used 
in the kitchen, is from the L. 
culina, the kitchen (for coquitina 
or coctina). 



200 



SIGNIFICANT ETYMOLOGY. 



the Jews as the capitalists and pawnbrokers of the Middle Ages. 
Lombard Street in London, still the street of bankers, marks the 
site of the Lombard colony in London, and they have left their 
name not only on our streets but in our language, for a lumber- 
room is the Lombard room, the room where the Lombard pawn- 
brokers stored their unredeemed pledges. Hence after a time 
furniture stored away in an unused chamber came to be called 
lumber ; and since such furniture is often heavy, clumsy, and out 
of date, we call a clumsy man a lumbering fellow, and our 
American cousins have given heavy timber the name of lumber, 
and call the man who fells it a lumberer. With us now a lumber- 
room signifies a room in which useless things are heaped together 
in confusion. 

The scullery is the place for dishes and other kitchen utensils. 
There are various opinions as to the origin of this name. Appar- 
ently the safest is that it comes through the OF. escucher, from 
the late L. cutellarius, from L. scutetta, a tray. The pantry is the 
room or closet for provisions, &c. It is not so named, as some 
have easily conjectured, from its being the receptacle, if not of 
pots, at least of pans, because no pan ought to be found there ; but 
it is from the French word paneterie, a place where bread is dis- 
tributed, through the late Latin from L. pants, bread, and this 
from the root pa, to nourish. The laundry is the place or room 
where clothes are washed or dressed, from the L. lavo, 1 lavdre, to 
wash. Before leaving the house we look into the smoking-room, 
and find there a box of matches, less needed now, except for this 
purpose, in the days of electric light. They are called matches 
through the F. meche, from the late L. myscus, from Gr. mycea, 
the snuff or wick of a lamp which is easily rekindled. It used 
frequently to be called tinder, which signifies anything that kindles 
from a spark. The root is found in AS. tindan, to kindle, Ger. 
ziinden. Lucifer matches (from lux, lucis, light, and/e?'o, I bring), 



1 From this verb we have also 
laundress, lavatory, a place for 
washing and brushing oneself up ; 
and to lave signifies to wash or 
bathe, while some think that the 



aromatic plant called lavender ob- 
tained its name from its being laid 
with newly washed clothes. There 
can be no doubt that the word lava 
comes from the same root. 



HIS DWELLING. 201 

light-bringing matches, were great improvements on these. "We 
also saw there some beautiful meerschaum pipes i.e., tobacco 
pipes, of which not merely the bowl but the stem, except the 
mouthpiece, are made of meerschaum, from the German word of 
the same name literally sea-foam, from meer, sea, and schaum, 
foam, said to be a literal translation of the Persian name kef-i- 
daryd, alluding to its frothy appearance, but being really a hydrous 
silicate of magnesium occurring in soft, white, clay-like masses. 

On leaving the house we were taken into the garden to see 
what was called the pavilion. This word comes to us through 
the F. pavilion, from the L. papilio, by the usual change of 
p into v and of li into il. The Latin word papilio signified 
originally a butterfly, but in late Latin, and even in Pliny and 
Tertullian, came to signify a tent, colours, or a flag. It came to 
signify this apparently from the flapping of the canvas, like a 
butterfly literally that which is spread out like the wings of a 
butterfly. It is now generally used either of a large handsome 
tent or of a building, to describe the projecting part of a structure 
usually more elevated than the rest, and often domed and turreted. 
The word papilionaceous is applied to plants of the leguminous 
order, as the pea, from the butterfly shape of their blossom. In 
the immediate neighbourhood were the remains of an old castle 
(L. castra, a camp, and castellum, diminutive, a fortified place), now 
mostly in ruins, except the parapet, a rampart breast-high. This 
word rampart signifies literally that which defends from assault 
or danger, from F. rempart (originally rempar), from remparer, to 
defend (re, again, and em, to = en, in, and parer, to defend), from 
L. parare, to prepare or keep off, which also gives us the word 
parry, to ward or keep off. The word parapet, then, signifies 
a breast-high wall literally, a protection for the breast, through 
French from It. parapetto, para, a protection, from It. and L. 
parare, to protect, and It. petto, from L. pectw, the breast. 



202 



CHAPTEK XV. 



HIS MENTAL FACULTIES. 



THE mind (L. mens), 1 while in one respect a single and indivisible 
thing, may yet be divided into various faculties, each of which 
may be recognised as in some measure independent of the rest, and 
as possessed in various degrees of power or activity, so as to give 
rise to the variety of talents and dispositions observed among man- 
kind : such are consciousness, the knowledge which the mind has 
of its own acts and feelings, from L. conscio, to know with one's 
self con, with, and scio, 2 to know ; perception, the act of perceiv- 
ing or discerning, through F. percever, apercevoir, from L. percipio, 
percept, perceptum, percipere, to perceive, from L. per, perfectly, 
and capio? to take. Attention means the steady application of 
the mind, from L. ad, to, and tendo, teiendi, tensum and tentum, 



1 From this word we have, if not 
mind itself, such words as mental, 
belonging to the mind. To mention 
or make mention of anything is to 
call attention to it without any fuller 
treatment of the subject. To com- 
ment is to write explanatory notes. 
Demented means literally out of 
one's mind, infatuated, or mad. 
" The lassie's demented," said 
Dumbiedykes (Scott), (de, out of, 
and mente, the mind). A vehement 
person is one whose mind carries 
(vehit) him along with impetuous 
energy. A memento (imperative of 
memini, I remember) is something 
that reminds, a remembrancer. 

2 From scio, scivi, scitum, scire, to 
know, we derive science, scientific, 
sciolist (one who knows things 
superficially), conscience, conscienti- 



ousness, and consciousness ; nice (F. 
nice) in old English meant ignorant 
(L. nescius, not knowing, or simple), 
by-and-by it came to mean fastidi- 
ous, but also pleasant, gratifying, a 
nice taste, and a letter nicely written. 
We have still nescience, signifying 
want of knowledge, ignorant. Om- 
niscience means the knowledge of 
(omnis) everything. God is omni- 
scient. We also speak of God's 
prescience, or fore-knowledge ; pre- 
scient means knowing beforehand, 
foreseeing. 

3 From capio, to take or hold, we 
have an immense number of deriva- 
tions, such as cable, capable, capaci- 
ous, incapable, incapacity, captious, 
captivate, captive, to catch, to 
chase. To accept, acceptable, 
acceptation, anticipate, conceive, 






HIS MENTAL FACULTIES. 203 

tendere, to stretch. 1 The memory is that faculty by which we 
keep things in mind or in the mind, and it has been said that it 
is from consciousness and memory that we acquire the conviction 
of our own personal identity that is, that we are the same persons 
to-day that we were yesterday. The word comes from the L. 
memoria (from memor, mindful), akin to the Sans, root smri, to 
remember; and this word remember comes from the same root 
through OF. rememlyrer (F. rememorer), from L. rememoro re, 
again, and memoro, to call to mind. A reminiscence is through 
the French from the L. reminiscor, to call to mind, from re 
and (root) men, whence we have mens, the mind. Imagination 
is the faculty of forming images in the mind, from L. imago, 
an image, from the root of L. tmitor, to imitate. All these 
faculties are perhaps possessed, but in a much less degree, by 
the lower animals, but the powers of judgment and reasoning 
are powers which they do not possess. Judgment is the faculty by 
which we compare evidence and decide what is right to be done, 
from the L. jus? juris, right or law. Reason is the faculty by 
which we draw our conclusions, and determine what course we 
ought to follow : it comes from the Latin word ratio, rationis, 
signifying a calculation, from reor, 3 ratus, to think. Eeason is that 
faculty which distinguishes men from the brutes, that mental 
characteristic by which he comes through the processes and 
arrives at the results of reasoning. Logic is the art of reasoning 
(Gr. lorjike, from logos, speech or reason), and a logician is one who is 

preconceive, deceive, deception, pretending. We have people who 

deceit, except, incipient, intercept, i intend and have always good inten- 

occupy, participate, perception, tions. The cold is often intense, 

precept, preceptor, receive, recep- and events are portentous, yet 



tion, receptacle, recipient, suscept- 
ible. 

1 From this verb we have to tend, 
tendency ; we tender the amount of 
a debt ; a tendon is the sinew or 
hard end of the muscle which binds 
it to the bone. A tent is covered 
with stretched-out canvas. The sick 
require attention, and a great man 
may have many attendants. We have 
contentious people always contend- 
ing, and pretentious people always 



people must superintend the work. 

2 From jus, right, we have judge 
and judicial and jury and jurisdic- 
tion and jurisprudence. Injure and 
injury, justly, justification, adjudge, 
adjust, prejudge, prejudice, pre- 
judicial, these last three meaning to 
judge of beforehand. 

3 From the verb reor, ratus, to 
think, reason, or calculate, comes 
rate, ratable, ratio, rational, un- 
reasonable, irrational. 



204 



SIGNIFICANT ETYMOLOGY. 



skilled in reasoning. The logical form of any argument is called a 
syllogism (Gr. sullogismos, from sun, together, and logizomai, to 
reckon), consisting of three propositions : the first two are called 
the premises, and the third the conclusion. A proposition (L. 
pro, before, and pono, posui, positum, ponere, to place) is a form of 
speech in which the predicate is affirmed or denied of a subject. 
This word predicate means, then, what is affirmed or denied of the 
subject (L. prcedicatus, made known, from prcedlco, I declare prce, 
before or openly, and dico, 1 dicavi, dicatum, dicare, to proclaim). 
Predicament is a term in logic meaning one of the general 
classes under one or other of which all may be arranged, such 
as substance, quantity, &c., but it has come to signify also in 
common speech a peculiar position, a difficult or dangerous situa- 
tion. The verb predicate is sometimes ignorantly used for the 
word predict, to foretell, but the two words come from different 
verbs, to predict coming from the L. prcedico - 1 (prce, before, and 
dico, dixi, dictum, dicere), to tell beforehand, to prophesy. The 
first two propositions in the syllogism are called, as I have said, the 
premises. 2 The word comes from the L. prcemitto, prcemisi, 
prcemissum, prcemittere (prce, before, and mitto, to send), to send 
before, and in this connection is from L. (sententta) prcem / issa = 
(a sentence) put before = the two propositions sent or stated before 
the conclusion is drawn. There are various fallacies in syllogism 
the word comes from the L. fallaciosus, deceitful, from fallo, fefelU, 
falsum, fallere, to deceive, so that a fallacy and a sophism are much 
the same in meaning. A dilemma in logic is an argument equally 
conclusive by contrary suppositions, also an argument in which you 
are caught between two difficulties, a state of perplexity hard to 



1 The Latin word dico, dicare, 
soon came to signify not merely to 
publish or proclaim, but to devote 
or consecrate to a deity in a set form 
of words, dedicdre, to dedicate ; it 
gives us also from the L. abdicdre, 
the word to abdicate, to renounce, 
to disclaim, to give up anything. 

2 The word premises, so freq- 
uently applied colloquially for 
house or buildings, or out-buildings, 



as when we say he is somewhere 
about the premises, is supposed to 
have been taken originally from the 
custom of beginning leases with the 
premises setting forth the grantor 
and grantee of the deed, the sense 
was transferred from the description 
of these to the thing leased, and 
came to be used in the present vague 
way ; so to premise means to make 
an introductory statement. 



HIS MENTAL FACULTIES. 



205 



decide. The word comes from the Gr. dilemma, a double proposi- 
tion (dis, twice, and lemma, anything received, an assumption, 
from lambano, I take), any difficult or doubtful choice ; while the 
phrase, the horns of a dilemma, means literally the horns which will 
toss you, whichever of the two you seize, or two alternatives, each 
of which it is equally formidable to encounter. To be in a dilemma 
is in common speech equivalent to being in a quandary, and it 
describes well the state of doubt and perplexity in which every 
one finds himself who attempts to give the origin of this word. 
Some have suggested that it is a corruption of the Middle English 
word uandreth from Icelandic vandr (difficult) ; others regard it 
as an abbreviation of hypochondry. But on the whole there is 
the strongest leaning to its being a corruption of the F. qu'en 
dirai-je ? (What shall I say of it f) To all these suggestions it 
has been objected that the original stressing is quandary. Johnson, 
however, and Webster, as well as many others, put the stress on 
the first syllable. It would not do to reject a possible etymology 
because people ignorant of the original language may mispronounce 
the word when they use it : there are not a few syllables in 
words taken both from L. and Gr. which are pronounced even by 
educated people long where the L. is short, and short where 
the L. is long. A mayor of one of the English county towns 
complimented the late Dr Haig Brown at a public dinner on 
possessing two of the greatest qualifications of headmaster of a 
great public school viz., the forfiter in re and the suaviter in 
modo. The headmaster in reply said he appreciated more the 
quality than the quantity of this praise. The word instinct, or 
the impulse by which animals are guided, apparently independent 
of reason or experience, is derived from the L. instincttis, from 
instinguo, to instigate, to compel in and stinguo. 1 Instinct, then, 



1 The verb stinguo, stinxi, stinctum, 
stinguere, to mark, supplies the root 
of distinguish, which means to 
separate by marks or notes of 
difference, and hence distinction 
signifies a noted separation from 
others and a mark of pre-eminence. 
By such marks a difference becomes 



"distinguishable," and the marks 
of difference themselves are distinct 
and distinctive, the opposite to which 
is " indistinct." On the other hand, 
to extinguish is to blot out, or erase 
with a point, similar to expunge, 
and that which is so blotted out 
is extinct. 






206 SIGNIFICANT ETYMOLOGY. 

is that which incites or stimulates ; and the word is applied to 
that natural impulse which urges the inferior animals to actions 
which they perform without the deliberation that reason implies, 
and frequently without knowing what they do, urged on by an 
internal faculty (indicated by the prefix in) implanted in them by 
their Creator. The word is sometimes used with reference to 
human beings, to describe desire or aversion acting on the mind 
without the intervention of reason or deliberation, as Shakespeare 
describes Sir John Falstaff as a coward by " instinct." " Thou 
knowest I am as valiant as Hercules : but beware instinct ; the 
lion will not touch the true prince. Instinct is a great matter ; I 
was now a coward on instinct. I shall think the better of myself 
and thee during my life ; I for a valiant lion, and thou for a true 
prince." "I. Henry IV.," II. iv. That which is done without 
the application of reason, by the mere impulse of nature, is said 
to be done "instinctively." "The very rats instinctively had 
quit it." Shakespeare, " The Tempest," I. ii. 

The intellect in man appears to comprehend two orders or 
faculties the knowing faculties and the reflecting faculties. The 
word faculty (L. facultas), from L. facilis, easy, means the power 
of doing anything. The order of intellectual faculties earliest 
developed in our minds comprehends those which are limited 
expressly to the attainment of knowledge, and are therefore usually 
called the knowing faculties. They are the faculty of language, 
and the faculty for observing external objects. 



207 



CHAPTEE XVI. 

DUE SPOKEN LANGUAGE. 

Language is that which is spoken by the tongue. The word 
conies to us through F. langage, from langue, from L. lingua (old 
form dingua), the tongue, akin to Jj. lingo, Gr. leicho, Sans, lik, 
to lick. The lingual muscle is the muscle of the tongue, I is a 
lingual letter, a linguist is one skilled in languages, and linguistic 
studies form part of a liberal education. There can be no doubt 
that our mother tongue deserves this name from the manner in 
which it has been acquired, for the child learns to speak from 
intercourse with those in whose care he is placed, and he learns 
single words by imitation. By this we do not merely mean that 
cries (the pooh-pooh theory) and imitations of natural and animal 
sounds (the bow-wow theory) furnished portions of the primitive 
vocabulary of man ; but that this in its extent consisted in repro- 
ductions or reflections of the sounds heard by him or made by 
him, or the vocal murmurs and functional noises that were repeat- 
edly in his ears. Neither must we forget the part that gesture, 
L. gestus (from gero), posture or motion, must have played in the 
development of speech. It aided in making speech articulate and 
intelligible. Had man not been an erect animal with free hands 
he never would have possessed language proper, nor, for that 
matter, any effective means of communication. Had he not 
elected, or been constrained, to employ his hands in other ways, 
gesture-language might perhaps have sufficed for the wants of the 
early man. As it is, gesture -language and speech proper went 
hand in hand, and it was long till the latter could dispense with 
the former. As Wedgwood has shown, a person terrified by a 



208 SIGNIFICANT ETYMOLOGY. 

bull would find it convenient to make known the object of his 
alarm by imitating at once the movements of the animal with his 
head and its bellowings with his voice. A cock would be repre- 
sented by an attempt at the sound of crowing, while the arms were 
beat against the side in imitation of the flapping of the bird's 
wings. It is by signs like these that Hood describes his raw 
Englishman as making known his wants in France : 

" ' Moo ' I cried for milk, 
And if I wanted bread, my jaws I set agoing, 
And asked for new-laid eggs by clapping hands and crowing." 

There would be neither sense nor fun in the caricature if it had 
not a basis of truth in human nature, cognisable by the lazy and 
unspeculative class for whom the author wrote. A jest must be 
addressed to the most superficial capacities of apprehension, and 
therefore may often afford better evidence of a fact of conscious- 
ness than a train of abstruse reasoning. It is on that account that 
so apt an illustration of the only comprehensible origin of language 
has been found in the old story of an Englishman at a Chinese 
banquet who, being curious as to the composition of a dish he was 
eating, turned round to his native servant with an interrogative 
"quack-quack?" The servant answered "bow-wow!" imitating 
as clearly as if he spoke in English that it was dog, and not duck, 
that his master was eating. The communication that passed 
between them, was essentially language, comprehensible to every 
one who was acquainted with the animals in question, such 
language, therefore, as might have been used by the first family of 
man, as well as by persons of different tongues at the present day. 

In English, as in other living languages, there are numerous 
words which, although seldom or never found in written literature, 
are constantly and largely employed in every-day and familiar 
conversation. At first these colloquial terms may have been mere 
vulgarisms, but by coming into general use many of them have 
been gradually taken up into the language. 

Under the head of spoken language I would include (1) nick- 
names, (2) words expressive of contempt, and (3) slang words. 



OUR SPOKEN LANGUAGE. 209 

(1) Nicknames. The word nickname has now come to signify 
very much a sort of contemptuous name, a name given to a person 
in contempt, derision, or reproach ; but it was not originally so, 
except in the case of those names which were given to us by our 
school companions, who found out our weak point, and bestowed 
upon us a nickname which, however it exaggerated the character- 
istic to which it had reference, yet had the unintentional effect of 
making us see our folly and amend our ways. None the less, 
however, did the nickname remain, and after fifty or sixty years 
is occasionally repeated. But the nickname originally was merely 
an eke name, where the word became misdivided into a neke 
name. The word eke, both in Scotch and English (witness John 
Gilpin, " a train-band captain eke was he "), signifies, as an adverb, 
in addition to, or likewise ; as a noun, an addition, as when you put 
an eke on a beehive ; and as a verb, to add, as in the phrase to eke 
out. So an eke name, or a nickname, was something added to the 
original name what the Latins called an agnomen, what in many 
parts of the island is called a to -name (a name added to the 
original), and in Aberdeenshire is called, from their local pro- 
nunciation, a tee-name a name added to, or tee, the proper name 
to distinguish different people of the same name from one another. 
In some of the fishing villages in Buchan, where you have a great 
many John Stephens, and William Buchans, and James Cordiners, 
&c., it is usual to distinguish them in the grocers' books, and then 
in common speech, by these additional names ; so that I can well 
believe the story told in an article on " Fisher-Folk " in ' Black- 
wood's Magazine' in 1842. It is there said that on one occasion 
a person had occasion to call on a fisherman of the name of 
Alexander White in one of the Buchan fishing villages. Meeting 
a girl, he asked her, "Can ye tell me far Sawny Fite lives?" 
"Filk Sawny Fite?" "Muckle Sawny Fite." "Filk muckle 
Sawny Fite?" "Muckle lang Sawny Fite." "Filk muckle lang 
Sawny Fite?" "Muckle lang gleyed Sawny Fite," shouted the 
stranger. " Oh, it's ' Goup the lift ' l ye're seekin'," cried the girl ; 



1 The phrase "Goup the lift" sky," and in all probability the 
means in Scotch " staring at the person so named may have been a 






O 



210 



SIGNIFICANT ETYMOLOGY. 



" and what the mischief did ye no speir for the man by his richt 
name at ance ? " 

(2) Words expressive of contempt. These are very numerous. 
I shall give some specimens which occur to me as I write, without 
presenting any particular order or special classification. E.g., 
nincompoop, the name given to a simpleton or silly fellow, is 
said to be a contraction of the three Latin words non compos 
mentis, meaning not having power over himself, or over his mind, 
the word com for con, and pos, 1 a contraction for potis, an adverb 
like satis and magis (from pos, whence compos and impos), signify- 
ing having power to do anything. Impos (in, and pos or potis) 
signifies not master of, without power over anything ; hence the 
Latin expression impos animi sui (used by Plautus), not master of 
his reason, not of sound mind, out of one's wits. Ninny, a childish 
person (from It. ninna and Sp. nino, an infant), said to be an 
imitative word from the lullaby ninna-nanna, for singing a child 
to sleep. It may be that all these words came originally from the 
L. nanus or nana, a dwarf. The word snob is supposed to be of 
Scandinavian origin, and is generally identified with the Icel. sndpr, 
a dolt or idiot with the idea of a pretentious person, a boaster. We 
have in provincial English the word snob used for a vulgar, ignorant 
person who apes gentility, and in Suffolk for a journeyman shoe- 
maker. It is a strange thing that particular trades, or professions, 



native of Pennan, a fishing village 
in Aberdeenshire, under the shelter 
of a great cliff which overhangs the 
village, so that the people are com- 
pelled to go about with their heads 
in the air, and can be recognised by 
this peculiarity. 

1 The Latin verb possum, potui, 
posse, to be able, to have power, 
comes from this word (potts, and 
sum, I am), whence also we have 
such English words as possible, 
capable of being or occurring. We 
speak of the possibility of mistake, 
or of a bare possibility. Some 
people confound difficulty with im- 
possibility. Potent is powerful, but 
it is applied rather to physical and 
moral influence than to direct force. 



We speak of a powerful engine, 
but of a potent prince or a potentate, 
and Shakespeare makes one of his 
characters exclaim, " most lame 
and impotent conclusion. " We have 
in English grammar the potential 
mood, indicating that a thing may 
or might be. Omnipotent means 
all-powerful. Power is from the 
OF. pooir, mod. pouvoir. Puissant 
(F. ) means powerful : we speak of a 
puissant prince, and Shakespeare 
speaks of the " most puissant 
Caesar," and Tennyson uses the 
word puissance, whence he says 

" And thro' the puissance of his Table 

Round, 
Drew all their petty princedoms under 

him." 



OUR SPOKEN LANGUAGE. 211 

or ranks of life which are supposed to involve something effem- 
inate, or mean, or opprobrious, are taken as the types of these 
qualities. Thus that vile sarcasm on tailors which wickedly 
declares a tailor to be but a vulgar fraction of a man is of quite 
dateless antiquity ; while the word snob has from an early period 
been applied to shoemakers. That there has always been believed 
to be a tendency in them to pretend to be in a different sphere 
from what they were is evident from the old Eoman proverb, 
" Ne sutor ultra crepidam " the shoemaker should not go beyond 
his last. This certainly implies that he was more inclined than 
others to do so. In France, however, they do not typify this class 
by a shoemaker but by a grocer, an epicier being with the French 
the very beau-ideal of twopenny flash and beggarly magnificence. 
Disraeli, in his ' Henrietta Temple,' says : "Of all the great dis- 
tinctions in life, none is perhaps more important than that which 
divides mankind into the two great sections of nobs and snobs." 
Captain Armine was a nob, and the poor tradesman a snob. It 
has now come to signify colloquially a toadying or blatant vul- 
garian. Thackeray, who wrote the ' Book of Snobs,' says in his 
' Irish Sketch-book ' that " a vulgar man in England displays his 
character of snob by assuming as much as he can for himself, 
swaggering and showing off in his coarse, dull, stupid way " ; and 
in his ' Book of Snobs ' he says : " He who meanly admires mean 
things is a snob perhaps that is a safe definition of the character." 
In the 'Pall Mall Gazette' of 1st March 1884 we are told that 
"Admiral Maxe's French guest was strongly impressed with the 
healthy hatred in which three things, the ' quack,' the ' humbug,' 
and the ' snob,' are held by the Englishmen with whom he associ- 
ated in England." On being asked here what a snob is, he said : 
" An individual who would enjoy living in a dirty hole provided 
it had a fine frontage, and who is absolutely incapable of valuing 
moral or mental greatness unless it is first admired by big people." 
There are numerous adjectives and other derivatives, such as snob- 
bish, snobbishness, snobbery, snobocracy, &c. 

Silly, which now signifies weak in intellect, originally meant 
blessed or happy. Trench, in his Glossary, says : " A deep convic- 



212 SIGNIFICANT ETYMOLOGY. 

tion of men that he who departs from evil will make himself a 
prey, that none will be a match for the world's evil who is not 
himself evil, has brought to pass the fact that a number of words, 
signifying at first goodness, signify next well-meaning simplicity; 
the notions of goodness and foolishness, with a strong predomin- 
ance of the last, for a while interpenetrating one another in them, till 
at length the latter quite expels the former, and remains as the sole 
possessor of the word." This is emphatically true with reference to 
this word silly, which is the same word as the German selig, and has 
successively meant (1) blessed, (2) innocent, (3) harmless, and (4) 
weakly foolish. The word innocent has passed through a similar 
experience. It comes to us through the F. innocent, from L. inno- 
cens or innocentem, harmless, blameless (in, not, and noceo, to hurt), 
pure, spotless ; and so has come, when used as a noun, to signify a 
person deficient in intellect, almost an idiot. The word simple 
has shared a similar fate. Originally it signified simple in the 
sense of single, through F. simple, from L. simplex, lit. one-fold, 
single, as opposed to duplex, two-fold, or double (whence duplicity). 
The L. sim, or sen, or sem, comes from the Aryan root sama, same, 
which appears in L. singuli, one by one ; semper, always alike ; semel, 
once ; and simul, together. The second half of the word simplex 
comes from the Latin word plicare, to fold, and so means one-fold, 
not combined, uncomplicated, undesigning, and afterwards came to 
signify silly. This meaning appears in its full force in the word 
simpleton, which exhibits a double suffix -t-on, which is very rare ; 
yet, as Skeat points out, there is at least one more example of it in 
the old word musk-et-oon, a kind of musket F. mousqu-et-on. The 
word simpleton signifies not merely a foolish fellow, but one weak 
in intellect. Unsophisticated is another of the same. It is, 
literally, unadulterated, unspoiled, ignorant of crooked ways and 
wiles, but is now almost universally used in the sense of rustic, 
simple, or ignorant. It has gradually sunk from its high estate 
until it has reached its present degradation ; for a sophist was 
originally a wise teacher (from Gr. sophia, wisdom), and owes 
its evil sense to the Dialogues of Plato, in which the reasoning 
of these professors was attacked by Socrates. Perhaps none of 



OUR SPOKEN LANGUAGE. 



213 






these terms of contempt have departed farther from the original 
meaning than the word so frequently used by so many in utter 
ignorance that it ever had any other meaning than the one it 
bears I mean the word idiot. This word idiot, signifying gener- 
ally a person deficient in intellect, a born fool, as distinguished 
from a lunatic, who is usually violent, although this is also occa- 
sionally implied in the word idiot, as in the line, 

"A tale 

Told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, 
Signifying nothing," 

conies from the Greek word idios, 1 one's own, or peculiar. The 
word, however, did not come to bear the meaning so much from 
any peculiarity in the man, distinguishing him from those around 
him as having less sense than they, but from the Greek word 
idiotes, which meant at first merely a private person as dis- 
tinguished from one who held a public office, a man in private 
life and not belonging to the public. When the Romans came 
to use the word, and to adopt it under the form of idiota, they 
went farther, and assumed that if a man took no part in public 
matters, or did not hold any official position, it was because he 
was unfit for it. So important did they regard public office, as 
furnishing the opportunity of serving the state, that they thought 
that if a man failed with it he could not have all his senses ; and 
further, that contact with public life was so indispensable even for 
the right development of the intellect, that the men who had not 
undergone this must be weak-minded. The disqualification for 
public life was assumed to be want of ability, and the excess of 



1 From the Greek word idios, 
one's own, or peculiar to oneself, 
we have formed many other words 
of better meaning. The words idiom 
and idiomatic, for instance, signify 
a mode of expression or form of 
speech peculiar to a language or 
dialect ; and idiotism is not natural 
imbecility of mind, but an abnormal 
and individual departure, not only 
from universal grammar, but from 



its true idiom. Idiopathy is a 
peculiar affection or state a prim- 
ary disease, one not occasioned by 
another (idios, peculiar, and pathos, 
suffering) ; and idiosyncrasy, which 
signifies a peculiarity of temper or 
constitution which becomes a char- 
acteristic of a person, literally one's 
own peculiar mixture from Gr. 
syncrasis, a mixture (syn, together, 
and krasis, a mixture). 



214 SIGNIFICANT ETYMOLOGY. 

such want was expressed by the term " idiot " ; and even Xenophon 
uses the word in this sense, as " a person without gifts," natural or 
acquired, and thus unqualified to take a leading part ; and so in 
this sense only we now use the words idiocy, idiotic, and idiotical, 
to express what the Gr. idiotes never did, the man whose mental 
powers are not merely unexercised but deficient, as distinguished 
from him who is in full possession of them. The word private, 
which we have just used, comes from the L. primes (perhaps from 
prce), existing for itself, single, by itself. In the old Latin it was 
synonymous with singulus. Then from privus was formed the 
verb privo, privavi, privdtum, pi'ivare, to set free from anything, 
to separate from anything or any one, and the participle privatus 
and adjective : a private person signified one who lived for himself 
and had nothing to do with offices of state, applied as we do to 
private life and private property. So also the word privilege is 
from privus, private, and lex, a law. Privilegium was a law regard- 
ing a single individual, but it did not say whether for or against 
him. As a matter of fact, a privilegium at first meant a law 
decree or statute against an individual person, but afterwards it 
came to mean an ordinance for the benefit of one or more persons 
to the detriment of others, a special right or grant, exactly what 
we now mean by privilege. Beldame, from F. bel or belle, fair or 
beautiful, and dame, a lady, signifying literally and originally fair 
lady, but now used ironically, and equivalent to an old noisy 
woman, or an ugly and decrepit old woman. Blackguard was the 
name originally given contemptuously to the large multitude who, 
when the sovereign made a royal progress throughout the kingdom 
with his train of courtiers and nobles, &c., usually brought up the 
rear of the procession, consisting of the lowest class of menials, 
being the scullery servants, the turnspits, the coal -carriers, and 
others of that ilk ; and as they accompanied and protected the pots, 
pans, and other kitchen utensils, riding among them and becoming 
smirched by them, were contemptuously styled the black guard. 
It is easy to trace the subsequent history of the word. With a 
slight forgetfulness of its origin, he is now called a blackguard who 
would have been once said to belong to the black guard. Now it 



OUR SPOKEN LANGUAGE. 



215 



has come to signify one of the idle criminal class, or a mean, low 
fellow, a scoundrel. A good illustration of the meaning of the 
word is given in a Proclamation of the Board of Green Cloth 
in 1683 (quoted in 'Notes and Queries, 3 7th January 1854): 
" Whereas of late a sort of vicious idle and masterless boys and 
rogues, commonly called the Black Guard, with divers other lewd 
and loose fellows, vagabonds, vagrants, and wandering men and 
women, do follow the Court to the great dishonour of the same, 
we do strictly charge all those so called the Black Guard as afore- 
said, with all other loose, idle, masterless men, boys, rogues, and 
wanderers, who have intruded themselves into his Majesty's Court 
and stables, that within the space of twenty-four hours they depart." 
Bumpkin, an awkward country fellow, a stupid peasant, a rustic ; 
supposed by some to come from Dut. bommekijn, a little barrel, 
from his awkwardness in moving or rolling about among others, 
but closely connected with our bump, one who comes bump against 
another without thought. Certainly bumptious is closely con- 
nected with bump, for a bumptious fellow is one who is always 
noisily asserting himself, pushing himself to the front, and, coining 
in contact with others, is constantly taking and giving offence. 
Caitiff, a mean, despicable fellow. F. chetif, poor, wretched, 
through OF. chaitifand F. caitif; It. cattwo, bad, from L. captivus, 
a captive, which in low Latin signifies mean or poor-looking (from 
capio, to take). So called either because those captured by the 
law or the Government were worthless characters, or as suggesting 
what is doubtless true, that indentured servitude .or slavery is to 
debase the character. Barbarian is believed to be originally a 
word imitative of the confused sound of unintelligible voices con- 
veying no meaning, but repeating the syllables bar, bar ; called in 
Gr. barbaros, originally one who utters a confused jargon of unin- 
telligible sounds, and afterwards a rude, savage, uncivilised man. 
Hence such epithets as "barbarous" and "barbarity," and such 
phrases as " methods of barbarism "; but originally it meant no more 
than one whose language we cannot understand, as Ovid, speaking 
of himself in Pontus, says, " Barbarus hie ego sum quia non intelligor 
ulli " i.e., " I am a barbarian here because I am not intelligible to 



216 SIGNIFICANT ETYMOLOGY. 

any." It is worth noting, too, before parting with this word, that 
its origin, as an imitation of a confused sound of voices by a 
repetition of the syllable bar, bar, finds a parallel in the way in 
which the broken sound of waves, of wind, and even of voices, is 
represented by a repetition of the analogous syllable mur, mur. 
We speak of the murmur of the waves, or of a crowd of people 
talking. It may be remarked, indeed, that the noise of voices 
is constantly represented by the same word as the sound made 
by the movement of water, and that in many languages. Cur- 
mudgeon, the epithet usually applied to a greedy, ill-natured 
fellow, a sort of miser. The origin of the name has given rise 
to several conjectures. The strangest is that accepted by Dr 
Johnson, who states in his Dictionary that it is from the F. cceur 
mechant, bad-heart, adding "unknown correspondent," to indicate 
that this (truly preposterous) conjecture had been sent to him by 
some person to him unknown. Ash copied this etymology in the 
form cosur, unknown, and mechant, a correspondent ! Another 
conjecture is that it is from the AS. car mody, from care or Jcarg, 
chary or avaricious, and mod, the mind, greedy -minded. The 
third and most popular theory is that it is a mispronunciation, 
and then a misspelling for corn-merchant; but this is extremely 
unlikely, because no reason can be given for such a corruption of so 
familiar a word as " merchant," and also because " corn-merchant," 
as applied to a class, has never been a term of reproach. No 
doubt in times of scarcity dealers in corn were a most unpopular 
class of persons, being always supposed to be keeping up the price 
of com by their avarice ; hence the fourth etymology has found 
much acceptance viz., that as the word is spelt " in," instead of 
" eon " as now, in early editions of Hudibras and elsewhere the 
" in " stands as often for " ing " : the word accordingly is " corn- 
mudging," which, according to the context, is "corn-hoarding." An 
attempt is then made to trace farther the verb to mudge, to mix, 
and much, but this is by no means clear; hence a fifth etymology 
is from the OF. mucer or musser, to conceal or to hide ; in Picardy 
mucker, the very word almost of which we are in search. This 
verb was originally used of hoarding corn, and the expression was 






OUR SPOKEN LANGUAGE. 217 

originally a biblical one. In the OF. version of Prov. xi. 26 we 
read : " Cil que musce les furmens." In our version : " Whoso 
withholdeth corn, the people shall curse him." In Holland's trans- 
lation of Livy, pp. 150 and 1104, used to translate the L. frumen- 
tarius, a corn-dealer, we have corne-mudgin or corn-mudgin : " The 
aediles curule hung up 12 brazen shields made of the fines that 
certain corn-mudgins paid for hoarding up their grain." Singularly 
enough, just when I had finished writing the above, I was told by 
a young lady that some friends of hers who were driving through 
a small village in Aberdeenshire in a motor, the smell from which 
was not very fragrant, were surprised to hear one woman exclaim 
to another as the car whisked past, " Me"chante odeur ! " being the 
French for "a bad smell." My reply was that I believed that 
what they had heard was really the word mishanter, a Scotch 
word signifying an accident, and that she was likely predicting 
misadventure as the sequel of their furious driving. I was rather 
confirmed in this view by the fact that the word was sometimes 
spelt " misanter," from prefix mis, wrong, and anter, to chance, to 
happen, the same as aunter, to risk ; or as a noun, an adventure. 
My surprise was great when, on turning up Jamieson's Dictionary 
for another purpose, I came upon the following : " Mischant 
youther, a very bad smell. This term is used both in the north 
and west of Scotland, also in the Lothians. F. meschant odeur" 
Now it is quite possible that the pronunciation of youther may in 
the last hundred years have become more assimilated to the sound 
of odour, which it really means. Dolt, a stupid, ' clumsy fellow. 
We find it spelt in Shakespeare ("Othello," V. ii. 163) dult, show- 
ing its origin more clearly, so that dolt or dult stands for dulled or 
blunted. The word imp, which is now universally used in an evil 
sense, if not in the very worst sense, was at first not so confined, 
or rather it was a name of dignity and honour. It comes from 
the medieval L. impetus, a graft (Gr. emphutos, engrafted, from 
emphuo, to implant from en, in, and phuo, to plant), and signifies 
in OE. a scion, 1 or son. Becon, in his ' Comfortable Epistle,' 

1 This word scion has had a very the F. word scion, a shoot, a young 
different experience. It comes from and tender plant, and the F. scier, 




218 



SIGNIFICANT ETYMOLOGY. 



speaks of " those most goodly and virtuous young imps, the Duke 
of Suffolk and his brother." In Storr's Annals (1592) we read 
that " the King preferred eighty noble imps to the order of Knight- 
hood." In Henry VIII. 's reign Prince Edward is called "that 
goodly imp," while Spenser addresses the Muses in these terms : 
" Ye sacred imps that on Parnasso dwell." But now we have such 
phrases as "an imp of hell," meaning a little devil, and an imp 
of darkness, a son of darkness; and frequently the word indi- 
cates the devil himself. The word gossip, which now means idle 
talk, or what is called tittle-tattle, originally meant a " sponsor in 
baptism" a godfather or godmother (see p. 116). The word was 
originally spelt god-sib that is, related to God, or God-related, 
the old belief being that sponsorship brought the sponsor and the 
child into spiritual affinity ; but now no one thinks of the original 
meaning of the word, and the verb to gossip means only to run 
about among neighbours and engage in idle talk, or to engage in 
such small-talk. The word flunkey, which is generally used now 
as a term of contempt, denoting a person who runs after people of 
rank, and is cringing and obsequious, slavishly aping their manners, 
in other words, a low mean-spirited fellow, has descended to 
this only by degrees. Its etymology is somewhat doubtful. Some, 
with Wedgwood, have derived it from the Platt-Deutsch or low 
German word flurikern, to be gaudily dressed Dut. flonkeren or 
flunkeren, to glitter, and Ger. flunke, a spark (only that the Greek 
unfortunately is fureke, a spark). However, the Platt-Deutsch 
etymology derives some support from the fact that in Scotland still 
it signifies a livery servant, from the peculiarity of his attire ; but 
there is little doubt that its real etymology is the F. flanquer, 
originally to be ready at need to run by the side of from the 
French word flanc (English flank), the side of an animal from 
the ribs to the thigh in all probability from the L. flaccus, 



to saw or cut, and hence a de- 
scendant ; from the L. seco, to cut 
(see p. 74). A scion, then, ori- 
ginally means a small twig or 
branch cut from one tree and 
grafted on another ; any young 



branch or member, and applied 
more exclusively to the families 
of the nobility, as when Byron 
asks the question, " Scion of 
chiefs and monarchs, where art 
thou ? " 



OUR SPOKEN LANGUAGE. 219 

weak or flabby, the flank being the weak part of the body, and 
so it has come to signify the side of anything, especially of an 
army or fleet. So that to flank means now to attack the side 
or flank of an army; a flank movement is the posting of troops 
so as to be able to attack the extreme right or left of the enemy. 
Thus we see how a flunkey would receive his name from being on 
his master's flank, or ready to support him on the side where he 
was weakest. Possibly, too, in this way we come very near an 
explanation of the word henchman, which, instead of deriving 
from the AS. Tiengest, a horse and man, literally a supporter, seems 
much more likely to be a modern form of haunchman, or one who 
stands at the haunch, still called bench in Scotland. 

(3) Slang words. These are not necessarily contemptuous or 
disparaging words, as is evident from several which occur through- 
out this book in connection with the subjects to which they refer ; 
but I may give as an illustration of this the word brick, which in 
the slang sense is used for " a good fellow," one whose staunchness 
and loyalty commend him to his fellows, so that to describe any 
one as " a regular brick " is to employ perhaps the most eulogistic 
epithet that one man can apply to another. It is said to be of 
university origin, and the expression has been logically deduced 
in the following amusing manner : A brick is deep-red, so a deep- 
read man is a brick. The punning syllogism has been carried 
farther. To read like a brick is to read till you are deep-read; 
a deep-read man is in university phrase a " good man " ; a good 
man is a jolly fellow with non-reading men, ergo, a jolly fellow is 
a brick. 

It has, however, been pointed out that dedicatory columns of 
various forms have been found bearing Greek inscriptions, records 
of the great and virtuous. Some of these were circular and fluted 
pillars ; but the Athenians are said to have dedicated square 
columns, so inscribed, which gave rise to the style tetrag-onos anerr 
(Arist. Eth., i. 10), one whose worth entitled him to honourable 
mention on some monumental stone of the form described. The 
anticipatory distinction might therefore be easily accorded to one 
worthy of such posthumous honours. From the meritorious notion 




220 SIGNIFICANT ETYMOLOGY. 

of the rectangular stone or pillar we get the living type of genuine 
worth a regular brick. A further analogy may be drawn from 
the clayey basis of the brick, even in a combination with sand and 
ashes those types of instability and decay, and we naturally 
acquire the notion of solidity, consistency, and strength. We are 
thus enabled to apply the phrase to the child of clay who may 
chance to resemble it in the constitution, whose moral materials 
and parts have been originally so carefully formed, so judiciously 
tempered and skilfully moulded, that in spite of a frail and infirm 
nature he has preserved his shape thus already given. The fiery 
test only determines his solidity ; his sound, staunch, and un- 
shrinking firmness constitutes him a regular brick or hero, the 
attributes which specially qualify him for that metaphorical appel- 
lation. The truth is that it is really classical slang after all. And 
yet of the thousands who use the phrase, how few know its origin 
or its primitive significance. Truly it is a heroic thing to be able 
to say of any man that " he is a brick." Plutarch, in his Life of 
Agesilaus, King of Sparta, gives us the origin of the quaint and 
familiar expression. On a certain occasion an Ambassador from 
Epirus on a diplomatic mission was shown by the king over his 
capital. The Ambassador knew that though only nominally King of 
Sparta, he was yet a ruler of Greece, and he looked to see massive 
walls rearing aloft their embattled towers for the defence of the chief 
towns, but he found nothing of the kind. He marvelled much at 
this, and spoke of it to the king. " Sire," he said, " I have visited 
most of the principal towns, and find no walls raised for their 
defence. Why is this ? " " Indeed, Sir Ambassador," replied 
Agesilaus, "thou canst not have looked carefully. Come with 
me to-morrow morning and I will show you the walls of Sparta. 
On the following morning the king led his guest out upon the 
plain, where his army was drawn up in full battle array, and 
pointing proudly to the serried hosts, he said, "There, sir, thou 
beholdest the walls of Sparta ten thousand men, and every man 
a brick" 

The word masher, which seems to have been originally American 
slang, although in not uncommon use here, at first signified a person 



OUR SPOKEN LANGUAGE. 221 

who spends his or her time in making conquests, real or imaginary, 
of the other sex. It has been supposed by many to be a cor- 
ruption of the F. ma cJierie, but this is only another of the many 
instances of an ingenious etymology whose surface plausibility 
imposes on the unwary. A very plausible suggestion is made by 
J. W. De Forrest in 'The Illustrated American,' 16th June 1890, 
viz., that it is simply a translation of the French noun ecraseur, 
which comes from the verb ecraser, to crush or mash. " Many 
years ago," says Mr De Forrest, " when I was a young looker-on 
in Paris, ecraseur or ecraseur des femmes was a slang term for a 
lady-killer. I remember a drama in point. Scene, a carnival ball at 
the Grand Opera. Young American looking on, his long mous- 
taches stiffened with pommade hongroise, and carefully curled in two 
dashing spirals. Out steps a nymph from the dance, takes him 
gently by both the waxed ends, and says laughingly, 'You have 
no right to mash us (nous ecraser) just because you have corkscrew 
moustaches.' " There is no doubt that the word in this sense 
was first employed in the United States, and that the participle 
mashed was in use before the substantive. A person who was 
very "spooney" on another was said to be mashed; then came 
the verb to mash, and latterly the noun masher i.e., who produces 
the effect, or at least who imagines himself " a lady-killer." Need 
I say that men of this calibre are often fops or dandies 1 hence the 
word masher as now understood. 

A still more likely derivation of the word is from the gipsy word 
masher-ava, to fascinate by the eye, a derivation thus advocated 
by Barrere and Leland ('Slang, Jargon, and Cant,' 1897). About 
the year 1860 mash was a word found only in the theatrical 
parlance of the United States. When an actress or any girl on 
the stage smiled at, or ogled, any friend in the audience, she was 
said to mash him, and mashing was always punishable by a fine 
deducted from the wages of the offender. It occurred to the 
writer (Leland) that it must have been derived from the gipsy 
word mash (masher-ava), to allure, to entice. This was suggested 
to Mr Palmer, a well-known impresario, who said that the con- 
jecture was not only correct, but that he could confirm it, for the 



222 SIGNIFICANT ETYMOLOGY. 

term had originated with the C family, who were all comic 

actors and actresses of Romany stock, and spoke gipsy familiarly 
among themselves. 

Bunkum is a West Yorkshire word, in use there up to the middle 
of last century. It was applied to imported beef, and came to 
signify tough and stringy. Whether the beef was imported or 
not we cannot tell, but the word " bunkum " in its modern sense 
has been imported. It signifies empty claptrap oratory, tall talk, 
humbug, or talking merely for talking's sake. The word originally 
was spelt Buncombe, which is the name of a county in North 
Carolina, United States. The employment of the word in its 
original sense of insincere political speech is ascribed to the member 
for that county in Congress, who, when his fellow-members could 
not understand why he was making a speech, explained that he 
was merely talking for Buncombe. Judge Haliburton (Sam Slick), 
in explaining this word, says that "all over America, every place 
likes to hear of its member of Congress and see his speeches ; and if 
they don't, they send a piece to the paper, inquiring if their member 
died a natural death, or was skewered with a bowie-knife, for they 
han't seen his speeches lately, and his friends are anxious to know 
his fate. Our free and enlightened citizens don't approbate silent 
members ; it don't seem to them as if Squashville, or Pronkinsville, 
or Lumberton was rightly represented, unless Squashville, or 
Pronkinsville, or Lumberton makes itself heard and known, ay, 
and feared too. So every fellow in bounden duty talks, and talks 
big too, and the smaller the state the louder, bigger, and fiercer 
its members talk ; but when a critter talks for talk's sake, just to 
have a speech in a paper to send to home, and not for any other 
airthly purpuss, but electioneering, our folks call it bunkum" 

The term is now universal on both sides of the water, and indeed 
wherever the English language is spoken. So much is this the 
case that the expression may now fairly claim a permanent place 
in the language. The primary meaning has been somewhat en- 
larged. That's all " Buncombe " is equivalent to " that's all 
nonsense, or an absurdity." 

Humbug is a very useful and a very expressive word, for which 



OUR SPOKEN LANGUAGE. 223 

we have no precise equivalent, and yet it is very difficult to say of 
what it is composed or how it originated. Even the New English 
Dictionary, which is not easily deterred from investigating to the 
very uttermost, is compelled to say that "many guesses at the 
possible derivation of humbug have been made ; but as with other 
and more recent words of similar introduction, the facts as to its 
origin appear to have been lost, even before the word became 
common enough to excite attention. The attention it excited at 
first was of no very favourable kind, for an article in the second 
volume of 'The Student,' published in 1751, about a year after 
the word was introduced, says : " There is a word very much in 
vogue with the people of taste and fashion, which, although it has 
not even the ' penumbra ' of a meaning, yet makes up the sum 
total of the net sense and judgment of the aforesaid people of taste 
and fashion ! I will venture to affirm that this ' humbug ' is 
neither an English word nor a derivative from any other language. 
It is indeed a blackguard sound made use of by most people 
of distinction ! It is a fine make-weight in conversation, and some 
great men deceive themselves so egregiously as to think they mean 
something by it." 

A hundred years later De Quincey, in a paper on Language, 
' Works,' vol. viii. p. 78, says : " The word humbug rests upon a 
rich and comprehensive basis ; it cannot be rendered adequately 
either by German or by Greek, the two richest of human languages ; 
and without this expressive word we should all be disarmed for 
one great case, continually recurrent, of solid enormity. A vast 
mass of villany that cannot otherwise be reached by legal penalties, 
or brought within the rhetoric of scorn, would go at large with 
absolute impunity were it not through the stern Khadamanthine 
aid of this virtuous and inexorable word." 

Two etymologies, however, are worth noting for their humorous 
value, and also because they are often cited. The first is that of 
Mr F. Crossby, who suggests a derivation from the Irish uim bog 
(pronounced um-bug), meaning " soft copper," or worthless money. 
James II. issued from the Dublin Mint a coinage of a mixture of 
lead, copper, and brass, so worthless that a sovereign possessed an 




224 SIGNIFICANT ETYMOLOGY. 

intrinsic value of only twopence, and might have been bought after 
the Ee volution for a halfpenny ; hence " humbug " as the opposite 
of " sterling." The other is thus given in ' Notes and Queries ' : 
" Edward Nathanael Lever, who was all his life connected with the 
London Stock Exchange, and who died on 7th May 1876, aged 
eighty, once said in all seriousness that during the Napoleonic wars 
so much false news or politics and army movements came through 
Hamburg, that anything that smacked of the incredible was re- 
ceived with the derisive phrase, 'that's Hamburg,' whence is 
derived, by corruption, the word ' humbug.' " It is unfortunate for 
what would otherwise have been a very likely derivation, that the 
word was in constant use in our country for more than fifty years 
before the Napoleonic wars; and we are indebted to a later correspon- 
dent in 'Notes and Queries,' 1892, for ihefons et origo of this re- 
markable word viz., the Italian uomo bugiardo, that is, a lying man. 
Hocus Pocus. There have been many theories as to the deriva- 
tion of this phrase. Nares thinks the expression is taken from the 
Italian jugglers, who said " Ochus Bochus," in reference to a famous 
magician of those days. In 'The Mirror,' vol. 21, there is a refer- 
ence to this gentleman to the following effect : " Ochus Bochus 
was a magician and demon among the Saxons, dwelling in forests 
and caves, and we have his name handed down to the present day 
in Somersetshire (viz., Wokey Hole, near Wells)." This, however, 
is a mere invention, for the utmost that can be proved is that there 
was a juggler who assumed this name, and that Hokos Pokos is 
the name of the juggler in Ben Jonson's "Magnetic Lady" (1632) ; 
while the word appears in " The Staple of News," an earlier play by 
the same author (1625), in the sentence, "Iniquity came in like 
Hokos Pokos in a juggler's jerkin, with false skirts like the knave 
of clubs." In spite of all that has been said and written on this 
subject, I am still inclined to think that there is more than a pos- 
sibility in the suggestion made by Archbishop Tillotson in one of 
his sermons, where he says, " In all probability those common 
juggling words of hocus pocus are nothing else but a corruption of 
hoc est corpus, by way of ridiculous imitation of the priests of the 
Church of Eome in their trick of transubstantiation." When we 



OUR SPOKEN LANGUAGE. 225 

think how many slang phrases and words were made by profane 
and ignorant persons from Church terms and the like (see Tyndall's 
list of slang phrases, &c., in his ' Obedience of a Christian Man '), 
(both by Tyndall and Frith, ed. Russell, i. 340), we cannot but 
feel that such an alleged miracle as that of transubstantiation would 
let loose a large amount of profane abuse, and might easily turn 
into an irreverent travesty of the sacred words of consecration in 
the Mass " hoc est corpus," meaning " this is my body," into 
hocus pocus, a mere juggling with sacred things. It has been 
alleged that many illiterate Romish priests who gabbled Latin 
which they did not understand were in the way of saying " hocus 
pocus " for " hoc est corpus." By way of supporting this con- 
jecture, Pegge in his 'Anecdotes of the English Language,' pub- 
lished in the beginning of last century, tells us that they called 
part of the funeral service, viz., "De profundis" (130th Psalm), by 
the style and title of "Deborah Fundish." I think there can be 
no doubt that the word patter, in the sense of to repeat hurriedly 
or glibly ; or as a noun, signifying the cant of a class ; or a patter 
song, meaning a comic song in which a great many words are sung 
or spoken very rapidly, is derived from the first word of the 
Lord's Prayer, which is called Pate)' noster. Indeed, to patter 
sometimes means to repeat the Lord's Prayer ; and I am not sur- 
prised, for I have been struck with the rapidity with which, not 
only in the Church of England but in the Church of Scotland also, 
clergymen in repeating the Lord's Prayer at the end of other 
prayers do so with a speed and glibness which 'are positively 
irreverent, and which looks like showing how familiar they are with 
it when they can repeat it so quickly, without thinking of what 
they are saying ; so that it is little wonder that " patter " has come to 
signify to repeat the same thing over and over again. Thackeray 
(' X ewcomes,' ch. xi.) speaks of the housekeeper pattering on 
before us from chamber to chamber, expatiating upon the magnifi- 
cence of the pictures. Scott, in his " Lay of the Last Minstrel," 
ii. 6, says 

" For Mass or prayer can I rarely tarry, 
Save to patter an Ave Mary." 
p 



226 SIGNIFICANT ETYMOLOGY. 

Among the many etymologies suggested for the word hoax, I 
think the most plausible is that which makes it a corruption of a 
corruption viz., a corruption from the hoc est corpus of the Mass. 
A hoax may be defined as a successful effort to deceive, without 
any motive but fun. The following inscription is a genuine hoax. 
It was sent to the secretary of an enthusiastic band of archaeologists 
exploring the town of Banbury, as having been copied from the 
corner-stone of an old structure lately pulled down : 

SEOGEH SREVE EREH WCISUME VAHL 
LAH SEHS SE OTREH NOS LLEBDNAS 
REGNI FREH NOS GNIRES ROHYER 
GANGED IRYD ALE NIFAE ESOTS SORCY 
RUB NABOT ES ROHK CO CAED IR. 

After the learned heads had been puzzled for a while, one of their 
number hit upon the experiment of reading the inscription back- 
ward, when it was found to be an ingenious transposition of the 
nursery rhyme " Eide a cock-horse to Banbury Cross, to see a fine 
lady," &c. 

Cockney. The etymology of this word most in favour at present 
is that of " cock egg " (ME. ey, egg). The word meant at first an 
unusually small egg (such as are termed in America litter eggs, 
since the hen is thought to lay one at the end of her litter) ; thence 
developed the meaning of a " cockered child," one suckled too 
long, a "pet," a "mother's baby," or in a wider sense, a "milksop," 
and next "a pampered citizen," a feeble "cit" as opposed to a 
hardy rustic. Specifically it meant " one ignorant of country 
matters," as a greenhorn is one who knows nothing of city 
life. Its particular application to a Londoner was then natural, 
and was made as early as the sixteenth century. There is no 
doubt that many of the early references to the word imply a child 
spoiled by too much indulgence. Palsgrave gives the verb 
mignoter, to bring up like a cockney, to dandle, to fondle. 
Cotgrave in his Dictionary (1650) gives as the French equi- 
valent of cockney, niais, mignot, cailhette the last word signi- 






OUR SPOKEN LANGUAGE. 227 

fying a fool, a ninny ; but most of these references to children 
are rather to their ignorance and want of knowledge, to their 
childishness rather than to their childlikeness. Bailey in his Dic- 
tionary (30th edition, 1770) says that it is a nickname given to 
one who is born and bred in the city of London, or within the 
sound of Bow Bells; that some derive it from being cockered, 
others from F. coquin, a slothful person the citizens generally 
leading a less active life than country people ; but he says, first 
of all, that some derive the word from the tale of a citizen's son 
who knew not the language of a cock, but called it neighing. 
The full story the memorable chestnut given in Minsheu's 
'Ductor' (1625) is to the following effect: That a citizen's 
son, riding with his father into the country, asked, when he heard 
a horse neigh, what the horse did. His father answered, "The 
horse doth neigh." But riding a little farther, he heard a cock 
crow, and he said to his father, "Doth the cock neigh too 1 ?" 
Another version of the same story is given by Dr Skinner in his 
' Etymologicon,' but regarded by him as a mere conceit viz., that 
once upon a time a true-born and true-bred Londoner went into 
the country, and on first hearing a horse neigh cried out, " How 
the horse laughs ! " but being told that the noise made by the horse 
was called neighing, he stood corrected. In the morning when 
the cock crew, the cit immediately exclaimed with confident con- 
viction that the cock neighed. Some, however, have so far rashly 
favoured the story as to see in the first exclamation the origin of 
the common term, a horse laugh, for that expression, I think, rests 
upon a different ground. Some etymologists, indeed, contend that 
it is a corruption of a hoarse laugh, but in such a case it must be 
confined to those who either naturally have a very rough voice or 
have got a violent cold, neither of which circumstances is abso- 
lutely necessary ; for what we call a horse laugh depends rather 
upon loudness, boisterousness, rude vehemence, or vulgarity of 
manner. It seems to be, in fact, nothing more than an expression 
of augmentation, as the prepositive horse is applied variously to 
denote several things large and coarse by contradistinction. Thus 




228 SIGNIFICANT ETYMOLOGY. 

in the vegetable world we have the horse-radish, the horse-chest- 
nut, the horse-mint, and the horse-plum. We have in the animal 
world the horse-fly, the large fly, so called, because it stings horses 
and sucks their blood. A servant girl once showed as much ignor- 
ance of this as did the Cockney of the sounds of the different 
animals, for, being asked if she had ever seen a horse-fly, she 
answered that she had never seen a horse fly, but she once saw a 
cow jump over a precipice. The story of the Cockney's ignorance 
has been equalled, if not surpassed, by many incidents in later 
times, such as that of a young woman from the town who married 
a farmer, and, among other interesting inquiries, expressed a wish 
to see the cow that gave the buttermilk. 

Villain originally signified a farm-labourer. It is derived from 
the L. villa, farmhouse, through villdnus, a slave attached to one's 
country place. In English it was at first merely a description of 
a particular station in life, replacing the native word churl (AS. 
ceorl), which had the same sense. Soon, however, it became a 
term of contempt for one who did not belong to the "gentry." 
Gradually there was built up a set of ideas, associating with 
villain and villainy all the qualities opposed to the comprehensive 
word courtesy, which signified in the Middle Ages "the con- 
tinent of what part a gentleman would see." Thus villain was 
applied to a low fellow in general, and villainy was used for low 
conduct, or low language, or low thoughts. From that to the 
present meaning is but a short step : the implied moral reproba- 
tion has simply been intensified. In this process villain and 
villainy have quite lost their association with any particular rank 
of life. A king as well as a peasant may be described as a villain 
if he be morally wicked. Several other words which properly 
mean farm-hand or the like have become more or less debased. 
Thus churl means no longer " serf " or " bumpkin," but is applied 
to any one who is rude in his manners, or a curmudgeon in dis- 
position. But the word is little used. Boor, literally farmer, has 
taken its place. It is the Dutch boer farmer recently introduced 
afresh in the pure Dutch as a proper name for the Dutch in South 



OUR SPOKEN LANGUAGE. 



229 



Africa. If our language were not so fixed by the conservative 
force of literature and education, it is not impossible that fanner 
would go the way of its predecessors. Clown was perhaps con- 
temptuous in its very origin. It seems to have meant literally 
a "clod," or "clot," or "lump." Clod was frequently used for a 
gross or stupid fellow ; a clod-poll or clot-poll is a man who had 
a sod or a clod of earth for a head (or a poll) ; so blockhead was 
originally a wooden block for his hat or wig, hence a head with 
no more intelligence in it than one of these. Clodhopper tells its 
own story, but probably with humorous allusion to grasshopper. 
Clown appears in English in the sense of rustic, and jester about 
the same date (late sixteenth century), but there is evidence that 
the latter is a derived meaning. At all events, the comic clown 
of the drama frequently represented a clownish or dull-witted 
countryman, who soon amuses the audience by his mingled sim- 
plicity and mother -wit. Knave has had a history like that of 
villain. It meant originally (like the Ger. Knabe) "boy," their 
servant, from the habit of calling servants, as in French and Latin. 
We may add also, in Greek, the word pais occurs in the New 
Testament in the two different accounts of the same miracle, and is 
rendered in the one account son and in the other servant. Thus 
knave came to be used as a general term of disparagement for a 
person of inferior station, and now, and finally, it has developed 
the sense of general worthlessness and dishonesty. Yet at one 
time it stood high for the character of a servant for in an old 
translation of the New Testament, the rendering for "Paul, a 
servant of Jesus Christ," is said to have been "Paul, a knave of 
Jesus Christ." Valet and varlet it is surmised were originally 
the same word, they are OF. diminutives of vassal. They 
originally meant "boy" or youth, just as vassal meant man. 
Specialised in the sense of servant, however, they tended to 
deteriorate, and varlet became in English a synonym for " a saucy 
fellow." All such words, as soon as they acquire a contemptuous 
or reproachful implication, tend to go out of use in their literal 
descriptive meaning, for the knave or villain in the old sense 




230 SIGNIFICANT ETYMOLOGY. 

refuses to answer to the discredited name. Vassalage is an 
interesting example of a word which has been specialised in two 
directions. Since the vassal or the squire was his lord's inferior, 
it sank to the sense of servitude, but, on the other hand, it rose 
by an equally obvious train of thought to the meaning of valorous 
deeds, " splendid service in war," such as a vassal performs for 
his suzerain; and this is its meaning in Chaucer. 



231 






CHAPTER XVII. 



OUR WRITTEN LANGUAGE. 

SPEECH, as speech, cannot be called a scientific process until set 
sounds with an established meaning can be produced at will, to be 
readily apprehended by a second individual. When man in his 
communications with man was able to string a number of words 
and sentences together with a running cord of connection, he may 
be said to have passed intellectually the border-line whence, if 
progress had been arrested, man might have reeled back into the 
beast. Perhaps one reason why we generally call the beasts dumb 
is that in animals thero is a lack of that sympathy with one 
another which appears to be the soul of language. But it is a 
still greater step in advance when we are able to pass from the 
spoken to the written language, and to represent certain sounds by 
certain signs, and certain persons or things or thoughts by two 
of these letters being combined into words, and afterwards into 
sentences. The name given to the letters of a language arranged 
in the usual form, by the Eomans, was the alphabetum or alphabet, 
making a word out of the names of the first two letters of the 
Greek alphabet, viz., alpha and beta. 

Ampersand. Southey, in his ' Letters,' i. 200, says, " The pen 
commandeth only twenty-six letters ; it can only range between 
A and Z ; these are its limits. I had forgotten and-pussey-and I " 
Yet there are nearly thirty-six ways of spelling the mysterious word 
at the head of this paragraph. It is spelt ampus-and, an-pasty, 
anpassy, anparse, ampassy, ampussy, amptts, amplesant, ampersand, 
aiiijtazad, zempy zed, ann-passy-ann. These seem all so many 
corruptions of and per se and, meaning the old way of spelling and 






232 SIGNIFICANT ETYMOLOGY. 

naming the character fy, which is formed by combining the letters 
of the Latin et, and, and which was commonly placed at the end 
of the alphabet in primers, horn-books, and Shorter Catechisms. 
I have no doubt that it was originally written et per se = and ; but 
partly through ignorance of its meaning, and partly because in 
French the t in et was not sounded, it came to be generally 
pronounced eperse-and, as indeed it was in that part of Scotland 
where I was brought up as a boy. We find confirmation of this 
view in the fact that when fy, and, had not per se, or by itself, but 
was written fyc., it was called L. et cetera, and the rest, and other 
things, as it still means. Some of my readers may be reminded of 
a nursery rhyming alphabet of their own childhood. The letters 
had all done their several services towards the apple-pie to be 
divided among them, 

" Then AND came, though not one of the letters, 
And bowing, acknowledged them all as his betters, 
And, hoping it might not be deemed a presumption, 
Remained all their honours' most humble conjunction ; " 

and, as Freeman says, the "humble conjunction" seems to have 
fared even worse than the chaplains at great banquets, of whom 
Lord Macaulay speaks, and to have got no apple-pie at all. 

P's and Q's. It has been supposed that the injunction to mind 
your p's and q's is an injunction to be careful, as there is a liability 
to mistake the p for q in printing, especially as the two letters 
come together in the alphabet. But it is said that the phrase 
originated in the practice of innkeepers, in reckoning the bills of 
their guests, using the abbreviations of p and q for pints and quarts 
of liquor, and where it was specially necessary to be careful. The 
late Canon Ainger made use of the injunction to mind your 
p's and q's when he propounded the question, What is the differ- 
ence between a gentleman, a gardener, a billiard-marker, and a 
verger 1 and when he answered it, as no one else could, by stating 
that a gentleman minded his p's and q's, a gardener minded his 
peas, a billiard-marker his cues, and a verger his pews and keys ! 
It was little wonder that the same canon, hearing it said at the 



OUR WRITTEN LANGUAGE. 233 

dinner-table that a church in London where he had been a wor- 
shipper the previous Sunday was a proprietary chapel where the 
clergyman was entirely dependent on the seat-rents, remarked that 
he thought it very likely, for he had observed the clergyman during 
the service several times looking round the congregation with a 
pew-rental eye. 

Acrostic (Gr. akros, high, extreme ; stichos, a row, order, line 
of verse), a short poem of which the first letters of the lines or 
verses form a word, generally a proper name, or at least follow 
some definite arrangement. The acrostic psalms, so called, are 
alphabetical i.e., the initials make up the Hebrew alphabet. The 
periods assigned to each letter may consist of one line (Ps. cxi. 
and cxii.), of two (Ps. xxxiv., cxlv.,, &c.), or even sixteen lines 
(Ps. cxix.) : these are perhaps more properly called ABC Darian 
Psalms. 

Alliteration (mod. French, from L. ad, litera, a letter), the 
frequent repetition of a letter or sound in successive words. It is 
in poetry, or at least in metre, that we find employed most 
frequently "apt alliteration's artful aid." "We find it in Latin in 
the celebrated ' Pugna Porcorum,' beginning 

" Propterea properans proconsul poplite prono," &c., 
and in the English lines beginning, 

" An Austrian army artfully arrayed, 
Boldly by battery besieged Belgrade," &c. 

A letter of the alphabet is so called from the word Utera, 
which signifies this ; originally from lino, levi, litum, linere, 
to make strokes. These letters are divided into vowels and 
consonants. The vowels receive their name through the F. 
voyelle, from the L. vocales (from vox, vocis, the voice), being 
simple vocal sounds. Sometimes there are two vowel sounds 
uttered with one impulse or stress so as to form a single syl- 
lable ; these are called diphthongs, F. diphthongue, from the 
Gr. diptithongos, with two sounds (from the Gr. di, twice, and 
phfhongos, a sound), such as oi in oil. The consonants are so 




234 SIGNIFICANT ETYMOLOGY. 

called because they can be sounded only with a vowel, from the 
L. consonans, pres. part, of consono, to sound with, to harmonise. 
These consonants are divided into labials, gutturals, and dentals, 
according as the lip (L. labia, the lips), the throat (L. guttur, the 
throat), or the teeth (L. denies) are chiefly employed in uttering 
them. The dentals are divided into hard, soft, or aspirate, the 
last word signifying a letter pronounced with a full breathing, 
from L. ad, and spiro, to breathe. When one or two letters are 
taken together they form a syllable, which is uttered by a single 
effort of the voice, the word coming from the L. sylldba, from Gr. 
syllabe (syn, with, and lab, the root of Gr. lambano, to take). A 
word is one syllable or more, expressing an idea or notion ; AS. 
word, cognate with Gothic vaurd, Icel. ord, Ger. wort ; also con- 
nected with the L. verbum, 1 a word, and Gr. eiro, to speak. 

In coming to the study of grammar we find that the name itself, 
as well as the names of its four great divisions, are all taken from 
the Greek, whereas all the others are taken from the Latin. 
Grammar is from the Gr. word gramma, 2 a letter. So with the 
four divisions of orthography, etymology, syntax, and prosody. 
Orthography is the correct method of writing, that is, of spelling 
the words from the two Greeek words orthos, right, and grapho, to 
write (p. '59). Etymology signifies an account of the etymon, or 
true meaning of words from Gr. etymon, signifying the true mean- 
ing of a word (Gr. etymos, true). Syntax is the correct arrangement 
of words or sentences from Gr. syntaxis (sun, together, and tasso z 



1 From verbum, a word, we have, 
in addition to verb (pp. 238 and 240), 
the principal word in a sentence, 
which makes the sentence, verbal as 
a verbal message, one communicated 
by word of mouth, not by letter ; 
verbatim, word for word ; verbiage, 
a superabundance of words ; a 
verbose style has too many words ; 
a proverb is a wise or pithy saying, 
a current maxim. Hurd has de- 
scribed the ingredients of an excel- 
lent proverb to be sense, shortness, 
and salt. 

2 From gramma we have not 
merely grammar, but grammatical, 



anagram (transposition of letters in 
a name so as to form another word 
thus "best in prayer" may be 
transformed into " Presbyterian," 
and Horatio Nelson into "Honor 
est a Nilo "), a diagram, an epi- 
gram, epigrammatic, telegram. 

3 From Gr. verb tasso or taxo, to 
arrange, we have tactics, the science 
or art of arranging military and 
naval forces. We have also tactical 
and tactician. We have also from 
the same word a taxidermist, a per- 
son who prepares and stuffs the 
skins of animals from Gr. taxis, 
arrangement, and derma, a skin. 



OUR WRITTEN LANGUAGE. 



235 



or taxo, to put in order, to arrange). Prosody is that part of 
grammar which treats of quantity, accent, or the laws of verse or 
of versification Gr. prosodia, a song sung to music, an accompany- 
ing song (pros, to, and ode, a song). 

As I have said, the names of all the other parts of grammar 
proper are derived from the Latin. 

The article is from the L. articulus, a diminutive from artus, a 
joint, originally a very small member of the body between two 
joints ; and by Quinctilian and others used for the article in 
grammar, as with us. The articles are definite and indefinite. 
The definite article the determines with precision and exactness 
the person or thing referred to from L. definio, to set bounds to 
(from de, and finis, 1 a limit) ; and the indefinite a or an (in, not, 
and definite) is not precise a person or any person. The noun, 
from the L. nomen, 2 a name, through the OF. non (F. noiri), is 



1 From finis, a limit, boundary, 
or end, we have the following 
words a fine, the price of a final 
settlement. In this way perhaps 
finance and finances came to mean 
revenue and income. A financier 
is one skilled in managing the 
public revenue. Finical means 
unduly particular about trifles. 
To finish (L. finire) is to end 
working at a thing, and to finish 
a task is to get through with it. 
Finite creatures are those having 
bounds or limits ; that to which 
we can assign no bounds is in- 
finite or infinity. Affinity means 
relationship (from affinis, related 
to). To confine is to restrain per- 
sonal liberty in any way. Dan- 
gerous madmen must be put in 
confinement. Confines are the 
boundary lines. To define is to ex- 
plain the exact meaning of a word. 
A definite account of a thing is clear 
and exact ; an indefinite account is 
the reverse. Definitive means ex- 
press and conclusive. A controversy 
is said to be definitively ended. To 
refine wine, silver, and gold is to free 
them from extraneous matter or im- 
purities ; and refinement is a high 



degree of civilised culture ; while 
superfine is very fine. 

2 From nomen we have nomen- 
clature (and calo, to call), the name 
given to the terms employed to ex- 
plain any science or art, and the 
formation of a nomenclature or a 
terminology is one of the most im- 
portant steps in the beginning and 
the progress of science ; nominal, 
exists in name only ; nominally a 
Christian, not really one. To nomin- 
ate is to name or propose an indi- 
vidual for appointment to an office. 
The nominee is the person named or 
appointed ; and we have a noun, 
the nominative case, denominations, 
things, or bodies of men, or sects, 
classed and named. From the same 
word also come ignominy and re- 
nown. The word nominalist revives 
the memory of an old controversy 
between nominalists and realists, 
the former holding that general 
terms exist only in the mind, being 
simply ideas or mere words. De- 
nominator, in a vulgar fraction, is 
the number placed below the line, 
denoting the number of parts into 
which the unit or whole is supposed 
to be divided. 




236 



SIGNIFICANT ETYMOLOGY. 



the name of any person, place, or thing, and called a substantive, as 
denoting something that exists from L. substantio, from substo, to 
stand under (sub, under, and stare, to stand). The word gender 
comes through ~F. genre from L. genus, breed the distinction of 
nouns according to sex. JNouns may be of the masculine, feminine, 
or neuter gender. Masculine, from the L. masculus, a male (from 
mas) ; feminine (from femina, a woman) ; and neuter, from ne, 
not, and uter, either neither masculine nor feminine. The num- 
ber is also from the Latin, the singular, from L. singularis, used 
by Quinctilian for the singular number, comes from sinyulus, single, 
one only (from sim, ie., semel, once) ; the plural denoting more 
than one (L. pluralis, from plus, plures, more). Case is a very 
familiar term but what does it mean 1 How did it come to us, 
and what did it mean ? Casus is the translation made at Eome of 
the Gr. ptosis, a word which at first appears in Aristotle. It meant 
a falling, a variation from the primary form, whether a noun or 
verb. It was first restricted to nouns by the Stoics. The nomin- 
ative case is from the L. nominativus (from nomen, a name), the 
naming case. It is a translation of onomast%ke; but it is a bad 
title, because the nominative does not merely name, but expresses 
that a thing is in a particular relation. The genitive case is called 
from the L. name genitivus (a translation of the Gr. geniJce, which 
means the class-case). In such a statement as "Of good things 
some are mine," the genitive denotes the genus, of which " mine " 
is the species. The dative case is what is given from do, 1 dedi, 
datum, dare, to give. It is so called because it follows frequently 
verbs, or other parts of speech which mean giving, or some act 
directed to the object generally indicated in English by to or for. 
The accusative case is probably so called from a Latin mistake, 
the Greek original meaning (1) cause and (2) accusation; the Latins 
took it in sense (2) instead of (1). Possibly the Eomans regarded 
the objective, as confronted with the agent, like an accused person 



1 From the verb do, dedi, datum, 
dare, to give, we have the date of 
an event, and data to go upon or to 
reason from. Also a donor (from 
donum, a gift), one who gives 



presents, donations ; also (from dos, 
dotis, a marriage portion) dowry, 
endowment, condonation, and par- 
don, which is granted by a superior, 
as when a king pardons a criminal. 



OUR WRITTEN LANGUAGE. 



237 



with the prosecutor. In English this is called the objective case 
the case on which the action of the verb falls and regarded as 
the object or mark aimed at by the action of the verb. The 
vocative or exclamation case from L. voco, 1 to call is the case of 
a word when the person or thing is addressed or called. We have 
in English only the nominative of address. Ablative is the sixth 
case of a L. noun (composed of ab, from, and latus, carried), the 
case denoting among other things ablation, or carrying away from, 
as if it indicated taking away from, or privation. The verb itself 
is fero, tuli, latum, ferre, to bear, to lift up. It is from the supine 
latum 2 that " ablative," as we have said, is derived. These case 
names are unnecessary in English, which has only one inflected 
case the genitive. The uninflected cases constitute the common 
case (man, men), which is equivalent to the nominative, dative, 
accusative, vocative, and ablative in such a language as Latin. 

Nouns are of two kinds, proper and common. A common noun 
(L. communis) is a name that is common to a class and not peculiar 
or proper to an individual ; a proper noun (L. proprius, through 
F. propre) is one that is peculiar to an individual. An adjective 
is a word added to a noun, adding some quality or property to it 
from L. adjicio, to throw to or to add (from ad, to, and jacio, to 
throw). A pronoun is a word used instead of a noun L. pro, 
instead of, and nomine, the noun itself. There are four kinds 
of pronouns viz., personal (from persona 3 ), indicating the person ; 



1 From voco, vocavi, vocatum, vo- 
care, to call, and vox, vocis, the voice, 
we have vocal, vocable, vocabulary, 
vocation, vociferate, vouch, vouch- 
safe, vowel, as we have seen ; 
advocate, avocation, avowal, con- 
vocation, equivocate, evoke, invoke, 
invocation, provoke, provocation, 
revoke, revocation, and irrevocable. 

- From this same supine we have 
collate and collation, signifying 
originally brought or carried to- 
gether (from con, together, and 
latus, carried). We speak of collat- 
ing MSS., bringing them together 
for the purpose of comparison ; and 
we have what is called "a cold 



collation," making a repast be- 
tween full meals to which originally 
every one brought his share ; cor- 
relative, dilatory, dilate, dilata- 
tion, elate, legislate, oblation, 
prelate, relate, relation, relative, 
relationship, superlative, translate, 
translation, mistranslation. 

3 And what is this person or 
persona of which we hear so much ? 
Most people are now inclined to 
adopt the view of Max Miiller. 
Nothing can be more abstract : it 
is neither male nor female, neither 
young nor old. As a noun it is 
hardly more than what to be is as 
a verb. In French it may even 






238 



SIGNIFICANT ETYMOLOGY. 



relative (from L. refero, relatum, from re, back, and fero, to carry), 
relating to something before, called its antecedent ; interrogative, 
asking a question, as who? which? (from L. interrogare, from 
inter, between, and rogare, to ask) ; and demonstrative, such as 
this or that, pointing out (from L. de intensive, and monstrare, to 
show). The verb, so called from verbum, the word, as being the 
chief word in the sentence. The conjugations (L. con, with, and 

come to mean nobody ; for if we 
ask our concierge at Paris if any 
one has called on us during our 
absence he will reply "Personne, 
monsieur!" which means "Not a 
soul, sir ! " Of course person is the 
L. persona : it came to us from 
Rome, but the journey was long 
and its adventures many. In L. 
persona meant a mask made of thin 
wood or clay, such as was worn by 
the actors at home. It is curious 
that the Greek actors always wore 
those masks ; the Roman actors did 
not adopt them at first. Thus 
while nearly all technical Latin 
terms connected with the theatre 
were borrowed from the Greek, 
their name for mask (prosopon) was 
never naturalised in Italy. We 
can understand why the Greeks 
called their masks prosopon, which 
means simply what is before the 
face pros, before, and opon, the 
countenance the masks thus worn 
being meant to indicate the char- 
acter represented by each actor on 
the stage. To us it seems almost 
incredible that the great Greek 
actors should have submitted to 
such mummeries, and should have 
deprived themselves of the most 
powerful help in acting, the ex- 
pression of the face. But so it 
was ; and we are told that it was 
necessary because without these 
prosopa, which contained some 
acoustic apparatus to strengthen 
the voice of the actor, they could 
not have made themselves heard in 
the wide and open-air theatres of 
Greece. These masks were called 
persona in Latin i.e., through - 



sounders, from personare (per, 
through, and sono, to sound) 
because the head and mouth being 
hidden by the cover of the mask, 
which was open only through one 
passage for the emission of the 
voice, the voice, being no longer 
unsettled and diffused, was gathered 
into one exit only, and thus was 
more clear and melodious ; and 
because that mask makes the voice 
of the mouth clear and resonant, 
therefore it has been called persona, 
the o being lengthened on account 
of the form of the word, for there 
are many words in which the 
vowel is lengthened or strengthened 
on this account. Persona came 
in course of time to denote both 
the mask and its wearer. When 
persona was taken in its first mean- 
ing of mask, representing not the 
real but the assumed character of 
an actor, nothing was more natural 
than to say, for instance, of a dis- 
honest man that he was wearing a 
persona. Thus persona took the 
sense of false appearance ; and per- 
sonatus was used by Cicero of a 
man who had to appear different 
from what he really was, hence 
our word "personate." But while 
in these cases persona is used 
of the mask worn, we find it in 
others expressing the real character 
represented by the author on the 
stage. When we now read of 
"dramatis personce," "characters of 
the play," we no longer think of 
masks but of the real characters 
appearing in a play. After all, an 
actor wearing a mask of the king 
was for the time being a king, and 



OUR WRITTEN LANGUAGE. 



239 



jungo, 1 to join) are the different persons, numbers, tenses, moods, 
and voices of a verb. The moods are Latin. Mood is from the 
L. modus, manner, and is the form of a verb, expressing the 
manner of action. The indicative mood (from L. indicare, to 
point out, compounded of in, and dico, to say) indicates an action, 
&c., as in past, present, or future existence. The subjunctive 
mood (from sub, under, and jungo, to join = subjoined) is that 
mood of a verb which expresses a purpose, condition, &c., sub- 
joined to some statement, question, or answer. The imperative 
mood is the commanding mood, from L. impero, to command. 
The infinitive mood, from L. infinitus (in, not, and finitus, 
limited), a mood not limited by any definition of a person or 
number. The potential mood denotes the power or possibility 
of performing any action, and is expressed by the auxiliaries, may 
or can. It takes its name from the L. potens, able or powerful. 
The tenses of the verb are also from the Latin : the word tense 
itself comes from the L. tempus, time, through the F. t&mps. The 



thus persona came to mean the very 
opposite of mask viz., a man's 
real nature and character. Gradu- 
ally persona assumed the meaning 
of a great personage or of a person 
of rank, and in the end of rank 
itself ; and this sense of persona 
prevailed during the Middle Ages 
and continues to the present day. 
A man mayme personce means, in 
mediaeval Latin, a man of great 
dignity. In ecclesiastical language 
persona soon took a technical mean- 
ing ; and the word " parson," which 
is merely the same word with a dif- 
ferent spelling, in England came to 
be generally applied to the incumbent 
of the parish as a title of dignity. 
These so-called personce held high 
rank. From this persona comes, 
no doubt, the modern name of 
parson. Lastly, persona came to 
mean what we call a person, an 
individual ; and in mediaeval writers 
\ve find personce used as masculine, 
"univerxi persona," "all the per- 
sons," and, what is curious, this 
use of persona as a masculine con- 



tinues even in modern French, 
where under certain circumstances 
we may treat personne. as a mas- 
culine. In conclusion, may we all 
remember that while we have been 
actors on the stage of time, before 
we can go home we must take off 
our masks, standing like strangers 
on a strange stage, and wondering 
how for so long a time we did not 
perceive even within ourselves the 
simple distinction between persona 
and persona, between the mask and 
the wearer. 

1 From junf/o, junxi, junctum, 
junyZre, to join, we have in L. 
juyum, a yoke, and in Eng. the 
words joiner, joints, jugular veins, 
the large veins in the neck or throat 
(L. juyulum), junction, juncture (a 
seam or point of joining, also a 
critical period of time), adjoin, 
adjunct, conjoin, conjoint, con- 
jugal, conjugate, conjunction, con- 
juncture, disjoin, disjunction, 
disjunctive, enjoin, injunction, 
rejoin, rejoinder, subjoin, sub- 
junctive. 



240 SIGNIFICANT ETYMOLOGY. 

forms of a verb, indicating the time of an action, are the present 
tense, the imperfect or unfinished, the perfect or completed, the 
pluperfect or more fully completed, and the future, that which is 
yet to come to pass. We have the active and the passive voice in 
verbs. The active (from L. ago, to do) is that form of the verb 
which usually denotes acting or doing, and passive is that form 
of the verb expressing passiveness rather than activeness (from 
patior, passus, to suffer). There are also transitive and intran- 
sitive verbs (from trans, across, and eo, ivi, to go), verbs that have 
an object, so called because the action of the verb is regarded as 
passing or going across to the object ; and intransitive (from in, 
not), a verb whose action is not supposed to pass across to any 
object. The gerund (from the L. gerere, to carry on) is that part 
of the verb which denotes the carrying on of its action. The 
genitive is adjectival, but the gerund is a noun. Supine is the 
name given to two very rarely used noun forms of the verb, and 
used only in the accusative and ablative. The origin of the word 
is unknown, but it may at least serve to remind us that these 
forms are the laziest and the most supine of all the parts of the 
verb. Participle is a form of the verb participating in the value 
of an adjective and a verb, from L. particeps, sharing (from pars, 
and capio, to take). An adverb (ad, to, and verbum, the word) 
is that which is added, not to the "verb" in the grammatical 
sense, but to the word which it is used to qualify. The 
preposition is placed before the noun or pronoun to show its 
relation to some other word in the sentence, from L. prcepositio 
(from prce, before, and pono, positum (see note, p. 266), to place 
or put, so named because originally prefixed to the verb in order 
to modify its meaning. The conjunction, -which connects or 
conjoins sentences, clauses, and words, is named from the L. 
conjunctio (from con, together, and jungo, to join). The inter- 
jection, which signifies literally a throwing between, is an 
appropriate name for a word thrown in between the parts of a 
sentence to express emotion (from L. inter, between, and jacio, 
to throw). Of the interjection Home Tooke speaks very dis- 
paragingly, considering it as so far from being properly a part of 



OUR WRITTEN LANGUAGE. 241 

speech that he designates it the brutish and inarticulate inter- 
jection which has nothing to do with speech, and is only the 
miserable refuge of the speechless. 

Closely connected with speech and language is 

LITERATURE IN GENERAL, 

and of whatever country we study the literature we require to 
begin with a dictionary, which is a book containing the words of 
that language alphabetically arranged, with their meanings, &c. 
(from F. dictionnaire, from L. dictio, from dico, dicere, to say or tell). 
There are also dictionaries of quotations, meaning the act of quoting 
or citing, or the words or passage quoted, with author or page of 
book in which it is to be found. It comes from the OF. quoter, 
from low L. quoto, I mark off into numbers, from L. quot, 1 how 
many. The old Romans never used any such verb as quoto for to 
quote a passage, but rather the word profero, to cite, to quote. On 
a smaller scale it is called from the Latin a vocabulary, from vo- 
cabularium, a list of vocables or words sounded with the voice (vox, 
vocis) ; or an abridgment which is the substance of a larger work in 
a smaller form. It comes to us through the OF. abregier, from 
mediaeval L. abbreviare (L. ab, brevio, I shorten, from brevts, short), 
from which we have the word abbreviate. It differs little in 
meaning from the Greek word epitome (from epi, upon, and temno, 
I cut, and tome, a cutting), a summary, which is so called because 
it gives the sum and substance ; or Gr. synopsis, the act of viewing 
at a glance (from sun, together, and opsis, a view), a collective view 
of any subject in a condensed form ; or a glossary, from L. glossa, 
a tongue, Gr. glotta, a vocabulary giving explanation of meanings 
of words in some one book. A lexicon is a dictionary of words 
also from the Gr. lexis, a word, and lego, to speak. We have also 



1 From quot, how many, we have 
such words as quotation in another 
sense viz., in business the price of 
an article named or given, meaning 
how much do you ask ? Give me a 
quotation, also quotient, from L. 
'quoties, how often. In arithmetic 



the quotient is the number resulting 
from the division of one number by 
another, thus showing how often a 
less number is contained in a greater. 
We have also quotidian, daily or re- 
curring every day, from quotidianus 
(quot, how many, and dies, a day). 




242 SIGNIFICANT ETYMOLOGY. 

an index at the end of many books from the L. index, -icis, from 
L. indico, to show (in, and dico, to tell), giving a list of the chief 
subjects contained in the book ; and we have also the word 
thesaurus, being the Greek word for a treasury or repository in 
this case of knowledge. Almost similar in meaning is cyclopedia 
or encyclopedia, literally the circle or compass of human knowledge 
(Gr. kuklos, a circle, and paideia, of learning). 

The word book comes from the AS. boc, a book, but which 
originally signified the beech, because the Teutons first wrote on 
beechen boards, and our ancestors used to cut runic 1 letters on 
wooden staves or rods. Compare the Ger. Buchstdben, " letters of the 
alphabet," literally " beech-staves " ; the Latin word for book, too, 
was L. liber, libri, the white or inner rind of a tree, the rind which 
is under the outer bark, and on this outer rind the ancients used 
to write hence it came to signify a book. From it we have the 
word library and librarian. When we speak of perusing a book 
in the sense of reading it carefully, we use a word whose etymology 
is uncertain, but probably coined from per, through, and usus, into, 
to read carefully, hence to survey, to read. Wedgwood suggests 
that it may be connected with L. pervisus, looked through, examined 
(per, through, and visum from video, I see), to read with attention, 
to read through, and so perusal signifies the careful examination 
of a book. Chapter, the main division of a book or of anything 
(OF. chapitre, from L. capitulum, diminutive of caput, the 
head) ; and paragraph, the section of a chapter, from the Greek 
word paragraphos, originally a short horizontal stroke drawn below 
the beginning of a line in which a break in the sense occurs, also a 
passage so marked from para, by the side, and graphos, written. 
Parenthesis, which is just the Greek word for insertion (from para, 
beside ; en, in ; and thesis, a putting or placing), is now applied to 
any explanatory word, clause, or sentence inserted into a passage 



1 Runic is the adjective relating 
to runes, to the Teutonic nations or 
to their language. A rune is one 
of the characters forming the earli- 
est alphabet of the Teutonic nations. 
The AS. run signifies a secret mys- 
terious talk or mysterious history, 



applied to the old Teutonic writ- 
ten characters from their use in 
divination. The word is found in 
ME. rounen, to whisper, and is 
cognate with Icel. run, with OGer. 
runa, a secret, whispering ; Goth. 
runa, a secret. 



OUR WRITTEN LANGUAGE. 



243 



with which it has no necessary grammatical connection. The 
Latins had also the word Ubellus, a diminutive of liber, signifying 
a little book or any small writing consisting of a few leaves. From 
it we have the word libel, hut used in a different sense, and 
signifying a written slander or defamation, and libellous, meaning 
defamatory or abusive. In law the word has a more extensive 
reference, meaning any blasphemous, immoral, or seditious pro- 
duction ; also the plaintiff's declaration of his cause of action and 
the relief he seeks. The word pamphlet, which means a small 
book, consisting of one or more sheets stitched together (the same 
in meaning as the word "brochure," from F. brocher, to stitch, 
meaning a pamphlet of only a few leaves), is said to owe its origin 
to Pamphila, a Greek lady who left behind her in the first century 
a commonplace book containing notes, epitomes, and anecdotes. 
The word anecdote, from the Gr. anecdoton, signifying unpublished 
(from a, without ; ek, out ; dtdomi, I give), not given out, meant at 
first a secret history, and now a short story, generally of some 
interest in a man's life or conduct. It is a sort of slang to speak 
of a man who is fond of telling such, as being in his anecdotage ! 
It was very difficult for a long time to get material on which to 
write, and all sorts of materials were used both for writing on and 
for writing with. We get some light on the origin of writing 
when we learn that write comes from a Teutonic root writ, which 
means to cut slightly, to mark, to scratch. The L. scribere, 1 to 
write, comes from the Aryan root scrabh or scarbh, an amplification 
of scar, which also means to cut slightly, to scratch, to mark. 
From the same root scrabh, with loss of the initial s (compare 
tegument, detective, &c., from the root stag), we have also the Gr. 

taught in Scripture. We ascribe 
glory to God i.e., assign it to Him 
as His property. We circumscribe, 
describe, inscribe, prescribe and 
proscribe, subscribe and transcribe ; 
and we have ascription and con- 
scription, description, inscription, 
prescription, proscription, subscrip- 
tion, and transcription; and we have 
manuscript and nondescript, and 
conscript and postscript. 



1 From scribo, scripsi, scriptum, 
scribere, to write, we have many 
derivatives and compounds ; to 
scribble, is to write carelessly or 
illegibly. A scribe is a professional 
writer. Scrip is a certificate of 
shares or stock. Script is a kind 
of type in imitation of handwriting. 
Scripture means properly any writ- 
ing, but now the books of the Bible. 
A scriptural doctrine is a doctrine 




244 SIGNIFICANT ETYMOLOGY. 

graphein, to write, and the English to grave, to engrave. All 
these words bear witness to a time when writing was done on wood 
or wax or other soft surface by means of a pointed instrument 
the stylus (from the Gr. stylos), an iron instrument resembling a 
pencil in size and shape, used for writing upon waxed tablets. At 
one end it was sharpened to a point, for scratching the characters 
upon the wax, while the other end being flat and circular served to 
render the surface of the tablets smooth again, and so to obliterate 
what had been written. Thus vertere stylum, to change the 
style, came to signify to erase, or to correct or improve, because 
when they turned the stylus it was for the purpose of improving 
what they were engaged on, and so the word came gradually to 
refer not so much to the tool which was used for engraving or 
writing as for the distinctive or characteristic mode in which an 
author expressed himself : even in Cicero we find the word used 
for an author's manner of writing. The word erase, just used 
above, signifying to rub or scrape out, comes from the Latin verb 
erddo, from e, out, and rado, rasus, to scrape. Obliterate, a 
somewhat similar word (in meaning), is often connected with lino, 
litum, linere, to smear, as if to obliterate were to smear over or 
efface ; but its direct derivation is from litera, a letter, so that to 
obliterate is in the first instance to efface writing in particular, and 
secondarily, to efface generally. It is true that the root of litera 
is linere, because some of the earliest writing was on substances 
smeared so as to receive it, as the waxed tablets of the Eomans. 

When advancing civilisation brought to the Western world the 
art of making a writing material of strips of the inner rind of 
the Egyptian reed, called papyrus, glued together transversely, the 
name of paper was introduced, to be applied as time went on to 
textures made of various substances. From the inner rind of the 
papyrus, called in Gr. byblos, they derived the name for a book, 
biblion, so that we have not merely bibliography, bibliomania, &c., 
but we have the word Bible the Book the book of God, the 
God of books, the Bible. The different pieces of papyrus were 
joined together by the turbid Nile water, as it had a kind of 
glutinous property, a layer of papyrus was laid flat on a board, 



OUR WRITTEN LANGUAGE. 



245 






and a cross layer put over it, and being thus prepared, the layers 
were pressed and afterwards dried in the sun. The sheets were 
then fastened or pasted together, the best being taken first and 
then the inferior sheets. The length might be carried to almost 
any extent by fastening one sheet to another. When the book 
was finished it was rolled on a staff, whence it was called a 
volumen, from volvo, 1 volvere, to roll, because it was rolled up like 
a map on a roller. This is the root of our word volume. An 
attempt has been made to show that copy is from cope, in the 
sense of likeness ; and there is no doubt that copy signifies 
frequently an imitation of an original pattern, and the verb to cope 
signifies to vie with, especially on equal terms, to match. Never- 
theless there seems good reason to believe that the word originally 
comes from L. copia, plenty or abundance, through F. copie, 
signifying first abundance, then facility or convenience. In late 
L. copia signified a transcript, because by such the original was 
multiplied abundantly. The Eomans wrote only on one side, and 
when one sheet was thus finished it was joined on to the end of 
another until the book was complete, and then they rolled it up on 
a cylinder or staff. To " open " such a book was simply to roll 
up the long ribbon at one end, simultaneously allowing it to 
unroll at the other. Thus a long succession of short narrow 
columns, corresponding to our pages, would pass before the eye 
of the reader in a not inconvenient arrangement. Before leaving 
the plain papyrus it is worth knowing and bearing in mind that 
from scheda (or scida), signifying a piece cut off, and specially a 
little leaf cut off from the papyrus, we have the origin of our 
word schedule, originally signifying a piece of papyrus contain- 
ing some writing, and now used for an inventory, or list, or table. 
When vellum, however, took the place of papyrus as a literary 
vehicle, the stiffness of the new material, which lent itself ill to 
rolling, necessitated a change in the form of the book, which now 
became a " codex," or, in other words, assumed the form of bound 



1 From volvo, volvi, volutum, vol- 
vere, to roll or turn round, we have 
vault, voluble, voluminous, circum- 



volution, devolve, devolution, evolve, 
evolution, involve, involution, re- 
volt, revolution, revolve. 



246 SIGNIFICANT ETYMOLOGY. 

leaves as in our ordinary books. This word code or codex was 
the Latin word for the trunk, body, or stock of a tree, and was after- 
wards applied by them to a book, because the ancients wrote, as we 
have seen, on wooden tablets covered with wax ; and so it came to 
mean a MS. not rolled up together as a volumen, but arranged with 
leaves like our books. The word codex is generally applied to the 
Bible MSS. as when we speak of the Codex Sinaiticus, the Codex 
Vaticanus, and the Codex Alexandrinus, &c.; and when spoken of 
in the plural they are called codices. In common speech a code has 
come to mean a systematic collection or digest of laws ; while the 
word codicil (from L. codicillus, the small trunk of a tree, origin- 
ally a diminutive from codex) came also to signify a writing tablet, 
then a note or letter, and, finally, in Latin as in English, an 
addition or supplement made to a will. As the word codex was 
originally spelt caudex, it is little wonder that some have seen 
a connection between this word and eauda, a tail, which has given 
us the English word, as when we speak of the tail as a caudal 
appendage ; and so in this case a codicil would just mean a small 
appendix to the will itself, a sort of tailpiece. The little billets 
or notes which were sent by the Eomans to their friends were 
called codicilli. The Eomans called the paper which was made from 
the Egyptian papyrus charta, 1 from the Gr. chartes. Next to the 
papyrus, parchment was the most common material for writing upon. 
It is said to have been invented by Eumenes II., King of Pergamos, 
in consequence of the prohibition of the export of papyrus from 
Egypt by Ptolemy Epiphanes. It is made from the skin of a 
sheep, or of a goat, prepared for writing on, through F. velin, from 
low L. vitulina (charta, paper, understood), from L. vitulus, a calf. 
Veal signifies the flesh of a calf, OF. veal, from L. vitellus, diminu- 
tive of vitulus, a calf. As paper and parchment were dear, it was 
frequently the custom, as we have seen, to erase or wash out 
writing of little importance, and to write upon the paper or parch- 
ment again, which was then called palimpsestus, in English 
palimpsest, from Gr. palin, again, and psestos, rubbed or rubbed 

1 From charta we have cartulary, I charter, chart, 
card, carte, cartoon, cartridge, ' 



OUR WRITTEN LANGUAGE. 



247 



a second time, the first time when it was rubbed clean for the 
previous writing, the second time for the writing which now is 
there. Palindrome, a name given to a word, line, or sentence 
which reads the same when the letters which compose it are read 
in the reverse order, or which reads the same either way, like 
"madam." In the 'ISTew Monthly Magazine' it is said that in 
English but one palindrome line is known. I wonder if it is this 
line by Philipps, 1706, " Lewd did I live, evil I did dwel." 
The word in Greek is patindromos, from palm, again or back, and 
dromos, running, or a race. Where the writing was done by hand, 
as in every case almost it was so done, until the invention of 
printing, it was called a manuscript, literally mamts, 1 the hand, 
and scribo, to write. The word signature recalls a time when very 
few persons had an elementary education of any literary kind, and 
when the kings and barons, no less than their humbler followers, 
affixed their own sign or cross or mark to any document requiring 
their assent. The phrase to sign your name did not mean, as with 
us, to write your name, because this very few could do, but to 
make such a mark as will be a sign that you authenticate the docu- 
ment. The Latin word signum 2 itself means merely that by which 
a thing is known. The verb signo 2 also meant to seal, whence we 
have the word signet, the seal used by the Sovereign to seal 
private letters and grants ; a signet ring, a finger-ring, having a 



1 From mamts, the hand, we have 
many derivatives, such as maintain, 
to hold firmly, maintenance, man- 
acles, fetters for the hand, manage 
(from F. manage, the training or 
control of horses), to direct or 
govern with address, manifest (that 
which may be grasped, and hence 
palpable, self - evident), manifesto, 
manipulate, manoeuvre, manner, 
mannerism, manual, manufactory, 
manufacture, manumission, manure 
(for manceuvre), some substance 
added to the land to fertilise it, an 
MS. or MSS., books written by the 
hand, an amanuensis, bimanous, 
quadrumanous, emancipate, leger- 
demain. 

2 Both from the noun signum and 



from the verb signo, signavi, signa- 
tum, sifjnare, we have such words as 
seal (from the diminutive sigillum), 
a signal, a sign . made from a 
distance, and the adj. signal, mean- 
ing remarkable, signalised. We 
may signify or declare by any sign. 
We speak of significant and in- 
significant. We assign or mark 
out as properly belonging to. 
Assignment means a specific allot- 
ting. We consign and receive a 
consignment of goods. We counter- 
sign, design, and designate. The 
insignia are the marks of office. 
We resign when we give back an 
office, and resignation to the will of 
God is the mark of unmurmuring 
submission. 



248 SIGNIFICANT ETYMOLOGY. 

stone engraved with a crest or monogram (from Gr. monos, alone 
or one, and gramma, a letter), a simple device formed by the 
intertexture of two or more letters. Sign-manual, from sign and 
manual (from manus, the hand), literally a sign made by one's own 
hand, and now the royal signature, usually only the initial of the 
Sovereign's name, with E. for Rex (king) or Regina (queen). 

Paper is of different kinds indicated by different names. Hand- 
paper was originally so called from its water-mark, which was that 
of a hand, and the water-mark itself from the mark wrought into 
the paper, and so transparent that it could be seen clearly through. 
Pot-paper, a somewhat inferior kind, has the water-mark of apot; 
and foolscap, which had the water-mark of a fool's head with cap 
and bells, has now come to denote paper of a particular size. The 
size is generally indicated by Latin words e.g., folio, from the L. 
folium, a leaf, means a sheet of paper folded but once, thus mak- 
ing 2 leaves or 4 pages ; quarto (written 4to) is a sheet folded 
into quarters or 4 leaves making 8 pages ; an octavo (8vo), so 
called in accordance with the L. octo, eight, and folded into 8 
leaves or 16 pages ; and a duodecimo (12mo), the Latin for 2 and 
10, that is 12, one making 12 leaves of 24 pages, and so forth. 
Stenography is the name for what we term shorthand the art of 
writing very quickly by means of abbreviations (from Gr. stenos, 
narrow, and grapho, to write). A scrivener is the name still 
given to a scribe or writer through the OF. escrivain (F. ecrivain), 
from low L. scribarim, from L. scriba, a scribe, from scribo. The 
word is used chiefly in the phrase " scrivener's palsy," but now 
called " writer's cramp." The word engross is also suggestive 
originally derived from F. en, in, and gros, large = in large. It 
meant at first to copy a writing in a large hand or in distinct 
characters, but it has now come to signify to occupy wholly, to 
monopolise, as, the conversation. 

The word volume is not the only instance of the retention of 
a word, the literal signification of which is completely obsolete. 
The word indenture refers to an ancient precaution against 
forgery, resorted to in the case of important contracts. The 
duplicate documents, of which each party retained one, were 



OUR WRITTEN LANGUAGE. 



249 






irregularly indented in precisely the same manner, so that upon 
comparison they might exactly tally. To indent was to cut into 
points like teeth to notch low L. indento, from L. in, and dens, 
dentis, a tooth. So also a vignette portrait has lost the accom- 
paniment which alone made the name appropriate viz., the vine- 
leaves and tendrils which in the sixteenth and seventeenth 
centuries usually formed its ornamental border. It still signifies 
a small engraving with ornamental borders. Usually in olden 
times the title-page of a book had such a border with two pillars 
represented on each side wreathed with vines bearing leaves, 
tendrils, and bunches of grapes. The F. vignette signifies a little 
vine ; vignettes, vignets, branches, branch-like border or flourishes 
in painting or engraving. Vignette is the diminutive of F. vigne, 
a vine. 

The directions in the English prayer-book are still known as 
rubrics (L. mber, red), although it is now the exception rather 
than the rule to see them printed as they originally were in red 
letters. And to take only one other instance, we apply without 
any sense of incongruity the name of pen (from L. penna, a 
feather) to all those modern appliances which rival which indeed 
have almost entirely superseded the quill, to which alone the 
word is strictly applicable. 

The different forms of literature are divided into Prose and 
Verse. Prose is the direct straightforward arrangement of words, 
free from poetical measures ordinary spoken and written 
language : the word is derived through the F. from L. prosa 
from prorsa from 2 )r orsus, straightforward. Prose, then, is speech 
going straight on and not poetical. Dull and tedious conversa- 
tion is sometimes called prosaic and prosy, being monotonous. 
Prosody has nothing to do with prose. It is the Gr. and L. 
word (Gr. pros, to or in addition to, and odi, a song or tune), and 
means the quantity of syllables and measure of verse, tone, or 
accenting a syllable. Verse differs from prose in being measured, 
that is to say, divided into groups of words and syllables. The 
real meaning of the word " verse," according to Euskin, is a line of 
words which " turns " at a certain point, as the furrow turns in a 




250 SIGNIFICANT ETYMOLOGY. 

ploughed field (L. versus, a turning, a line (from verto, I turn, p. 1). 
It partly therefore involves the idea of returning in another part 
of the field, and so has heen ordinarily employed in the sense of 
" stanza." This last word, meaning first the chamber of a house 
(old It. stantia, a stop, a lodging, chamber dwelling, from L. 
sto, stare, to stand), came afterwards, both in Italy and here, to 
signify properly a piece of a song enclosed or partitioned by itself, 
or a division of a poem containing every variety of measure in the 
poem. The Greek word metron, metre (measure), has been 
adopted in all languages, with just respect for the first masters 
of poetry, to signify a measured portion of a verse. Grammarians 
enumerate more than twenty different metres, of which I shall 
mention only a few. The spondaic, from the word spondee, two 
syllables of equal length, uttered so deliberately that they may 
correspond to the time in which a man, walking firmly and serenely, 
takes two paces. This metre was called spondeios (pous, a foot) 
in Greek, because it was the measure of the melodies used at the 
most solemn religious and national ceremonies, accompanied always 
with the " spondee," " the drink offering " to God. The spondee 
was properly the libation or the wine poured out on the head of 
the victim to be sacrificed when an agreement or treaty was to be 
made. And it has the perpetual authority of correspondence with 
the deliberate pace of Man, and expression of his noblest animal 
character in erect and thoughtful motion : all the rhythmic art of 
poetry having thus primary regard to the great human noblesse of 
walking on feet ; and by no means referring itself to any other 
manner of progress, by help either of stilts or steam. In this 
power the spondceiis, or time of the perfect pace of a reasonable 
two-legged animal, has regulated the verse of the two most 
deliberate nations of the earth the Greek and the Roman ; 
and through their verse, has regulated the manner, the mien, 
and the musical ear, of all educated persons in all countries 
and times. It is usual only to define it as consisting of two 
"long" syllables; but the actual length in time has never been 
stated ; and it is absolutely necessary, in order to fix proper edu- 
cational laws either for music or verse, that the time of metres 



OUR WRITTEN LANGDAGE. 251 

should be defined positively no less than relatively. Now, any 
person holding himself well erect, and walking in regular time, so 
firmly that he could carry a vase of water on his head without spill- 
ing it or losing its balance, will find that he can easily take two 
paces in a second, and not easily more. The proper length of the 
spondee will therefore be one second (indicated by two minims), 
and a long syllable (indicated by a minim), forming a part of any 
other foot, will, primarily, have the length of half a second. From 
this measure we can form our divisions of time, noting in what 
special verses or under what particular conditions the time may 
be quickened or delayed. The Dactylic measure is also import- 
ant : the dactyl has a long syllable followed by two short ones. 
It has not yet been sufficiently recognised by writers on prosody 
that there are two dactyls, the long dactyl, formed by the divi- 
sion of the last syllable of a spondee into two, giving two seconds 
of time to the whole metre as to the spondee from which it is 
formed ; and the short dactyl, formed by dividing the last syllable 
of the other into two, the syllables being severally half a second 
and two-eighths of a second long minim and two quavers ; or, in 
lightest measure, crotchet and two semiquavers. It will be most 
convenient to call the first of these the Heroic, and the second the 
Lyric Dactyl, the last being almost exclusively used in English 
verse. But for both the name Dactyl (Gr. dactulos), "finger," 
meaning a cadence composed of three joints in diminishing pro- 
portion, indicates a subtlety in the distribution of time which 
cannot be expressed by any musical measurement. The division 
of the foot in fine utterance, sounds as if it resulted from a certain 
degree of languor, as if the second syllable had fallen short by 
some failure of power or feeling, and then the loss had been 
supplied by the added third. A Poet signifies literally a maker 
(Fr. poete, from L. poeta, Gr. poietes, a maker, from poieo, to do or 
make), one who makes poetry, a composition in which the verses, 
whether rhymed or not, consist of certain rhythmic measures. A 
poetaster is a petty poet, a pitiful rhymster, a writer of con- 
temptible verses. 

Parody is a caricature of a poem, made by applying its words 






252 SIGNIFICANT ETYMOLOGY. 

and ideas with a burlesque effect (L. and Gr. parodia, from Gr. 
para, besides, and ode, an ode or song). Rhyme was originally 
and properly in AS. rim, measure, and naturally rime in ME. 
But scholars attempted to derive it from the Gr. rt/thmo (whence 
rhythm comes), and the absurd spelling, rhyme, is the result of the 
effort. Rime is now preferred by many writers, and is already 
gaining ground, but printers are stubborn, and it is hard to resign 
the hard-won spoils of our youthful campaign in the spelling-book. 
The adoption of the "learned spelling," "rhyme," has of course had 
no effect on the pronunciation. An idyll is a short pictorial poem, 
chiefly on pastoral subjects (L. idyllium, from Gr. eidyllion, dimin- 
utive of eidos, an image, from eidomai, to seem). Elegiac poetry is 
mournful poetry, an elegy being a song of mourning (French from 
Latin and Gr. elegos, a lament). A sonnet is a short poem of 
fourteen lines with varying rhymes, through French and It. sonetto, 
diminutive of sono, a sound or song, from L. sonus, a sound. An 
apologue is a moral tale, French from Gr. apologos, from apo and 
logos, speech. A fable is a feigned story or tale, intended to 
instruct or amuse (F. fable, from L. fabula, from fari, to speak). 
An apostrophe is a sudden turning away from the subject to 
address some person or object present or absent. Also a mark 
showing the omission of a letter Gr. apo, and strophe, a turning. 
(We have also catastrophe, an overturning, a calamity, from Gr. 
Jcata, down, and strepJw, to turn.) Aphorism is a brief pithy 
saying, from Gr. apliorizo, to mark off by boundaries, Gr. apo, and 
horos, a limit or boundary. Apothegm, a terse pointed remark, 
Gr. apophthegomai, to speak plainly. Maxim, a general principle, 
usually of a practical nature, a proverb (F. maxime, from L. 
maxima (sententia, an opinion), superlative of magmis, great, and 
proverb, a short familiar sentence forcibly expressing a well-known 
truth ; OF. proverbe, from L. proverbum, pro, publicly, and verbum, 
a word). 

Of literature of a different though very important kind, we 
have newspapers lit., papers published for circulating news. 
They are for the most part more than this, and the leading articles 
of many of them are models of style, and leaders of thought, on 



OUR WRITTEN LANGUAGE. 



253 



most questions of public interest. The word "news" has been 

N 
supposed to come from the four points of the compass W + E as 

S 

if the tidings came from all quarters, but the word signifies some- 
thing " new," or the " newest." Printing itself came through the F. 
empreindre, from L. imprimo and pressus, from in and premo, to 
press. A journal is a newspaper published daily or otherwise, but 
the word signifies literally a diurnal, or daily register or diary, 
from F. journal, from jour, a day, from L. dmrnalis, from dies, a 
day. 1 An author is one who originates or gives existence to any- 
thing, through F. auteur, from L. auctor, from augeo, auxi, auctum, 
augere, 2 to increase, make to grow, to produce ; but the editor of a 
book is he who edits it that is, superintends the publication and 
gives it out to the world. The Latin editor literally, one who 
gives out, from the verb edere, to give out was, after the invention 
of printing, often employed in a special sense as denoting the person 
who " gives to the world " a book or other literary work of which 
he is not the author. In this sense it has passed into English and 
other modern languages. But under modern conditions there are 
two different classes of persons concerned in the production of a 
book, to either of whom the word might be applied in as literal 
meaning with equal propriety. The " giver-out " of a book for 
instance, of a classical text which has never before been printed 
may mean what we now call the publisher, the man who bears the 
expense of printing it, and makes the arrangements -for its circula- 
tion among the public ; or it may mean the scholar who puts the 



1 Whence also sojourn, to wait 
over the day, to dwell in a place 
for a time, and adjourn, to put off 
to another day. Journeyman, 
originally and strictly a workman 
hired by the day, or for a period 
(F. journde, low L. jornala, a day's 
work, from L. diunin*, from dies, a 
day), afterwards and now a work- 
man as distinguished from an ap- 
prentice, not a mere learner as an 
apprentice signifies, one who is 
learning a trade, from OF. aprentis, 



a beginner, from apprendre, to learn 
(L. ad to, and prehendo, to lay hold 
of). There is in Scotland the 
shorter form of prentice or prentis, 
as in Burns's lines : 

" Her 'prentice ban' she tried on man, 
And then she made the lasses, O I " 

2 From this verb we have, to 
augment, augmentation, auction, 
auctioneer, authority, authorise, 
authoritative, autumn, auxil- 
iary. 



254 SIGNIFICANT ETYMOLOGY. 

text into order for publication, and provides it with such illustra- 
tive matter as it is deemed to require. Now, while in French 
editor, editeur, has come to mean publisher, in England it has 
become restricted to the other of its possible applications. When 
we use it we no longer think of its literal sense. The prominent 
function of an editor is not that of issuing a literary work to the 
public, but that of bringing it into the form in which it is to 
appear. Although " editor " is not a word of English formation, 
it has an ending which coincides in form with that of English 
agent nouns, so that it has naturally suggested the coinage of a 
verb "to edit," meaning to prepare for publication as an editor 
does i.e., to put into such a form as is thought suitable for the 
public to read. When we say, usually with unfavourable meaning, 
that a war correspondent's telegrams have been " edited," we mean 
that they have undergone alterations or excisions, in accordance 
with the press censor's notion of the amount of information which 
ought to be given to the public at home. Similarly, we may say 
that the composition of an illiterate, or foolish, person requires a 
great deal of " editing " in order to be suitable for publication. 
If, instead of adopting the Latin word, we had rendered it by 
some such equivalent as " out-giver " (corresponding to the Ger. 
herausgeber, which is used quite in the English sense of " editor "), 
there would have been no opportunity for the back formation of a 
verb, with a meaning so remote from the primary signification of 
the substantive. (Bradley's ' Making of English.') 



255 



CHAPTEE XVIII. 






CITY LIFE. 

A city is abstract in its origin. It is the F. cite, from the L. 
civitas. Civitas meant originally citizenship, being the abstract 
of civis, citizen, but was easily transferred to the citizens in their 
collective capacity the body of the citizens, the community, and 
so came at last to be a mere synonym with L. urbs, 1 a city. In 
its origin, then, the " city " suggests the body politic, whereas town 
suggests merely the actual place, the fenced stronghold ; and some 
traces of this old distinction have persisted to modern times, 
though the words have received new conventional senses, different 
in different parts of the English-speaking world. Our distinction 
between a city and a town is unknown to other Teutonic and 
(now) also to Eoman languages, Ger. stadt, F. mile, Sp. cuidade, 
translate both town and city. Town is a very concrete word in its 
origin. It is native Germanic (AS. tun) ; it means literally an 
" enclosure," a " fenced place," and points to the stockaded settle- 
ments of a long time ago, before the Angles and Saxons saw 
Britain. The cognate Ger. zaun has kept the older sense of a 
hedge. Village is F. from L. mllaticus, belonging to a country 
house (compare Milton's " tame villatic font," in " Samson 
Agonistes "), and suggests the manor-house with its adjacent 
clusters of cottages. The Modern English word villa is a direct 
borrowing from the Italian, which had preserved the word from the 
Roman times without change of form. It was the Latin name for 
a farmhouse with its accompaniments, and from the nature of 



1 From urbs we have urban (L. 
urbanus), belonging to a city, and 



suburban, and also urbane, civil, 
courteous, polite, refined. 



256 SIGNIFICANT ETYMOLOGY. 

Eoman land-holding, might be used of a very splendid estate. 
Many of the houses in our suburbs would be, and are, properly 
called villas. Descent is easy, and words, like people, have a 
tendency to fall away from their better selves. A good example 
is found in our word villain (see p. 228). 

Having spoken of the words city, town, and village, we have the 
name for a still smaller assemblage of houses to consider the 
word hamlet, a double diminutive, which we derived from OF. 
hamelet, a diminutive of hamel (mod. F. hameau'), which is itself 
a diminutive of "W. Ger. Tiaim (AS. ham, Eng. home, Ger. heim). 
Thus hamlet is closely related to our home, though it has reached 
us through the French, and has not descended like " home " from 
AS. Home is a general Indo-European word for " abiding-place," 
"dwelling." In the oldest English it was purely descriptive, and 
apparently as destitute of tender or sentimental emotions as town 
or city with us. As early as the sixteenth century we meet with 
the proverb " home is homely," i.e., home-like or comfortable, but 
John Howard Payne's famous song, "Home, Sweet Home," ex- 
pressed in simple language the feelings that had become vaguely 
connected with the word. 

"We now turn your attention to the ways through and around 
the city on which the houses have been built, and where the 
intercourse and traffic are conducted. These are chiefly streets. 
A street is from L. strata l (via), a paved road lined with houses ; 
but now applied to a definitely laid out road in a city or town, 
quite irrespective of the question of pavement. Some of the 
streets are not paved, but are macadamised that is to say, the 
road is covered with small broken stones so as to form a hard 
smooth surface, so called from the name of Macadam (1756-1836), 
the inventor. As street rather smacks of commerce, which, as 
Cicero says of Rome, is in disrepute, except on a large scale, road 
is preferred, as more suggestive of the country-loving gentry. A 
road is properly the way by which one rides or travels a high- 
consternation, amazement that pro- 
duces confusion and terror, and 
prostration, the act of throwing 



1 The L. verb from which this 
comes is sterno, stravi, stratum, 
sternZre, to throw to the ground, 
and from it we have the word 



down, or laying flat. 






CITY LIFE. 257 

way, and we naturally name it from the place to which it leads 
(as the London Eoad), or its direction (as the Northern Eoad). 
Turnpike (from turn and pike), originally a frame consisting of 
two bars, armed at the ends with pikes or poles, and turning on 
a post to hinder horses from entering, and afterwards applied to 
the gate or bars across a road to hinder passage till toll be paid ; 
and so the roads on which turnpikes or toll-bars were established 
were called turnpike-roads or toll-roads. Way is the more general 
term for any kind of road or street or passage. It is connected 
witli the L. via, a way, and means literally that over which one 
moves. A lane, from the AS. lane, and the Scotch loan, which 
signified originally an open space between corn-fields, hedges, &c., 
has come to signify a narrow street : probably the change of mean- 
ing has come about through the gradual narrowing of these open 
spaces in the country, but there can be no doubt that properly 
a lane is a narrow country way, and not a highroad. The term 
(as in the case of the Devonshire lanes) is crowded with poetical 
associations, which are lost in the dismal realities of city sur- 
roundings. A narrow way is seldom pleasant in a city. Hence 
(except in the case of Park Lane, London), the term is not in 
favour in urban nomenclature. An alley (F. allee) has long been 
a rather disparaging name in this country for a narrow passage. 
The word comes from the F. alter, to go ; but we have here no 
Grande Allee they are all of the poorest kind, so that we are 
more familiar with a blind alley, one that is closed at the end 
so as to be no thoroughfare, a cul de sac. The word boulevard 
is a F. corruption of the Ger. boll-werk, bulwark. It means, 
therefore, a street laid out on the site of an ancient and de- 
molished fortification. As this is never done until a city has 
far outgrown its walls, a boulevard is generally in a thickly 
settled quarter, and has no suburban associations. On the con- 
trary, an avenue (from F. avenir, to arrive, from L. advenire, 
to come to) is properly an approach to a city, or to some con- 
spicuous part of it; or the chief approach to a country house, 
usually bordered with trees an avenue of limes and beeches. 
In a town, and still more in a city, we are struck by the busyness 

B 



258 SIGNIFICANT ETYMOLOGY. 

of the people, and very soon come to understand what business is, 
the state of being busy, fully occupied perhaps originally from 
. the OF. bus&rgnes, pi., works, business, and busuigne (F. twelfth 
century), connected with mod. F. besom (m.) and besogne (f.). 
The most striking feature of city life is its commercial aspect. 
The word commerce is from the L. commercium con, with, and 
merx, mercis, goods, wares, merchandise. From this word merx 
we have also the word merchant, which in Scotland (and in 
America) includes buying and selling of all kinds, whether on a 
large or small scale, even although carried on in a shop, and there 
is no place more familiar to residents in country districts than the 
merchant's shop ; and the general merchant is a man with the 
most multifarious stock of any man in the United Kingdom a 
shopkeeper. In England the word merchant is still a name of 
distinction restricted to wholesale traders, and especially to those 
having dealings with foreign countries, except in cases where there 
is a prefix to the word, such as spirit-merchant, tea-merchant, corn- 
merchant, coal - merchant, &c., which frequently include retail 
dealers. The word merchant came to us through the F., the OF. 
being marchant, a merchant, from L. mercantem, the present 
participle of mercari, to barter, but all from merx, a price. 
Probably the French spelling gave us the English word market, 
from L. mercatum, trade, and mart (a contraction of market), a 
place of public sale and traffic. Still from the same word merx, 
through the F. mercier, we have the word mercer, a dealer in silks, 
velvets, laces, and other costly materials, but frequently with 
silk prefixed. Mercantile is that which pertains to trade and 
commerce. The word mercenary comes through merces, mer- 
cedis, wages, from the same root, and originally signified a hire- 
ling, or a person working merely for the sake of pay or of 
self-interest. 

As we go along the street and read the different signs, we find, 
for instance, appraisers (L. ad, to, and pretium, a price), those who 
put values on what is to be sold. Architects, who design build- 
ings and superintend their erection (Gr. arclios, chief, and tekton, a 
builder). Auctioneers (from L. audio, from augeo, to increase) 



CITY LIFE. 



259 









so called because at an auction the price gradually increases, and 
the article is sold to the highest bidder. Butchers (F. boucher, OF. 
backer, originally one who slaughters he-goats, from boc, a goat, 
OELGer. bock], those who slaughter animals for food, or who cut 
up and sell meat or flesh. Chandlers, who now are general dealers. 
The word comes through the OF. chandelier, a maker of candles 
or a dealer in them, from L. candela, a candle ; and at first we had 
wax-chandlers and tallow-chandlers, then by-and-by we had corn- 
chandlers, and now we have ship-chandlers, who supply ships with 
cordage, canvas, and even with general stores. The French word 
chandelier, introduced into England, signified first a receptacle 
for candles, and the word has been so extended as to include gas- 
jets and electric light. No doubt we have the word electrolier for 
an electric chandelier, but here Her was taken as a termination, 
though the Z is really a part of L. candela, candle, from which 
candelabrum (the original of chandelier) is derived. Confectioners 
derive their name from the L. confectio, a preparing thoroughly (from 
con and factus, made). They are now makers of sweetmeats, which 
are called confections, anything prepared with sugar, sweetmeats. 
The meaning has gradually specialised into this. In Paris, on the 
other hand, the word confection, signifying a making up, has come to 
signify a making up or manufacturing, while a maison de confections 
is a dressmaking establishment. Contractors, those who agree to do 
a certain service or work at a stipulated price or rate, from L. con- 
tractus, an agreement (con, together, and tractus, drawn). Distillers 
are those who distil or manufacture ardent spirits or alcoholic liquors 
from grain, &c. The word comes through the F. distiller from L. 
distillare or destillare, to drop or trickle down (de, down, and stillo, I 
drop] literally to drop or trickle down in drops), to vaporise by heat 
and then reconvert into the liquid state. Drysalters do not throw 
much light upon the reason of their name through anything we 
see in their windows, such as gums, drugs, dyestuffs, and chemical 
substances of various kinds ; but the name was given to them when, 
as originally, they were dealers in dry and salted meats. Em- 
broiderers are those who ornament with designs in needlework, 
originally on the border (em, on, and F. brodei; another form of 



260 SIGNIFICANT ETYMOLOGY. 

border, from bord, edge). Laundresses women whose employ- 
ment is to wash and get up linen, OE. lavanderess, OF. lavandiere, 
from mediaeval L. lavanderia, from L. lavo, lavavi, lavatum, lavare, 
to wash ; and a laundry is the place where clothes are washed and 
done up (p. 200). Nurserymen are those who rear plants and trees 
on ground set apart for the purpose, which is therefore called a 
nursery, just as the room in a house set apart for the young 
children is so called. The French do not use their word for 
nursery in this double sense, but they have a chambre des en/ants, 
the children's nursery, and pepiniere (from pepin, a kernel, pip, or 
stone), a nursery for young trees. The Germans, however, speak 
of a Baum Schule, a tree school, or a Pflanz Schule, a plant 
school, corresponding with our nurseries for trees and plants. 
Umbrella makers derive the name from the Italian ombrella, 
diminutive of ombra, a shade, from L. umbra, a shade, liter- 
ally a protection from the sun by the shade it furnishes. But 
we use the word habitually in the sense of a protection from 
rain, and in this sense the word imbrella would have been 
much more accurate, as it would come from the L. imber, a 
shower, just as the French use the word parapluie (para, be- 
side, and pluie, rain) for an umbrella; while the parasol (para, 
beside, and sol, the sun) with them, as with us, is the name 
of the small shade against the sun's rays. Victual dealers 
and provision merchants generally go together in Scotland. 
The word victual (now generally in the plur. victuals) comes 
through the F. victuaille, through mediaeval L. victualia, mode 
of living, or articles commonly used as food, from the L. word 
victus, food, from vivo, vixi, victum, vivere, to live (p. 172). In 
Scotland the word is restricted to farinaceous food, and in some 
parts to the grain crops, which are spoken of as victual. Provision, 
too, is generally limited to food, and always so when used in the 
combination of which we are writing. Originally derived through 
F. from L. provisionem, foresight, providence (pro, before, and 
video, I see), the act of providing ; care or measures taken before- 
hand, and then food, the things provided ; and a provision 
merchant is the shopkeeper who retails articles of food for daily 



CITY LIFE. 



261 






use. The word viands (p. 172), through the F. viande, It. vivanda, 
anciently nourishment in general, low L. vivenda (necessary for 
life), again from the L. vivere, to live, now provisions for eating 
sometimes pressed meat. The word victualler in England, and 
especially the phrase licensed victualler, is a man who keeps a 
victual house, an innkeeper or tavern keeper, a seller of intoxicat- 
ing liquors by retail. A monopoly is what many are struggling 
to secure, for a monopolist is one who has obtained the exclusive 
power to sell a certain article, or who, by buying up the whole of 
it, has the command of the market at some place, and so he can 
sell at an advanced price. The word comes from the Gr. mono- 
polion (monos, alone, poleo, I sell). 

The word traffic is derived from the two Latin words trans, 
signifying through or across, and facere, to make or do, with its 
participle factus or fictus. It is still chiefly carried on by carts, 
waggons, lorries, drays. There are a great many carts with two 
wheels for carrying heavy loads, the word being either the Celtic 
cart, or from the word car, which came to us from the Norman 
carre, used for almost any vehicle. Carre is from the late L. 
carra, L. carrus. But we have now cars of all kinds, steam-cars, 
tram-cars, electric cars, and motor-cars. The word motor signifies 
literally a mover, that which gives motion or motive power, without 
specifying its nature, just as locomotive has a learned formation 
(like F. locomotif], made as if from a L. locomotivvs (loco, from or 
out of a place, and motivus, from movere, 1 to mover literally, what 
moves anything from its place). The word engine obviously comes 
from the L. ingenium (from in and gigno? genui, to produce), which 



1 From moveo, mom, motum, movere, 
to move, we have mob (from mobile, 
easily moved), mobility, mobilisa- 
tion, including all that is needed to 
put an army on a war footing ; a 
moment (for moviment), moment- 
ary, momentum, motion, movement, 
movable, immovable, immobility, 
mutiny, commotion, &neute, emo- 
tion, locomotion, promote, pro- 
motion, remove, removal, re- 
mote. 



2 From the word genius (the same 
root gif/no) we have genial, mean- 
ing kindly and cheerful, geniality, 
congenial. A gin (a contraction of 
engine) is a machine or a snare. 
An ingenious person is very clever 
or skilful in contriving, and men 
show great ingenuity in devising or 
constructing machines, which are 
also called ingenious. The English 
word ingenuous is from L. ingenuus 
(same root as ingenium). 



262 SIGNIFICANT ETYMOLOGY. 

signifies primarily the innate natural quality of a thing, then of a 
person, the natural capacity or disposition, and very soon in Latin 
even, talents, abilities, and specially the faculty of invention, genius, 
and wit ; and so an engine signifies properly a machine or other 
means skilfully adapted to effect a purpose, and an engineer is 
one skilled in constructing engines or in devising plans. We have 
still the waggon or wagon, which comes from the Dutch or low 
German. The native English term of wain is from AS. wagen, 
waen, from the root vah, to carry, L. veho. We still use the word 
wain when we speak of the constellation of the Plough, or Charles's 
Wain or waggon. The word lorry, properly a four-wheeled waggon 
without sides, is supposed to come from provincial English lurry, 
to pull or lug. Dray is also a slow-moving vehicle for heavy loads, 
such as a brewer's dray, in the AS. drage, dragnet, from dragan, 
to draw. It is connected with dredge, but dredge, though originally 
Teuton, comes from OF. drege. But turning your attention now 
to vehicles that are used for the conveyance of persons, the word 
vehicle itself is one of the most comprehensive, as meaning any 
kind of carriage that is used to convey either persons or goods, 
from the L. veho, to carry. The word chariot comes from the 
Latin word carrica, a chariot, the origin of which is clearly the 
Greek word caruchon or coach. Stone tells us that " coaches were 
not known in this country of old time, but chariots, or whirlicotes 
then so called ; and then used only of princes or of men of great 
estates, such as had their footmen about them. And, for example 
to note, I read that Eichard II., being threatened by the rebels of 
Kent, rode from the Tower of London to the Mile End, and with 
his mother (because she was sick and weak), in a whirlicote, divers 
lords attending on horseback. But in the year next following the 
said Eichard, who took to wife Anne, daughter to the King of 
Bohemia, that first brought hither the riding upon side-saddles, 
and so was the riding in whirlicotes and chariots forsaken, except 
at coronations and suchlike spectacles ; but now of late years the 
use of coaches, brought out of Germany, is taken up and made so 
common as there is neither distinction of time nor difference of 
persons observed, for the world runs on wheels, with many whose 



CITY LIFE. 263 

parents were glad to go on foot." He adds that the number of 
coaches in London must needs be dangerous, and gives the laws 
and customs in the city for their government, such as that the fore 
horse of every carriage should be led by the hand, &c., " yet these 
good orders have not been observed." Coaches (or covered vehicles 
for travelling) seem to have been introduced into this country 
about the year 1570, but were used only by a few distinguished 
individuals. Hume, in his ' History of England,' says : " About 
1580 the use of coaches was introduced by the Earl of Arundel. 
Before that time the Queen on public occasions rode behind her 
chamberlain." In 1625, however, they were let for hire; and in 
1689 a company of coachmakers was incorporated in London, and 
bore for their arms a coach which is so similar to the family coach 
of our own day as to convince us that little change in the form 
has taken place since that time. The word coach was introduced 
from the F. coche in the sixteenth century, when coaches came 
into use. The word was originally a Magyar adjective, from the 
name of the town Rocs (pronounced Kotch\ so that coach arises 
from the generic name which the adjective limits. Of all the 
private vehicles which pass along, perhaps the most remarkable, 
for its name, is a tandem, which does not describe the vehicle 
but the position of the two horses not abreast, but with one 
before the other. The name may have originated in ignorance of 
Latin, or in all probability in university slang, as the L. adverb 
tandem (from tandemum) signifies " at length," in the sense of " at 
last," but never in the sense of length- ways. The L. tandem, 
properly speaking, always contains the idea of a point of time 
reached after long expectation. A good story in this connection 
is told of Bishop M'Gee, who had been asked by a gentleman 
in his diocese to remonstrate with a clergyman who had adopted 
a good many practices which rather scandalised his flock, as in- 
dicating that he was too fast and worldly, and, among others, 
that of driving tandem. The bishop sent for the offender and 
remonstrated with him; but on this particular habit the bishop 
found him obdurate, and prepared to defend his conduct. He 
said to the bishop that he really could not see that it made 



264 SIGNIFICANT ETYMOLOGY. 

any difference, if he kept two horses, whether he drove them 
abreast as the bishop did, or, as he was accused of doing, the 
one before the other, tandem; to which the bishop replied 
that there were many cases in which the position made a great 
difference. " For instance," he said, " I hold up my two hands 
and pronounce a benediction; but if I were to put my hands 
to my nose, the one before the other, it would be regarded as 
the reverse of a benediction, and I should not be allowed long 
to remain Bishop of Peterborough." Soon after this he became 
Archbishop of York. But while still Bishop of Peterborough he 
was coming down from London one afternoon with two gentlemen 
in the same compartment who did not know the bishop by sight, 
but who, as they came near Peterborough, were relating several 
stories of the bishop, and with comments not always compli- 
mentary. As they were going farther north, when he got out at 
Peterborough he bade them good-bye, and added, "By the way, 
when I have occasion to pronounce my name, I call it Magee, 
and not McGee, as you have been doing " ! 

Cab was originally slang when first used, in 1830, as short 
for cdbi-iolet, which is a French diminutive of capriole, a goat's 
leap : the latter comes from the It. cabriola, itself a diminutive 
of capra, a she-goat. This name given to it was in allusion to 
its lightness and springiness; but the word cab itself is one of 
a group of a peculiarly national stamp. They are easy and 
familiar expressions formed by a curtailment of longer words, 
and are mostly monosyllabic. It is generally, but not always, 
the first part that has been retained. Thus for speculation we 
have spec ; for omnibus, 'bus ; for cabriolet, cab ; for incognito, 
incog. ; and stress for distress. The curt expression of tick for 
credit is as old as the seventeenth century, and is corrupted 
from ticket, as a tradesman's bill was formerly called. The 
words which one generation calls slang are not unfrequently the 
sober and decorous terms of that which succeeds : the term 'bus 
has made for itself a very tolerable position, and cab is absolutely 
established as a real word. The curt form of gent as a less 
ceremonious substitute for the full expression of "gentleman" 



CITY LIFE. 



265 



had once made considerable way, but its career was blighted in 
a court of justice. It is about forty years ago that two young 
men, being brought before a London magistrate, described them- 
selves as "gents." The magistrate said that he considered that 
designation little better than a "blackguard." The abbreviated 
form has never been able to recover from the shock. It was 
gradually discarded from the speech of the upper classes, and 
came to be a contemptuous designation for the vulgar pre- 
tenders to gentility, in whose vocabulary it still survives. A 
more respectable example of a curt form is the title miss, 
which, although nothing but the first syllable of mistress, has 
won its way to an honoured position. In fact, these words 
have a crude and fragmentary look only while they are recent ; 
give time enough, and the abruptness disappears. Who finds it 
vulgar to say consols, though this is but a short way of saying 
" consolidated annuities " 1 A peal of bells is now an elegant ex- 
pression, although it is curtailed from " appeal." Story is a pretty 
word, though curt for history. The short form has always 
borne a comparatively familiar sense, as it does to the present 
day. Even curtailments which are now obsolete are in some 
cases preserved to us in compound words. Thus the word cob- 
web seems to indicate that the word attercop (old word for 
spider Scotch ettercap) was curtly called a " cop " or " cob." The 
full word comes, as we have seen, from ator or attor, poison ; 
and coppa, derivative of " cop," " top " ; or copp, cup, vessel, with 
reference to its supposed venomous properties. 

Hammer-cloth is the name given to the cloth that covers a 
coach -box. Skeat suggests that the word/is an adaptation of 
the Dutch word hemel, heaven, a covermg ; Ger. himmel. But 
although Professor Skeat's suggestions are almost invariably char- 
acterised by accuracy, I am inclined to think that others are 
nearer the truth who suggest that the cloth that covers the 
box-seat of a carriage of any kind is called the hammer-cloth 
because in the old coaching days it concealed the box which 
contained a hammer, nails, and other implements useful for 
repairs in the event of a breakdown on the journey ; just as 



266 



SIGNIFICANT ETYMOLOGY. 



we find similar provision, but on a more extensive scale, as 
part of the furniture of a modern motor-car. 

The cab in this fast age is frequently designated a crawler, 
perhaps from its crawling slowly along the streets at times in 
search of a fare, but in consequence also of its slow speed in 
crowded streets ; so that if more rapid movement is required, 
you must engage a hansom cab so designated from the man, 
Joseph Aloysius Hansom, who, in 1833, patented it as the 
safety cab, and not from its beauty or its speed : although it is 
generally called a " hansom," on the principle that " handsome is 
as handsome does." The name of hackney-coach is interesting. 
It is simply the literal translation of the F. coche-haquenee, the 
name given to a coach drawn by a hired horse, or let for hire. 
I suspect, however, that it is the horse which gave its name to 
the coach, and not the coach to the horse. The F. word haquenee 
and the Dut. hakkenei signified a nag, an " ambling nag " origin- 
ally ; but when a horse is employed for general use, especially on 
hire, the word hack came to be used for such a horse poor and 
jaded and so the word came to signify a horse for hire. The 
postilion originally was the post-boy who guided post-horses, or 
horses in any carriages, riding on one of the horses, and called 
from F. postilion (from poste, post, from L. pono, 1 posui, positum, 
ponere, to place), so that post means originally a fixed place 
or stage on a road. A stage-coach was so called because it ran 
regularly with passengers from stage to stage (F. ctage, from 
L. sto, to stand). To travel post-haste, then, meant to travel with 
post-horses or with speed, because there were horses posted or 
placed at the different stages waiting ready to relieve those which 
had just arrived; and as carrying letters came to be the chief 
business, even although there are no relays of horses now, nor 



1 From pono we have posed, posi- 
tion, posture, positive, positively, 
apposite, apposition, component, 
composed, compound, compose, com- 
positor, depone, depose, deposition, 
depositors, depositary, expose and 
exposure and exposition, expositors, 
expounders, impose, imposing, im- 



postor, indispose, indisposition, 
interpose, interposition, opponent, 
oppose, opposition, postpone, post- 
ponement, predispose, predisposi- 
tion, preposition, propose, proposal, 
purpose, repose, repository, super- 
impose, suppose, transpose, and 
transposition. 






CITY LIFE. 267 

horses at all employed for their acceleration, the word post has 
been usurped by the post-office, and by the postman, even although 
letters or messages are now sent by train, by telegraph, or by tele- 
phone. We also speak of the parcel post, which now signifies, 
almost exclusively, a small package of goods, such as tea or sugar, 
or anything of such size as could easily be carried in the hand, 
and originally signified a small part, a particle of anything, even a 
small portion or piece of land, as in John iv. 5, " A city of Samaria, 
. . . near to the parcel of ground that Jacob gave to his son Joseph." 
It comes through the F. parcelle, from L. particula, a diminutive of 
pars, partis, a part. The word mail, originally a bag for the con- 
veyance of letters, from OF. male, OHLGer. mdhala, a wallet, and 
Gaelic mala, a bag or sack. It now signifies any conveyance by 
which letters are forwarded to their destination, and the letters 
themselves collectively are often called the mail e.g., yesterday 
at a hotel to which a great many letters had been forwarded to 
me, the hall porter said, "You have a very heavy mail this 
morning, sir." The post-office suggests the stationer's shop, which 
is never far off from it, where paper, pens, and ink can be pur- 
chased ; and we are led to inquire why the man who keeps this 
shop should be called a stationer, and why paper, pens, and ink 
should be called stationery. I believe the explanation is that 
there were certain stations or fixed places (stationes) in Eome, and 
throughout Italy, where people sold paper, &c., to those who were 
able to write, and who also wrote for those who were unable to do 
so for themselves. And just as we have seen how " post," which 
means originally firmly fixed, came to mean rapid travelling, so 
we discover the reason why people who wandered through the 
country selling paper, pens, and ink (as many did fifty years ago, 
even in Scotland), should without, any contradiction of terms have 
been called "flying stationers." The word philatelist, so recently 
formed, and applied to one who makes a habit of collecting stamps 
a stamp collector has come to us through the F. philatelic 
(invented by M. Herpen, a postage-stamp collector, in 1864), from 
Gr. ateles, free from tax or charge, ateleia, exemption from pay- 
ment (ex ateleias, without payment, free, franco). When a letter 




268 SIGNIFICANT ETYMOLOGY. 

was sent carriage free or carriage prepaid by the sender, it was 
formerly in various countries (such as our own) stamped free, or 
franco ; the fact is now indicated by the letter bearing an im- 
pressed receipt stamp, or its substitute, an adhesive label (com- 
monly called a postage-stamp), for the amount : the Gr. ateles, a 
passable equivalent for free or franco, has for the purpose of word- 
making been employed to express the freimarke, franco - bollo, 
franco-mark, frank-stamp, or postage-stamp, and so to supply the 
second element in philatelic, while the common Gr. philo, a lover 
of, or fond of, supplies the first (Murray). Near the post-office 
(this word reminds us of the modern word) and the stationer's 
shop, where two or three streets meet, there are generally several 
people standing idly, and discussing the merest trivialities of the 
day. There, as Trench says, you have the living explanation of 
trivial, trivialities such as no explanation not rooting itself in the 
etymology could ever give you, or enable you to give to others. 
You have there the trivia, the place where three ways meet, 
made up of L. tres, three, and vice, ways, and trivialities (from 
L. trivialis, lit. to be found at the cross-roads or public streets) 
properly mean such talk as is carried on by these idle loiterers 
that gather at this meeting of the three roads. 



269 



CHAPTER XIX. 

WEIGHTS AND MEASUKES. 

IT would scarcely be sufficient to speak of a quantity. In this 
word quantity, L. qtiantitas, from quantus, how much, that prop- 
erty of anything that can be increased or diminished, any indeter- 
minate weight, bulk, or number, we have also the word quantum 
used as an English word, and by Burns also when he says 

" I waive the q^^antum o' the sin, 
The hazard of concealing " 

i.e., the magnitude or the amount. The Greek word for quantity, 
or the " howmuchness " of anything, is posotes, a word formed by 
Aristotle from posos (how great) as an abstract term for the general 
philosophic idea of the magnitude of any individual thing, and 
quantitas was at a much later period manufactured as the Latin 
translation of posotes. The Greek word posos is still found in one 
or two words in our language. I was very much surprised a few 
days ago, in going carefully over the admirable therapeutic notes 
and index of diseases and their treatment in Wellcome's Medical 
Diary and Visiting List for 1907, to come upon what is headed a 
"posological table," giving the equivalents of imperial measures 
of mass and capacity, where the word posological signifies of, or 
pertaining to, quantities or doses in medicine. I mention this the 
more readily that a medical man of great knowledge and experi- 
ence, when I asked him what was meant by posological in that 
connection, said he thought it meant " equivalent," but could not 
tell from what it came. Posology is really the branch of medicine 



270 



SIGNIFICANT ETYMOLOGY. 



which treats of quantity 1 or doses. In the general traffic and 
business of the community weights and measures are employed. 
Measures of length and breadth taken from the human body are 
very numerous. We may just refer in passing to a hair's-breadth, 
which implies a very small measure indeed ; a nail's -breadth, 
which is reckoned at 2^ inches (a measure of length greater 
than that of any human nail I have ever seen or heard of, espe- 
cially when we are told that a finger-breadth or digit is f of aa 
inch ; digit, from the L. digitus, a finger or toe, akin to Gr. 
doktylos, according to Curtius, from the root dek, seen in Gr. 
dechomai, to receive. A hand's-breadth or a palm is literally the 
breadth of a hand. The word inch, which comes from the L. 
uncia, which signifies first, an inch, the twelfth part of a foot, then 
an ounce, the twelfth part of a pound, and finally the twelfth part 
of anything whatever. The great probability is that uncia is 
derived from the L. word uncus, a hook or bend, and thus referring 
to the top joint of the thumb. The French word for inch is 
pouce, which also means a thumb, and the etymology of the 
French word is the L. pollex, a thumb the early French being 
polce, but now pouce, sometimes used in the sense of measuring. 
"We have a common expression for measuring approximately viz., 
rule of thumb. Some people seem to think the rule of thumb 
the most exact of all measurements, whether of temperature, of 



1 Quantity, although almost op- 
posed to quality in meaning, is yet 
so nearly allied to it in origin that 
it may be well to consider it here 
in a note. When Aristotle, in his 
matchless Peripatetic lectures, re- 
quired a short word to represent 
the general philosophic idea of 
the "nature" as well as the mag- 
nitude of any individual thing, he 
found the Greek word poios, of 
what sort? ready to his hand, and 
by means of a derivative ending he 
boldly formed poiotes, which repre- 
sented the abstract term needed for 
the idea. It served his turn, and 
took its place with poiotes in the 
technical dialect of the Greek phil- 



osophers. Two hundred years later, 
when Cicero interpreted these ideas 
to his countrymen, he imitated the 
boldness of Aristotle and ventured 
qualitas (from quails, of what nature, 
kind, or sort), a Latin word of equiv- 
alent meaning to poiotes and simi- 
lar formation (Cic. Acad., i. 6). 
And so it has been well said, in 
the course of linguistic history, 
these two Greek terms for "how- 
muchness " and " of whatsortness," 
invented to supply a refined philo- 
sophic need, have, in the forms 
quantity and quality, become the 
common possession of every shop- 
man, and are two of the most famil- 
iar words in the English language. 



WEIGHTS AND MEASURES. 



271 



strength, or capacity, as when a Lord Provost of Edinburgh, giv- 
ing evidence regarding the temperature of the water in St Mary's 
Loch, from which it was proposed to bring a water-supply to 
Edinburgh, said that when he visited the loch he found the tem- 
perature was just 60 ; and being further interrogated as to what 
thermometer he had used, he said he had not used any thermo- 
meter : he had just put in his thumb ! But how is length to be 
measured by the thumb, especially a length representing about an 
inch, except by bending the thumb, and measuring its top joint 
along the substance to be calculated ? In this connection it is well 
to remember that all our terms of measurement taken from the body 
not actually self -defined, as hand, palm, foot, &c., apply not to the 
rigid but to the flexed posture. A cubit, for instance, refers to the 
length from the bended elbow on which one reclines to the point of 
the middle finger from L. cubitus, lit. a bend, akin to L. cubare, to 
lie down. Ell, from L. ulna, the elbow, is the name given to the large 
bone from the same point, which the Germans call ellenbogen and we 
ell-bow (elbow), the bend where the ell begins. A pace, as a measure- 
ment of 30 to 36 inches, refers to the oppositely bended position of 
the hip joint ; and a span (of 9 inches), to the oppositely bended 
joints of the thumb and wrist. To span is to measure, to stretch 
without any reference to length ; and yet we accept the general 
term as the measure of a stretched hand without any hesitation. 
A hand is a distinct measure of 4 inches, as when you speak of 
a horse 14 hands high. I know no reason why the height of a 
horse should be described by hands. I had a recent illustration 
of the confusion occasioned by the use of such a standard. A 
gentleman had bought a horse, and was giving me a description 
of it, which he concluded by saying "it was 14 feet high." I 
naturally looked amazed, and expressed my amazement in words, 
when he corrected himself by saying it was 14 inches that he 
had meant to say ! A foot, which was originally the length of a 
man's foot, has now come to be a measure of 12 inches. The 
word fathom signifies a measure of 6 feet, and is now limited as 
a substantive to a nautical sense. "We find the German of this 
word to be faden, the general term for a string or thread. We 




272 SIGNIFICANT ETYMOLOGY. 

can see a striking analogy between the German and English in the 
expression " ein Faden Holz" a cord of wood ; but yet the words 
faden and fathom refer primarily not to a thread, or cord, which 
binds things together, but really to the space grasped by both 
arms extended or held out. In the Old Saxon we have the form 
fathom signifying the arm, while Rask quotes the AS. foethin in 
the sense of an embrace, and Bjorn Haldersen (in his Icelandic 
Dictionary) gives faden as equivalent to the outstretched arms. 
If we want a conclusive analogy from a Romanic language, we have 
but to look to the French equivalent for our nautical fathom, 
which we find to be brasse, from bras, the arm ; and if, further, we 
seek a reason why this measure should be named, rather from the 
stretched out arms than from the stature of a man (these being 
generally about the same length), we can but point out that the 
very act of measuring one's own length (except in the involuntary 
sense) would be performed with the arms rather than with the 
body. The yard measure, of 3 feet in length, which regulates 
our lineal measures, may be said to be also taken from the 
human body, as its length was originally taken from the arm of 
Henry I. 

The itinerary measures (L. it&r, itineris, a journey), which are 
included under the lineal, are not taken directly from the body. 
The furlong, for example, which is now the eighth part of a mile, 
is literally the length of a " furrow," this being the meaning of 
the AS. furlang, composed of fulir, a fur, and lang, long ; furbey, 
still the usual word in Scotland for the furrow or the trench made 
by the plough. A mile derives its name from the L. mille, a 
thousand, the Roman mile having consisted of a thousand paces 
(mille possum), whereas our mile is 1760 yards. It may be here 
parenthetically observed that as itinerary measures are very differ- 
ent in different countries, even when the name is the same, the 
traveller should be particularly careful on this head, otherwise he 
will be frequently misled in his calculation of distances. The 
writer had half a century ago to walk sixty-four miles at one 
stretch, and with only one hour's sleep by the way, to keep an 
appointment with a friend who had written to him that the dis- 



WEIGHTS AND MEASURES. 273 

tance was sixteen miles, but did not say that they were German 
miles, or stunden = f our miles each, which you might walk in an 
hour : hence the name, stunde, an hour. Of superficial measures, 
an acre is now a distinctly defined measure of land containing 
4840 square yards. Until recently, however, the English, Scotch, 
and Irish acres all differed in size, and originally the word acer 
signified a (cultivated) field, like the L. ager or the Gr. agros, both 
of which signify a field without specifying any particular size. 

Of liquid measures, the best known are gallons, quarts, and 
pints. The word gallon (from OF. gallon) signified originally a 
bowl (not of any specific size), and in modern F. jale. The quart 
means the quarter of a gallon. The pint is so called because on 
a quart measure a mark was painted on the vessel to indicate how 
much the pint was. The F. is pinte, from Sp. pinta, a mark or 
pint, from L. pingo, 1 to paint. There is also a gill as a measure, 
being a fourth part of a pint, from OGer. gelle, low L. gillo, a 
flask. There is a story told of a man going into a public-house in 
the country and asking for a gill of whisky. The landlady ex- 
pressed her regret that she had mislaid her gill measure, and that 
she must just guess at it. " Oh, don't bother guessing," he said ; 
" my mou' just hauds a gill " ! In his case we have a measure of 
capacity supplied by the human body. 

Of the weights, we have avoirdupois, which is sometimes sup- 
posed to be French ; but it is a corrupt seventeenth-century re- 
fashioning of the English averdepois, from the OF, avoir de pois, 
introduced and Anglicised in the fourteenth century or earlier, at 
first meaning merchandise of weight that is, sold by weight ; and 
certainly de ought to be restored for du. Avoirdupois weight is 
the standard system of weights used in Great Britain for all goods 
except the precious metals, precious stones, and medicines. Troy 
weight is that used by goldsmiths and jewellers, and the name is 
said to come from Troyes in France, this weight being used at the 
Troyes fair. What is called " apothecaries' weight " is that by 



1 From pingo, pinxi, pictum, ping- 
$re, to paint, we have also a 
picture, pictorial histories, pictur- 
esque scenery, and pigment, the 



colouring matter used in painting ; 
and we may be able to depict or 
describe vividly, or at least to speak 
of persons depicted in caricature. 



274 SIGNIFICANT ETYMOLOGY. 

which medicines are sold, and in it 20 grains make one scruple, 
and 3 scruples one dram. The word grain is the smallest weight, 
from the L. word granum, a grain of corn, with which it was sup- 
posed to be of equal weight. A scruple is from L. scrupulus, a 
little sharp or rough stone, diminutive of scrupus, a rough or sharp 
stone. Such small stones were employed as weights, and still the 
word is kept up in this connection, when 3 scruples make a 
dram. This word "dram" is a contraction of the old drachma, 
being $ of an ounce avoirdupois, or ^ apothecaries' weight It has 
come to have a well-defined meaning in Scotland in liquid measure, 
to mean as much whisky as is usually drunk at once. Whether 
this be avoirdupois or apothecaries' weight, we are not informed 
probably apothecaries' weight, where there are 3 scruples to a 
dram, as we never heard of any scruples to a dram in weight 
avoirdupois. Usually the word scruples in this sense leads to the 
question why it came to signify doubt or hesitation. The word 
scrupulous, however, was not confined to the little stones used for 
weighing : it was used also with reference to small stones, which are 
apt to get into the shoes of persons walking, and to become very 
troublesome ; so that people walked not merely with hesitation, 
but with doubts whether they should go on at all. Hence such 
words as scrupulous and scrupulosity. When we speak of standard 
weights and measures, we mean those that are established by 
Government as a rule, measure, or model, and afterwards generally 
whatever is of undoubted excellence. But we scarcely ever think 
how it came to bear that meaning when we speak of the " standard 
bushel," " the standard of morals," or " not up to the standard." 
The word comes through the OF. estendart (F. etendard), signifying 
that which is spread out or displayed, from the L. verb extendo, to 
spread out. As soon as the word entered our language, which it 
did in the twelfth century, it was associated with stand, with 
which it had no connection. Yet this supposed connection with 
stand has not only changed its form, but has given it the meaning 
of "that which stands firm," or "is fixed." Hence the word 
standard may mean that which is extended, as a flag on the top of 
a pole, or that which stands fast as a rule or model. 



275 



CHAPTER XX. 

NUMBERS. 

THERE are many interesting and difficult questions in connection 
with the origin and history of numbers into which we are not 
called here to enter, and there is enough both of interest and 
difficulty to occupy us in connection with the formation of their 
names. The subject is one of great importance, since numbers are 
one of the essentials of civilisation. Only by numbers can we 
measure the world and ourselves. But we must also remember 
that of all words, the names of numbers are the first to lose their 
primitive meaning, and therefore to become corrupted in the 
common speech. It is not a necessary truth that two and two 
make four, evident of itself and behind which our experience can- 
not go, simply forcing itself upon our mind. Even such a simple 
conception as that three and two make five has had to be gained 
by slow and practical experience. There are peoples to-day who 
cannot count above five, or four, or even threej or two. To 
Garlanda we are indebted for many interesting facts in this con- 
nection. The low tribes of Brazil count by their finger-joints up 
to three only ; any bigger number they express by the word many. 
A Pari vocabulary gives these numerals 1 omi, 2 curiri, and 3 prica, 
many. In a Botocudo vocabulary we find 1 mokenam, 2 uruhu, 
many. The New Hollanders have no numbers beyond 2 ; other 
peoples cannot count up to 3 or 4 without saying two and one, 
two and two. In Queensland we find 1 ganar, 2 burla, 3 burla- 
ganar, 4 burla-burla. In the Kamilaroi dialect we find 1 mal, 
2 bularr, 3 guliba, 4 bularr -bularr, 5 bulaguliba, and 6 guliba- 
guliba. 




276 SIGNIFICANT ETYMOLOGY. 

All peoples use their fingers to count, and we often find the 
word hand meaning five, from the number of fingers on the hand ; 
two hands or half a man meaning ten ; hands and feet, or one man, 
meaning twenty. Some peoples count up to five (which they call 
a hand), and then they go on saying, a hand and one (six), a hand 
and two (seven), a hand and three (eight), &c. In this way we 
have a quinary numeral system (quinary, meaning consisting of or 
arranged in fives, from L. qumdreus, from quinque, five). Others 
count up to two hands (ten), and then they count two hands and 
one, two hands and two, &c., thus forming a decimal system (L. 
decem, ten). Others still count up to twenty (hands and feet), and 
then count hands - feet and one, hands - feet and two, &c., 
up to another twenty, that is, forty. In this case we have what 
has been called a vigesimal system of numeration (low L. vigesi- 
mus or vicesimus) (from viginti, twenty). It appears that the 
more intelligent races have soon discarded the quinary system as 
insufficient, and the vigesimal as too cumbersome, and followed 
the decimal system, but not so strictly as to abolish all traces of 
the two others. Thus, e.g., we have evidently remnants of a 
vigesimal system in the French numeration, where instead of 
septante, seventy, they say soixante-dix, sixty and ten, and quatre- 
vingts, four twenties, for eighty. They have also six-vingts (120), 
sept-vingts (140) ; and there is an hospital called Les Quinze Vingts 
(literally, the fifteen twenties), from its 300 inmates. These traces 
of vigesimal notation are characteristic of the Celtic races. In 
Gaelic we find aon deug is dafhichead, one, ten, and two twenties 
= 51, and in Welsh unarbymtheg ar ugain, one and fifteen over 
twenty = 36. Perhaps there is also a trace of Celtic influence in 
our counting threescore and ten, fourscore and fifteen, &c. 

The numerals (L. numerus, a number) are divided into the two 
classes of cardinals and ordinals. The cardinal numbers (L. cardo, 
cardinis, a hinge, that on which anything turns hence, chief or 
principal) are the chief or primary numbers, viz., one, two, three, 
&c., as distinguished from the ordinal or derived names of numbers, 
viz., first, second, third, &c., indicating the order (L. ordo, 
ordinis) in which they succeed each other. The cardinal numbers 



NUMBERS. 277 

begin with one, from a root oi, with various suffixes, which is 
used for this numeral in most languages. The Greek preserves 
this in oivos, OIVTJ, one on dice, but has replaced it in common 
use by eis, mia, en, one. The English one is the OE. an, and the 
L. is units. Two is OE. ticegen (neut.) and tied (fern.). Already 
in the earlier ME. tied was extended to the masc. ; tied men = OE. 
tice</en raeun, literally ticeien, hceie = OE. twegen, was preserved 
and indeed survives in the present literary English in the form 
of twain. "We can trace it also in twice, twist, cloth of double 
thread, twine, a cord composed of two or more threads twisted 
together; between, in the middle of twain or two, and also in 
twilight, the faint light after sunset and before sunrise (literally, 
'tween light). Cognate forms are Ger. zwei, Gr. and L. duo. 
Three in Gr. is treis, in L. ires and tria (neut), Ger. drei, very 
likely connected with the root tri, to go over, to cross. Does 
this word remind us of a time when the forefathers of the Indo- 
European family counted up only to two, and for the first time 
their numeration was pushed one degree further 1 

Four in OE. is feower, but in ME. became fewer, four, the e 
being absorbed by the two lip consonants between which it stood. 
In German we have trier, in Sans, chatvar, cTiatur, L. guatuor. 
Its fundamental form is kicaticar. The etymology is quite uncer- 
tain, although some claim to see in the Sans, form chatur for 
(e)cha-tur the word eJca, one (in Hebrew and Sanscrit), and the 
root of three, as if it were "one-(and)-three." 

Five is in ME. fij\ Goth, fimf, Ger. ftinf, Gr. pempe, pente, 
L. quinque, Sans, panchan. The fundamental Aryan form is 
parikan, which the Indian grammarians refer to the root pac, to 
stretch out, applying it to the hand with all the fingers stretched 
out. Of six, seven, eight, and nine we know nothing certainly 
beyond the fact that they have changed but slightly from the form 
in which they exist in Old English. Ten is in many ways a much 
more important word, AS. tigun, Mseso-Goth. taihun, Norse fin, 
L. decem, Gr. deka, 1 Sans, dashan, probably the two words dva, 

1 From delta, the Greek word for French the word decade, which con- 
ten, there came to us through the tinues to be so spelt, as to spell it 



278 



SIGNIFICANT ETYMOLOGY. 



shan; dva is two, where shan represents the word shama, the 
hand, hence, dva-shan, two hands, in other words, twice 5 or 
10. What are called the teen numerals, 13-19, are all com- 
pounds of the units, with OE. tiene, Anglian tene, and modern 
teen. The ty numerals so called, 20-90, are formed in Old English 
by combining the units with tig, which was originally a noun 
meaning a lot of tens, half a score, so that twenty meant originally 
two tens. The number ten plays also a very important part in the 
word hundred, the original name for which seems to have meant 
ten tens. The Gr. deJcas for ten represents a very old abstract 
substantive dekmt, from forms of which all tens and also all 
hundreds are made. Before going farther I have still to speak of 
the words eleven and twelve. Eleven in Goth, is ain-lif, where 
ain is the AS. an, one. The suffix lif some connect plausibly 
with lika, ten, which in Lithuanian makes the numerals from 11 



as we do monad and triad and 
myriad, and to drop the e, would 
obliterate the history of the word. 
It certainly began with denoting 
any aggregate of ten, but generally 
a space of ten years, and is now for 
the most part used in the present 
day to denote this. It could cer- 
tainly not be said to be erroneous 
were we to apply it to days or weeks 
or months or years. But it would 
be an ignorant blunder were we to 
use it to denote any other number 
than that of ten, as a provost in Scot- 
land did, when he had been elected 
for the third time i.e., for another 
period of three years in replying to 
the toast of his health, "Gentlemen, 
entering as I do on my third decade." 
Both the abuse of the word itself and 
its mispronunciation were irresist- 
ibly ludicrous, and at the same 
time threw some light upon the 
mistake of a newspaper a short 
time before, when it had derived the 
word decadence from decade, in- 
stead of from the L. de, and cado, 
to fall off, or to decay. The Latin 
word for ten viz., decem has not 
fared much better in its English 
use. The word decimate comes 



from the L. decimo (decem, ten), to 
punish every tenth man, or to take 
by lot every tenth man for punish- 
ment, or at the utmost to put 
to death every tenth man. When 
a Roman cohort revolted and the 
revolt was put down, a common 
punishment was to decimate the 
cohort i.e., select every tenth man, 
decimus, by lot and put him to death. 
If a cohort suffered in battle so that 
about one man in ten was killed, it 
was consequently said to be decim- 
ated. But to use decimation as a 
general phrase for great slaughter 
is simply ridiculous. In a narrative 
of the American war between the 
North and South, I find that "the 
troops, though frightfully decimated, 
did not give way." The writer 
might as well have said that they 
were frightfully halved or terribly 
quartered. An agricultui-al corre- 
spondent of one of the Scottish news- 
papers, not to be outdone in the use 
of fine language, writing an article 
on the crops, said, "Next morning 
a severe frost set in which lasted 
ten days, and my field of turnips 
was absolutely decimated, scarce 
a root was left untouched." 



NUMBERS. 279 

to 19. If the identification be correct, both go back to a form liq 
in which the Germanic languages have changed q to /, as in five. 
The meaning also is disputed, but it seems best to connect it with 
the root leiq or Gr. leipo, L. Unqtto, in the meaning one over. That 
the word ten should be omitted is no more surprising than the 
omission of shilling when we speak of one-and-six or one-and- 
eight. Likewise twelve, Goth, twalif, is two over, ten implied. 
"We may also gather some light about the origin of numerals by 
inquiring into the formation of the names for large numbers, which 
are evidently of a more recent date than the simple ones. The 
Gallas to indicate a great number use a word which means hair. 
With the Mexicans the word hair means 400, or a large number. 
The Romans used often to use the word sexcenti, 600, to indicate 
a large indefinite number. To express a very large number, say 
ten billions, the Hindus used the word padma, lotus, which con- 
tains numberless seeds. Chilioi, the Greek word for thousand, 
is very likely connected with chilos, grass, as many as the 
grass in the fields. The Hebrew eleph, thousand, seems to have 
meant at first herd, flock. As for thousand, Goth, thusundi, it 
contains in its second part hund, hundred : the first part it is 
difficult to trace back to its source, probably from a root fhu, to 
swell, to increase, giving thus the meaning of many hundreds. 
The numerals up to one hundred are similar in all the Indo- 
European languages, but they have not a common word for a 
thousand. This does not necessarily mean that, at the time of their 
separation, they were not able to count up to such a number ; they 
may have done it and employed other words, such as ten hundreds 
or the like. But this absence of a common word for thousand 
proves at least this, that their counting very seldom exceeded a few 
hundreds ; hence they had no necessity for a fixed numeral beyond 
one hundred. It shows also that their life must have been very 
simple : they must have lived in small villages and settlements, 
with scarcely more than a few hundred souls, otherwise a word for 
a thousand would have come to be as steadily used as that for one 
hundred. These small settlements must evidently have been 
inhabited by people of the same family or clan. Thus we see that 



280 SIGNIFICANT ETYMOLOGY. 

even names of numbers, nay, the very absence of a numeral, can 
teach us not a little about the life and civilisation of a people. 
In old English there was no numeral higher than thousand. 
Million, ME. millioun, is the French form of the late L. millio, ace. 
millionem, formed from L. mille, thousand. Billion, trillion, &c., 
are much later formations, in which the Latin prefixes bi and tri 
(as in biennial, triennial) were substituted for the initial syllable 
of million, so that " billion " was regarded as a sort of contraction of 
" bimillion." Milliard, a thousand millions, is a modern French 
formation from L. mille, or rather from million, by substituting the 
augmentative ending -ard for -on, so that the word means "big 
million," million itself originally meaning "group of thousands." 

The ordinal numerals are for the most part derivatives of the 
cardinal ones, but the first two ordinals are expressed by distinct 
words. First is the OE. fyrest, which originally meant foremost. 
To the old English adverb fore, before, in front, corresponds the 
comparative furthre, further, and superlative fyrest, fyrst, forma, 
fyrmest. Second was introduced in middle English by the French 
form of L. secundus. The old English word was other, which was 
discarded in consequence of ambiguity resulting from it having 
also the meaning "other." 

Before leaving the subject of numbers, I may mention in con- 
nection with the cardinal numbers the word score for 20. This 
was introduced into the language about 1230. It had formerly 
been used for a notch or cut (from the same root as shear and 
share and shore), but about the date mentioned it came to bear the 
meaning of a scratch or notch to indicate a number, and especially 
the number 20, as being indicated by a larger notch than the 
others in those primitive times, when counting was yet in its 
infancy and when to many figures were unknown. Small notches 
were made in a stick to indicate how many things a person had 
bought, or how much they had to pay, and to facilitate the counting 
each 20 was marked by a bigger and deeper notch. In still more 
recent times accounts were kept by strokes chalked on a board or 
on a door, and the twentieth was always more conspicuous than 
the others, by a much longer chalk mark. And so the word score, 



NUMBERS. 281 

meaning originally a notch or cut, came to signify a notch or mark 
to indicate an account kept by notches or scores for twenty, and 
then for the number twenty, without reference to cuts or notches. 
The word arithmetic itself, signifying the science of numbers, comes 
from the Gr. arithmos, number. Algebra, arithmetic by signs, 
comes from the Ar. al jebr, literally the putting together of broken 
things. Logarithm (Gr. logos, a word, a ratio, and arithmos, 
number) is the exponent of the power to which a given number 
must be raised in order to produce another given number. 



282 



CHAPTEE XXI. 

DIVISIONS OF TIME. 

WE begin these with the word calendar, from the Latin word 
calendarium, which at first meant a book of debts or interest 
kept by bankers or money-changers, so called because interest 
became due on the first day of the month; for this word cal- 
endarium, an account -book, was derived from the Latin word 
calendce, the day on which accounts were due, meaning the first 
day of the month, and afterwards a month. As the Greeks did 
not count by calends, the phrase " ad calendas Grsecas solvere," to 
pay on the Greek calends, meant nunquam never (Suetonius). 
At a much later period calendarium had the same meaning as our 
word calendar. The most likely etymology of the word calendce, 
signifying the first day of the month, is the verb calo, calare, to 
call out, because the priests in Rome on the first day of the month 
publicly called out whether the nones fell on the 5th or the 
7th. The nones signified the ninth (from L. novem, nine), the 
5th day in every month except in March, May, July, and October, 
in which it was the 7th (because this day was always the 9th before 
the ides, which were on the 15th day of the above months and 
on the 13th of the others). The word ides, L. idus, is from the 
Etruscan iduo, to divide. The Latin word calare goes farther 
back, even to the Gr. kalein, to call. We have also from the 
same word intercalate, to insert between, as a day in the calendar, 
from inter, between, and calo, to call. 

The word year itself seems to come from the AS. gear, the 
appropriate expression for harvest, and at the same time a term 
which, as well as winter, was originally employed as the name of 






DIVISIONS OF TIME. 283 

the entire year. This may not be the received etymology of year, 
but at the same time the identity of the words for harvest, and 
for the twelvemonth, ar in the cognate Icelandic, and in the dialects 
derived from it, form an argument of considerable weight in 
support of this derivation, which, however, finds still stronger 
evidence in the analogues of our primitive mother- tongue. In 
AS. ear signifies an ear of grain, and by supplying the collective 
prefix ge, common to all the Teutonic languages, we have gear 
as we have seen the word. The corresponding words in the 
cognate languages admit of a similar derivation, and this seems 
more probable than those by which these words are connected 
with remoter roots. In the figurative style, whether in poetry or in 
prose, we often put a season for a year, and in this case the subject 
determines the choice of the season. Thus of an aged man we 
say, " His life has extended to a hundred winters " ; while in 
speaking of the years of a blooming girl, we connect with them 
images of gladness, the season of flowers, and say she has seen 
" sixteen summers." We have in English a similar application of 
another familiar word, suggestive of the phases of the year, and it 
is curious that the same expression is used in Scandinavia. In 
Denmark and Sweden, as well as in England, the gentlemen of 
the race and turf reckon the age of their animals by springs, the 
ordinary birth season of the horse, and a colt is said to be so many 
years old "next grass" (Marsh). Annus, the Latin name for a 
year, furnishes us with several derivatives, such as annals, 
anniversary, annual, annuity, biennial, perennial, millennium, 
and superannuation. The name of leap year is that which is 
given to every fourth year, which " leaps forward " or adds one day 
in February, making a year of 366 days. These years are divisible 
by four without a remainder. It is also called bissextile, from 
L. bis, twice, and sextus, sixth, because in every fourth or leap 
year the sixth day before the calends of March, or the 24th of 
February, was reckoned twice. 

Down to a very recent period the use of year for years was very 
common, and it is still heard in careless or colloquial language. It 
is not a corruption, but a survival Indeed, from the historical point 






284 SIGNIFICANT ETYMOLOGY. 

of view, it is a better form than years. Year in Anglo-Saxon be- 
longed to a class of nouns which took no ending in the nominative 
and accusative plural. In Middle English the difference between the 
old declensions broke down, so that nearly all plurals came to be 
formed by means of the ending -es (AS. -as). Thus yeeres was 
soon substituted for yeer, but the older yeer was still used. In 
Chaucer, for example, both forms are common. Compare ten 
pound, six mile, three foot, and other expressions of measure 
formerly correct, but now regarded as colloquial or vulgar. Stone, 
however, as a weight, has never been superseded by stones. 

Month, as we have seen (p. 4), is from AS. monath, from mona, 
the moon, and moon signifies literally the time-measurer, from the 
Indo-Germanic root ma or me, to measure : a month is the period 
measured by the revolution of the moon. The names of the twelve 
months are all borrowed from the Latin ; but it is well to remember 
that March was originally the first month of the year. In the 
year 153 B.C. the entrance of the Roman consuls on their office 
occurred on the 1st of January, and since that time virtually the 
New Year has begun on that day. It was legally ordained to be 
observed as such by Ceesar. From the fact that the year once 
began with March, there is disclosed the otherwise obscure signifi- 
cation of the names of the months from September to December, 
as the seventh (September) to the tenth (December) month ; 
whereas, according to their position, they are the ninth to the 
twelfth. January is the L. Januarius, and is supposed by many 
to be connected with janua, a door or gate, as if it had received 
its name from being the opening month of the year ; but, as we 
have seen, though it bore the name of January, it was not always 
the first month of the year. It was named from Janus, the god of 
the sun, who presided over the gates of heaven. February comes 
from the Latin word februo, to purify or expiate, because in this 
month the great Eoman feast of expiation was held. March, L. 
Martins, is from Mars, the god of war. April, L. Aprilis, is from 
aperire, to open, as being the month when the leaves and buds 
begin to open. May, L. Mains (mensis), was sacred to Maia, the 
mother of Mercury, supposed to be from the root mag, to grow, 






DIVISIONS OF TIME. 285 

and so May would mean the month of growth. June, L. Junius, 
is probably from L. juvenis, young, and so it also would signify a 
month of growth, as well as May. The following month was 
called originally Quintilis (from L. quintus, the fifth), and was 
afterwards named Julius in honour of Julius Caesar, whose birthday 
fell on the 12th or 13th day of that month. August also was 
originally named according to its number in the rank, Sextilis 
(from sextus, sixth), and was first named Augustus, 8 B.C., in 
honour of Augustus Caesar. The remaining months are simply 
called by their Latin names, and number from seven to ten : 
September (L. septem, seven), October (L. octo, eight), Novem- 
ber (L. novem, nine), and December (L. decem, ten). 

After the months we have the weeks, of which word the origin 
is not very certain ; but it is certainly connected with L. vice, a 
change, probably with reference to the change from one day to 
another during the space of seven days. It is a curious fact that 
all the Saxon names of the days of the week continued to be used 
in the English language, while, on the other hand, none of the 
months have retained their Saxon derivation, but are all of them, 
as we have seen, called by names taken from Latin. I think this 
may be accounted for on similar principles to those which caused 
the difference between the names of the living cattle and the 
animal food. The Saxons were the day-labourers, and as such 
they had more occasion to speak of days than of months, while 
as tillers of the land they were more concerned about the different 
seasons than about the particular months of the year. We usually 
hear the peasantry among ourselves talking of what they will do 
in the spring, summer, harvest, and winter, rather than in such 
and such months. Thus it would happen that the Norman employer 
and the Saxon labourer, whose interchange of words was confined 
to the giving and receiving of orders, would more frequently have 
occasion to speak to each other of the days of the week and of the 
different seasons of the year than of the several months, and so 
came to continue the Saxon names of the week-days and of the 
seasons, while the Normans among themselves kept up their own 
names for the months. And even with respect to the days of the 



286 SIGNIFICANT ETYMOLOGY. 

week, they are to this day described in Parliamentry documents 
by their Latin and not by their Saxon names. 

The four seasons are periods into which the quarters of the year 
are divided. The word season comes through the F. saison, from 
the L. satio, sationis, a sowing or seed time (from sero, satum, to 
sow), a name which, however applicable to the first, is by no means 
so applicable to the others. Spring (AS. springan, to leap), sum- 
mer (from AS. sumor, from a root signifying sun), and winter are 
of Saxon origin ; the Saxon word corresponding to autumn (which 
is through the F. from the L. autumnus, from augeo, auctum, to 
increase) is " harvest " being the time of gathering in the 
harvest, or ripened corn, as the word signifies; and we usually 
hear the peasantry speak of the harvest, and not of the autumn. 
The days of the week, I have said, retain the Saxon names given to 
them by the Anglo-Saxons before their conversion to Christianity. 
"We shall now give the origin of the names of the different days of 
the week, mentioning at the same time anything of interest con- 
nected with any of them. The first day of the week was called 
Sunday, being dedicated to the sun and his worship. Whitsun- 
day is known historically to have been " white Sunday " for at 
least nine centuries huite sundei, AS. huita sunnandceg, Icel. 
hvitasunnu-dage and hvita-daega. So in "Welsh sul-gwyn, " white 
sun," Whitsuntide ; and Vaughan, 1650, greets the festival with 
the words, " Wellcome, white day " (Silex scintillans). It was so 
called, no doubt, from the white garments of the catechumens who 
were being baptised at that season. Indeed Fabyan, in 1516, 
states that "Whitsondaye in the Calendar is called Dominica in 
albis " (' Chronicles,' p. 276) i.e., the Lord's day in " whites." The 
German is der weisse Sontag. In the thirteenth and following 
centuries it came commonly to be pronounced and written " Wit- 
sunday" (e.g., Witte-sunnedei : OE. Homilies, twelfth century, 1st 
sermon, 1'89); Witsontide, Wycliff (1 Cor. xvi. 8), and this was 
interpreted as having reference to the Spirit of Wisdom who 
descended at Pentecost. ' The Festyvale of Wynkym de Worde ' 
thus explains it : " This day is called Wytsonday by cause the 
Holy Ghost brought wytte and wisdom unto Christ's disciples " ; 



DIVISIONS OF TIME. 287 

and similarly Eichard Eolle (died 1358), "This day Witsonday is 
cald, for wisdom and wit sevenfold was given to the apostles on 
this day"; for then, as the 'Play of the Sacrament' (about 1461) 
expounds, " He sent them wytt and wysdom for to understand every 
language when the Holy Ghost to them came" (p. 120). Easter 
Sunday is the Sunday set apart "by many Churches to commemor- 
ate the resurrection of Christ ; but the word Easter comes from AS. 
JSastor, from Eostre, a goddess whose festival was held in April, 
so that the word Easter had originally no Christian significance 
whatever. Monday is the day sacred to the moon (moon and 
day). Blue Monday is an expression which we not unfrequently 
hear. It designates especially the Monday before Lent, because 
the churches were adorned with blue altar-cloths. On this day 
also, as it occurs in the carnival time, there is a great deal of 
drinking, and so it has extended its meaning to every Monday into 
which the drinking has been protracted ! In this country we have 
been accustomed to speak of St Monday as a day which has been 
dedicated to Bacchus by a large number who regard him in 
practice as their patron saint, and Blue Monday may mean much 
the same thing. It is said that dissipation gives to everything a 
" blue " tinge. Hence " blue " means tipsy. "Drink till all is 
blue." " Cracking bottles till all is blue." We hear often of a fit 
of the " blues " low spirits and " blue devils." Hansel Monday 
is still another Monday of great interest to many. It is the Mon- 
day after New Year's day the first Monday of the year, when 
" hansels " or free gifts are still given in Scotland to all those who 
have regularly brought letters or parcels, or bread from baker, or 
meat from butcher, &c., throughout the year. The word handsel 
was originally money for something sold, given into the " hands " 
of another, the first sale or using of anything, and, as a verb, to 
give a hansel, to use or do anything for the first time. The word 
comes from the AS. handsyllan, a giving into hands from hand, 
and sellan, to give, whence the English word "to sell." Next to 
the sun and moon, they honoured Tuesco, one of the founders of 
their race, to whom they dedicated the third day of the week, calling 
it Tuesco's day, or Tuesday. The most notable day of this name 



288 SIGNIFICANT ETYMOLOGY. 

is Shrove Tuesday, the day before Ash Wednesday, the time at 
which confession used to be made the time immediately before 
Lent. It comes from the AS. scraf, past tense of serif an, and 
ME. schrof, past tense of shriven. The modern verb shrive, 
shrove, shriven signifies to hear at confession. 

Woden was the god of war, the meaning of the word being 
" furious " (Scotch wud} ; and an author of the seventeenth 
century refers to the word wood or wode as being then used to 
denote a man in a rage. So it is also constantly found in Chaucer 
to describe one that is angry or mad ; as also woodness for madness 
and wodly for madly. After this idol the fourth day of the week 
was called Wodensday, now Wednesday, which accounts for the 
orthography of the word. The chief Wednesday goes by the 
name of Ash Wednesday, from the custom in the Eoman Catholic 
Church of sprinkling ashes on the heads of penitents on that day. 
The ashes were those of the palms burned on Palm Sunday. 
Closely connected with this in the minds of many are the ember 
days or ember week observed in the Roman Catholic and English 
Churches. The seductive resemblance to embers = ashes, and the 
analogy of Ash Wednesday, very easily led people to theorise that 
these days were so named because " old fathers on the days when 
they should fast would eat cakes that were baked under the ashes 
in the embers, so that eating bread under ashes in the embers 
they remembered that they were but ashes, and should return to 
ashes again." Bailey, in his Dictionary (eighteenth century), 
assures us that they were so called from a custom anciently of 
putting ashes on their heads in those days in token of humiliation. 
The ember days are the Wednesday, Friday, and Saturday the 
fast days on the four times or seasons set apart for ordinations in 
the course of the year ; and the word ember may either be a cor- 
ruption of quatuor tempora (four seasons) through the Dutch 
quatemper and Ger. quatember, or it may be really from the OE. 
word ymbren or ymb-ryne i.e., round running the days which 
recur regularly as the year runs round (AS. ymb, round, and 
rinnen, to run). Next in order among their false gods was Thor, 
who was worshipped by all the Teutonic race. As Woden cor- 



DIVISIONS OF TIME. 289 

responded to the Mars of the Eomans, so did Thor to Jupiter, his 
dominion having been supposed to extend both in heaven and on 
earth, governing the air, the winds, and clouds ; to whose dis- 
pleasure they attributed thunder and lightning, tempests and hail, 
while to his being propitiated by sacrifices (frequently human) 
they believed themselves to have been indebted for fair and 
seasonable weather, causing abundance of corn, and keeping away 
the plague and all other infectious and epidemic diseases. From 
this idol the fifth day of the week was named Thors day or 
Thursday ; and so it is likewise called by the Danes and Swedes, 
while the Dutch and Germans call it Donnerstag ; and in some 
old Saxon MSS. it is written Thunresdeag, so that it would seem 
that Thor or Thur was an abbreviation of thunre, since written 
thunder. Maundy Thursday is the name given to the day before 
Good Friday, from the Latin dies mandati i.e., the day of the 
command or mandate as on that day Christ, after He had washed 
His disciples' feet, said, " A new commandment I give unto you, 
that ye love one another." It is properly Maundy ', not Maunday, 
Thursday, the latter being a misspelling of Maundy ; OK maunde 
or maundee, OF. mande, from L. mandatum, that which is com- 
manded : Mandatum novum do vobis, it is in the Vulgate. Nares 
and Spielman imagined that it got its name from the Maundie 
alms given to the poor to carry away in their baskets (maunds). 

The next in rank was the goddess Friga, who was reputed to be 
the giver of peace and plenty, and from her we have Friday, from 
AS. friggedaeg, or Friga's day. Good Friday is the name given 
to the day set apart by the Church in memory of our Lord's 
crucifixion, with all its blessed results. The last of the seven 
chief idols of the Saxons was Seater, from whom, and not from 
the Norman Saturn, the last day of the week was called by the 
Saxons. Seater's day was Saturday. 

There are also two other days that are interesting, though not 
falling on the same day of the week, but on the same day of the 
month, every year. One of these is Valentine's day, on the 
14th of February. It was long sacred to the memory of Bishop 
Valentine, a Christian martyr, beheaded at Eome on that day 

T 



290 SIGNIFICANT ETYMOLOGY. 

in the year 278. A lover or sweetheart chosen on that day was 
called a Valentine, and so was a love-letter sent on that day. 
The practice of sending poetical souvenirs or pretty pictures 
originated, it is supposed, in the pairing of birds about that 
season. Perhaps there is no custom which has disappeared so 
speedily as this ; and so entirely, as to be now almost unknown. 
St Swithin's day is the other remarkable day, occurring on the 
15th of July. It is a day which is looked forward to every 
year with the greatest interest by large numbers of people, and 
the reason of this interest is the belief that if it rains on St 
Swithin's day it will rain more or less for forty days. 

" St Swithin's day gif ye do rain, 
For forty days it will remain ; 
St Swithin's day gif ye be fair, 
For forty days 'twill rain nae mair." 

The legend is that St Swithin, who was the preceptor of King 
Ethel wulf, and Bishop of Winchester, and who died 2nd July 
862, had desired to be buried in the churchyard of the minster, 
"that the sweet rain of heaven might fall upon his grave." At 
canonisation the clergy took steps to disinter his body, in order 
to bury it within the cathedral, and fixed July 15 for the 
ceremony, when there came such a heavy downpour of rain as 
to necessitate the postponement of the ceremony for that day. 
They renewed their efforts every day for thirty-nine days more, 
but with no better success, for it rained incessantly day after day ; 
whereupon, after the fortieth attempt, they wisely abandoned the 
project, and determined to allow the saint to remain where he was. 
Fully as important to most people as any of the days we have 
mentioned is the term day the day, that is, on which rents and 
wages have to be paid, &c., such as in Scotland are the Whit- 
sunday term and the Martinmas term, where the word term 
signifies the boundary, limit, or time for which anything lasts, 
any limited time. The word comes through the F. terme from 
the L. termimis, 1 a boundary, which we still use as an English 

1 From termimis we have such end after a certain time ; terminate, 
words as terminable, coming to an to put an end to ; termination ; 



DIVISIONS OF TIME. 



291 






word for the first or last station of a railway, and also as the 
name of the Eoman god of boundaries. 

From the L. word for day, dies, we have a dial, a diary, a 
diet, an assembly held from day to day for ecclesiastical or legis- 
lative purposes, such as the Diet of Worms i.e., the diet held 
at Worms, in Germany, in connection with the Reformation ; also 
diurnal, journal, journey. A court adjourns, and a debate is re- 
sumed after the adjournment. The meridian (originally medidian) 
is midday. A sojourn is a temporary stay, and a sojourner is 
a stranger who sojourns. Quotidian is from L. quotidianus (quot, 
as many as, and dies, a day), meaning occurring daily, every 
day. From the Greek word for day we have ephemeral (from 
Gr. ephemeras, lasting but a day (epi, on, and hemera, a 
day), continuing or subsisting for a day : certain flies are called 
ephemeral from their brief life, and gradually anything that is 
very transient is spoken of as ephemeral. The word ephemeris 
is the name often given to an account of daily transactions, to 
a journal, and also to an astronomical almanac. Before parting 
with the days and months, this is the proper place to notice other 
Saxon words referring to time. The ancient Saxons kept a note 
of the course of the year on square sticks, on which they carved 
the course of the moons of the whole year, by which they knew 
when the new moons, full moons, and changes would occur, as 
also their festival days ; and such a carved stick, it is said, they 
called an almonaglit, that is, all-moon-heed, by which they took 
heed or notice of all the moons of the year. Hence (although by 



terminology, that branch of a 
science or art which defines and 
explains the peculiar words and 
phrases used in it ; and also, as in 
a recent discussion in Parliament, 
the word " terminological inexacti- 
tude." We have also conterminous 
(con and terminus), bordering upon, 
touching at the boundary ; and 
conterminal. Determine (F. deter- 
miner, from L. determinare (from 
de and terminus), to bound or border 
off, to resolve decisively, to come 
to a decision ; and determination, 



a fixed purpose. Exterminate is 
to drive out or away, out of the 
boundary (ex and terminus), and 
then to destroy utterly. The word 
limit, which we have used in this 
chapter, comes through F. limite, 
from L. limes, limltis, a limit, a 
natural or prescribed termination. 
We speak of the limits of the 
human understanding, and of the 
limitations of thought. We know 
that our ideas are very limited, but 
the extent of space seems unlimited, 
and, as we can judge, illimitable. 



292 SIGNIFICANT ETYMOLOGY. 

some it is supposed to be from an Arabic or Egyptian word) we 
have our English name almanac for that which from the Latin 
is called a calendar. The Saxons counted time by the night, as 
we still speak of a se'nnight or seven nights, and a fortnight or 
fourteen nights, written in Chaucer fourtenyghte ("Troilus and 
Cressida," 1. 334). They had anciently twa night for two nights, 
as we now speak of every second day. We have spoken of a 
year, a month, a week, and a day, but before we part with time 
entirely we must mention shorter periods still viz., an hour, 
a minute, a second. An hour is very much the same word in 
English, French, Latin, and Greek. A minute is the sixtieth 
part of an hour, and comes from the L. verb mimio, minutum, 
minuere, to diminish. Paries minutce primce, the first minute 
parts, are the names given in the Latin translation of Ptolemy to 
the first sixty divisions of the hour. The second : paries minutce 
secundce are called seconds, being the sixtieth part of a minute 
of time, or of a degree. 



293 



CHAPTEE XXII. 

MONEY. 

THE word sterling, which has come to mean pure, genuine, of the 
best quality, was originally a designation of British money. It 
was at first the name for a penny in all probability from Easter- 
Unys, the early English name for the Hanseatic towns in North 
Germany, and for the merchants who came from them. They 
were noted for the purity of their money, and are said to have 
perfected the British coin. Holinshed speaks of these merchants 
of Norway, Denmark, and of others those parts, called Osto- 
mann, or as in our vulgar language we term them Easterlings, 
because they be east in respect of us. Cambden also says : " In 
the time of King Eichard I. money coined in the east parts of 
Germany began to be of especial request in England for the purity 
thereof, and was called Easterling monie, as all the inhabitants of 
those parts were called Easterling ; and shortly after, some of that 
country skilled in mint matters were sent for into this country to 
bring the coin to perfection, which from that time was called of 
them sterling (or Easterling)." We have spoken also of a penny- 
weight in connection with Troy weight ; but that is not the weight 
of an ordinary penny, but of a silver penny, of which the only 
specimens we see now are those which are coined at the Mint for 
the special purpose of being given by the king on Maundy 
Thursday to the poor people to whom he gives certain bene- 
factions on that day; and I have just had given me by the 
cashier of one of the banks, a silver penny, a silver two- 
penny, threepenny, and fourpenny, coined for the king, and to 
be given by him on the 28th of March 1907. Coin comes 
through the French from the L. cuneus, a wedge, and signifies a 



294 



SIGNIFICANT ETYMOLOGY. 



piece of money bearing the official stamp, and so named from the 
stamping having been originally effected by means of a wedge. 
The Mint, the place where money is coined by authority, from 
AS. mynet, money, from L. moneta (the "warning" one), a 
surname of Juno, in whose temple at Eome the money was coined, 
comes from moneo, to remind or warn. The origin of the word 
bullion is rather obscure, but the best authorities are agreed that 
although it now means uncoined gold or silver of standard fineness, 
it originally meant the mint where the precious metals were 
reduced to the proper alloy and coined, and in this sense it is 
found in several of our old statutes. By these statutes all traffick- 
ing in coin was forbidden, except at the bullion or exchanges of 
the king ; and similar instructions were enforced in France, where 
tampering with the coin was carried on more systematically than 
in England. Hence in France the carrying to the mint of their 
decried money became a familiar operation of daily life, and the 
money so brought to be made up was termed monnaie de billon, and 
billon thus became a common name for base alloy ; while in Eng- 
land the mint came to be regarded chiefly as the authority which 
determined the standard of the coin, and the name of bullion 
has been given to the alloy or composition of the current coin per- 
mitted by the bullion or mint. This explains and removes the 
difficulty which had been found in the fact that the equivalent 
terms billon in French and vellon in Spanish mean just the reverse 
of pure gold or silver viz., base metal or silver alloyed with 
copper. Nummus or numus was the word most commonly used 
for a coin by the Eomans (probably from the Gr. nomos, law, as 
being that of which the use is established by custom or law). 
Traces of it are still found in our language in the word numis- 
matics, the science of coins. By far the most common word 
for money among the Eomans was pecunia, from which we have 
in the same sense our word pecuniary. But this Latin word 
comes from another Latin word pecus 1 (perhaps from Gr. pekos, to 



1 The word peculiar, which now 
means extraordinary, singular, or 
even eccentric, originally meant 



what was private not common 
property, but one's own, being 
derived from pecidium. The word 



MONEY. 



295 



shear), signifying flocks and herds ; and inasmuch as the most 
valuable cattle have always been the sheep and the cow, and as 
they constituted the chief riches and the most important means 
of subsistence among the Aryan nations, they took gradually the 
meaning of money. The word cash is generally supposed to come 
from the OF. casse, a box, or from the modern F. caisse, the name 
given to the office where money is received and paid ; but it seems 
rather to have come from the Portuguese coxa, signifying coin or 
money, for even the current Chinese cash, the name of a small 
coin, is believed to have come from the Portuguese word. Obvi- 
ously the cashier is the person who keeps the cash. But the 
verb to cashier, meaning to dismiss from a post in disgrace, 
comes from a different root, in Ger. cassiren, F. casser, L. cassare, 
from cassus, empty, void, which perhaps comes from carere, to 
want anything, to be deprived of. The word pound, which, 
whatever its meaning, comes from the L. pondo, the ablative 
of pondiis (a word used only in the ablative), and pondus, 
ponderis, weight, both come from the L. pendo, 1 to weigh or 



peculiar is used in its original sense 
in the phrase "a peculiar people, " 
meaning his own, or belonging ex- 
clusively to him. Now the L. 
peculium stands for pecudium (like 
consilium for cansidium), and being 
derived from pecus, pecudis, it 
expressed originally what we should 
call cattle or chattel, the word 
chattel originally signifying any 
kind of property not freehold. So 
the word peculate (L. peculor), to 
thieve or steal, is from the same 
word, for it is to take to our private 
use what is not ours. It is worth 
noting in this connection that the 
word fee, signifying a price paid for 
services, a pecuniary reward, has 
the same origin, coming from the 
AS. feoh, which signifies cattle or 
property, and this origin is seen 
still more clearly in the German 
word for cattle, vieh. 

1 From the verb pendo, pependi, 
pensum, pend$re, to weigh or pay, 
and pondo and pondus, pond$ri8, 



weight, we have derived many 
words. We have the F. penser, to 
think, whence pansy, heart's -ease, 
the flower of thought. A pension 
is an allowance for past services, 
and he who receives it is a 
pensioner. Pensive means thought- 
ful ; to poise is to balance. We 
have equipoise and counterpoise ; 
we ponder, and we have the words 
imponderably and ponderous. We 
have a compendium, and we com- 
pensate and get compensation. 
We recompense, and the chemist 
dispenses drugs, and the judge dis- 
penses justice. We have dis- 
pensaries in all our towns, and we 
live under the Christian dispensa- 
tion, and sometimes a dispensation 
may be obtained from the Pope. 
Some things are indispensable. We 
expend by day, and have to limit our 
expenditure, sometimes on account 
of the expenses of the war, or at 
other times because we have to buy 
too expensive a dress. 



296 



SIGNIFICANT ETYMOLOGY. 



pay. A pound is of the value of 20s., and is either a pound 
note or a gold sovereign. The word is the AS. pund, from the 
L. pondo. We have also the pound weight avoirdupois, the 
proper spelling of which is that of the fourteenth century 
averdepois, signifying literally to have weight, from the L. 
habeo, 1 to have (see pp. 171 and 192), and pensum, that which is 
weighed. Some ignorant improver, fancying it was French, gave 
us the present spelling ahout 1650, which has continued ever 
since. The pound averdepois is 16 oz. or 1 Ib. We have also the 
pound Troy weight, 12 oz. or 1 Ib., the system used in this country 
for weighing gold, silver, and precious stones, and named Troy 
weight either because first in use at Troyes, in France, or as a 
corruption of F. (livre, pound) d'octroi, of authority, from 
octroi, from L. auctoritas, authority, and signifying originally 
"anything authorised," then "a tax." It means also cash to the 
value of 20s., because in the Carlovingian period the Roman pound 
(12 oz.) of pure silver was coined into 240 silver pennies. In the 
familiar letters , s. d., is for libra, 2 the Latin for a pound. 
The " a " is not originally a contraction for shilling, which now 
is said, absurdly, by some to be derived from St Kilian, whose 
image was stamped on the shillings at Wurzburg. We have AS. 
scylling or stilling, a shilling, according to Skeat from the word 
scylan, to divide. The coin was originally made with a deeply 
indented cross, and could easily be divided into halves and quarters. 
There is evidently some connection between our AS. stilling and 
the Ger. schellen, to sound or tinkle, meaning perhaps the clinking 



1 The verb habeo, habui, habitum, 
habere, signifies to have, or hold, or 
possess. From it we have such words 
as able, ability, unable, inability, 
disability ; average, aver (OF. for 
habere), habiliments, deshabille, 
habit, habitual, habituated. There 
is also habit, a dress, as well as a 
custom, and inhabit. The extreme 
north is not habitable, and not 
inhabited, for there are no inhabit- 
ants there. We have also habita- 
tion and habitat, literally dwelling 
of a plant or animal in its natural 



abode. We have cohabit and co- 
habitation. Debility (L. debilis 
de, from, and habilis, able) means 
weakness. To exhibit is to show 
in public. There are some great 
exhibitions of various works of art. 
An exhibition at college is a scholar- 
ship or bursary. We have also an 
inhibition or a prohibition. 

2 Libra also signifies a "balance," 
and to this we owe the words 
deliberate, deliberately, and de- 
liberation, deliberative, and equil- 
ibrium from equilibria. 



MONEY. 297 

coin, but the abbreviation " s " in , s. d. is for solidus (nummus), 
" a solid piece of money," while " d " stands for the L. denarius, so 
often translated in the New Testament " a penny." Penny itself 
is AS. penig. Farthing means literally fourth thing, AS. feorthing, 
from feortha. In one of the statutes of Henry V., passed in 
1421, we read, "that the King do to be ordained good and just 
weights of the noble, half noble, and farthing of gold," showing 
that the coin then known as the farthing was the fourth thing or 
fourth part of the noble. A mite is popularly reckoned as half a 
farthing, from Mark xii., " She cast in two mites, which make a 
farthing." It is frequently used to denote a very small sum ; but 
when the Scripture incident, which gave its name to an amount, is 
borne in mind, when people say they will give us their mite, it 
really means half their living. Our word comes from Dutch 
mijt, a small coin. The word moiety is very often misapplied, 
because very generally misunderstood, as if it were connected 
etymologically with mite, and meant a small part, a lesser share, 
portion, or quantity. The word means literally and strictly one- 
half, a sum which is payable in moieties is paid in two equal 
sums. The word comes through theF. moitie, from the L. medietatem, 
the middle point, in late L. half, from medius, middle. The noble 
was an ancient coin, so called on account of the excellence of its 
gold. And so our farthing is a fourth part of our penny, and in 
the same way the quadrans with the Eomans was the fourth part 
of an as. Florin is from Florence, where these coins were first 
struck. The place in the town or city where money is deposited 
in fact, the institution for keeping, lending, and exchanging 
money is called the bank, F. banque, from the It. banco, a bench 
on which the Italian money-changers displayed their money. From 
the same word, and in the sense of our word bench, the Germans 
have the word bank. In this word, too, we have the origin of the 
word bankrupt, from the two Italian words banca rotta, broken 
bench, the seat or bench on which the banker carried on his busi- 
ness being broken when he failed to meet his engagements. 

A cheque is a bill of exchange drawn by a customer on his bank 
for a stated sum of money payable on demand, but the origin of 




298 



SIGNIFICANT ETYMOLOGY. 



the word is somewhat obscure. Yet the varied spelling throws a 
little light on it. It was, I think, originally spelt check, and it 
might have been so named from its enabling the banker to check 
the giving of the money if, taking the different checks together, he 
found that their total amount exceeded what his customer had 
deposited : at all events, it enabled him to check the account, if 
not the customer. It is said that the Court of Exchequer, a 
superior court which had formerly to do only with the revenue and 
not with common law, was so named from the checkered cloth 
which formerly covered the table, and on which the accounts were 
reckoned by means of counters on this checkered cloth, and we in 
our cheque-books have a counterfoil to be used as security. The 
person in whose favour the cheque is drawn, before he can draw 
the cheque or receive the money, must endorse it, or in other words 
he must write his name on the back of it, for to endorse means 
literally to write one's name upon the back, through an old form 
endosse, from F. endosser, from low L. indorse, from L. in, upon, and 
dorsum, the back. What you have is put to your credit on the left- 
hand side of your bank account, what you have drawn out is put to 
your debit on the right-hand side. At your credit is what the bank 
owes you, at your debit is what you owe the bank, and the differ- 
ence between these two is the balance, 1 "the balance at your 
banker's," if you have more on the credit side. The word credit 
comes from L. creditum, from credo, 12 to believe ; and debit from 
the L. word debitum, what is due, from debeof to owe. Interest 



1 Balance, through F. from L. 
bilanx, having two scales for weigh- 
ing bis, double, and lanx, lancis,the 
dish or scale, and then the sum re- 
quired to make the two sides of an 
account equal. 

2 From credo, credidi, creditum, 
credere, to believe, we have cred- 
ence, credentials, credible, credi- 
bility, incredible, credit, creditor, 
and creditable ; discredit and dis- 
creditably ; credulity and incred- 
ulity, credulous and incredulous. 
We have the creed ; and a recre- 
ant was one who gave up his faith 
or confessed himself wrong, being 



beaten in a judicial conflict (low L. 
se recredere). A miscreant was 
originally a misbeliever and infidel, 
and then and now a wild unprin- 
cipled fellow as the result of this 
want of faith. 

3 From debeo, debui, debitum, debere 
(de-habere), to owe, we have the word 
debt, what is owed, and debtor, the 
man who owes it. We debit any- 
thing when we put it on the debtor 
side of the account. A debenture 
is a writing acknowledging a debt. 
A sum of money is due, that is, 
owing to any one. Duty is that 
which is due either to God or to 



MONEY. 



299 



is the premium paid for the use of money, from OF. interest, 
F. interet, from L. interest, it is profitable, it concerns, from intersum 
(inter, between, and esse), to be together, to be between, to import, 
concern, be of importance ; and it is well named, for what they get for 
their money which is put out on loan is that in which the majority 
of men seem to have the greatest interest. Usury was originally 
only another name for interest, or for the use of the money lent to 
another literally a using, from L. usura, from utor, 1 usus, uti, to 
use ; but now it signifies the taking of more than legal interest on 
a loan, exorbitant interest. This word exorbitant, from the pres. 
part, of exorMto (from ex, out of, and vrbita, a track, from orbs, 
orbis, a circle or sphere), was originally a scientific term, applied to 
those heavenly bodies whose path deviated much from the plane of 
the orbits of the planets, most familiar to the ancient astronomy. 
It has now lost its technical meaning altogether, and it has no 
longer a place in the dialect of science. It had slightly acquired 
this popular and figurative sense even in the classic age of Rome. 

The Stock Exchange is chiefly occupied with the buying and 
selling of stocks and shares ; in fact, it is called by this name 
because it is the place where stocks are exchanged, or bought and 
sold. When trees are propagated by means of cuttings stuck in 
the ground, or engrafted upon other stocks, that from which the 
scion 2 is taken is called the parent stock ; and it is in allusion to 
these natural objects that, when speaking of tribes or families of 

a mistake in the use. We have both 
abuse and abusive language. Now, 
to disabuse is to undeceive, and to 
peruse was to use up, to go through 
thoroughly ; and a book may be given 
a careful perusal in order to master 
the contents of it. 

2 F. scion, a young and tender 
plant, from scier, to saw (from L. 
seco, secui, sectum, secure, to cut. 
Se(c)dre, by the loss of the middle c, 
which is common in passing from 
Latin into French, and by the change 
of e into i, which is just as common, 
gives the OF. word sier, to cut, 
whence scier by the later addition 
of a c (see p. 217). 



man. Those who readily do their 
duty to a parent or superior are 
dutiful and duteous ; and to be in- 
debted to a person is much more 
than to be obliged to him. 

1 From the verb utor, usus, uti, 
to use, we have use, and long usage, 
with usual and useless, usurer and 
usurious. We speak of usurping 
power, and usurpers are often 
tyrants. A utensil is a vessel used 
in domestic service. Utility is use- 
fulness in actual operation. We can 
utilise anything by using it to profit- 
able account. There are still utili- 
tarians. To abuse is to use wrong- 
fully, but to misuse is only to make 



300 SIGNIFICANT ETYMOLOGY. 

men, we say that they have sprung from the same stock. In 
another metaphor, stock is any fixed thing from which we expect 
to reap or gather some periodical advantage or fruit. Thus the 
money and goods of a merchant to the amount which, at an 
average, his business requires to be continually in his hands, is 
called his stock-in-trade, from which certain profits are expected 
to arise. The balance of this stock which remains after deducting 
the amount of his debts is capital, 1 the head or source (L. caput} 
from which his business is carried on. He who has comparatively 
large sums of money at his disposal is now denominated a capitalist. 
Money lent to the Government of the country, or invested in the 
funds of any trading company, and which is usually divided into 
shares of a determinate size, is called stock, because it is fixed and 
not repaid, but brings forth fruit under the name of interest or 
dividends. These shares or stock, which have the name of Govern- 
ment stock, Bank of England stock, corporation stock, bank stock, 
railway stock, &c., are transferable at pleasure, and the sales and 
purchases are managed for the parties by stockbrokers. It is 
somewhat difficult to ascertain accurately the origin of this word 
broker. Many derive it from the OE. "broken (AS. brucan, Ger. 
brauchen), to have the full and open use of a thing, and it came to 
mean manager or transactor of business ; but certainly, as has been 
said, it is a wide step from the notion of employing or having the 
use of, to the occupation of a broker who is never to have the use 
of what he buys. On the contrary, it was part of the broker's 
oath in the City of London that he should not deal in any of the 
merchandise in respect of which he intervened as broker. The 
object of buying through a broker is to have the advantages of a 
skilled judgment as to the value of the purchased goods ; his busi- 
ness to discover defects, and thus to find fault, is recognised 
in ' Piers Ploughman ' as the specific duty of a broker : " Among 



1 The word capital as an adjec- 
tive is used in such expressions as 
a capital punishment and a capital 
crime ; meaning not merely head or 
chief crimes, out also, I think, 
crimes for which the punishment is 
beheading, not hanging by the neck, 



in which the head also is involved. 
There were many crimes in the 
early days in this country for which 
a criminal might be beheaded ; now 
there are only two viz., high 
treason and murder. 



MONEY. 301 

burgesses have I be, dwelling at London, and gart backbiting be 
a brocour, to blame man's ware." On this principle the German 
designation of a broker is makler, from makel, a blur, stain, fault 
(from L. macula, a spot) ; whence also maJceln, to criticise, censure, 
find fault with, and thence to follow the business of a broker, to 
buy and sell on commission. In the German of the shores of the 
Baltic (with which much of our early commercial business was 
carried on), braak signified damaged or refuse goods ; broken, to 
pick and inspect, and exclude what falls below the standard. 
Brake is the inspectorship of an institution for the examination of 
wares and rejection of the faulty; braker, an inspector officially 
appointed for the foregoing purpose in the Low German seaports, 
an officer who would as nearly as possible answer to our sworn 
broker. The principal difference is that in the ports of the 
Baltic the inspector whose duty it is to try the soundness of the 
goods is appointed by authority, while in London each man 
chooses his own broker among those who are sworn to perform 
the duties with uprightness. But the object in view is the same 
in both cases viz., to obtain the guarantee of technical experience 
for the value of the goods ; and it is difficult to believe that the 
broker of the Baltic is a different man from the broker of English 
commerce. According to another etymology, the word broker is 
derived from the Middle English word brocour, from the AS. 
brucan, Ger. brauchen, to use, to profit, one who is employed to 
buy and sell for others, charging a commission called brokerage 
for doing so. A stock jobber is one who jobs or buys and sells 
for his own account with the view of a profit. The word job, 
which originally meant any piece of work, especially of a trifling 
or temporary nature, for which one was to be paid, has gradually 
come to signify one who turns official actions to his own private 
advantage. These sales are often merely nominal, and form a 
species of wagering as to the value of the stock at some future 
day. There are several new words introduced into the language 
of the Stock Exchange, while some old words have undergone a 
change of meaning. The nominal buyers of stock on time (for 
it is the difference of value between the times of purchase and 



302 SIGNIFICANT ETYMOLOGY. 

delivery only that is paid) are called bulls, and the sellers 
bears. The bulls are so called because they wish to raise the 
price of stock or toss it up as high as they can, while the bears 
are those who keep bearing it down, that the price may become 
as low as possible. The word appreciate, which comes from 
the L. appretidre (ad, to, and pretium, price), signifies to set a 
just value on (like appraise, which comes from the same root- 
words, an appraiser being one whose business it is to put a value 
on articles to be sold). This meaning of the word is well exem- 
plified in Baring Gould's ' Life of the Eev. E. S. Hawker ' in the 
following passage : " Talking of appreciation, as Mr Hawker said 
once, the Scripture Reader Mr Bumpus came to me the other day 
and said, 'Please, sir, I have been visiting and advising Farmer 
Matthews, but he did not quite appreciate me. In fact, he kicked 
me downstairs.'" To this, the right meaning of appreciate, two 
secondary meanings have come into use viz., to raise in value, 
and to rise in value ; so that it is not uncommon to hear that 
shares, and even silver and gold, have appreciated that is, have 
risen in value. Contango, probably a corruption of continue, a 
Stock Exchange phrase, meaning a sum of money, or a percentage, 
paid for accommodating a buyer in carrying an engagement to 
pay money for speculative purchases of stock, over to next account 
day : contango day, the second day before settling day. These 
shares which are bought and sold on the Stock Exchange are ordin- 
ary and preference shares, and bank stock, which bring in certain 
dividends to their holders. According to the nature of the past, 
or the expected future, dividend, will be the price they bring. 
Debentures are a mortgage on any company's assets, carrying 
a fixed rate of interest, and either perpetual or redeemable at 
a certain fixed date, transferable in much the same manner as 
shares. A mortgage, or a conveyance of property, is a secur- 
ity for a debt, which is lost, or becomes dead to the debtor, if 
the money is not paid on a certain day (F. mort, dead, from L. 
mortuus, dead, and gage, a pledge). Profit is the gain resulting 
from the employment of capital F. from L. profectus, progress, 
advance, from proficio, profeetum, to make progress. We often 



MONEY. 303 

hear the word advantage used where benefit, gain, or profit should 
be substituted. The word conies to us through the ~F. avantage, 
formed by the suffix age, from avant, before, from the low L. 
abante, the modern d being due to the mistaken identification of 
the prefix a with the L. ad, to, signifying a state of forwardness 
or advance. I read only yesterday that "Free Trade equalises 
advantages, making the advantage of each the advantage of all." 
But the second " advantage " here should be altered to " profit " or 
" gain," for it is as impossible for all men to hold a common advan- 
tage (i.e., to be all in advance one of the other), as it is for all the 
horses in a race to come in first. An investment, literally the act 
of putting vesture on, from L. investio, 1 ivi, Hum, Ire, to clothe, 
from vestis, has now come to signify the laying out of money on 
anything, or that in which anything is invested. But our invest- 
ments may be profitable or the reverse ; and while securities may 
seem to be applicable only to things that are very safe, as they are 
applied now to bonds or certificates in evidence of debt or property, 
security, even etymologically, does not mean free from danger or risk, 
but only freedom from care, fear, or anxiety L. securus, from sine, 
without, or se, apart or free from, and cura, care or anxiety, and a 
person who is without care or anxiety is apt to be careless. A 
man without the sense of danger is apt to think that he is beyond 
the reach of danger. We have formed an English word, sinecure, 
out of the two L. words sine, without, and cura, 2 care or anxiety, 
which is an office without care, the person being paid, but having 



1 From this verb we have vest, a 
waistcoat, vested rights, a vestment, 
a vestry, vesture, invest, investi- 
ture ; a city may be invested when 
surrounded by the enemy. To tra- 
vesty (trans, over) is to treat in a 
ludicrous way a literary subject 
which has already been handled 
seriously. 

2 From L. cura, euros, attention, 
concern, care, we have the cure of 
diseases ; curable and incurable ; a 
curate has a curacy, which seems 
to mean a cure of souls. The cur- 
ator of a building is the superinten- 
dent manager. There are curious 



things and curious people ; and 
we have acccurate and inaccurate 
people. We procure what is need- 
ful ; a proctor is a procurator, and 
a proxy is shortened for procuracy, 
meaning the agency of another as a 
substitute. Sure is shortened from 
secure. We assure a person that 
things are not so bad as they seem. 
We give them our assurance, and 
sometimes our assurance is such as 
to resemble impudence. We have 
life assurance and fire insurance, 
and by paying a yearly sum, called 
a premium, a person insures his 
life. 



304 SIGNIFICANT ETYMOLOGY. 

little or nothing to do. There is great risk in Stock Exchange 
speculations. This word risk signifies danger, hazard, or peril, 
from F. risque, danger, but ultimately from the Sp. risco, which is 
a maritime word for a steep sharp rock, whence the sense of 
hazard or peril may well have arisen to sailors, or even to lands- 
men standing on the rock, who would have been on the brink of a 
precipice. The Spaniards themselves, however, have derived from 
this word their name for danger, riesgo. Many words connected 
with the Stock Exchange have come from France, where, however, 
it is called the Bourse. It literally signifies the purse, and the 
form bursa, from medieval L. bursa, a purse, was in use in this 
country for more than two hundred years. The word coupon, too, 
a name given to the interest warrants attached to transferable 
bonds, is so called from the F. verb couper, to cut off, because 
they are cut off when presented for payment. It would be more 
correct to say " were cut off," for most of them now are perforated 
and need only to be torn off, and so cease to be coupons. The 
most of the risks that are run in connection with stocks and 
shares are run by men who, in their race for riches, run so fast 
and so far as to leave prudence, and sometimes honesty, behind 
them. They fancy that riches means happiness ; whereas the 
word which in our language has come to be applied to those 
who have made much of it, and kept the whole of it, is the L. 
word miser, which signifies "a miserable man." To be avaricious 
is also to be unhappy, for it is the extreme of covetousness or 
greed, or the having an eager desire for wealth L. avarus, greedy ; 
avarus itself comes from L. aveo, to pant after, to desire eagerly, 
from which we have the word avidity, which means an eager 
desire to obtain something enjoyable, and is generally used in an 
unfavourable sense. 

Wealth, the word which we have just mentioned, is used as 
synonymous with riches now, and wealthy is the condition of 
being prosperous and well-to-do. It is an extension of weal, the 
condition of being well. It is intimately connected with the Saxon 
weal, so we retain the phrase "for weal or woe," meaning for well 
or ill. Milton says, " The weal or woe in thee is placed." We 






MONEY. 305 

retain welfare for going well (fahren, to go), while we have lost 
the old word woefare, or going ill. Wealth was originally well- 
being both of mind and body ; and when the prayer in the Eng- 
lish Liturgy is offered for the king that he may be granted in 
health and wealth long to live, it means in health and happiness, 
not in health and riches ; so in the Litany, " in all time of our 
tribulation, in all time of our wealth," or wellbeing ; and common- 
wealth is the common weal. " Let no man seek his own, but every 
man another's wealth." But as in L. beatu# means both blessed 
and rich, and olbios the same in Gr., there is a tendency shown in 
all these languages to express the idea that money is the source 
of true happiness, and to value all by that standard, and so to 
value money at more than money's worth. We should endeavour 
to practise economy, the wise spending and saving of money, as 
the word has come to mean, although at first it meant the manage- 
ment of a household (L. oeconomia, from Gr. oikonomia, from oikos, 
a house, and nomos, law). The economical man avoids waste 
and extravagance, and uses his means to the best advantage. 
Thrift is also an important virtue. Thrift is the condition of 
thriving. The word comes from an old Norse verb, thriva, to 
seize, snatch, lay hold of ; and not merely to lay hold of, but to 
keep hold of, so that he becomes a thriving man, or a man who 
has thriven. He may be niggardly i.e., literally scraping it up 
little by little, from the Norse verb nyggja, to gnaw, rub, or scrape; 
and what has been thus scraped together is parted with very 
sparingly. To live sparingly is to live on a small amount, from 
the AS. verb sparian, to spare, to save from any use, to do, impart. 
Parsimonious is to be continuously sparing in the use of money, 
generally implying that this is carried to excess (F. from L. parsi- 
monia, parcimonia, from L. parco, to spare). Frugality is prudent 
economy. The word is derived from fnix, frugis, fruit, the fruits 
of the earth, originally of the field, not the garden, and to. be 
frugal was to be careful in their use ; but in course of time the 
word came to have a metaphorical application to the fruits of a 
good life, among which was the temperate use of what a man 
had, and frugality came to signify whatever is opposed to waste. 

u 






306 



SIGNIFICANT ETYMOLOGY. 



Penuriousness comes from penury, which means want, or absence 
of means and resources (F. from L. penuria, akin to Gr. peina, 
hunger). Even in large establishments, and with more means, 
retrenchment is sometimes necessary ; and it is surprising, when 
this process is honestly gone about, how many things people find 
that they can do without. To retrench signifies literally to cut off 
or away, so as to live at less expense (OF. etrencher, F. retrancher, 
from re, and trencher, to cut, which, according to Littre, is from 
L. truncare, 1 to cut off or maim). 

Without this, unsuccessful speculation often becomes peculation, 
a word signifying embezzlement, from the L. verb peculor (p. 294), 
to steal, coming from peculium, that which is private property; 
so that the verb came to signify in English to appropriate to 
oneself what belongs to the State, to rob or defraud the public. 
The word embezzlement has reached its present meaning by 
a very roundabout path. Embezzlement, as well as many other 
wrongdoings, is generally successfully carried out with the con- 
nivance of another, a word which signifies pretended ignorance 
of, or blindness to, the faults of another. It comes from the 
L. word connivere, to wink or shut the eyes, to blink, as we 
still speak of a person blinking the question when he shuts his 
eyes to it. So to connive at anything is to wink at it, or inten- 
tionally to fail to see it. Embezzlement has been defined to be the 
fraudulent appropriation of another's property by the person to 
whom it was entrusted. The word fraudulent is scarcely 
necessary, as the rest of the definition in the sentence signifies 
fraud (from L. fraus, fraudis) and dishonesty. But embezzlement 
at first did not mean all this, but merely to weaken, or to waste. 
It seems to come through the F. imbecile, from the L. word im- 
bedllis, without strength, originally of body and latterly either of 



1 If this be the correct etymology 
of the word, then from trunco, trun- 
care, to cut, we have not merely the 
trunk of a tree with the root and 
the branches cut off, the body of an 
animal apart from the limbs, the 
proboscis of an elephant as distinct 
from the body (F. tronce and L. 



truncus), but also trench, to cut or 
dig a ditch, a long narrow cut in 
the earth ; a trencher, a wooden 
plate formerly used for cutting 
meat on at meals (F. tranchoir) ; 
and trenchant, wit or criticism 
which is keen, cutting, and 
severe. 






MONEY. 307 

body or of mind, feeble originally so feeble and weak in body 
as to require to lean in bacillo, on a staff, bacillus being a dimin- 
utive of baculus, a stick or staff ; and so the word imbecillis was 
formed to express bodily weakness from this outward sign of it. 
But by-and-by it came to express weakness as well of mind as of 
body ; and now imbecility means constitutional weakness of the 
whole frame, and generally weakness of mind ; and an imbecile 
is one powerless in body or silly in mind. And so from this has 
been supposed to come embezzle, which first meant to weaken, to 
squander away, and now means to appropriate, or apply to one's 
own use, money held in trust The most recent conjecture, how- 
ever, as to the origin of this word is that it is derived from the 
old and now obsolete English word bezzle, which signified to 
squander or waste. It came from the OF. word besil, which signi- 
fied bad treatment, primarily of food, provisions in the way of 
waste, and then applied to money both in French and English, 
in the sense of making away with, or carrying off secretly for one's 
own use of what belongs to another. While writing this page I 
have seen a newspaper paragraph giving an account of a man 
brought up for sentence, having been found guilty of a defalca- 
tion, or deficit in public funds entrusted to his custody. The 
word defalcation comes from the L. word falx, falcis, a sickle or 
hook, so that defalcation might mean a pruning of the accounts, or 
the amount due, of whatever sort. But the word falx was also 
used for a falchion (which is derived from it), and in this way a 
defalcation would be rather an amputation or a mutilation of them. 
As we have seen, speculation is a very precarious way of gaining 
an income, for that word is derived from L. preces, prayer, and 
precor, 1 to pray. Now, of all blessings those are most certain which 
come from the unalterable benevolence of the Creator, and those 
most uncertain which hang upon the goodwill of man. Who can 
calculate upon the humanity of the great and powerful, when a 
petition has to be presented to them ? Hence precarious that is, 
depending on the will of others to grant, in return for our own 

1 From precor, to pray, we have I deprecatory, imprecation, impre- 
prayer, deprecate, deprecation, | cate. 



308 



SIGNIFICANT ETYMOLOGY. 



prayers and petitions has passed into a very proverb of uncer- 
tainty ; and precarious has come in common usage to mean critical 
or perilous. A man who is in debt is much given to prevaricate, 
from the L. prevaricare. The L. varicare is from varus, bandy- 
legged, crooked, or straddling, while varicose veins, as perma- 
nently dilated or swollen, are so called from their crooked appear- 
ance ; so that to prevaricate is to walk with a shambling, shuffling 
gait, and, metaphorically, to deal with words in a loose and shuffling 
manner. " Lying rides on debt's back ; " and as it is very difficult 
for an empty sack to stand upright, the peculator, the defalcator, 
and the prevaricator soon become insolvent, unable to pay their 
debts, from L. in, not, and solvere, 1 to pay. He may even sink so 
low as to become a mendicant, lit. a poor beggar, from the L. 
mendicans, mendicantis, connected with the L. menda, a want ; but 
at the same time we have mendax, mendacis, mendacious or given 
to falsehood, also from mendo, a want or fault, so that it seems 
as if there was often little difference between mendacity and 
mendicity. 

In concluding what I have to say on words connected with 
money, it may be interesting to note some of the names connected 
with the payments in different professions which are very sug- 
gestive. The word emolument, for instance, which originally 
meant the return which a person got from those whose corn he 
ground in his mill, and also for bestowing great labour and pains on 
it, has now been generalised to signify profit or gain, whatever its 
source. It has risen in the world, and is now used only when the 
profit is very large, and generally in the plural, as emoluments. 



1 Prom solvo, solvi, solutum, sol- 
v$re, to loosen, we have to solve, 
insolvable, insoluble ; we have sol- 
uble and solution. A man is solv- 
ent when he can pay his debts. His 
solvency is his ability to do so. If 
he cannot pay his debts he is in- 
solvent. We have absolve and 
absolution. Absolute is opposed to 
relative : God is absolutely perfect, 
and we speak of the absolutism of 
the Czar. To dissolve is to melt 



or liquefy. We speak of the dis- 
solution of Parliament, and of a 
dissolute man. To resolve is to 
break up into single parts. What 
is compound admits of resolution 
into elements. We resolve a diffi- 
culty when we undo it. A resolve 
or a resolution is a deliberate pur- 
pose. A man is said to be resolute 
that is determined in his course. To 
give a resolute answer is to deny a 
thing resolutely. 



MONEY. 309 

There was a Latin word emolumentum, used by Cicero, having the 
same meaning, derived from the verb emolo, to grind, from the L. 
mola, 1 a mill, and Gr. mule. Not only is our word mill derived 
from mola, but our word meal comes from the same. From it also 
we have the Latin word molaris, of or belonging to a mill, or that 
serves for grinding ; hence molares denies, the jaw teeth or grinders 
the molars. The word salary, too, which some people think is 
so much more dignified a word than " wages " or " pay," is literally 
" salt money," from the OF. salarie, It. salario, from the Latin word 
solarium (from sal, salt), originally salt money, or money given to 
the soldiers for salt, then allowance of money for a journey, and 
then in general pay, allowance to a person for his services. Pliny 
uses the word in both senses (1) for the salt given to private 
soldiers and officers or to public functionaries when travelling or 
sojourning in a province (xxxi. 7, 41), and (2) for the pay of an 
officer ; so that the word was soon extended to its present meaning, 
salary. Pliny, however (Book x. 27), says that salarium is a 
recompense or consideration made to any man for his pains 
bestowed on another man's business, so called "quia tarn neces- 
sarium quam sal homini " " because as necessary for a man as salt 
is." We still speak of one man as earning his salt, and of another 
as not being worth his salt that is, his pay or wages. The Scotch 
pronunciation of the word, as if spelt " sailary," gave rise to a very 
good pun by a clergyman, who, busy in his garden furring up some 
plants, was asked by one of his heritors what he was doing. "Doing?" 
he said; "just what you should have done trying to raise my 
celery ! " The salary of ministers in Scotland is more usually called 
stipend, and it is now almost the only use of the word stipend 
viz., as applied to clerical incomes. A stipend is a salary paid for 
services, a settled pay, from L. stipendium, a tax or contribution 
(from stips, a contribution in small coin, and pendo, I weigh or 

was called the mola salsa, or sacri6ce 



1 Few would imagine that im- 
molate had any possible connection 
with emolument, and yet its alli- 
ance therewith is very close. Mola 
or mol(K was the word used to de- 
note grits or grains of corn coarsely 
ground, and when mixed with salt 



meal, which mola was sprinkled on 
the head of the victim previous to 
immolating him, hence its applica- 
tion to sacrificing, offering up ; and 
to immolate is thus literally to 
sprinkle meal on a victim. 



310 SIGNIFICANT ETYMOLOGY. 

pay). Pension which also comes from the same root, and orig- 
inally meant merely a weighing or paying, has now come to signify 
a stated allowance to a person for past services. Eemuneration is 
a recompense for any service, from L. remunero (re, in return, and 
munero, to grant something, from munus, muneris, a service in an 
office, or a gift). From munus in the sense of gift we have munifi- 
cent, and in the sense of office we have a municipality. 

There was a slang word for money which was very popular a 
few years ago, frequently seen in print, especially in novels, and 
often in conversation, but now very rarely seen or heard namely, 
the word oof. The " oof -bird " was the goose that laid the golden 
eggs the source of supply; the " feathered oof -bird " meant money 
in plenty. To " make the oof-bird walk " was to circulate money ; 
while " oofless " meant poor. It seems that the word ooftish was 
some forty years ago the East End synonym for money, and was 
a corruption of Ger. auftische, i.e., auf dem tische, on the table 
that is, (money) laid on the table, (money) down. There is a German 
word auftischen, to table. The word, according to the 'Sporting 
Times,' originated with the aristocracy of Houndsditch and White- 
chapel, who were in the habit of refusing to play cards even with 
their best friends unless the money was down on the table. 

Baksheesh is an Oriental term for a present of money, a gratuity, 
a tip. There are not many words, even among those of foreign 
extraction, of which the orthography offers no fewer than thirteen 
alternatives. This is one of the few which enjoy that privilege. 
Originally of Persian origin (bakJmsh, a present, from bakhshi-dan, 
to give), it seems to have made its first appearance in Western 
literature very soon after the death of Shakespeare, for in 1625 we 
find bacsheese (as they say in the Arabic tongue), that is, gratis, 
freely (Purchas, 'Pilgrimes,' ii. 1340). Whether or not the term 
ever really had this meaning it is difficult now to determine, but 
assuredly for'many years past it has signified something very dif- 
ferent. In what may be called its most vulgar and aggravating 
sense, it is the first word to greet the British traveller, and the last 
to ring in his ears as he turns his face homeward. Probably no 
other single vocable rises with such persistent frequency as this to 



MONEY. 



311 



the lips of the dusky Oriental. It is like what the mathematicians 
call a constant quantity, a grand discord which underlies his every 
chord, a sort of special diapason from which there is no escape. 
And yet in another form, under the name of tip, we have the same 
thing here, except that it is not asked, but looked for. It is the 
colloquial English for a gratuity, a small present in money. In 
America it is usually confined to the coin given to a waiter or other 
servant. Here it is applied also, and as frequently, to the money 
which a parent, guardian, or relation adroitly slips into a school- 
boy's hand. As Thackeray says in ' The Newcomes ' : " What 
money is better bestowed than a schoolboy's tip ? How the kind- 
ness is recalled by the recipient in after days. It blesses him that 
gives and him that takes. Eemember how happy such benefactions 
made you in your own early time, and go off on your very first fine 
day and tip your nephew at school ! " As regards servants at 
hotels, an old traveller has truly said that parsimony in tips is the 
falsest of economies. Haggle as much as you like with the land- 
lord over the price of your rooms, grind him down to the lowest 
centime in fixing your weekly pension, but do not forget the waiter 
or the chambermaid, or in a busy establishment the hall-porter, for 
in their hands the question of your future comfort lies. So deep- 
rooted is the institution of tipping nowadays that all hotel servants 
place the guests into categories, according to the likelihood of their 
tips being good, bad, or indifferent. It is even said that they have 
a code of signals whereby they affix the hotel labels to your trunks 
in such a way that your generosity may be gauged immediately on 
your arrival at the next caravanserai. 



312 



CHAPTEE XXIII. 



GOVERNMENT, ETC. 

THE State includes the whole body of people under one govern- 
ment, lit. a "standing" (OF. estat, F. etat, L. status, from sto, 1 
statum, to stand). There are various forms of government. This 
word comes through the F. gouverner and It. gubernare, from L. 
guberno, to steer a ship, to rule, from Gr. Jcubernao, connected with 
Gr. kube, the head. It may be monarchical, with one sole or 
supreme ruler (through F. monarque, and through the Latin from 
Gr. monarches, from Gr. monos? one or alone, and arche? rule). 
The government may be despotic, from Gr. despotes, a lord or 
master; a despot, one who rules absolutely, being above all 

1 From sto, steti, statum, stare, to 
stand, come perhaps more words 
than from any other in the Latin 
language. We have stable and 
unstable, stability and unstability. 
We have a stage, and a stamen, and 
stamina ; a stanchion and a stanza, 
so called from the stop or pause in 
the versification. We have a state, 
stately, and statement and states- 
man. We have station, and sta- 
tioner, and stationery. We have 
statistics, and statists, and statis- 
ticians. We have statues and 
statutes, stature and status. To 
arrest (ad, re, stare) is to hold or 
stop what is in motion. We have 
circumstances, circumstantial, con- 
stancy and inconstancy, constituent 
and constituency ; constitution and 
constitutional, consubstantial and 
consubstantiation ; contrast, des- 
titute, destitution, and distance ; 



establish, an estate, extant, an in- 
stance, this instant, and instantan- 
eous. We have also an obstacle, 
rest, and restitution ; substance, 
substantial, and insubstantiate ; 
superstition and transubstantia- 
tion. 

2 From monos, alone or sole, we 
have a monk and monastic orders, 
monogamy, monogram, monograph, 
monolith, monomania, monopolist, 
monosyllable, monotheism, mono- 
tone, monotony, and monoton- 
ous. 

3 Arche, arches, beginning, or rule ; 
from this we have arch prefixed to 
a word, meaning chief, as in arch- 
bishop, archdeacon ; and then we 
have archaeologist, archipelago, 
architecture, archives, anarchy, 
heptarchy, hierarchy, monarchy, 
monarchical, oligarchy, patriarchal, 
and tetrarch. 



GOVERNMENT, ETC. 313 

restraints, or who exercises his authority without regard to the 
laws or constitution. The government may be aristocratic, lit. 
government by the best, from Gr. aristos, best, from Gr. arete, 
excellence, and Gr. Teredos? power. Aristocracy is the government 
which places the chief power in the hands of the nobles, of men 
of rank. The government may be democratic, a form of govern- 
ment in which the supreme power is vested in the people col- 
lectively (Gr. demokratia, from demos, the people, and Jcrateo, to 
rule, from kratos, strength. There is also an oligarchy, which 
means government by a few, through French from Gr. oligos, few, 
and arche, rule. A republic or a commonwealth is a form of govern- 
ment without a monarch, in which the supreme power is vested in 
representatives elected by the people (F. republiqw, from L. res 
publica, the common weal). When we speak of a dynasty we mean 
a succession of kings of the same family, from the Gr. dynasteia, 
from dynastes, a lord, from dynamai? to be able, and dynamis, power. 
A hereditary monarchy is where the government descends to 
the heirs, sometimes only in the male line, but sometimes in the 
female also. The word comes from L. hereditarius from Tiereditas, 
from Tieres, an heir. The names given to the supreme ruler differ 
widely. Sometimes he is called a king, supposed to be from AS. 
cyninrj, from cyn, a tribe = the father of a tribe ; while queen, 
AS. cwen, meant originally a woman, or the chief woman, the wife 
of the king. The present misspelling of the word sovereign is 
owing to a supposed connection with " to reign " (through F. regner, 
from L. regnare, regnum, a kingdom), and accordingly the g was 
inserted in the word. It has no connection with reign, the real 
derivation being through OF. soverain, F. souverain, from low L. 
superanus, and L. super, supra, 3 above. The word is correctly spelt 



1 From kratos we have autocrat, 
democrat, a theocracy, and a pluto- 
cracy, where the men of wealth 
(plutos) have the direction of national 
affairs. 

2 From dynamai we have dyna- 
mics, and dynamite, and dynastic. 
Dynastic changes have taken place 
at some epochs of English history, 
as when the Tudors, the Stewarts, 



or the Hanoverian dynasty suc- 
ceeded. 

3 From the L. super and supra we 
have superior, supreme, insuper- 
able, superb, supernal, meaning 
situated on an upper region above 
us, as the supernal orbs, the super- 
nal judge, supernal grace. Soprano 
is the highest species of female 
voice in music equivalent to treble, 




314 



SIGNIFICANT ETYMOLOGY. 



" sovran " by Milton. An emperor is one who rules an empire, 
through F. empereur, from L. imperator, a commander, from im- 
pero, 1 to command. The Czar, the title of the Emperor of Eussia, 
although a Russian word tsare, a king, is yet evidently closely 
connected with the Ger. kaiser and the L. ccesar, a king or 
emperor. President (of a republic) is so called because he is the 
highest officer of state in a republic, the man who presides over it. 
The L. word is presses (from prce, before, or in front, and sedeo, 2 to 
sit, to sit over others). The Sultan is the title of the supreme 
head of the Ottoman Empire, being the Arabic sultan, power, or a 



a word which is falling out of use. 
A suzerain is a feudal lord. The 
word is derived from sursum, up- 
wards. It corresponds to a low L. 
type, suzeranus for surseranus. 

* From this word we have em- 
pire, imperial power, an impera- 
tive, and imperious, and "imperial 
Caesar." 

2 This L. verb, sedeo, sedi, sessum, 
sedere, to sit or to be seated, is the 
origin of many of our words, such 
as session, a sitting for the transac- 
tion of business. In England the 
period of time that Parliament sits 
is called the session. In Scotland 
the session-clerk is one who keeps 
the minutes and other documents 
of the kirk - session, the lowest ec- 
clesiastical court of the Church of 
Scotland ; and we have the Court 
of Session, the supreme civil court 
in Scotland, and the Quarter Ses- 
sions, the quarterly meetings of 
the justices of the peace in each 
county. As several of them went 
abroad for a holiday in days when 
travelling was not so universal, and 
as in Munich the Hdtel de Quatre 
Saisons was a great favourite, al- 
though they were not all able to pro- 
nounce its name accurately, it went 
for a long time by the name of 
the Hotel of the Quarter Sessions ! 
Sessile is the name applied in 
botany to a leaf which issues 
directly from the main stem or 
branch without a footstalk it just 



sits on the branch. To assess was 
originally to sit as a judge, and an 
assessor was one who sat by a 
judge as a legal adviser, so it has 
gradually come to mean a person 
who has to do with the laying on 
of taxes, or making an assessment : 
to assess, therefore, now means gen- 
erally to fix a tax, or to tax in due 
proportion. From the same verb 
we have assiduous, literally sitting 
closely, then very attentive, dili- 
gent ; dissident, being at variance, 
literally sitting apart (dis, asunder), 
and dissidence, disagreement ; in- 
sidious (L. insidiosus, cunning, art- 
ful ; insidice, troops of men who 
lie in ambush but both from in, 
and sedeo, to sit), deceitful, sly, 
treacherous ; possession (po, an in- 
separable preposition, from Gr. poti, 
to or at, to express power or to 
strengthen the meaning of a verb, 
and sedeo, to sit). The L. verb 
possideo signifies I have, hold, or 
am master of, and so a possession is 
the state of owning or having in 
one's own power, or that which 
is possessed. The possessive case 
in English grammar denotes the 
possessor, and is marked with an 
apostrophe, as "the schoolmaster's 
garden." To prepossess is to pre- 
occupy, to sit down beforehand, and 
so to take previous possession of ; 
and prepossession is raising a favour- 
able opinion beforehand. To reside 
is literally to sit again, to remain, to 



GOVERNMENT, ETC. 



315 



prince, evidently allied to the Hebrew shalal, to be strong. 1 The 
throne is the royal seat, from the L. thronus and Gr. thronos, a 
seat (from Gr. thrao, to set). The sceptre is the staff or baton 
borne by kings, as an emblem of authority (from L. sceptrum, from 
Gr. skeptron, a staff to lean upon, from skeptro, to lean). The title 
of prince denotes one of the highest rank, signifying literally one 
taking the first place (through F. from L. piinceps, composed of 
primus, first, and capio, cepi, I take). A duke, lit. a leader, is the 
highest order of nobility in this country below the Prince of Wales ; 
on the Continent a sovereign prince (F. due, from L. dux, duvis, a 
leader, from duco, to lead). Marquis (now ranking next to a 
duke) was an officer who guarded the marches or frontiers of a 
kingdom (through F., from It. marchese, from the root of march, a 
frontier ; and indeed in Scotland we still speak of " riding the 
marches," or the boundaries of any town or burgh). The county 
was so called as being originally the province ruled by a count, but 
it is frequently called the shire, as we still speak of the county of 
Aberdeen and Aberdeenshire. The shire is a division of the king- 
dom under a sheriff, a word which signified originally the shir- 
reeve, or governor of the shire, the word reeve in ME. signifying 
officer or governor. The AS. word meant the same scir-gerefa 



abide ; and we have resident, resid- 
ence, residue, and residuary. To 
subside is to sit or settle down (sub, 
under), to sink to the bottom, or to 
be tranquil after having been agi- 
tated. Sediment is what subsides 
or sinks to the bottom. Subsidise 
is to give a subsidy, or assistance to, 
the original idea being that of sit- 
ting under them to keep them up. 
Sedentary (L. sedentarius) is from 
sedens, sitting, pres. part, of sedeo, 
to sit ; one who is accustomed to 
pass much time in a sitting posture, 
as when we speak of a sedentary 
occupation. Sedate, quiet, calm, 
composed, is from sedare, to settle, 
also from sedeo, to sit. The word 
siege, too, is also through the OF. 
siege, from sedeo, to sit, a sitting 
down before a town in a hostile 
way. 



1 The Ottoman Empire is gener- 
ally spoken of as the Sublime Porte, 
the F. for Porta Sublima, literally 
"the lofty gate." Constantinople 
has twelve gates, and near one of 
these is a building with a lofty gate- 
way called Babihumajun. In this 
building resides the Grand Vizier or 
Prime Minister (literally, a burden- 
bearer, from Ar. wezir, wazir, a 
porter, from wazara, to bear a 
burden). In the same building are 
the offices of all the chief ministers 
of state, and thence all the imperial 
edicts are issued. The F. word 
sublime, like our own and the 
L. sublimis, from which they are 
derived, signifies lofty, elevated, 
majestic. The etymology, however 
is doubtful generally supposed to 
be super limen, above the threshold, 
but Dr Parr, supra limum. 



316 SIGNIFICANT ETYMOLOGY. 

(sdr, shire, and gerefa, a governor). But " shire," or in the AS. 
form " scir," signifies a division, from the AS. verb sceran, to 
shear or cut off. Now this was the share, or shire, which was 
assigned by the Saxon king to the sheriff to govern, and which 
also gave him his title. But at the Conquest this Saxon officer 
was displaced by a Norman, with the title of count. This title, 
borrowed from the later Norman Empire, meant originally a com- 
panion (L. comes, comitis), or one who had the honour of being closest 
companion to his leader, and the shire became the county comitatus, 
as governed by this comes ; but count is still a foreign title. The 
word eaxl (AS. eorl, Icel. jarT) was the territorial title which it 
displaced, for the complete history of the English word " earl " 
involves the Anglo-Saxon, the Danish, and the Norman Conquests. 
It now indicates the rank between a marquis and a viscount (from 
L. vice, in place of, and comes, a companion). 

The word lord is the contracted pronunciation of the OE. hlaf- 
weard, which, literally translated, is " head-keeper," or guardian, of 
bread, from hlef, bread, and weard, guardian. The usual form of 
the word is hlaford, the w being elided in the haste of pronuncia- 
tion, as in the modern penn'orth for pennyworth. The word 
originally meant the head of a household, in relation to his servants 
and dependents, who were called his " bread eaters," and in OE. it 
had come to be the most general term for one who bore rule over 
others. In ME. the F. word master was introduced, and by 
degrees took the place of lord in this wider sense. It is true that 
the Bible translation of 1611 still used lord and master as the 
regular correlative to servant ; and in poetry, or elevated language, 
the word can yet have its original meaning ; but so far as the 
diction of common life is concerned, that sense has been obsolete 
for many centuries, except in the religious sense, in which it never 
can be superseded. But besides its religious sense, lord had another 
specific application. As the word master took more and more the 
place of lord in its original use, lord became more definitely re- 
stricted in its use as a designation of elevated station, and was 
employed as a prefix to the names, or territorial appellation, of 
barons and nobles of higher grades. Hence in modern times, when 



GOVERNMENT, ETC. 317 

we hear of a lord, unless there is something in the context to 
indicate some other meaning, we always understand the reference 
to be to one of those persons whose ordinary appellation has the 
prefix " Lord " as indicating his rank. In Scotland, where the 
OE. hlaford came (in accordance with the phonetic laws of the 
Northern district) to be pronounced not " lord " but " laird," the 
word has retained a meaning nearer to its original sense, being 
applied to any owner of landed property. But as early as the 
fourteenth century the English form lord was in Scotland adopted 
in the special meaning that had grown up in the Southern king- 
dom viz., " as a title of the Deity, and as the designation for a 
nobleman " (Bradley). 

Lady in AS. is hlafdige, and may mean " she that looks after 
the loaf," if dige be from dugan, which signifies to care for, to help, 
to serve ; but in all probability it is from the same stem as AS. 
daige, a bread-maker, and as dag is AS. for dough, the meaning is 
kneader of bread. In any case, the word " lady," as well as lord, 
was originally expressive of high position ; but although " lord " 
has retained, if not increased it, the word " lady " has sadly fallen 
from its high estate, as has also the word " gentleman." The 
adjective " gentle," which forms the first half of the word, is from 
the L. gens, and means properly belonging to one of the great 
families or gentles of Rome. It implied, therefore, in its first use in 
English, " high station," and what we may call " gentle breeding," 
and came to be applied to a definite rank in society, corresponding 
to that of the " lower " or untitled nobility of the Continent. The 
adjective " gentle," however, had acquired a secondary meaning in 
French before it was taken into our language. It had been ap- 
plied, by association of ideas, to the characteristics supposed to 
accompany high birth, and this sense has prevailed in English. 
Chaucer, insisting on the moral or ethical sense of " gentleman," 
has defined the true gentleman as one who always tries " to do the 
gentle dedes that he can." Courtesy, however, has been carried 
too far both with gentleman and lady ; for it has been said that 
while the extension of the words lady and gentleman to all human 
beings is often unthinkingly ascribed to pushing self-assertion, 



318 SIGNIFICANT ETYMOLOGY. 

yet it conies in fact rather from politeness than from bumptious 
democracy. A woman in humble circumstances compliments her 
neighbour by calling her a " lady," the attention is reciprocated, 
and the usage once established, the kindly feeling of social superiors 
prompts them to employ the same term in their intercourse 
with those below them. I am not sure that it is courtesy, and 
not democratic push, which brings about results such as these. 
The Duke of Saxe- Weimar stated that when he visited the United 
States he was asked by the car-driver, "Are you the man that's 
going to ride with me, for I'm the gentleman that's to drive 1 ?" 
Quite recently at a soiree given to a young women's society com- 
posed chiefly of servant-maids, and where the tea was poured out 
for the most part by their mistresses, one of them said to the lady 
who was presiding at her table, "Please, woman, would you gi'e 
this young lady another cup of tea 1 ?" A good many years ago 
now, during a severe whiter, and when most of the poor people 
connected with our different Churches had been supplied with 
coals, an enterprising firm employed in enlarging the Leith docks 
had raised a very considerable sum by making a small charge for 
the privilege of skating on one of the large temporary ponds that 
had been formed during the process, and they resolved that the 
money should be employed in purchasing coals for poor people 
who did not belong to any Church ; and I was asked by them to 
take charge of the distribution, to the extent of deciding who 
among the non-churchgoing class were the most needy and de- 
serving of relief. As may be supposed, I was interviewed by 
many of the lowest class of the population. One morning towards 
the close of the distribution I was told there were two women in 
the parish room wishing to see me. When I went into the room 
I found myself in the presence of two of the dirtiest women I 
ever set eyes on. Not thinking, however, at the moment of the 
coal question, but only that they had come under pressure of some 
kind, and not wishing that they should be called on to tell in each 
other's presence the difficulties that had brought them to me, with 
the view of seeing them apart I said to one of them, " Were you 
first ? " " K"o, sir," she said ; " it was this other lady " ! 



GOVERNMENT, ETC. 



319 



The word " woman " was at the time of the Authorised Version 
a title of honour, but since then it has gone through the same 
generalising or vulgarising process to which "lady" has been sub- 
jected. Of late, however, a reaction has set in, and "woman" 
seems likely to be restored to its full rights as a self-respecting 
word. 

Closely connected with these we have the words sire and madam, 
and master and mistress. Sire and sir were the despair of the old 
etymologists. They even wrote it eyre, to make it look like kurios, 
a lord ; but these words are really a contraction of senior (elder), 
the comparative of senex, an old man, which, through the respect 
shown to age originally, had gradually come to be associated with 
honour and dignity, so that as early as the sixth century senior 
had established itself in the sense of lord and master ; and it has 
given us the It. signore, signora, and signorina, the Sp. senor, the 
Port, senhor, the F. sieur, sire, and seigneur, and the Eng. sir and 
sire, both of which are borrowed from the F. sire, so that sir cor- 
responds to the F. sieur in monsieur (my sir). This title, as its 
etymology indicates, was used first as a mark of respect to old age, 
afterwards as a mark of respect to everybody, in obedience to the 
apostolic injunction, "honour all men." Madam is a French 
word, a corruption of the L. mea domina, my lady, domina being 
gradually changed into donna and dame. Grandsire and grandame, 
which appear in the thirteenth century, are words taken directly 
from the French spoken in England. They do not appear to have 
been used on the Continent, and indeed the respectful titles 
"sire" and "dame" for father and mother appear to have been 
peculiar to the French in England. In the fifteenth century the 
half-English grandfather and grandmother came into use, but it 
was not until Elizabethan times that the use of the prefix was 
extended (in a manner unknown to French) by the formation of 
words like grandson and granddaughter. Father-in-law, mother- 
in-law, &c., are formed of English elements, but they are literal 
translations of old French designations. These words sire and 
dame (now dam), which, as we have just seen, were originally 
applied to parents as titles of respect, have suffered a strange 



320 SIGNIFICANT ETYMOLOGY. 

descent in dignity of use, being now employed (except for the 
poetic use of sire) with reference to animals only. 

The words master and mistress also came to us through the 
French, for mister, meister, maister, OF. maistre, are but varieties 
of master derived through French, with the usual loss of the 
middle consonant, from L. magister, which meant properly "much 
more greater," hence the idea of superiority, power, or sway. 
Probably its first ennobling use came from ludi magister, the 
Latin expression for schoolmaster, which appears in early classical 
times, and still survives in its English form. Hence a teacher 
was not unfrequently called the master, but in Scotland also the 
dominie (from L. dominus). The feminine magistra was early 
used in the school sense. Low L. developed a new form, magis- 
trissa, whence ME. maistress, formed from master through the 
F. suffix esse (L. ma, It. essa, as abbess, authoress, doctoress), 
and our mistress. The latter was corrupted to Mrs (pronounced 
Missis, but never written at length), which was long used as the 
title both of married and unmarried women. Finally, however, 
the abbreviated Miss was applied to the latter. Both Mr and Mrs 
have ceased to be specific titles of honour: they are applied to 
men and women of whatever rank, but they are still titles merely ; 
they have never become ordinary synonyms for " men " and 
"women." The title of Esquire or Esq. has been more eagerly 
contended for by many who seem to have little title to it than 
many another which seems much more honourable, and many 
people who are mere clerks have taken mortal offence because on 
their envelopes they were not addressed as So-and-so, Esquire. 
The word esquire comes from the F. escu, a shield, and every 
knight was attended by his servant or squire, who, mounted on 
horseback like his master, carried his armour. It signified origin- 
ally a shield-bearer (from the OF. escuyer, F. ecuyer from escu, 
now ecu from L. scutum, a shield). This use of the word is now 
unknown, but landed proprietors have generally the addition of 
esquire to their names. The holders of the higher public offices, 
provosts and mayors of towns, and sheriffs of counties, claim this 
title, but the right to this addition is very ill defined. It is in 



GOVERNMENT, ETC. 321 

fact a mere term of complaisance, for a knight is the lowest degree 
of honour conferred by his Majesty. The address "To A. B., 
Esq.," may be given to any man whom we choose to distinguish 
from the common mass, and it is seldom refused to any one who 
has the vanity to assume the title. Within the last year or two, 
however, many people have requested that it be not written after 
their names. The great mass of the population are unconcerned 
about either the possession or the want of such titles ; but 
naturally they do not like opprobrious epithets to be bestowed 
upon them, such as the mob, which is a contraction from the 
L. word mobile (the mobile vulgus), the fickle multitude, for 
mobile is a contraction for movibile, from L. moveo t to move. 
Any one can easily prove how movable a mob is, for if you wish 
to get through a crowd of a thousand persons to see what is going 
on in front, you have only to remain in the position in which you 
began, without moving either to the right hand or to the left in 
search of likely openings : you will very soon find that so many 
in your immediate neighbourhood move so often to try elsewhere, 
that you have only to go straight forward into the openings made 
by people who have moved to what they thought more tempting 
chances, and in a very short time you find yourself in the very 
front rank of the spectators. The word plebeian is an offensive 
word to use (from the L. plebs, 1 the common people) ; but I have 
been a good deal surprised at the frequent use of the word 
proletariat by mob orators, for the proletariat means the lowest 
class from the L. proletarius (in ancient Rome), a citizen of the 
sixth and lowest class, who served the State, not with his property, 
but with his children from the L. proles, offspring. 

On the other hand, there are several words that have seriously 
deteriorated in meaning in consequence of the alienation of class 
from class. The word vulgar, 2 for instance, from the L. vulgus, 
signified common, belonging to all without distinction, general, 



1 Originally both plebs and vulgus 
signified the common people, with 
this difference, that the former was 
used in a political sense, the latter 
in a moral, with some mixture of 



contempt. 

2 A vulgar fraction is a common 
fraction that is, one written in the 
usual or common manner. 



322 SIGNIFICANT ETYMOLOGY. 

universal. In the verb, vulgo, the idea is to divulge, to spread 
abroad, to publish. The " vulgus " were the crowd, the multitude, 
the mass of the people ; and so men used to speak of the Scriptures 
in the " vulgar tongue," meaning the native language of the people. 
The Vulgate, or Latin translation of the Scriptures (from L. vulgatus, 
pp. of vulgo, to preach), was so called because it was originally 
intended for the people generally, as the Latin language was then 
more generally understood than any other. And now we use the 
word vulgar to express all that is coarse, ill-mannered, objection- 
able, rude, low in thought and base in spirit. There can be no 
doubt that much of the meaning which the word bears to-day 
comes from the disdain of the rich and the educated for the poor ; 
but how much of it is true to the facts of life ? How far is it true 
that the vulgus are the vulgar, that the masses have been loutish, 
unrefined, without ideals and visions. The word is red- veined 
with human nature. It is impossible for us always, perhaps it is 
impossible for us at any time, to get back the depreciated currency 
of popular speech to its face value. And if we can do no other 
than accept the word " vulgar " in its modern meaning, at least let 
us remember that vulgarity is not of the social provision but of 
the soul, not of the income but of the instincts, which rule our 
life. The sort of people who deserve the name of vulgar are not 
found in the lower strata only. They crawl and swarm all round 
us right up to the highest seats. A man is vulgar and ignorant 
and undeveloped when he thinks the thoughts and speaks the 
opinions of his official superiors. Men who do that always belong 
to the mob. The word popular, too, is at the present moment 
undergoing a change. Derived from the L. popultis, it used to 
mean pertaining to the people ; now it oftener means " a favourite 
with the people." Suppose a preacher were to say, "The great 
business of my life is to be a popular preacher," you would probably 
understand him to mean that his great object was to be a 
favourite with the crowd, and you would very probably condemn 
him as a sycophant, a time-server, a hireling, and a vain one at 
that. But he might mean that his work in the world was not 
to preach to an academy or to the university, nor to so discuss the 



GOVERNMENT, ETC. 323 

Gospel with men of light and leading in the nation. His work 
was to appropriate all the results of modern research, scholarship, 
criticism accumulated by the learning and toil of others, master 
their meaning, and translate them into the common speech and 
language of the common people, that they might hear him gladly. 
Still more closely connected with the life of the State is the 
Parliament, which is the name given to the legislature of the 
nation, consisting of the king, lords, and commons. The word 
means literally a parleying or speaking, from the F. parlement, from 
parler, to speak. The Speaker is the name given to the person 
who presides over the House of Commons. It signifies literally the 
person who speaks, but he is really the person who speaks less than 
any of the others ; and it is supposed that he has the name on that 
account, possibly on the principle of " lucus a non lucendo," the 
origin of which phrase is said to be that the Latin word lucus 
signifies a grove or dark place ; and when the etymology of it was 
given as lux, light, it was wittily remarked that this was very 
appropriate, as in a grove there was no light at all. The chief 
members of the Government constitute the Cabinet, and they are 
called Cabinet Ministers because they meet in a cabinet, a private 
room or cabin, for consideration. If it should happen that they 
met together for their own private ends, and not for the benefit of 
the nation, they might be supposed to have entered into a plot or 
cabal. This word cabal is said to have been derived from the 
initials of the five Ministers of Charles II. who signed the treaty 
of alliance with France for war against Holland in 1672 viz., 
Clifford, Ashley (Earl of Shaftesbury), Buckingham, Arlington, and 
Lauderdale ; but while it is true that the initials of the names, as 
thus arranged, spell the word cabal, and that they were on that 
account emphatically called the Cabal at the time, and that it has 
never since been used except as a term of reproach, yet there are 
many occasions in our language previous to that time in which 
the word was used of a secret or private intrigue. A diplomatist 
is the name given to a Minister at a foreign court. It comes from 
the word diploma (from Gr. di or dis, double, and ploos, folded), 
literally a document folded double ; and a diplomatist was so named 



324 SIGNIFICANT ETYMOLOGY. 

because of the folding of the paper or the parchment which author- 
ised him to transact business for a sovereign at a foreign court. 
The word is now confined to a parchment or formal writing, under 
seal and signed by officials, conferring some privilege or honour, 
such as university degrees. The word protocol, derived from the 
two Greek words protos, 1 first, and Jcollao, to glue or gum, means 
properly the first leaf glued to the scapus or cylinder round which 
the document was rolled, signifying by whom it was written, &c. ; 
and so it has come to mean the original minutes or rough draught 
of an instrument or transaction serving to secure certain ends 
peaceably without a further ratified treaty. 

The House of Commons is called a representative assembly, 
because its members are supposed to represent the will and wishes 
and opinions and views of those who return them as members of 
Parliament. The word comes from the L. represento, avi, atum, 
are, to represent i.e., to exhibit as again present, to bring before 
us the likeness or image of a thing from re, again, and prcesens, 2 
present ; so that a representative is one who is present for another, 
as a Member of Parliament sent to the House of Commons (which 
itself " represents " the people) to be present instead of his con- 
stituents that is, those who constitute him their representative. 
There seems a very great ambition to get a seat in Parliament, 
and as I write these words in the midst of a contested election, 
there are a great number of candidates, and a still greater number of 
speeches. These speeches are enough to show that if ever there 



1 We have also from protos, first, 
the word protomartyr, the first 
martyr, a name given to Stephen. 
Then we have the word protoplasm, 
the matter (from Gr. plassein, to 
mould) of the structural units of 
which all animals are composed. 
The protoplast is the first thing 
formed as a copy, the first in- 
dividual or pair of individuals of a 
species, as when we called Adam 
the protoplast of the human race. 
A prototype is the original or model 
after which a thing is copied, an 
exemplar. We speak of Simon 
Magus (Simon the Sorcerer) as the 



great precursor and prototype of 
venal religious impostors. 

' 2 Prcesens, prcesentis (from prce- 
esse), being in front of, near, pres- 
ent ; as well as absens (from abesse), 
being away, absent, not at hand ; 
we have both presence and absence 
both of body and mind. An ab- 
sentee is one who absents him- 
self, as a landlord not being on his 
estate. To present is to bestow 
a gift with an expression of regard ; 
one who is presented is a presentee ; 
presently means at once, immedi- 
ately ; omnipresent means every- 
where present. 



GOVERNMENT, ETC. 325 

was any connection between candour or candid and candidate, that 
connection has long ceased to exist. But it never did exist ; and 
the candidates were so called, not for the candour of their speeches, 
but for the whiteness of their robes, as the applicants for any office 
in Borne went about in white robes, and so were called candidati, 
clothed in white. On account of their going round to solicit votes, 
they were said to be ambitious, from the L. word ambitio, signify- 
ing literally a going round (from amb, around, and ire, to go), a 
going about. To canvass, in the sense of soliciting votes, seems to 
be very closely connected with the noun canvas, which was the 
material frequently employed for filtering or passing through a 
sieve ; and so a canvasser passes all the votes through his sieve, 
and in doing so is said to canvass them. Voting by ballot was so 
called from putting the little ball into the box, secret voting, from 
F. ballotte, dim. of balle, a ball. It has been said that this mode 
of voting enables a man to take two bribes instead of only one. 
Though the word bribe comes from the F. bribe, it does not signify 
in French what it does in English. With them it signifies "a 
lump of bread," and came with us to signify to stop one's mouth, 
metaphorically to bribe one to hold his tongue or to obtain an 
undue compliance from him ; and the noun has come to signify 
a price or reward given to any one to do a wrong thing. The 
French boast that they have no word for bribe, and hence argue 
that they are less accessible than other men to that species of 
official corruption of which a pecuniary or other material con- 
sideration is the reward. But has not the reproach implied in 
the very word a useful influence in bringing the act to the 
consciousness of men as a shame and a sinl Can we, it has 
been asked, fully comprehend the evil character of a wrong until 
we have given it a specific objective existence, by assigning to 
it a name which shall serve at once to designate and condemn? 
And do not the jocular pot-de-vin and other vague and trivial 
phrases by which, for the want of a proper term to stigmatise 
the crime, French levity expresses it, indicate a lack of sensibility 
to the heinous nature of the transgression, and gloss over and 
even half commend the reception of unlawful fees as at worst but 






326 



SIGNIFICANT ETYMOLOGY. 



a venial offence, the disgrace of which lies more in the detection 
than in the commission 1 We have also the word blackball, 
which means to put a black ball in against the person who is 
being voted for, and if the majority is against him he is excluded 
or blackballed. Somewhat corresponding with this was to ostracise 
a man, to banish by the vote of the people written in an ostrakon. 1 
The candidate who has the largest number of votes is said to be 
at the top of the poll the poll being the register of heads or 
persons who are qualified to vote for Members of Parliament ; and 
the poll clerk is the person who marks the names of voters at 
an election as they appear to give their vote. This word poll 
has evidently come from the now obsolete Dut. polle, the crown 
of the head ; and in the Bremen Wbrterbuch is found the same 
word in the same sense in the low German. In Danish still, puld 
signifies the crown of the head. It originally was used with us 
to signify the human head, and now more specifically the part 
of the head on which the hair grows, or the crown or top of 
the head. Then it came, as we have mentioned, to signify a 
person or individual in a number or list, and then the counting 
of heads to ascertain the number of persons present. The verb 
" to poll " signifies to cut short the hair of (a person or animal), 
to crop, clip, shear. The expected primary sense would have been 
to take, not the hair, but the poll or head of. (Can there be any 
connection between poll and the F. poile, the hair 1 ?) We have 
still in Dut. bol, a head ; whence bolster, Ger. polster, and Scot. 
pow. Latimer says in his ' Sermons,' " If thou wilt need show thy 
hair and have it seen, go and poll thy head, or round it, as men do." 
More says in his ' Utopia,' " Their heads be not polled or shaven, 
but rounded a little above the ears." It means also to cut off 
the top of a tree or plant, especially to lop or head a tree by 



1 Ostrakon, a potsherd or tile, 
originally a shell (from ostron, an 
oyster, so called from its hard 
shell). The Athenians wrote on a 
shell or tablet the name of any 
person whom they wished to ban- 
ish as dangerous to their liberties, 
or possessing an influence likely 



to interfere with the political 
constitution. When persons are 
blackballed now they are gener- 
ally ostracised from a club or a 
society, or they may so conduct 
themselves as to be sentenced to a 
perpetual ostracism from the honours 
of their country or other favours. 



GOVERNMENT, ETC. 



327 



cutting off its branches, when the tree is said to be pollard, or 
to have been pollarded. And cattle are said to be polled when 
they have their horns cut off, or have shed them, or are of a 
hornless breed. The word vote, which we have used so frequently, 
both noun and verb (L. votum, a thing solemnly promised from 
voveo, vow, votum, vovere, to vow 1 ), means expression of a wish 
or opinion as to a matter in which one has an interest, as when 
an elector gives his vote for a Member of Parliament. The word 
suffrage means a vote " universal suffrage," every one having a 
vote for a Member of Parliament. It comes from the L. word 
suffragium, which originally signified a potsherd from sub, under, 
and frango, fregi, fractum, frangere, to break, a sherd being a 
shred or fragment, a bit broken off; and as votes were anciently 
written on potsherds in the assemblies of the Eoman people, the 
word soon came to signify a vote, and the verb suffragor to 
signify to support a candidate by one's vote and interest. From 
this use of the verb comes probably the word suffragan, meaning 
an assistant bishop, one who supports the bishop proper in his 
work. While I write, the word suffragettes has been applied 
to the women who are clamouring so loudly for their votes and 
being imprisoned for their clamour, and who are wishing even 
more votes than men, probably because, being the "weaker 
vessels," there would be more potsherds among them. Scrutiny 
is critical examination, careful and minute inquiry from the L. 
scrutinium, an examining or searching, from scruta, old or broken 
stuff, rubbish, trash, trumpery (Gr. gryte, rags). I do not know 
that scrutiny ever rose higher in meaning than such a careful 
and minute examination of rubbish-heaps as is given to them 
by the chiffonier or ragpicker who examines the ash-buckets, until 



1 From this word we have also 
votary, one given up to any pur- 
suit or worship or state. To vow 
is to promise solemnly or to dedi- 
cate, as to God. A votive offering 
is one promised by a vow. To 
devote is to give up in an earnest 
and final way. Men devote them- 
selves to a pursuit. A devoted 



person is one given up to some 
person or pursuit. A devout per- 
son is one given up to religious 
exercises. A devotee is one who 
goes to an extreme in this way, being 
indiscreetly and wholly given up to 
such exercises. Devotion may mean 
either devotedness or devoutness. 
Prayer is a devotional exercise. 



328 



SIGNIFICANT ETYMOLOGY. 



the French used the word scrutin in the sense of a ballot, and 
then scrutiny came to be used for an examination of the votes 
given at an election for the purpose of correcting the polls. ls r ow 
a scrutiny is a minute examination of what is known and present, 
and sometimes the designs of a great ruler may be inscrutable or 
unsearchable. 

The House of Lords is presided over by the Lord Chancellor, 
and " to sit on the woolsack " is only another expression for to be 
Lord Chancellor, whose seat in the House of Lords is the wool- 
sack. 1 It is a large square bag of wool, without back or arms, and 
covered with red cloth. In the reign of Queen Elizabeth an Act 
of Parliament was passed to prevent the exportation of wool, and 
that this source of our national wealth might be kept constantly 
in mind, a woolsack was placed in the House of Peers whereon 
the judge sat. The word usher comes to us through the OF. 
ussier (present F. huissier), from L. ostiarius, a doorkeeper, from 
L. ostium-, a door. With us the word usher signifies generally an 
official who introduces strangers to a presence-chamber or who 
walks before a person of rank We have, for instance, such usher- 
ships as the Usher of the Black Rod, an officer of the Order of 
the Garter, who is first gentleman usher of the Court, and thus one 
of the chief officers of the Court of Peers ; and Usher of the 
Green Eod, one of the officers of the Order of the Thistle. In 
England an assistant in a school was at one time called an usher, 
probably from his opening the door of learning to the pupils, 
or ushering them into it, for it has come as a verb to be used 
metaphorically. One of our Scotch paraphrases speaks of " showers 
that usher in the spring." Milton speaks of "stars that usher 
the even," and Shakespeare more generally to "usher in the 
evening." Our readers who have not forgotten their Latin will be 
glad to be reminded of a very happy pun on this word ostium. 
Two or three centuries ago, when Latin was habitually spoken in 
our northern grammar-schools and universities, as several boys 
came straggling into school late, one boy shouted out, as each 



1 This word sack is said to be 
the only word which is found in all 



languages with very little change in 
spelling, sound, or meaning. 



GOVERNMENT, ETC. 329 

of the laggards left the door open behind him, " Claude ostium, 
puer" ("Shut the door, boy"). The headmaster rebuked him 
for his interference with these words, " Claude os tuum, puer " 
("Shut thy mouth, boy"), the word os, oris, signifying the 
mouth. It is unnecessary here to refer to the Court of Appeal 
or to the different judges and courts required for different kinds 
of law. Two semi-unintelligible expressions frequently occur 
the one with reference to a judge, the other with reference to 
a court of record or assize. The first of these, referring to a 
judge, is that of a puisne judge sometimes called a puny judge ; 
and the name "puisne" is made up of the two F. words viz., 
puis, after, and ne, born lit., " born after " (from L. post, after, 
and natus, born). And a puisne judge is the youngest born, and 
therefore inferior in position : they are the four inferior judges 
of the Court of Queen's Bench and the four inferior judges of 
the Court of Common Pleas. The second perplexing expression 
is nisi prius, which is late Latin, meaning " unless before," or 
"unless previously." It is applied to trials of civil actions before 
a judge and a jury in a court of record or assize, owing to the 
name of the old writ which ordered the sheriff of a county to 
bring the jurors impanelled in a civil action to Westminster 
on a certain day, " unless previous " judges of assize came to 
the said county. The L. word nisi, unless, sometimes occurs at 
the end of a decree ; so that we read " decree nisi" which means 
that the decree will be made absolute after an .interval, unless 
some implied condition be fulfilled. I have used a few lines 
above the word impanelled with reference to the entering of 
the names of a jury in a list or on a piece of parchment called 
a panel. The word signifies literally " a piece," originally a 
piece of cloth OF., from low L. panellus, dim. of L. pannus, 1 
a cloth or rag. The names of jurymen were written on a 



1 From the L. word pannus, a 
piece or patch of cloth, we have 
also the word pane, a pane of glass, 
and also the word pawn, a pledge. 
The explanation of this etymology 
given by Skeat is that the readiest 
pledge to leave was a piece of cloth- 



ing. Goods deposited for security 
at a pawnbroker are said to be 
pawned or impawned. The literal 
sense of a penny is a little pledge. 
I might have mentioned also that 
the panels of the door are the thin 
boards inserted in the thicker frames. 



330 



SIGNIFICANT ETYMOLOGY. 



schedule or parchment, and they are therefore said to be im- 
panelled. The meaning has been transferred in Scotland from 
the jury to the prisoner, who is spoken of as the panel at the 
bar. The word jury, through F. juree, a jury, and jurer, is from 
the L. jurare, to swear, and is applied to a certain number of men 
who are selected and sworn to declare the truth on the evidence 
placed before them. 

The name attorney has for two hundred years been given in the 
law dictionaries as signifying one who acts in the turn of another, 
and indeed in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries we find the 
word spelt atturney, atturnie, and atturny. But while it is true 
that an attorney is one who is appointed or ordained to act for 
another as agent, deputy, commissioner, yet it was adopted from 
the OF. atorne, the past part, of atourner, to attorn, in the sense 
of one appointed or constituted ; whence all the specific uses. 
An advocate is one called or summoned to another, from OF. 
avocat, adaptation of L. advocatus, past part, of advocare, from 
ad, to, and vocare, to call ; literally one called in, or liable to be 
called upon, to defend or speak for. The name of barrister is 
derived from the word " bar," ME. barre, a piece of any material, 
long in proportion to its thickness or width, also a rail or barrier 
in a court of justice, and specially a barrier or partition in the 
Inns of Court to which students, if they had attained a certain 
standing, were called from the body of the hall ; so that to be 
called to the bar came to mean to be admitted as a barrister. 



331 



CHAPTER XXIV. 



THE ARMY. 



THE army, as Trench has well pointed out, may fitly get its 
name from the fact that it is an assemblage of armed and not of 
unarmed men. It does this in our army and in the French armee 
(from which our word is derived). Or it may be contemplated 
not merely as an assembly of "men with musquets," but of 
men trained and exercised in the use of these weapons. This 
was what the Romans had in view when they called the army 
exercitus (from ex, and arceo, to keep together), from exercito, to 
practise frequently. In the German word Heer there is probably 
the notion of a host l assembled for war ; while in the Greek 
stratos, 2 the notion which has suggested and which is embodied 
in the word is that of huge multitudes camping out and stretch- 
ing themselves over vast regions of space. A soldier has been 
denned to be a man engaged in military service. Now this word 
military comes from miles? the L. word for a soldier. The word 



1 This word host, which now sig- 
nifies an army or a large multitude, 
originally meant an enemy, and 
came to us through the OF. host, 
from the L. hostis, an enemy ; and 
so we speak of a hostile force, and 
of carrying on or suspending hostil- 
ities. 

2 From the Gr. word stratos, an 
army, we have stratagem (from 
stratcgo, a general, and ago, I lead), 
properly a plan concerted by a 
military commander for surprising 
the enemy and gaining an advan- 
tage in war ; now it means also any 
scheme for entrapping or captivating 



others by imposing on the judgment 
or reason. We have also strategy 
and strategics. A strategist is one 
skilled in strategy, and a strategi- 
cal point is some point or posi- 
tion in the theatre of war which 
gives the possessor of it an ad- 
vantage. 

8 From L. miles, militis, a soldier, 
we have also militant, engaged in 
warfare ; so that we can speak of 
the Church militant. We have also 
militate, to act in opposition to, and 
the militia, men trained to the use 
of arms but not serving all the year, 
like the regular soldiers. 






332 



SIGNIFICANT ETYMOLOGY. 



soldier itself signifies literally "one who serves for pay." It comes 
through the F. soldat from the L. solidus, 1 or soldus, a piece of 
money. From L. solidus came the OF. sol, as well as the 
modified F. sou. Comrade is a companion, through Spanish 
camarade, originally a room full, then a room-mate, from L. 
camera? a chamber. The word companion itself comes through 
the OF. competing, from L. cum, with, and panis, hread one who 
eats the same bread. The word uniform, as applied to a soldier's 
dress, means having only one form, manner, or shape, and has 
come to mean the official or state dress. When in undress he 
is said to be in mufti. This word is said to be the title of a doctor 
of the Mahommedan law, or an expounder of it; it is also the 
well-known title of a Mahommedan high priest, and as officers in 
India on returning from their duties don pyjamas and loose white 
jackets, and when so arrayed bear a resemblance to the white- 
robed priests of Islam, the word mufti has come to be the familiar 
military slang for out of uniform, undress, the civilian dress of an 
officer when off duty. 

A regiment is a body of soldiers ruled or commanded by a 
colonel, who is its superior regimental officer from rego, 3 rext, 



1 From the L. solidus we have 
the English word solid, not liquid 
or hollow. Soda (for solida) is the 
ashes of glass, &c. , from which solid 
glass is made. Solder is a metallic 
compound for cementing (or solder- 
ing) metals. To consolidate is to 
make firm or to unite in a mass. 
The rocks have become consolidated. 
Consols is the leading British Gov- 
ernment debt, formed by the con- 
solidation of different annuities. 
The consols are now the 3 % Govern- 
ment stock. 

2 From L. camera we have the 
word chamber itself. We have also 
the camera obscura, or dark cham- 
ber, an apparatus for casting images 
on a white surface after passing 
them through a double convex 
lens. 

3 From rego, rexi, rectum, regVre, 
to rule, we have in L. regio, regionis, 



a county or territory, and rex, regis, 
a king, and in English rectangle, 
rectify, rectification, rectilineal 
and rectilinear, rectitude, rector, 
rectory. A regent, one who governs 
a country during the minority or in- 
capacity of a sovereign. The office, 
or the name of it, is called the 
regency. A regicide is a king- 
killer, or the act -of king-killing. 
A regime (F. ) is a style of rule. 
Regimen means systematic regula- 
tion or orderly management, and 
especially dietetic regimen. A 
region is a large tract of country 
considered as lying near some 
governing centre. Regnant means 
reigning, as the queen regnant. We 
speak of the regal authority or 
ensigns (regalia), those which belong 
to his office ; of his royal majesty, 
or the royalty of his person. To 
rule is to govern the wills and 



THE ARMY. 



335 



rectum, regere, to rule or govern. There are different kineses, 
regiments, especially cavalry, infantry, and artillery. 'ire 
cavalry are horse soldiers. The word comes through the I. 
cavalerie and It. cavallo, from L. caballiis, 1 a horse. A cavalcade 
is a train of persons on horseback. The dragoons are horse 
soldiers, and said to be so called because they had originally a 
dragon (L. draco) on their standards. The hussars are light- 
armed cavalry soldiers. The name hussar is Hungarian, meaning 
in accordance with its two parts, husz, twenty, and ar, the price 
of = " a twenty paid soldier." The origin of hussar regiments was 
as follows: When Matthias Corvinus (born 1442, died 1490) 
ascended the Hungarian throne, he (in order to possess a regular 
cavalry) ordered that one man out of every twentieth family should 
be enrolled, and further, that the expenses of his equipment should 
be shared between the twenty families. From Hungary the 
various hussar regiments soon spread themselves throughout the 



actions of men. We speak of regu- 
lations, and we regulate a watch or 
our diet. What is regular goes on 
in an established order or with 
regularity, and with no irregularity 
in the proceedings. To correct is 
to bring to a right state, and we 
speak of corrective measures and 
the House of Correction. Direct 
means going straight forward to 
the point intended. We direct a 
blow, and give directions about our 
affairs. We may act as directors of 
different companies, and we are very 
much dependent on the London or 
Edinburgh Directory. We may give 
an indirect answer. A dirge is a 
funeral song, a musical lament, and 
is so named from the L. dirige 
(direct), the first word in a Latin 
hymn in the office for the dead. 
Dress means the whole clothing of 
the body as being more or less 
carefully arranged (diriyZre); clothes 
are articles of dress. An address 
is written or spoken with special 
reference to the character and cir- 
cumstances of the persons addressed. 
We speak of an address of thanks, 



of a good or bad address, of paying 
one's addresses to a lady. Adroit- 
ness is really dexterity, especially 
in avoiding danger or in escaping 
from a difficulty. We speak of an 
adroit stratagem, and of parrying 
jibes and reproaches adroitly. To 
erect a flagstaff is to set it up, to 
erect a cathedral is to build it. A 
throne or a new state is also erected. 
We also speak of an erection, that 
is, some sort of building ; or standing 
erect, that is, upright, not inclined. 
Only a year or two ago I saw on the 
floor of a country church, where it 
had been laid as a slab, a tombstone 
bearing an inscription of which these 
were the first words: "Erected [!] 
in memory of," &c. To stand on 
the alert (It. att'erta, for a la 
erta, on the erect ; erto, from L. 
erectus). 

1 From caballus, through the 
native French form of the word 
chevalerie, we have the English 
chivalry, which meant originally 
knights or horsemen equipped for 
battle, but now all the virtues of 
the ideal knight. 



332 



SIGNIFICANT ETYMOLOGY. 



I _,. .anic Empire, and subsequently found their way into the 
.1 1-itish army in 1759. 

The infantry are foot -soldiers, from F. infanterie, from It. 
infanteria, from infante, a child or a servant, a foot-soldier, foot- 
soldiers being formerly the followers of knights, because, like 
infantes, they have to be trained to work. A squadron (from 
OF. escuadron, It. squadrone), primarily a body of troops drawn 
up in a square (L. quadron, four-cornered) or in any form. Squad, 
too, is a troop or square of soldiers, and the awkward squad 
denotes those soldiers who have proved themselves so deficient and 
clumsy in drill as to be the longest squad to be redrilled. The 
artillery are the men who manage the cannon, mortars, &c. 
Beyond the F. artillerie and the OF. artiller, to arm, the origin 
of the word is not so very clear, as etymologists have to invent 
a L. verb artillare, and to derive it from L. ars, artis, art. Apart 
from this, it is of interest to note that while the word is now 
applied only to the heavy pieces of ordnance of modern warfare, 
in earlier use any engines for the projecting of missiles, even to 
the bow and arrows, would have been included under this term. 
See also 1 Sam. xx. 40 (A.V.), "And Jonathan gave his artillery 
unto his lad, and said unto him, Go, carry them to the city." As 
the whole context of this passage (vv. 18-23 and w. 35-40) 
shows that the artillery he had spoken of were bows and arrows, 
we have Scripture authority, or at least that of the Authorised 
Version, for including bows and arrows, and so for saying a few 
words regarding them under the head of artillery. The arrow, the 
straight, pointed weapon made to be shot from a bow (from the 
AS. arwe or arewe, an arrow), is so called from the swiftness of 
its flight, akin to the Icel. wr, the swift. We frequently read of a 
sheaf of arrows i.e., a bundle of arrows, for the word sheaf meant 
originally a bundle of anything shoved together, and was from an 
early period applied to a bundle of arrows bound together in the 
middle ; as also to a bundle of wheat so tied, and called a wheat 
sheaf, formerly spelt scheff, as Chaucer has it "a scheff of arrows." 
In AS. sceaf signified a bundle, a sheaf (scufari), while sceaft 
signified a shaft (or spear, arrow), and we still speak of "the 



THE ARMY. 335 

shaft " of an arrow. "We find the word bolt used in various senses, 
as the "bolt" of a door, a "thunderbolt," "bolt upright"; we 
speak of "a horse bolting" and of a greedy fellow bolting his 
food. Now all these, however apparently different, are to be 
traced to the same origin. Bolt is the AS. word for an arrow, as 
we read of a man taking a "bolt" from his quiver. Chaucer 
quotes " to shoot a featherless bolt " as a proverb, meaning in his 
day to labour in vain. Bolt upright means as straight as an 
arrow ; a horse is said to " bolt " when he starts off to one side 
suddenly, like an arrow; and a hungry man bolts his food, 
swallowing it straight down without chewing, so that it is shot 
down into his stomach. A quiver, from OF. cuivre, a cover or 
case for arrows, was in AS. cocar. 

Panoply, meaning a complete suit of armour, or the whole 
armour of the soldier, is from the Gr. panoplia, the full armour of 
the hoplites, or soldier of the heavy-armed infantry (from pan, all, 
and opla, arms). The word is used also figuratively, and often 
with direct allusion to the Greek of Ephesians vi. 11, 13, "the 
whole armour of God." A field-marshal is the highest military 
rank in the British army. The word marshal obviously comes 
from the F. mareschal (mod. F. marechal), which is from the 
OH.Ger. maraschalk mara, a battle-horse (mare), and chalk, a 
knave, or servant, like knave for Jcnabe. In an age of chivalry, 
the strength of an army consisted almost entirely of cavalry. The 
horses were carefully selected, and then subjected to elaborate 
training until they were able to obey the slightest movement of 
either wrist or heel, and in all points to co-operate in the battle 
with their rBlers. The trainers of riding-masters were called 
mareschals, and only such persons as had studied the constitution 
of the horses, and possessed a high degree of veterinary skill, were 
appointed to the office. Accordingly, the F. word mareschal, now 
the name for the highest military commander, originally meant 
a horse servant or veterinary surgeon, and is still used as the 
name for a farrier. The highest regimental officer in this 
country is called a colonel (in F., Sp., and OE. coronel, even in 
the sixteenth century, hence the present pronunciation of the 




336 



SIGNIFICANT ETYMOLOGY. 



word, and associated with corona, a crown, couronne, as if it 
denoted the coronal or chief captain of a regiment, being a cor- 
ruption of the It. colonello, a little column), indicating the person 
who was the leader of that little company or column, at the head 
of the regiment). The major is the next in rank above a captain, 
and is so called (L. major, 1 greater, the comparative degree of L. 
magnus, 1 great) because he is in the more dignified position of the 
two. The term captain is derived from L. caput, the head (see 
p. 400), as being the head of his company. Lieutenant denotes 
the rank of one who is competent to take the place of a superior 
officer, from F. lieu, place, and F. tenant, holding. When it 
stands alone, it means that he may hold the place of the captain, 
but there may be also a lieutenant-colonel and a lieutenant-general, 
and in these cases the position he holds is specified after the 
lieutenant. The sergeant is so called from the L. sermre* to 
serve, and literally means a servant. He is a non-commissioned 
officer, next above a corporal, and his duty is to instruct recruits 
in their drill and discipline, so as to lighten the responsibility of 
his superior officer, the captain. The corporal, so spelt as if this 
petty officer was one connected with a corps or body of soldiers, 
from corpus, the body, and as short for corps d'armee (found in 
French before 1700). It is generally assumed to be an old cor- 
ruption of capral, F. caporal, It. caporale, one who is the head 
{It. capo, F. cap) or captain of a squadron, and in defence of this 



1 From magmts, great, and major, 
greater, we have magnate, a person 
of high rank, and the verb to mag- 
nify. The " Magnificat " is so called 
because it begins with the words, 
" My soul doth magnify the Lord." 
Magnificent is the word we apply 
to pearls, cathedrals, and other 
works of art or nature combining 
size, elaborateness of structure, and 
costliness. Magnitude means size 
or great size. Main (OF. magne, 
mane) means chief or principal, with 
an idea of rough or bulky superi- 
ority. Majesty means grand in 
external aspect. We speak of an 
air of majesty. A man attains his 



majority when he comes to the age 
of manhood, and it also means the 
greater number. The Lord Mayor 
of London is the chief magistrate. 

2 From servio, to serve, we have 
a serf and serfdom, a servant, ser- 
vice, serviceable, servile, servility, 
a servitor, servitude. To deserve 
a reward or punishment is to be 
worthy of it. Desert implies a fit- 
ness in the case for such a recom- 
pense. We speak of an undeserved 
reproach ; and a dessert is a service 
of fruit or sweetmeats at the close 
of the entertainment when the 
courses are taken away (in F. des- 
servir). 



THE ARMY. 337 

they remind us that, so long ago as 1598, R. Barrett, in his ' Theory 
of Names,' noted that the word " caporall, which is meerely Italian, 
and also used of the French, we corruptly do both write and pro- 
nounce cwporall" ; but the form corporal is of great antiquity. 
Du Cange quotes from a letter of 1406, in which the word 
"corporalis" occurs as almost equivalent to captain. The rank 
(from OF. rang, order) signifies the grade, status, or position of an 
officer, as when we speak of brevet rank, where brevet is from 
French = a note, diminutive of bref, a letter, and in the army, an 
official document or commission, conferring on an officer the next 
higher rank to the one he holds, a merely nominal rank, which 
does not entitle him to increased pay. But the word rank in 
general in connection with the army refers to the rank of a 
common soldier, as when we speak of "risen from the ranks" 
i.e., a commissioned officer who once served as a private soldier ; 
and so when we speak of " the rank and file," we mean the whole 
body of common soldiers composing an army, from L. filum, a 
thread, and so Indian file, or single file, is the march of a body 
of persons one behind another, from the usual system of marching 
among American Indians. 

One or two of the names of the warlike weapons are instructive. 
The word musket was originally applied to a species of crossbow, 
but afterwards to the firearm or hand-gun at that time used by 
soldiers of the line in this country and in France. In both 
countries it was also usual to name firearms after animals of 
different species. Now there was a species of hawk which was 
called in Prov. mosquet, in French mouchet and emouchet, and in 
OF. mousquet, which signified both a musket and a sparrow-hawk, 
from which we derived the name. Bayonet, from Bayonne in 
France (Fr. bawnnette), having been first made there, or more 
likely, according to other authorities, because it was employed first 
of all in an assault on the town of Bayonne in 1665. It is the 
steel dagger at the end of a gun or musket. In Scotland bayonet 
is usually pronounced bagonet or begnet. During the Chartist 
agitation, when multitudes clamoured for the five points of the 
Charter, an opponent said, " Before you get your five points, you 




338 SIGNIFICANT ETYMOLOGY. 

are sure to get a sixth." "What is it?" "The point of the 
begnet" The word petard comes from the If.pet, wind, or an 
explosion, from the L. pedo, pepidi, peditum, pedere, to crack 
or to explode, the name given to a short piece of ordnance of 
a bell shape, formerly used for bursting open gates and destroying 
bridges by explosion. We have still the phrase, " The engineer 
hoist with his own petard," applied to those who are injured 
or destroyed by the very means which they were employing to 
injure or to destroy others. Pistol, a firearm, but originally a 
poignard, made at Pistoja or Pistoie, a little town within a good 
day's walk of Florence. These little daggers having been taken 
to Paris, received their name from the place of manufacture, first 
pistorers, then pistoliers, and finally pistolets. Some time after- 
wards their name was transferred to the small hand -gun which 
still bears 'the name. Cutlass is the F. coutelas, for L. cultellus, a 
krdfe, but owes its present form to a fancied connection with cut 
(the I of cultellus would disappear in French). Cut has nothing to do 
with either French or Latin, but is thought to be of Celtic origin. 
Loss seemed to be English enough already, and suffered no change 
at first, though lasses have nothing to do with swords. Half of 
the word had an appropriate meaning at all events, and for a time 
the popular feeling was content. And it has remained content, 
except among sailors, who did not like to call their favourite 
weapon by a name that was not completely intelligible. Cutlass 
seemed wrong somehow, and accordingly they made it into cutlash, 
both parts of which were eminently satisfactory, just as they made 
;he old man-of-war ship Bellerophon into Billy Ruffian. The 
same dislike of outlandish words which were meaningless to them, 
led ostlers to convert the name of hotels such as "Boulogne- 
mouth " into " Bull and mouth," " Othello and Desdemona " into 
" Old fellow and Thursday morning," and " Lamprocles " into 
" Lamb and Pickles "; so " Bedlam " is a corruption of Bethlehem, 
and gets its meaning from a London priory, St Mary's of Beth- 
lehem, founded 1247, and incorporated as a royal foundation for 
the reception of lunatics in 1547, exactly three hundred years 
afterwards ; while the motto over a hotel, " God encom- 



THE ARMY. 339 

passes us," has given the hotel the name of the "Goat and 
Compasses." 

The word blunderbuss, signifying a short hand-gun with a wide 
bore, is commonly supposed to be a corruption of the Dut. donder- 
bus, from donder, thunder, and bus, a box, barrel of a gun, or gun 
itself, from Ger. donner-buchse. No doubt the Dutch word means 
thunder - box, yet the English word is not a corruption, but a 
generous translation. The word blunder is still used in Sussex 
in the sense of a loud noise, as a thunder-box in Dutch. Another 
application of the word was to a noisy man as a box of blunder, 
just as a chatterbox is a man full of chatter. Thus Ger. polt&rer 
(from poltern, to make a loud noise) is translated by Kultner, "a 
blunderhead, blunderbuss, a boisterous, violent man." 

The most common derivation of the word gun is from the Welsh 
gwn, a bowl, a gun, or the cup or bowl in which the missile was 
placed ; and it is supposed that the name was first given to a 
catapult (from Gr. kata, down, and pallo, I hurl), a war-engine used 
anciently for throwing large stones, &c., but no instance has been 
adduced in which the word is mentioned before the use of artillery 
in England. There is good reason for believing that it is derived 
from the F. guigner, to wink or aim with one eye, to level at a 
thing, winking. It must be observed that aiming by looking along 
the tube would distinguish the management of a cannon from 
the working of any kind of catapult. Hence the engineer who 
directed the fire would in French be designated guigner, to aim 
with one eye, as a gunner taking his level. Passing into English in 
the shape of gunner, which would have no intrinsic meaning to 
an English ear, it would seem to such to have been taken from 
the newly imported engine under the management of the gunner, 
which would accordingly be dubbed a gun. 

The word epaulet, signifying an ornament sometimes worn on 
the shoulder by naval and military men, is the F. word epaulette, 
from epaul, the shoulder ; but it comes originally as espalle, from 
the L. spatula, the shoulder of an animal, and by normal changes, 
such as contraction, and dropping the s. 

The word furlough, signifying a temporary leave of absence, is 



340 



SIGNIFICANT ETYMOLOGY. 



generally supposed to be derived from the Dut. verlqf or Dan. 
forlov, leave, permission, and is in frequent use among military 
men and Indian civil servants for leave of absence from duty. 
Another etymology is just as likely ; for if we remove the initial 
/, the form urlough would immediately betray its identity with 
the Ger. urlaub (of the same military meaning as our term), but 
used in early German writers in its true sense of permission. (Of 
course the analogy of our military expression of the same idea, on 
leave, will strike every reader.) Auf Urlaub (on leave) by hasty 
utterance becomes on furlough. 



341 



CHAPTEE XXV. 

AMUSEMENTS, ETC. 

THIS word amusement itself comes from the verb amuse, virtu- 
ally the same word as muse, and once meant to make to muse, to 
astonish. The F. amuser has been defined as to put into a muse, 
to drive into a dump ; and donner la muse a, to put into the 
dumps, to drive into a brown study. Hence we can understand 
how Fuller could speak of one " being amused with great fear and 
fright" ('Church Hist.,' ix. 664). John Howe, in his sermon on 
" The Eedeemer's Dominion over the Invisible World," speaking of 
the untimely death of a hopeful young gentleman, insists that it 
"may be somewhat amusing to narrower and less considering 
minds"; and Bishop Hacket, in his 'Century of Sermons,' 1675, 
says of the glorious splendour of Christ's transfiguration that it 
" did amuse Peter and James and John." The notion of diver- 
sion, entertainment, is of comparatively recent introduction into 
the word. To amuse was to occupy or engage, and in this sense 
indeed to divert the thoughts and attention. The attempt to 
bring the word into some connection with the Muses is certainly 
an error, especially with those who regard it as a withdrawal from 
the Muses, a forsaking of serious studies, and so a diversion. Thus 
Coleridge condemns novel-reading as a lazy species of amusement, 
" if indeed those can be said to retire a mtms who were never in 
their company " (' Biographia Literaria,' p. 24), and Coventry Patmore 
commends " readers who do not seek the Muses only for amuse- 
ment." Both writers, perhaps, would have stayed themselves on a 
dictum of Jones of Maryland, " Amusement means an occasional 
forsaking of the Muses when a student lays aside his books." 



342 



SIGNIFICANT ETYMOLOGY. 



Another name for amusement is recreation, which, carefully pond- 
ered, shows how unworthy of the name are many forms of amuse- 
ment carried on in crowded rooms and in a vitiated atmosphere, 
with late hours, which so far from recreating (or creating again) 
those who take part in them, exhaust and wear out, instead of 
refreshing and reviving and reanimating and quickening into 
fresh life. Relaxation implies previous tension which has kept 
the mind on the stretch and strain, and from which it requires 
from time to time to be relaxed from L. re, away from, and 
laxus? loose or slack ; and as Apollo does not always keep his 
bow bent, so relaxation is the slackening of the bow of the mind 
which has been so long in a state of tension. In this connection 
we use the word leisure, signifying time free from employment, 
freedom from occupation, and comes through the F. loisir (leisure), 
which, however, though used as a substantive, is properly an infin- 
itive. Menage's etymology, followed by some others, drawn from 
the L. otium, is simply an absurdity. The word (in the forms 
leger, leser, lesir) represents the Latin impersonal verb licet, 2 licuit 
or licitum, Ucere, it is permitted or allowed, it is lawful. The 
primitive sense of the substantive leisure is, then, licence, permis- 
sion ; the meaning of " I have the permission or freedom to write " 
is limited by that of "I have time free to write." Sport is derived 
from the OF. word desporter (se), lit., to carry oneself away from 
one's work, to amuse oneself from des and porter, from L. dis, 
apart, and portare, 3 to carry. The word play is derived from the 

1 From laxus we have lax, laxity, 
laziness, lazy ; to relax is to loosen 
or unbend any physical or natural 
force ; to release is to set free from 
what binds we speak of a release 
from prison, from an obligation, &c. 

2 From licet and licitum est we 
have many English words, such as 
licence, liberty to sell certain goods 
or practise some responsible calling. 
One is licensed to sell spirits, 
another tobacco. A man who is 
licensed to preach is called a licen- 
tiate. Licence sometimes means 
the abuse of liberty. A licentious 
person indulges his selfish or his 



vicious pleasures unrestrained by 
law and morality. Illicit means 
that which is forbidden by law. 
Videlicet, in its contracted form of 
viz., is put for videre licet, one 
may see, and means namely or to 
wit. 

3 From porto, avi, atum, are, to 
carry, we have several English 
words, such as port ; a man's port 
is his carriage, demeanour. A 
porter is a carrier ; whatever may 
be carried is portable ; a portfolio 
is a portable case (for loose papers, 
drawings, &c.) ; portmanteau, port- 
erage ; a portly person is one whose 



AMUSEMENTS, ETC. 



343 



AS. plega, which originally signified quick movement, motion, 
rapid motion of almost any kind, a sense preserved in technical 
language in such expressions as the play of the lungs, the play of 
the piston-rod, the play of the valves. The specialisation to sport 
or game is natural, and took place very early, and this is the 
regular sense among children, who require a context of some kind 
if they are to understand the word in any other way. The 
gambler has a still narrower limitation of " play " as his regular 
understanding of the word a specialisation of the already special- 
ised sense of " game " ; so has the musician, the football player, 
the actor. This last - mentioned specialisation to the drama is 
perhaps the commonest of all. "Are you going to the play?" 
without any further context, would first suggest this meaning to 
almost everybody. Probably play in this sense is, at least in 
part, a translation of the L. Indus. It affords a good example of 
the influence of foreign languages in giving special senses to 
native words, even when the corresponding foreign terms are not 
actually borrowed. And so this word game, which I have just 
used, comes from the AS. gamen, play or merriment ; but the 
strange thing is that both the words sport and game should, in 
their specialised and restricted sense, denote such amusement as 
comes from the sufferings and death of the birds, beasts, and 
fishes which are the objects of their pursuit. This is seen in the 
word sportsman applied to the shooter or fisher, and in the word 
game given to the birds and beasts that have fallen to his gun. 
We must not omit to call attention to the ingenuity with which 
Euskin, in his ' Crown of Wild Olive,' theorises that play is the 
" pleasing thing " (il plait), not the " useful thing " : this, however, 



body is marked by portliness ; to 
comport is to agree with, to suit. A 
man's deportment means his car- 
riage or bearing as regards social 
requirements. To disport is to di- 
vert oneself, to gambol. We have 
export and import, and exportation 
and importation. We speak of the 
import of a word, of the purport of 
a speech. A thing may be import- 
ant or unimportant, and we speak 



of the importance of little things. 
To report is to bring back news ; to 
support is to bear, to uphold ; a 
burden or a grief may be insupport- 
able ; we transport goods when we 
carry them from one place to an- 
other ; and convicts were formerly 
sentenced to transportation to a 
penal settlement now they under- 
go their pain of penal servitude at 
home. 



344 



SIGNIFICANT ETYMOLOGY. 



is the true etymology of " pleasure," which means whatever pleases 
us or gives us enjoyment through OF. plaisir (from plaire), from 
L. placeo, 1 to please. Pastime is the very appropriate name given 
to amusement or whatever helps to pass the time pleasantly with 
those for whom time does not pass all too quickly ; as Cowper 
says of those 

" Whose only labour is to kill the time, 
And labour dire it is and weary woe." 

The word diversion, from the L. diverto, diver sum L. dis, aside, 
and verto, to turn (see note, p. 1) is literally a turning aside, or 
whatever diverts or turns us aside from ourselves, leading us in 
this way to forget ourselves for a little, a confession in both 
cases (as many moralists have pointed out) that these things confer 
no real enjoyment, but merely prevent us from remembering that 
we are unhappy. Happiness is the most the world aims at ; it is 
their " being's end and aim," and it comes from outward things, 
which in their turn are supposed to come by hap or chance, and 
people are happy only so long as these things are continued ; but 
joy is that which springs up within the man himself independent 
of all external circumstances, a joy which the world neither 
gives nor can take away. And so, too, in this connection, 
and as illustrating the same tendency to ascribe so much to luck, 
we have the word fortune, which literally signifies whatever comes 
by chance, from the L. fors, fortis, chance or luck, whence fortu- 
nate. The word " luck " itself, generally with the meaning of good 
fortune, coincided with the Dutch luk and the Ger. gliick, pros- 
perity. All these words point to the fact, not so much that 



1 From the verb placeo, placui, 
placitum, placere, to please, we have 
plea (L. placitum, a decree), to 
plead, a pleader ; that which grati- 
fies the senses is pleasant, as a 
pleasant taste ; that which satisfies 
the mind or the judgment is pleas- 
ing. We speak of a pleasant sound 
when it affects us pleasurably, but 
of a pleasing sound when it affects 
all. A placid countenance is one 



naturally peaceful ; complacent 
means gratified, displaying satis- 
faction. Complacence (or as in F. 
complaisance) or complacency means 
quiet satisfaction. Addison says : 
"Complaisance renders a superior 
amiable, an equal agreeable, and an 
inferior acceptable ! " Displease is 
to excite dissatisfaction, especially 
in a superior, and displeasure is the 
feeling which is excited. 



AMUSEMENTS, ETC. 345 

prosperity comes by chance, as that success in life does not 
depend entirely upon the man himself but on a higher power, 
and that the race is not always to the swift nor the battle to 
the strong. 

Dancing is a favourite amusement with many. The word 
comes through the F. danser, from the O.Ger. dansen, to draw 
along, Ger. tanzen. The different kinds of dances are too 
numerous even to mention, but the country dance, as it is termed, 
is worth more than a passing notice. Until very recently ety- 
mologists were accustomed to say that our country dance, literally 
" dance of the country," was merely altered from the French word 
contre-danse, the original, as if a counter dance indicated the regular 
centra-position of male aud female partners in the first arrangement 
of the dancers, one side standing face to face (contre) or vis-a-vis to 
the other (It. contra dame). " I would not dance any contre-danse 
or galop " (Thackeray) ; " The contre-danse had not hardened 
itself into the quadrille " (Shorthouse). This was supposed to 
have been Anglicised into country dance as if it denoted a rustic 
dance, in opposition to the more artificial performances of the town. 
" The fact that farmer Flamborough's rosy daughters thought they 
understood the jig and roundabout to perfection, yet were totally 
unacquainted with country dances " (' Vicar of Wakefield '), would 
seem to warrant the conclusion that it was a fashionable importa- 
tation from abroad. Now, as a matter of fact, it was our native 
country dance that was adopted by foreigners, and naturalised 
as contre danse and contra danze. In Haldon's ' Court of King 
James I.' (1650) country dances are distinguished from French 
dances, and he even in his 'History of Dancing' in 1712 says, 
" Country dances are the peculiar growth of this nation, through 
us transported into all the Courts of Europe." The country dance 
is said to have been introduced into Paris in 1745, and to have 
come back to London as "quadrille" in 1815. Charades are 
another popular form of amusement. The word comes from 
F. charade, from Provencal charada, Norman F. charer, 
Languedoc chara, to converse, a scene or tableau which represents 
a syllable of a word, and ends by representing the word itself 




346 SIGNIFICANT ETYMOLOGY. 

(tdbleauxrvivants) ; also a puzzle in which a word is to be guessed, 
and each syllable thereof (which itself constitutes a word) is 
described in a more or less oracular manner. 

Cards also provide amusement for a very large number of 
people. The word comes from the L. charta (carta), papyrus 
leaf, paper, adapted from Gr. chartes (carta}, probably of 
Egyptian origin. Perhaps whist is the best known and most 
popular game. It is said to have received its name from the 
silent attention it requires, and from the frequent pst or hst which 
chatterers require to repress their confusing chattering. It seems 
to have been originally an interjection commanding or demanding 
silence. The old verb whist meant both to silence and to keep 
silence. Bailey in his Dictionary mentions as the popular name 
for a certain game of cards in the eighteenth century lamb-skin-it, 
with a significant reference, probably enough, to the fleecing of 
many an innocent who ventured among sharpers. It turns out to 
have been a corruption of the F. lansquenet, which Cotgrave tells 
us meant a game at cards, as well as a lance-knight or German 
footman i.e., foot-soldier. Ben Jonson speaks of the true garb 
of one of these lance knights. The lansquenets were mercenaries 
that Charles VIII. took into his pay, and they composed a large 
part of the French infantry in the sixteenth century. Both the 
French and English words are corruptions of the Ger. landsknecht, 
a country fellow (" land's knight "). As for the names given to 
the different cards, the ace is the one both of cards and dice, 
through the French from the L. as, assis, one or unity, and this 
also from the Gr. heis, one, for which the Tarentines said has. 
The deuce is a card with two spots (F. deux, two), from L. duo, 
two. A trump card is a card of the leading suit that triumphs or 
wins. The court cards are the king, queen, and knave of a suit, 
and they are called court cards, not from the king or queen being 
among them, but from their being pictured cards, the word court 
being a corruption of coat or coated card, as bearing the representa- 
tion of a coated figure. The verb to palm, which now signifies 
to play a trick, to cheat, or to impose a thing fraudulently on or 
upon a person, to pass off by trickery or fraud, originally signified 



AMUSEMENTS, ETC. 34T 

to conceal in the palm of the hand, as in cheating at cards or at 
dice, or in juggling. 

The guessing of riddles, enigmas, &c., was a very common form 
of amusement from earliest times. The enigma (Gr. ainigma, a 
riddle or dark saying, from ainos, a fable) is the earliest form of 
the riddle, which has since expanded so luxuriously into the cog- 
nate forms of rebuses, conundrums, &c. A riddle is very much the 
same as an enigma, only being an English word instead of a Greek. 
The AS. word for a riddle is reed-els, from rcedan, to guess or solve. 
Samson's riddle was an enigma; so was that of the Sphinx. 
Though Samson afterwards became a judge, we cannot think that 
his riddle was a fair one. " Out of the eater came forth meat, 
and out of the strong came forth sweetness." This referred, as you 
know, to a dead lion in whose mouth certain bees had made their 
honey. Now it required for its solution too large a knowledge of 
antecedent circumstances. No wonder his wife's people could not 
in three days expound the riddle. The Sphinx really played 
fairer. " What is that animal which in the morning goes on four 
feet, at noon on two, and in the evening on three 1 " Answer, Man. 
Here morning, noon, and evening are metaphors of infancy, man- 
hood, and age, and there is a further metaphorical use of the word 
feet, which is applied in one place to the hands and in another to 
a staff used for support and progress. In the ' Book of Merry 
Kiddles,' which Shakespeare mentions in the " Merry Wives of 
Windsor," we find the following : " Two legs sat upon three legs 
and had one leg in her hand ; then in came four legs and bare away 
one leg ; then up started two legs and threw three legs at four legs 
and brought again one leg." The answer is full of picturesque 
detail, and runs as follows : " That is, a woman with two legs sat 
on a stool with three legs and had a leg of mutton in her hand ; 
then came a dog that had four legs and bare away the leg of 
mutton ; then up started the woman and threw the stool with three 
legs at the dog with four legs, and brought again the leg of mutton. 

The name rebus, given to an enigmatical representation of a 
word or phrase by pictures of things, is the ablative plural of the 
Latin word res, ret, a thing, and signifies literally "by things." 



348 SIGNIFICANT ETYMOLOGY. 

The word was taken by us from the French, and signified, as we 
have said, either the representation of words or syllables "by 
things," or by pictures of objects the names of which gave the 
required sounds or an approximation to them, as the representation 
of the name Ashton by an ash-tree upon a tun, or the figure of a 
bee for the letter B. Sentences or mottoes have been thus 
indicated partially or entirely, and in this manner a kind of puzzle 
or riddle has been instituted. 

Another very interesting game for those who are at all skilful is 
billiards. Many attempts have been made to trace the origin of 
the game, but with little success. There is no doubt that the 
game is of considerable antiquity a development from some 
primitive form played with balls on the ground. It is often taken 
for granted that billiard, from the F. billard, means ball-stick or 
cue ; but the French word bille signifies a ball and not a stick, 
and the oldest form of the word in our language (we find it 
spelt ball yards) rather confirms this etymology, for Spencer in his 
'Prosopop/ p. 803, published in 1591, writes: "With dice, with 
cards, with halliards. " The next time it occurs the spelling is as 
now. Shakespeare, in his "Antony and Cleopatra" (1606), says, 
"Let it alone; let's to billiards." A cannon is made when the 
player strikes the other two balls with his. The origin of this 
name is very doubtful, and any explanation which has been 
attempted only removes the difficulty a stage farther back. There 
is good reason for believing that the word cannon, as applied to 
billiards, is merely a corruption of the word carrom, which is short 
for F. carambole, a word which is sometimes applied by them to 
the red ball, but the etymology of which is entirely unknown. 
The game of chess is, with many, too prolonged and anxious a 
contest to be characterised as a game. While it is admitted that 
it is perhaps the most ancient game there is in any country, and 
its origin has been traced to Persia, its name of chess has been 
persistently regarded by many good etymological authorities as a 
corruption of the word checks, the plural of check, from the sixty- 
four little squares with which the board or chequer on which it is 
played is divided. But many other games can be played on the same 



AMUSEMENTS, ETC. 349 

chequered board to which the name of chess, if this were the origin 
of the word, would be just as appropriate. It seems strange to 
trace its origin to Persia or Arabia and yet to try to find the 
origin of the name in this country. Some light will be thrown 
upon it if we think of the origin of the phrase checkmate, which 
means putting your adversary's king in such a position that he can 
neither cover nor move out of check. Figuratively, " to checkmate " 
means to foil or to outwit another. Checkmated is out-manoeuvred. 
It is generally admitted that checkmate is our English pronuncia- 
tion of shah-mat (Arabic for dead), " the king is dead." Now, if 
we go to Arabic for mate, why not go there for check also ? and 
chess in Arabic properly signifies " the king," so that the game of 
the king would be a good rendering for the game of chess for 
everything depends on the king's fate. The moment he falls, 
even although it should be early in the game, all is over, but so 
long as he can move out of check the battle continues. A 
rook is a name given to the " castle " in chess, through F. roe, 
from Persian roJch, a camel or a dromedary with a tower for 
archers. 

Backgammon is also a very favourite game, especially with 
elderly people, and the older they grow the more devoted they 
are to it, many of them playing every night. The name is sup- 
posed by some to have been given to it by the Danes, with whom 
bakke signifies a tray, and gammon a game, the word thus signify- 
ing a tray game, a game played on a tray-shaped board. But while 
it is likely enough to have come down to us from our Northern 
ancestors, who devoted much of their long winter days to such 
games, yet it is rather against this origin that the word does not 
appear in Danish dictionaries. I do not think that we require 
to go farther than to our Anglo-Saxon forefathers, who used bcec 
for back, and gamen for a game, so that the word signifies the 
back-game, an appropriate enough name when we remember that 
the pieces are, in certain circumstances, obliged to go back and 
re-enter on the table. The game is played on a table with pieces 
of the same kind, or with the same pieces, as are used in draughts, 
but also with a box and dice. This word dice, the plural of die 



350 SIGNIFICANT ETYMOLOGY. 

{OF. det ; F. de, a die, from late L. dadus, a die, from L. datum, 
given), is literally what is thrown on the table. A die is a small 
cube with marks from one to six on the faces, used in gaming by 
being shaken in a box and then thrown out from it. The most 
common use of it in the singular is in the phrase the die is cast, 
meaning that everything is hazarded, the last chance is taken or 
offered. The plural is in much more common use, although for- 
tunately not always intelligible, as in the case of the little girl 
who, on being asked what dice were (the word occurring in her 
lesson), answered, to the amusement of the teacher, "small cubs 
at play " ! 

The game of draughts is so called from its being a game of 
moves with separate pieces. A draught is literally what is 
dragged or drawn. A draught of water is as much as is drawn 
down the throat at once ; a draught of fishes what is taken at 
one drag of the net. A move at chess or similar game was for- 
merly known by this name 

" The burgerse took avisement long on every draught. 
Draw on, said the burgerse, Beryn, ye have the wers : 
The next draught thereafter, he took a rook for nought." 

In the same way, in Italian tiro signifies a move at chess, from 
tirare, to draw. Draughts is purely a game of calculation, and as 
such craves wary policy, and not like whist, in which chance and 
skill unite : chance distributes the cards, and skill controls their 
destiny. But most of the games connected with dice and cards 
are still more closely connected with chance, and, in consequence, 
the hazard is very great. In fact, the name of hazard is given 
to a game which depends entirely upon the throws of the dice. 
Many conjectural etymologies of the word have been proposed, all 
destitute of proof; but there seems no reason for rejecting the 
opinion of William of Tyre, recorded in history, that hasard was 
a particular game of dice which was invented during the siege of 
a castle of Syria called Hasart, and took its name from this 
locality. The name was afterwards extended and applied to risk, 
chance, or danger of any kind. 



AMUSEMENTS, ETC. 351 

The game of battledore and shuttlecock is so well known among 
children that no further description is necessary than the names 
convey. Battledore is really a light bat, and comes from the 
Sp. batidor, meaning a beater the termination dor in Sp. signify- 
ing an active agent. Shuttlecock is supposed to be a corruption of 
shuttlecork, as it is really an ornamented cork stuck with feathers, 
flying backwards and forwards through the air. The word shuttle 
(from AS. sceolan, to shoot) is properly the implement by which 
the thread is shot to and fro, backwards and forwards, in weaving. 
An interesting story is told by Mary Sommerville (the great 
scientist) of her early days when, as a little girl, she sat in the 
old parish church of Burntisland, where her grandfather was 
clergyman. It was in the days when the incorporated trades of 
maltsters, weavers, &c., had each pews or portions of the church 
assigned to them, and to the weavers was assigned a portion of 
the gallery, on the front of which were printed the words, as being 
very appropriate, " My days are swifter than a weaver's shuttle, 
and are spent without hop job." She had no difficulty in under- 
standing what the shuttle was, and the appropriateness of the 
comparison between the swiftness of the shuttle and the swifter 
passage of her days, but what weaving implement this hop job 
could be perplexed her mightily. She could find nothing about 
any weaver's loom which gave any clue to its nature, and every 
Sunday for a long time she pondered more over its meaning than 
over the sermon ; and it was not for many years afterwards, when 
she was far away, that one day, on turning up the Book of Job, 
she found the words, "My days are swifter than a weaver's 
shuttle, and are spent without hope." Then was the mystery 
solved, and the "hop job" resolved into its component parts 
"hop," a misspelling for hope, and "job," with a small j, the 
name of the writer of the Book of Job, attached to hop for want 
of space, but taking it for granted that all knew it was a Scrip- 
tural quotation, without specifying chapter and verse. 

Sport is a name under which many amusements are included, 
and is in all probability a contraction of disport (through the 
OF. desporter, to amuse), from L. dis, away or apart, and porto, 



352 



SIGNIFICANT ETYMOLOGY. 



portare, to carry (p. 342), so that it literally signifies diversion 
(what turns one away from his usual mode of life). A man's port 
is his carriage, his usual demeanour how he carries himself 
(F. comment vous portez-vous ?). To disport, therefore, or to- 
disport oneself, is to divert oneself. Byron speaks of disport- 
ing here, like any other fly. 



353 



CHAPTEE XXVI. 

OCCULT SCIENCES. 

Magic is the science of the Magi, or the (pretended) art of pro- 
ducing marvellous results contrary to nature. The Magi them- 
selves were the priests of the Persians, or the wise men of the 
East. The word is the Gr. magos (great), said to have been 
originally a title equivalent to " reverend "or " doctor " given by 
the Akkadians, the primitive inhabitants of Chaldea, to their wise 
men, whose learning was chiefly in what we should now call 
astrology and magical arts. A magician is one who is skilled 
in magic, although he goes by many other names. At one time 
he is spoken of as a sorcerer (from F. sorcier, Sp. sortero, L. sorti- 
arius), literally one who predicts the future by casting lots (from 
L. sors, a lot), hence a fortune-teller or conjurer generally; at 
other times a soothsayer i.e., a sayer of the sooth and sooth or 
soth in AS. is truth, reality, so that to soothsay is to say or tell 
the truth, and afterwards it came to signify to foretell future events 
without being inspired. We still use the word sooth in such 
phrases as " sooth to say " and " forsooth ! " Again, and still in a 
favourable light, he is called a diviner, meaning one who can read 
the future (from L. divino, to be divinely inspired, to prophesy, 
from divus, Godlike or divine). Very frequently he is called a 
wizard ; properly and originally the word signifies a wise man. 
Milton calls the three Magi " the star-led wizards " it is wise, 
with the suffix ard or art, as in drunkard, coward, sluggard, brag- 
gart. This suffix seems to have come into English from the 
French ; but it is of Germanic origin, and once meant " bold " or 
"hardy." It is the same as the English adjective hard, and 

z 



354 SIGNIFICANT ETYMOLOGY. 

appears in various proper names, as Keginhard. In old English 
wizard was spelt with s and not with z, and its connection with 
wisdom was then more apparent. The word wiseacre is more 
closely connected with it than at first sight appears, for the 
Ger. iceis - sagen, to foresee, is the MH.Ger. wizagon (from 
wizago, a prophet), afterwards corrupted to wizsagen or wissagen 
by confusion with sagen, to say. It is a very erroneous etymology 
which would see in the Ger. wets sager, a wise sayer, the 
original of our wiseacre, which signifies at the best a wise fellow, 
but in common speech and in reality a pretentious fool The un- 
meaning suffix acre is less objectionable than the corrupt German 
suffix sager. The word wiseacre once afforded to Curran the 
material for a smart retort to a dull but wealthy lawyer, who was 
arguing that none but those who possessed some landed property 
should be admitted to the bar. " Then may I ask, sir, how many 
acres are required to make a wiseacre ? " Very closely connected 
with wizard in many ways is the word witch. It comes from our 
English word wit, from AS. witan, to know, and so a witch is 
supposed to have supernatural power and knowledge, and have 
compact with evil spirits. The word was not originally confined 
to women, but was used of men also, like the AS. wicca, a wizard. 
In Wicliffe's translation of Acts viii., Simon Magus is called " a 
wicche," and in a 'Discourse on Witchcraft,' published in 1665, 
p. 25, the writer says: "This is notable in that story, that this 
young witch, doubting that his wife's examination would betray 
his knavery, told the Inquisitor that in truth his wife was guilty as 
well as he." So Dromio of Syracuse says, in the " Comedy of 
Errors," IV. iv. 160, "I could find it in my heart to stay here 
still and turn witch." And Charmian says to the soothsayer 
in " Antony and Cleopatra," I. ii. 40 : " Out, fool ! I forgive thee 
for a witch"; and again in "Cymbeline," I. vi. 165 : "He is one 
the truest manner'd ; such a holy witch that he enchants societies 
into him." From this word, with the AS. prefix be, thoroughly, 
we have to bewitch, to exercise witchcraft, and metaphorically to 
fascinate or charm, and so we speak of bewitchery and bewitchingly. 
Another name given to a certain class of magicians is that of necro- 



OCCULT SCIENCES. 355 

mancer, or one who practises necromancy, which is the art of reveal- 
ing future events by communication with the dead, so called from 
the Greek word nekromanteia (nekros, dead, and mantis, a prophet). 
They are also frequently called seers, from their foreseeing events, 
as prophets. And they do all this in a variety of ways. Some 
exercise their power by a spell, repeating a form of words sup- 
posed to possess magical power, as we might spell or repeat the 
different letters of a word ; and so we talk of a good spell and a long 
spell. The AS. word spell signifies originally a tale or narrative. 
If this magic formula is not merely repeated but sung or chanted, 
it is called an incantation (from L. incantare in, into or upon, and 
canto, I sing, the frequentative, or cano, cecini, cantum, canere, to 
sing). This is also called an enchantment, from L. incantamentum 
(through F. enchanter), the chanting a magical verse or formula, 
which was supposed to have a very potent influence ; and the 
person who repeats or sings this is called an enchanter, a word 
now generally applied to any one who charms or delights. The 
word charm is very closely allied to this, for it is something 
believed to possess hidden power or influence. It comes to us 
through the F. charme, from the L. carmen, a song, and the person 
who enchants or delights is called a charmer. He exercises a very 
powerful influence, an inexplicable influence, over others, which is 
called fascination, from the L. fascinum (Gr. baskaneon), an en- 
chantment chiefly by the eyes or tongue. Sometimes the instru- 
ment employed is a talisman (Sp. talisman, from Arabic tilsam, a 
magical image, from Gr. telesma, tribute, in late Greek incantation, 
mystery from Gr. telos, completion), among Eastern nations a 
magical figure cut or engraved in connection with certain supersti- 
tious observances, &c. At other times it is an amulet (F. amulette, 
from L. amuletum, a charm), of unknown origin, a preservative 
against sickness, poison, &c. ; worn generally around the neck, 
in the belief that it will ward off disease or evil. The word 
phylactery comes to us through the OF. filatere, from L. and Gr. 
phylact&rium or phylacterion, an amulet (L. amuletum, a charm), 
from phylacter, a watchman, a guard, from phylasso, to watch 
or guard. Among the Jews it meant those scrolls of parchment 



356 SIGNIFICANT ETYMOLOGY. 

on which were texts from the law (especially from Exodus and 
Deuteronomy) worn by devout persons on the forehead, arms, or 
breast, particularly by the Pharisees, who, we are told (Matthew 
xxiii. 5), "made broad their phylacteries," so that they might have 
room to put more texts on them, and thvis vaunt and parade their 
own righteousness. A philtre (Gr. philtron and L. philtrum) is an 
artificial means of exciting love, a charm or love potion. Magic 
has been divided into black magic and white magic. Black 
magic is evil magic, or magic used with evil purposes for example, 
to harm others or to bring evil upon them. The evil eye and the 
use of evil spells come under this category : evil magic, too, had 
dealings with the evil one. White magic, on the other hand, 
was magic used for good purposes, such as healing the sick, or 
curing diseases by means of spells. It did not deal with witch- 
craft, sorcery, or evil spirits. It is supposed that the name of 
black magic, or, as it has long been called, the black art, was given 
to that branch of it originally, not so much because it had to do 
with the devil as because the word " necromancy " being, as we have 
seen, from the Greek, was not properly understood by the Latin 
medieval writers, and they spelt it nigromantia, as if its first 
syllable had been L. niger, black, from which we have our word 
negro. In Minshaw's Dictionary, published in 1627, we find such 
spelling as nigromancie and negromancie in French, negromantia 
in Italian, negromancia in Spanish. 

Legerdemain signifies literally "light of hand," being the 
translation of the French words which compose it (viz., leger, 
light ; de, of ; main, hand), that lightness of hand by which the 
dexterity of the performer is able to elude the vigilance of the 
spectator. It is commonly spoken of as sleight -of. -hand sleight 
(from sly) signifying slyness, cleverness, or cunning. It is some- 
times called prestidigitation, from the Latin words prcesto or 
presto, quickly, and digitus, a finger quick fingers or light- 
fingered. The word presto in Italian signifies quick also, and is 
frequently used in music as the term denoting quick time, and 
especially by jugglers, as if they were making an appeal to the 
supernatural powers, whom they profess to help them, to lose no 



OCCULT SCIENCES. 



357 



time. I suppose we all must have heard on such occasions, " Hey, 
presto, change ! " and in a moment the apparent or supposed change 
is effected. 1 

A juggler is another name for one who uses sleight-of-hand, but 
claims no superior powers, as it comes from the L. joculari (from 
jocus), to joke, as he does it in sport. The word conjurer, how- 
ever, is different. It comes through F. conjurer, from L. conjurare 
(con, and jurare, to swear), to call on or summon by a sacred name, 
to implore solemnly ; hence to conjure means to claim the aid of 
superior or even of infernal powers, to use supernatural influence, 
or practise magical arts. 



1 There is somehow a closer con- 
nection with this word prestidigita- 
tion than is generally recognised, 
for the Latin word prcestigia signifies 
sleight of hand, an imposture, or an 
illusion, or even a fascination. 
From this we have the word 
prestige, in French signifying a 
charm, a method of fascination, and 



used by us for two hundred years 
as meaning the moral influence 
derived from past successes and 
achievements, on which a confident 
belief is founded on future triumphs ; 
influence of character or conduct ; 
weight and influence from former 
deeds or character. 



358 



CHAPTEE XXVII. 

THE DRAMA. 

I HAD intended including the drama among amusements, but on 
thinking over its history, and especially the place it held in Greece 
and Eome, and the purpose it served when it was first introduced 
into our own land in Christian times, I felt that, whatever might 
be the case now, it had in former days a high intellectual aim, and 
in our own land at first a great Christian purpose. The great 
tragedies of Greece and Eome were not then composed, acted, nor 
listened to for the mere sake of amusement, although Aristophanes 
among the Greeks, and Plautus and Terence among the Eomans, 
made their comedies for the amusement of their fellow-countrymen. 
It is possible to trace the earliest origin of our own stage to a 
period not very long subsequent to the Norman Conquest, for the 
custom of representing episodes from Biblical history and the lives 
of the saints, in a rude dramatic form, seems to have been intro- 
duced from France, and to have been employed by the clergy as a 
means of communicating religious instruction to the rude populace 
of the Anglo-Norman epoch. Such religious spectacles, from the 
sacred nature of their subject, were called Mysteries or Miracle 
Plays. The earliest of whose representation we have record is the 
" Mystery of St Catharine," composed by Geoffrey, Master of the 
Convent School at St Albans, for performance by his pupils at 
Dunstable Priory. Its date was probably about 1110. Geoffrey, 
whose house was burned the night after the play, took holy orders 
and became Abbot of St Albans in 1119. The play itself con- 
sisted, as far as is known, of a series of scenes representing the 
miracles and martyrdom of the saint, and was performed on 



THE DRAMA. 359 

the festival commemorating her death (November 25 in our 
calendar). In an age when the great mass of the laity, from the 
highest to the lowest, were in a state of extreme ignorance, and the 
little learning of the day was confined to the Church, it was quite 
natural that the governing class of ecclesiastics should employ so 
obvious a means of communicating elementary instruction to the 
people, and, by gratifying the curiosity of their rude hearers, extend 
and strengthen the Church's influence. Obviously the form and 
the spirit of these mysteries were derived from the Church's ritual. 
Plays like this of St Catharine were applications and extensions of 
the principle which gave so realistic and dramatic a character to 
the Holy Week and Easter. The mystery was a further attempt 
to popularise all this to draw people to the Church by presenting 
them with religious amusement. There has been considerable 
doubt as to why they should have been called " mysteries." It 
has been suggested on good authority that the word " mysteries," 
as thus used, should properly be spelt mistery, ME. mistere, 
corrupted from OF. mestier, F. metier ; that it signifies originally a 
trade or handicraft ; and that it was afterwards applied to this kind 
of rude drama of a religious nature because it was acted by crafts- 
men. But I think this will not suffice to explain the use of the 
word in the case before us. Whatever may have been the case at 
a much later period, it is very certain that when these plays 
received the name of "mysteries" they were not performed by 
handicraftsmen. They were, in the first place, composed by monks 
and acted by monks ; the cathedral was transformed in many 
instances into a theatre ; the stage, a species of graduated platform 
in three divisions, rising one over the other, was placed near or 
above the high altar ; and the costumes were furnished from the 
rich vestry of the church. This is the case with the Strasburg 
miracle play which Longfellow inserted in his " Golden Legend," 
and this evidence may be received as the trustworthy authority of 
a writer well acquainted with this species of literature. It was 
absolutely necessary that some comic element should be introduced 
to enliven the graver scenes, and especially in pieces of inordinate 
length. One play, founded on the Creation and Fall of Man, 



360 SIGNIFICANT ETYMOLOGY. 

occupied six days in the performance. Some alleviation was 
needed ; and considering the rude civilisation of the audience, 
some farcical or amusing element was absolutely required. This 
was found in the easy expedient of placing the wicked persons of 
the drama, whether human or spiritual, in ludicrous situations, or 
surrounded by ludicrous accompaniments. Thus the devil gener- 
ally played the part of a clown or jester, and was exhibited in a 
humour half terrific and half burlesque. But the audience were 
not contented with the amusement which they extracted from the 
grotesque gambols and defeated machinations of Satan and his 
imps, or with the mixture of merriment and horror inspired by 
horns and tails and hairy faces and howling mouths ; and so the 
authors of the piece introduced human buffoons. The modern 
puppet play of Punch and Judy, with its struggle between Punch 
and the devil, is unquestionably a direct survival in which the 
evil one was alternately the conqueror and victim of the buffoon 
or jester. It is easy to see that these ludicrous episodes, introduced 
to enliven the severity of a sacred tragedy, kept a conventional 
hold on the drama. The twelfth century miracle plays had been 
performed in church, and by the clergy. A gradual process of 
secularisation took place. With the introduction of secular per- 
formers, the mysteries passed from the church to the churchyard, 
where a stage in tiers was erected, the uppermost level with the 
church door, representing heaven and paradise, the second earth, 
the lowest hell, whence fiends sometimes issued and passed 
through the crowd of spectators. Then a further shifting 
of scene to some green or other open space was necessitated 
by the desecration of the graves in the churchyard, 
trampled over by the mass of spectators. Nevertheless 
a real effort was made to secure the religious element, 
to which all mystery plays were ostensibly directed. The 
word mystery or mysteries was used with reference to many 
of the rites and processions of the old Greek religions ; and so, 
properly speaking, these more modern mysteries dealt with gospel 
events only, their object being primarily to set forth, by an illus- 
tration of the prophetic history of the Old Testament, and more 



THE DRAMA. 361 

particularly of the gospel history of the New, the central mystery 
of the redemption of the world as accomplished by the Nativity, 
the Passion, and the Resurrection. The Greek word mtisterion, 
and the L. mysterium, signify that which required a special revela- 
tion to make it known. The mystery, once the only form of 
dramatic representation, continued to be popular up to the end of 
the fourteenth century ; and even now in some pastoral and re- 
mote corners of Europe notably at Ober-Ammergau the famous 
Passion Play sets forth the whole scheme of Eedemption, by that 
employment of type and antitype which was so conspicuous a 
feature in all the great medieval schemes of religious decoration, 
and is found in the structure of the old English mysteries. The 
moralities, as they are termed, mark another step by which the 
dramatic art diverged from its exclusively religious character and 
acquired more and more of a secular spirit in its subjects and in 
the personages who took part in it. The moralities grew naturally 
out of the mysteries, and eventually, about the beginning of the 
fifteenth century, supplanted them. Instead of the Deity and His 
angels, the saints, the patriarchs, and the characters of the Old and 
New Testaments, the persons who figure in the moralities are 
"Every Man," a general type or expression of humanity; "Lusty 
Juventus," who represents the follies and weaknesses of youth; 
Good Counsel, Repentance, Gluttony, Pride, Avarice, and the like. 
The great weakness of the morality was that in taking general 
abstractions for its dramatis personal it gave them either so much 
individuality that their real intention was concealed, or so little 
that they were dull abstract qualities and little more. The action 
was in general exceedingly simple, and the tone grave and doc- 
trinal, although of course there still existed the old necessity for 
the introduction of comic scenes. The devil was far too useful 
and popular a person to be suppressed, and his battles or scoldings 
with the vice or clown were still retained to furnish forth " a 
fit of mirth." Thus certain likenesses to the mystery remained, 
certain distinctions from it were adopted. Eut the leading differ- 
ence between the mystery and the morality is that while the 
miracle play merely exhibits a series of isolated scenes, the morality 



362 



SIGNIFICANT ETYMOLOGY. 



works out the purpose of its allegory by means of a continuous 
plot. The mysteries were originally religious, the moralities ethical ; 
but the one species imperceptibly melts into the other. 

Side by side with the moralities, and bearing a very strong general 
resemblance to them, grew up the interludes, which nevertheless 
bring us considerably nearer the regular drama. The interlude 
(from L. ludus, 1 a game or sport) was of early growth, and one speci- 



1 The verb ludo, lusi, lusum, ludSre, 
to play, or the noun ludus, which 
enters into the composition of inter- 
lude, signifies originally in Latin a 
game or sport. But as several of 
these games required teaching and 
training, such as music and boxing 
were taught, the places where they 
were trained being called schools, 
although remarkable chiefly for 
active recreation consisting of 
bodily exercises ; and at a later 
period the name of ludus was given 
to a school in which reading, writ- 
ing, arithmetic, with other branches 
of literature, were taught so much 
so that ludi magister was the Latin 
for a schoolmaster. The Latin verb 
attudo, allusi, &c., however, from 
which we have our words allude, 
and allusion, invariably had refer- 
ence to the idea of play or light 
handling of any subject, and when 
not used of jesting or joking, meant 
a mere passing reference, or touch- 
ing lightly on any subject. It 
is frequently and erroneously used 
as a fine-sounding synonym of say 
or mention, or when much more 
than a passing reference is meant. 
It was certainly an abuse of the 
word to say, as was said lately in 
connection with the death of the 
provost of a city, that the minister 
in the prayer alluded to his death ; 
or to preface a long description 
about to be inflicted on listener or 
reader with these words : " We 
may now allude to Miss Hosmer, the 
only pupil whom he ever professed 
to teach." Collusion, from the same 
root, means originally a sporting or 



playing together, and then from 
this intimacy a secret agreement 
between two or more persons for 
some evil purpose. Delude, now 
signifying to deceive, signified 
originally to make sport of, to mock, 
and very soon to impose upon, to 
deceive. An illusion is a mere 
cheat of the bodily senses or of the 
mind, and we speak of illusory 
hopes or promises and of the illu- 
sions of a heated imagination. To 
elude originally meant to win any- 
thing from any one in play and 
afterwards to escape, or avoid by 
artifice as to elude detection or to 
elude their vigilance. A prelude, 
as the word implies (prce, before, 
and ludo, to play), is a short 
musical flourish or voluntary played 
before the piece to be performed, 
and then in general something intro- 
ductory, leading up to what is more 
serious. The growl of the thunder 
is the prelude to the storm. Ludi- 
crous denotes a thing which is 
personally laughable, but does not 
convey the idea of contempt or pity 
as the word ridiculous (L. ridiculus, 
from L. rideo, risi, risum, ridere, 
to laugh, to laugh at, to hold up 
to ridicule, to deride). The word 
grotesque, now used in the sense of 
ludicrous, from incongruity, fantas- 
tically absurd, meant originally and 
etymologically painting appropriate 
to grottoes (grotto being an adapta- 
tion of It. grotta, for which Dante 
has also grotto), and can be traced 
back through OF. crote or croute 
to popular L. crupta and grupta, 
through literary L. crypto, to Gr. 



THE DKAMA. 



363 



men can be assigned to the reign of Edward I. Such of the shorter 
moralities as " Lusty Juventus," which was written in the middle 
of the sixteenth century, may be counted as interludes ; for this 
class of composition, as its name implies, from L. inter, between, 
and Indus, a play (not a play between the play and after-piece, or 
between the acts of a play), was intended to fill up the intervals 
between the courses of a banquet, and was therefore short and 
pithy. The tone of the interlude was merry and farcical \ its sub- 
ject, while still adhering in some sense to religion, deserted moral 
theology for controversy. The connection of the interlude with lay 
authors and actors placed it in a certain opposition to the Church, 
from which it took its birth ; its popularity as a courtly entertain- 
ment and as a learned pastime completed the work, and thus the 
drama was gradually enfranchised, and entered on its independence. 
The word drama, which is assigned to this sort of performance 
as a representation on the stage of actions in human life, is through 
the Latin from the Gr. drama, dramatos from drao, to do ; and 
the dramatis personse are the characters in the play. The name 
of theatre was orginally given to the place occupied by the 



krupte, a vault, from Jcruptein, to 
hide or conceal in a cave or cavern, 
especially one which is picturesque, 
and very especially to many figures 
or designs characterised by comic 
distortion or exaggeration. Its or- 
igin is thus grotesque enough, being 
taken from certain whimsical figures 
found in the subterranean apart- 
ments, grottoes, in the ancient ruins 
at Rome, and thence extended to 
typify anything fantastical, ludi- 
crous, or irregularly proportioned. 
Such is the derivation given by Ben- 
venuto Cellini in his 'Memoires,' 
in which he says : " These foliages 
have received the name of gro- 
tesque from the moderns because 
they are found in certain caverns in 
Rome, which in ancient days were 
baths, studies, halls, and other 
places of the like nature. The 
curious happened to discover them 
in these subterranean caverns, whose 
low situation is owing to the raising 



of the surface of the ground in the 
series of the ages, and as these 
caverns in Rome are usually called 
grottoes, they from them acquired 
the title of grotesque." This word 
gave Sydney Smith the opportunity 
of making a jest at the expense of 
Mrs Grote, the wife of the historian, 
which at least had the salt of malice 
in it. She was famed for the bad 
taste of her costumes, and as one 
day she swept by in an extra- 
ordinary headdress, Smith pointed 
her out to a friend with the words, 
" That is the origin of the word 
' grotesque.' " Mrs Grote had her 
revenge, however, which she took. 
Smith's daughter married a Dr Hol- 
land, and when the latter was 
knighted somebody spoke of his 
wife as Lady Holland. " Do you 
mean Lord Holland's wife ? " asked 
a listener. " No," put in Mrs Grote, 
' ' this is New Holland, whose capital 
is Sydney." 



364 SIGNIFICANT ETYMOLOGY. 

spectators where they could see it best, from the Gr. theatron, 
from theaomai, to see, and afterwards was applied to the whole 
building. The word amphitheatre, in like manner, was first 
applied to the circular seats all round, from which the spectators 
could see all round about from Gr. amphi, round about. The 
orchestra, in the Greek theatre, was the place where the chorus 
danced (L., from Gr. orchestra, from orcheomai, to dance) ; then it 
came to signify the part of a theatre where the musicians were 
placed, and at times the word is applied to the performers in the 
orchestra. The stage, which is the name now frequently given 
to the profession of an actor, is literally an elevated platform, 
especially in a theatre, and sometimes called the boards, from 
the wood employed in its construction. The word itself is a 
Danish word signifying a ladder. Like the French, by whom 
this word has been modified through estage to etage, a storey of 
a house, we employ it also in the sense of an elevated structure 
by a ladder of steps. The scene originally was part of the stage 
of a theatre on which the actors perform ; and there were scene- 
painters and scene-shifters. But as such wings and scenes are 
scarcely used now, we have not so much change of scene as 
formerly. The word came to us originally through the F. sc&ne 
from L. scena, Gr. skene, a covered place, a booth, a stage. The 
word pit reminds us that many of the early representations took 
place in cockpits. Indeed there at one time existed in London a 
theatre which had originally been employed as a cockpit (a pit or 
enclosed space where game-cocks fought), and was consequently 
known as the Cockpit Theatre. Our old inns, of which a few 
specimens still remain, were built round an open courtyard, along 
each storey of which ran an open gallery or verandah (a kind of 
covered balcony Portuguese word, from Sanscrit varanda, from 
vri, to cover), and on this opened the doors of the rooms occupied 
by the guests. In order to witness the performance the inmates 
had merely to come out of their rooms into the gallery. The con- 
venience of this arrangement unquestionably suggested the prin- 
cipal features in the construction of later theatres. The galleries 
of the old inns were the prototypes of the circles of boxes in our 



THE DRAMA. 365 

modern theatres. This may account for the boxes, as we term 
them, being then, and for long after, called "the rooms." In 
the matter of properties, as they are to-day technically called 
(OF. proprete), the articles required by actors in a play, the old 
Elizabethan theatres were better provided than could have been 
expected, as may be seen from the very curious lists of such 
articles which have accidentally descended to us from the old 
green-room or apartment in which the actors assembled until 
they were called on to appear on the stage so called, it is 
said, from the green - coloured walls of the original apartment 
so provided behind the scenes of Drury Lane Theatre by David 
Garrick. The occupants of the gallery have received the very 
general appellation of the gods not because they are so high 
up, but because the ceilings of theatres were formerly embellished 
with representations of mythological deities, surrounded by a 
sea of azure to imitate the skies ; consequently the patrons 
of the gallery were said to be among the gods. 

It is not easy always to determine the exact meaning of the 
word pageant as applied to the stage. The best illustration of 
the ambiguity in the use of the word will be found in the 
account of the method of representation given by Archdeacon 
Rogers, who saw the Chester plays performed in 1594, and 
who lays the whole scene before us vividly enough. "Every 
company had his pageant or part, which pageants were a high 
scaffold with two rooms, a higher and a lower, upon four wheels. 
In the lower they apparelled themselves, and in the higher 
room they played, being all open on the top, that all beholders 
might hear and see them. The place where they played them 
was in every street. They began first at the Abbey gates, and 
when the first pageant was played it was wheeled to the High 
Cross before the Mayor, and so to every street, so that every 
street had a pageant played before them all at one time, till 
all the pageants for the day appointed were played, and when 
one pageant was near ended, word was brought from street to 
street, that so they might come in place thereof exceeding orderly, 
and all the streets have their pageants before them all at one 



366 



SIGNIFICANT ETYMOLOGY. 



time playing together ; to see which plays was great resort, and 
also scaffolds and stages made in the streets on those places 
where they determined to play their pageants." The word conies 
through the ME. pagent, with excrescent t as in ancient, pheasant, 
&c., from an older form pagen or pagin from low L. paglna, a 
stage, something framed or compacted from pango, 1 to fix. The 
word pageant was applied originally to the stage ; then each single 
play was called a pageant, and finally the word was confined to 
tableaux vivants, where the spectacle was presented in dumb show 
by disguised and costumed personages, and this representation was 
often placed on a wheeled platform, and was part of some of those 
long processions which formed the principal feature of ancient 
festivities. The survival of the pageant is obvious in the procession 
on Lord Mayor's Day and on other occasions ; and pageantry has 
come now to signify any showy exhibition or spectacle, any osten- 
tatious display or fleeting show. 

Dramatic compositions class themselves, by the very nature of 
the case, under the two great categories of Tragedy and Comedy. 
The word tragedy is believed to be derived from the two 
Gr. words tragos, a goat, and ode, a song or recitation lit., a 
goat-song. Thus far all is plain enough ; but what is not so 
plain is the connection which the goatherd had with the trans- 
action. In the early days of Greek history, Thespis and his 
band of strolling players acted from waggons as their theatre, 
besmearing their faces with vine-leaves for masks, and thus this 
was the germ of the Greek tragedy. The name of goat-song may 
have been given either because these mournful dramas may 



1 Pango, pepigi, pactum, pangSre, 
to fasten, gives us not merely page, 
a pageant, and pageantry, but com- 
pact (of bodies which are closely 
and firmly joined together, as when 
we speak of a compact volume or 
a compact arrangement). A body 
infringes on another which it strikes 
against. Impact means the shock 
in striking. We have also pact or 
compact, an agreement between two 
or more persons. From this word 



also comes propago, propagum, a 
slip or shoot of a plant for setting 
or pegging down. We propagate 
rumours when we speak of them. 
We speak of the propagation of 
plants or animals. The institution 
in Rome for propagating the faith 
is called the propaganda ; and we 
have propagandist, one who devotes 
himself to the spread of certain 
tenets of a system. 



THE DRAMA. 367 

have been exhibited when a goat was sacrificed, or because a 
goat may have been the reward of the best reciter, or because 
the actors were dressed in goat-skins. 

Comedy comes from the Gr. word komodos, a comedian, a com- 
pound either of Jcomos, a banquet, and ode, an ode or lyric song ; 
or of its probable source home, a village, and aiodos, a singer or 
minstrel from aidein, to sing. The Ttomodos was thus the 
minstrel or village bard, or the bard of the revels, and a comedy 
was originally a festive spectacle with singing and dancing. The 
word farce is so called because it is stuffed with low humour and 
extravagant wit from F. farce, the stuffing in meat, from L. 
farcio, to stuff. Farce, then, meant at first a " stuffing " ; and 
that it does not yet contradict the original meaning will be readily 
admitted by those who have been obliged for two or three hours 
to listen to certain entertainments of the kind. It has been 
suggested that the name of farce, in the sense of stuff, was used 
not so much with reference to the play as to the players, in 
allusion to the custom of the ancient buffoons of padding out 
their clothing to abnormal proportions. At a later date the 
padding was dispensed with, but the rude garments remained, 
they survive even now in our clowns and pierrots. This last 
word has been regarded by many as a compound, pier-rot as a 
species of rot to which we have become accustomed at the piers 
of our watering-places, &c. 

The pantomime as now presented on the stage has nothing in 
common with its original purpose. It was the trade of certain 
individuals among the Romans to follow in the train of a funeral 
procession for the purpose of imitating or representing in dumb 
show the leading actions in the life of the deceased. These per- 
formers were called mimi, the plural of L. mimus (Gr. mimos), a 
person who, by gesticulations and gestures of all kinds, imitated 
the actions and character of others, and their performance bore 
the name of pantomime, from the Gr. pantomimos, either imitation 
of all, or all imitation (pas, pantos, all, and mimos, an imitation). 
The word burlesque, which signifies literally a jesting or ridicule, 
is the name given to certain ludicrous representations on the stage, 



368 SIGNIFICANT ETYMOLOGY. 

which make a pretence of exaggerating and ridiculing the conven- 
tionalities of the modern drama, but which is really nothing more 
than a variety show. It comes through the French from the 
It. Imrlesco, to ridicule, based on burla, mockery, and burlare, to 
ridicule. Travesty is a kind of burlesque, in which the original 
characters are preserved but the situations parodied, through the 
F. travestir, to disguise, from the L. trans, over, and vestio, to clothe. 
Sometimes the words are interchanged, as in a translation of 
Homer's ' Iliad,' published in two vols. in 1797, the name of the 
book being ' Homer Travestie,' but on the title-page " a burlesque 
translation of Homer." More frequently interchanged still are the 
words travesty and parody ; but parody is properly and originally 
applicable to the caricature of a poem, made by applying its words 
and ideas with a burlesque effect (from the Gr. parodia, from para, 
beside, and ode, an ode or song). Parodies were favourite forms of 
humour and amusement with the ancient Greeks and Eomans, 
Catullus and Virgil having suffered most. In this country, per- 
haps the most famous are the ' Eejected Addresses,' written by the 
brothers Smith, caricaturing some of the principal poets and writers 
of the day. They were so called as being professedly sent in by 
their alleged authors as addresses in competition for the prize for 
the best poetical address to be read at the opening of the new 
Drury Lane Theatre after it had been destroyed by fire in 1812. 
They professed that none of these had proved suitable, and had 
been rejected by the committee. The book appeared simul- 
taneously with the opening of the theatre, and was an overwhelm- 
ing success. The parodies on Scott, Crabbe, and Wordsworth were 
voted especially fine. The imitations of Southey, Byron, and Moore 
are also famous. In Barham's ' Ingoldsby Legends ' there is the 
admirable imitation of " The Burial of Sir John Moore," beginning 

" Not a sou had he got, not a guinea or note, 
And he looked most confoundedly flurried," &c. 

The parody of one of Wordsworth's famous poems appeared in 
Henry S. Leigh's 'Carols of Cockayne.' It is entitled "Only 
Seven," and begins thus 



THE DRAMA. 369 

" I marvelled why a simple child, 
That lightly draws its breath, 
Should utter groans so veiy wild, 
And look as pale as death," &c. 

From the same author we have a clever burlesque of a well- 
known passage in "Lalla Rookh," beginning thus 

" I never reared a young gazelle 
(Because, you see, I never tried)," &c. 

This poem has proved a great temptation to the parodist : we give 
two more attempts, the first by an anonymous writer, beginning 

" I never had a piece of toast 

Particularly long and wide, 
But fell upon the sanded floor, 
And always on the buttered side." 

The second is from C. S. Calverley, perhaps the best of all English 
parodists 

" I never nursed a dear gazelle, 

But I was given a parroquet 
(How I did nurse him if unwell !), 
He's imbecile, but living yet." 

His travesty of Tennyson's " Brook," called the " Tinker," is admir- 
able after its kind 

" I loiter down by thorp and town, 

For any job I'm willing ; 
Take here and there a dusty brown, 
And here and there a shilling," &c. 

Unlike burlesque, where the subjects remain and the characters 
reappear the same, though trivialised and degraded, in parodies 
new characters apply old and high-flown expressions and language 
to a new subject and an altered case. Harlequin (from the ~F, 
arlequin, It. arlecchino, perhaps from O.Fresian helle kin, " the host 
of hell," a troop of demons) was the leading character in a panto- 
mime, in a light spangled dress with a talismanic wand, by means 
of which he is supposed to be invisible and to play tricks; for 

2 A 



370 SIGNIFICANT ETYMOLOGY. 

although most of the characters were clothed in the prevailing 
fashion, there were certain conventional attributes always associated 
with particular supernatural personages angels, devils, ghosts, and 
so on. " A roobe for to go invisible " is one of the items in a list 
of properties. The word pantaloon is generally believed to come 
from a Greek word pant-a-lene, which signifies all-lion, and is 
believed to have some connection with the patron Saint of Venice 
the Lion of St Mark ; but if this be so, and if the F. pantalon 
and the It. pantalone have all come from this, it is a very great 
descent, and can only have been given originally as a sort of 
nickname. Yet so strong is the desire to connect the word with 
the Lion of Venice, that Lord Byron thought it must have been 
originally pantaleone, the planter of the lion i.e., the planter of 
the standard bearing the Lion of St Mark, and supposed to be 
applied to Venice (" Childe Harold," c. iv. note 9). Whatever the 
word originally, it was very early employed to describe a ridiculous 
character in a comedy pantomime, who wore a garment consisting 
of breeches and stockings all of one piece. It is, I think, on the 
whole more likely that the word was first applied to the dress 
which the buffoon wore, for the Italian word pantalone properly 
denotes a tight-fitting garment which covers the whole body down 
to the feet ; so that the well-known character in the Italian comedy 
received this name because his breeches and stockings were origin- 
ally made in one piece, and in this case, like the garment invented 
and used by Herbert Spencer, which he called the woolly bear, 
it may be that the word has come from the Gr. pan, all, and 
the L. talus, the heel or ankle, because it covered the whole body 
down to the feet. If it be objected that a Greek and a Latin word 
do not make a proper combination, yet such combinations exist ; 
or it is possible that the word was composed of pannus, cloth, a 
garment, or rags, and talus, the heel ; the ragged garment in which 
walked the lean and slippered pantaloon anything rather than 
the all-leon suggestion. A buffoon is almost another name for a 
pantaloon one who amuses by vulgar jests and grimaces : the word, 
through F. bouffon, a jester, is from It. bujfare, to jest or sport 
literally to puff out the cheeks, almost synonymous with clown 



THE DRAMA. 371 

(p. 229). The performances of all these and suchlike are gen- 
erally characterised by caricature (F., from It. caricatura, literally 
an overloaded representation of anything from carricare, to load, or 
from the L. carrus, a car). A frolic comes from the root preserved 
in the Ger. froh, joyful, and the suffix Ujk (English like, ly). 
Drollery is what excites mirth or laughter through the F. drole, 
as in Danish and Ger. drollig, funny. The word fun itself has 
probahly been imported from Ireland, in which occurs the word 
foun, delight ; and waggery generally is descriptive of mischievous 
pleasantry, and is likely derived from wagging the head in derision. 
Many of these excite laughter from their ludicrous associations. 
This word, coming from Indus, sport (already considered, p. 362), 
denotes a thing which is personally laughable, but does not convey 
the idea of contempt or pity which the word ridiculous does. 
We speak of a ludicrous situation, but of a ridiculous speech. 



372 



CHAPTEE XXVIII. 

MUSIC. 

Music might have been included under the heading of amusements 
were it not that in its higher forms it is of a very devotional 
character, and contemplates the advancement of man's highest 
good. The word itself is derived through the L. musica, from the 
Gr. mousiJce (techne understood), the art of music, or science of 
harmony from the word Mousce, the Muses. The name of anti- 
phon was given to the alternate chanting or singing in church, from 
the two Greek words anti, in return, and phone, the voice, express- 
ing a series of choral responses; whereas an anthem, which has 
been evolved out of the same word, and which originally signified 
a piece of sacred music sung in alternate parts, now signifies a piece 
of sacred music set to a passage of Scripture, and sung by all the 
congregation who can. The Psalms is the name given to one of 
the books of the Old Testament, which, when separately printed, 
is called the Psalter, or Book of Psalms. The word comes through 
the L. psalmits, from the Gr. psalmos lit., a twitching or twanging 
of the strings of a harp, from psallo, to twang ; and psalmody is 
the singing of psalms (psalmos, and ode, a song). The Hymns were 
founded on passages of Scripture, adapted to be sung either with 
or without a musical accompaniment : the name is derived from 
L. hymmis or Gr. hymnos. These hymns corresponded very closely 
to our Scotch paraphrases, which are metrical translations of 
different portions of Scripture adapted for singing; whereas the 
spiritual songs mentioned by the Apostle in Colossians iii. 16 
really resembled very much our modern hymns, which are not 
so much translations of Scripture passages as ascriptions of praise 



MUSIC. 



373 



to God for what He has done in creation, providence, and grace. 
The word canticle from L. canticulum, dim. of canticum orig- 
inally signified a song or ballad of any kind often accompanied 
with music, and is now generally used with reference to sacred 
songs ; and in the plural, Canticles, is used to denote the Song 
of Solomon, or, as it is generally termed, the " Song of Songs." 
We have also the word chant, signifying originally a song, 
but now a kind of sacred music in which prose is sung through 
the F. chanter, It. cantare, from L. canto, from cano, 1 to sing. 
The chant was the earliest form of song, owing to the Hebrew 
temples being of vast extent, and open to the sky : it was there- 
fore necessary, in order to make the voice travel from the wor- 
shippers to the priests and vice versd, to pitch it in a higher 
key, with the result that the monotone style of delivery became 
firmly established as the most suitable form of reciting prayers in 
chorus. The Ambrosian chant is a development of the original 
form of the chant by St Ambrose, Bishop of Milan in the fourth 
century, and the Gregorian chant a further development of the 
Ambrosian, introduced by Pope Gregory I. in the year 590. We 
have also a cantata, which is a poem set to music, interspersed with 
recitative. An oratorio is a kind of musical drama, usually 
founded on a Scriptural subject. The word is Italian in its 
origin, and this kind of musical drama was so called because it 
originated with the priests of the Oratory of St Philip Neri, 
founded at Rome in the year 1540. This word oratorio comes 
from the L. oro, oravi, oratum, orare, 2 to entreat, or to speak from 



1 This verb cano, cecini, cantum, 
canSre, to sing, supplies us with many 
words possibly canary ; canorous 
birds are good singers. Cant was at 
first a beggar's whine, and hence it 
came to mean hypocritical talk, or 
affecting the phrases of any profes- 
sion. A canto is one of the chief 
divisions of a poem of some length. 
We have also chanter and chantress 
and chanticleer. A chantry is an 
endowed chapel where daily masses 
are said or sung for the souls of the 
donors, or for such as they appoint. 



Accent and accentuation come from 
this word ; to enchant, enchant- 
ment, and disenchant; to descant 
on a theme ; and some believe in 
incantations. An incentive prompts 
to action. The precentor is the 
leader of the church choir or 
psalmody ; and to recant our opin- 
ions is formally to give them up. 
2 This verb gives us the following 
words : oracle, oracular. An oration 
is an elaborate speech delivered in 
a dignified manner. An orator is 
a public speaker possessing natural 



374 



SIGNIFICANT ETYMOLOGY. 



os, oris, the mouth. A concert is so called in accordance with the 
two Latin words con, together, and certare, to strive, signifying the 
combined efforts of several persons for the attainment of a desired 
end, not exclusively in connection with music, but applicable 
to any other form of human endeavour. Thus a number of 
persons may be said to act in concert in various ways, but a 
so-called concert given by one and the same musical performer 
is decidedly a misnomer. The name of opera l has been bestowed 
upon that form of musical drama which is regarded by musical 
enthusiasts as the crowning effort of human art, since its realisa- 
tion enlists the several arts of music, poetry, painting, and dancing, to 
say nothing of the mechanical arts for the production of the various 
stage effects. An overture is the name given to the instrumental 
music performed before the commencement of an opera, &c., and 
literally signifies an opening from the OF. overture (overt, from L. 
apertus, 2 open, pp. of aperio, to open). The word has also to signify 
a preliminary proposal, as making overtures ; while in ecclesiastical 



powers of eloquence, which may be 
made still more effective by studied 
elocution. Oratorical powers are 
proved by the effect on the audi- 
ence. Rhetoric is oratory reduced 
to rules. An oratory means also a 
place for prayer. Orison is a prayer 
or supplication : 

"Lowly they bowed, adoring, and began 
Their orisons, each morning duly paid." 
Milton. 

We adore God ; we are moved to 
adoration of Him by the beauties 
of nature. A man is inexorable who 
turns a deaf ear to every entreaty 
made to him to lessen the rigour of 
a particular sentence. The perora- 
tion means the conclusion or wind- 
ing-up of a speech. 

* Opera is either the plural of 
opus, operis, work, or the singular 
opera, ce, labour ; but from both the 
following words are derived, such 
as operatic music, an operation a 
sort of work which implies rule and 
purpose ; a law is said to operate 



for the harm or benefit of society ; 
an operative is a skilled workman ; 
things are operative or inoperative. 
An operator is one who operates, 
especially in surgery ; to co-operate 
is to work together in everything 
about some result. We speak of 
mutual co-operation, of distant co- 
operators, &c. From the L. opera 
comes the F. ceuvre, which appears 
in manure, manoeuvre (see mantis, 
p. 247, note), and inure. By inure- 
ment and training a man can bear 
almost anything. 

2 From apertus we have not merely 
aperient and aperture, but prob- 
ably the word pert. Pert seems 
to be derived from the L. apertus, 
open, then public, or without con- 
cealment, or without shame ; but 
the sense has now degenerated into 
saucy or impudent or impertinent. 
Malapert had this meaning from 
the beginning, but it is seldom used 
now, and pert seems to have taken 
its place. 



MUSIC. 



375 



language in Scotland it signifies a proposal made by the presbytery 
or synod, and sent up to the General Assembly as an overture 
to the supreme court. If adopted by the General Assembly, it 
is then sent down to the different presbyteries, who must by a 
majority approve of it before it can be passed into an Act. A 
madrigal is an elaborate vocal composition in five or six parts, 
or a short poem expressing a tender and graceful thought : 
literally the word signifies pastoral, It. madrigale, from mandra, 
a sheepfold, from L. and Gr. mandra, a fold ; the affix gal from 
L. caUx. Some of our old madrigals are as beautiful in language 
as they are in melody. Several collections were published in the 
reign of Elizabeth, and in the madrigals of her last years a remark- 
able sweetness of modulation has always been recognised. Serenade 
is the name given to evening music in the open air, and frequently 
signifies music performed by a gentleman under a lady's window 
at night (French, from It. serenata, from Prov. serena, evensong, 
from L. serus, late). 

Among musical instruments the grandest and noblest is the organ, 
a musical instrument with pipes, bellows, and keys through F. 
organs, from L. organum and Gr. organon, 1 akin to ergon, a work. 
Perhaps the most impressive musical instrument, next to the 
organ, is the violin, a stringed instrument played with a bow, 
F. violon, from It. violino, from viola, from low L. vidula. This, 
however, comes from the L. vitulor, atus, ari, to skip like a 
calf, to make merry or be playful, from the L. vitula, a calf. Our 
Scotch word fiddle seems to come from the same root. We have 
in AS. fithele, and Ger. fiedel. A cello, as it is called frequently, 
is short for violoncello, a large stringed musical instrument between 
the viol and the double-bass, held between the knees in playing. 
It is the Italian dim. of violono, a bass violin. The pianoforte is 



1 From organon we have also 
organist. We have an organism, 
organic substances, and inorganic. 
We may organise any government, 
any railway, or other complicated 
business. We speak of the organi- 



sation of a church ; and a body of 
rules for the direction of men's 
minds in the conduct of scientific 
investigation is sometimes called an 
organon. 



376 



SIGNIFICANT ETYMOLOGY. 



so called because it can produce sounds both piano (Italian for 
soft, from L. planus, plain, smooth) and forte, strong (from L. 
fortis). 

Before concluding what we have to say regarding man's mental 
nature, it is well to bear in mind that wisdom consists in the true 
balance of his mental powers. The word is Anglo-Saxon, and 
signified then the right use of knowledge. 



377 



CHAPTER XXIX. 

OUR MORAL NATURE. 

IN addition to his intellectual nature, man possesses a moral 
nature, which is determined by a moral faculty called the con- 
science. It is the faculty or principle by which we distinguish 
right from wrong. It is literally the knowledge of our own acts 
and feelings as to right or wrong. We propose, under the head 
of man's moral nature, to examine some of those words which 
relate to (1) Truth and its opposite ; (2) Justice and the reverse ; 
(3) Benevolence and its opposite ; (4) Self-control and the want 
of it. 

(1) Truth and its opposite. Truth is that which is true, or 
according to the facts of the case. Trow was an AS. word 
meaning to think, to believe, to be convinced of. From this 
comes true, anciently written "trew" (the past participle of "trow," 
as grew is of grow and knew of know), meaning trowed i.e., 
believed firmly. Truth (formerly written troweth and troth) is 
the 3rd person singular of the verb "to trow," describing that 
which one troweth or firmly believeth. To trust is to think or 
believe one to be true and faithful, and trustworthy is worthy of 
trust The AS. verb is trywsian, to think true, to confide in 
another. Troth is only an older form of the same word, and is 
still found in the English Church marriage service " thereto I 
plight thee my troth " and also in the word betroth, to contract 
or promise to marry, to affiance, from be and troth, or truth ; so 
also betrothal or betrothment. To say, then, that truth is just 
what any man troweth or thinketh, implies that there is no such 
thing as truth, seeing that no two people think ever alike ; but the 
truth to any man is that which he believes to be true and holds 



378 



SIGNIFICANT ETYMOLOGY. 



fast as truth. The Latin word for truth or truthfulness is veritas, 
from verum, 1 true. We shall first look at some of those words which 
are more or less closely connected with truth such as accuracy, 
that which is done or said with care, from ad, to, and cura, care. 
Exactness comes from L. exactus, a past participle of exigo, to drive 
out, to measure L. ex, and ago, to drive. Precision, the quality 
of being precise, comes through the F. from the L. pneclsus, past 
participle of prcecido (prce, before, and ccedo, to cut), what is cut 
to the exact size, neither too much nor too little. Punctuality is 
keeping to the exact time through F. ponetud, from L. punctum, 
a point, from the past participle of pungo, z which signifies to prick 
or sting, to make a puncture, a small hole. Sincerity is also 



1 From verus, a, um, true, and 
verax, ads, truthful, we have ver- 
acious. The thing said is true or 
not true, but the relator is veracious 
or the reverse. We speak of the 
truth of a story or history and of 
the veracity of the historian. The 
verdict of a jury (from dicZre, to 
say) is their decision and answer 
to any matter legally submitted to 
them for their determination. We 
verify a quotation. Science guesses 
the laws of nature and then proceeds 
to the verification of the hypotheses. 
What may be so tested is verifiable. 
We speak of verisimilitude (likeli- 
hood) to a narrative from similis, 
like. Veritable means real, genuine, 
according to fact. Very is often 
used as an adjective "These are 
the very words" ; "the very birds 
are mute." As an adverb it means 
exceedingly, as a very hot summer. 
Verily means in truth or most cer- 
tainly. We aver, and we profess 
to have had given due proof of our 
averments. 

2 From pungo, pupugi, punctum, 
punggre, to prick or sting, and punc- 
tum, a point, we have pointer, point- 
ed, pointsman. Poignant (F. ) means 
piercing, acute, as poignant grief 
and the poignancy of satire. A 
poniard is a small dagger. To pounce 
upon is to dash down upon, as a 



bird of prey with his talons. To 
punch is to drive a hole in some- 
thing, also to thrust against. A 
puncheon is a stamping tool, also 
a wine barrel probably so named 
from its mark. A punctilio is a 
nice point of exactness in ceremony, 
conduct, or procedure. We speak 
of the punctilio of further ceremony, 
of punctiliousness of etiquette in 
some societies, of a punctilious ob- 
servance of forms, &c. Punctual 
had originally the sense of exact. 
Pitt spoke of punctual niceties, and 
Burnet of punctual tediousness. 
Punctuality now means an exact 
adherence to an appointment, especi- 
ally to the time appointed. He 
paid his rent with great punctuality, 
he observes faithfully his engage- 
ments. Punctuation is performed 
with four points the comma, the 
semicolon, the colon, and the period. 
A puncture is a small round hole. 
Pungent also means sharp and 
prickly to the taste or smell. We 
speak of the pungency of a radish or 
ammonia, and of a pungent remark. 
We appoint a man his work when 
he receives his appointment. Men 
are at times disappointed, and meet 
with disappointments. Compunc- 
tion is a bitter feeling ; but to ex- 
punge is to strike out, literally with 
the point of the pen. 



OUR MORAL NATURE. 



379 









another quality of truthfulness, for it is to be in reality what we 
are in appearance, unadulterated. The word comes to us through 
F. from L. sincerus, clear, pure, with reference to pure honey, 
which is said to be sine, without, and cera, wax. Sincerity 
combines reality of purpose with observance of time, appointments, 
or promises. A man who speaks what he does not think, or pre- 
tends to be what he is not, is insincere. Ingenuousness, again, is 
the disposition that hates such dissimulation ; candour is openness 
in matters that concern oneself; while frankness is openness in 
those matters that concern others. 

We look now at some of those words more closely connected 
with falsehood or untruth of all kinds ; and first the word false 
itself, which, it has been suggested, is connected with the AS. 
faldan, to fold, and L. plico^- avi and ui, plicatum and plicitum. 



1 From this verb we get pliant, 
capable of bending, and pliable, 
capable of being bent about. A 
stick is pliant, a rope is pliable. A 
ply is a fold or plait. Small objects 
may be grasped and bent by pliers, 
a kind of pincers. An appliance is 
a thing applied or used as a means. 
To apply is to lay on, to have 
recourse to, and we may injure our 
health by too close application. A 
court may require an applicant to 
appear in person. Double (L. duplex), 
triple, quadruple, centuple, mean 
twofold, threefold, fourfold, a hun- 
dredfold ; fact and feat are doublets, 
the same word having a double form. 
A doublet was originally a garment 
of two plies, superseded by the 
waistcoat. A doubloon is a Spanish 
coin, originally double a pistole, and 
worth about a guinea. A duplicate 
is a second thing like the first. 
Some merchants keep duplicates of 
their business letters. Duplicity of 
character consists in pretending to 
act from motives by which one is in 
reality not influenced, and some- 
times it merely means doubleness. 
Thus Ruskin speaks of the decor- 
ation of some buildings as founded 
on the duplicity of their idea of 



substance, one internal, the other 
external. To complicate is to in- 
volve in a confused or intricate way. 
We talk of a complicated sentence, 
of a complication of our cases, but 
of complex ideas or the complexity 
of social problems. Complicity in 
an evil deed means having a share 
in it. A partner in crime is called 
an accomplice. Troops deploy (form) 
in line of battle. To display is to 
spread before the view. We employ 
means, and we can speak both of the 
employment of our time and the 
employment in which we are en- 
gaged. An exploit is a chivalrous 
deed. Some mysteries are explic- 
able, others inexplicable. An explicit 
statement expresses what is meant 
fully and plainly. To imply is to 
mean what is not expressed. The 
evidence may be such as to implicate 
several persons. He that denies the 
providence of God, implicitly or by 
implication, denies His existence. 
A multiple of a number contains it 
an exact number of times. We are 
perplexed when we cannot deter- 
mine between contending persons 
or courses of action. A reply is an 
answer to a formal question. Simple 
(cp. L. semd, once) means one fold, 



380 



SIGNIFICANT ETYMOLOGY. 



plicare, to fold, plait, or plat, and plectere, to weave. But the word 
occurs very early in all the Scandinavian and Teutonic languages, 
and it is not easy to believe that the name of so fundamental an 
idea as that of the false must necessarily have been borrowed from 
any other. It is difficult to avoid regarding it as indigenous, for 
we cannot suppose that they did not know what falsehood was, 
and had to borrow a word from the Latin such as falsum; and 
this word falsum is part of the L. fallo, 1 fefelli, falsum, fallere, to 
deceive or cheat. As leading on to falsehood, we have vagueness, 
applied to statements wanting clearness or precision, from L. 
vagus, wandering or rambling, and vagor, atus, ari, to wander. 2 
Equivocation means equally two or more things from L. cequus, 
equal, and vox, vocis, the voice, or a word, the use of doubtful words 
in order to mislead. Ambiguity comes from L. anibirjo, to wander 



artless, silly. A simpleton is a 
simple person who is easily deceived. 
Simplicity may arise from ignorance 
or want of experience. To simplify 
is to make plain. What is involved 
or intricate needs simplification. 
Supple (from supplex, bending under, 
humble, suppliant) means easily 
bending or moulding itself to suit 
a purpose. To supplicate is to 
beseech the figure in supplication 
being that of the clasped hands or 
bended knees : in the suppliant's or 
supplicant's entreaty there is usu- 
ally implied a deep sense of humili- 
ation. Men approach God in a sup- 
plicatory manner in order to ask a 
favour. 

" They bow and sue for grace with sup- 
pliant knee." Milton. 

1 From fallo we get fallacy and 
fallacious. Men and their judg- 
ments are fallible, yet many main- 
tain the infallibility of the Pope. 
South speaks of the truth or falsity 
of things. People who tamper with 
records are said to falsify them, and 
we speak of the falsification of a 
document. From this root, through 
the F. (faillir), come fail and fault. 
We speak of the failure of the crops. 



We call an ungenial temper a failing. 
That is faulty which ought not to 
have been. To falter is to fail in 
steadiness, as when the voice falters 
from inward emotion. Default means 
failing to do what is due. 

2 From vagor we have vagabond, 
an idle fellow having no fixed home, 
but wandering about without any 
settled means of making a liveli- 
hood. This vagabond life is called 
vagabondage or vagabondism. Vag- 
rancy does not necessarily mean 
more than wandering without a 
fixed home, but by a vagabond we 
generally mean an idle wanderer 
or even a sturdy beggar. As the 
habits of a wanderer or vagrant 
are likely to become loose and reck- 
less, this term in course of time de- 
generated into its present accept- 
ation. The Prince Gonzoga de 
Castigliono was doubtless not aware 
of this when, being at table with 
Dr Johnson, and meaning to be com- 
plimentary, he called out to the doc- 
tor, "Your health, Mr Vagabond," 
imagining that to be an appropri- 
ate name for the author of ' The 
Rambler.' A vagary is a wander- 
ing in the mind, a wild whim or 
freak. 



OUR MORAL NATURE. 



381 



about (from ambi, about, or ambo, two, and ago, to drive). Am- 
biguity leaves the sense of an expression doubtful. Evasion comes 
from L. evddo, evasi, evdsum, evadere (from e, out, and vado, to go), 
avoiding a definite answer, an attempt to escape the force of an 
argument or accusation ; ostensibly answering a question, but 
really turning aside to some other point. Prevarication is literally 
a spreading of the legs apart in walking, from the L. prcevaricor 
(from prce, intensive, and varicus 1 (varus), straddling see Hor. 
Sat., I. 3. 47). Prevarication is, then, the shifting about from side 
to side to evade the truth ; to deal with a subject in a straggling, 
quibbling way, so as to avoid disclosing the truth. Whatever is 
directly opposed to truth is a lie (AS. lige, from leogan, to lie), but 
why a falsehood received this name we are unable to discover. 
Under the head of a lie we may fairly include an exaggerated 
statement that is, a statement in excess of the truth. The word 
exaggeration (from L. exaggeratio), which primarily signified a 
throwing up of mounds of earth (from exaggero, to throw up earth, 
to heap or heap up), came, even in Cicero's time, to signify 
to increase, to magnify, to exaggerate. All are, however, alike 
derived from the L. noun agger, aggeris, which signifies anything 
heaped on the earth, a heap of rubbish of any kind, a military 
mound, but never in a figurative sense like our word exaggerate. 
Perhaps the L. word agger may have come originally from the two 
L. words ad, to, and gero, to carry. The Greeks, however, had a 
rhetorical figure, still recognised, hyperbole, which produces a 
vivid impression by representing things as much greater or less 
than they really are, an exaggeration (lit. " a throw beyond " 
hyper, beyond, and ballo, to throw). Aristotle says that hyperbole 
is a figure suited only to a person enraged, or to children who 
exaggerate everything, whereupon Chevreau pertinently notes : " I 
suppose, according to this maxim, that the man who said his estate 
was no larger than a laconic epistle must be set down either as a 
child or as a very irascible person." An author having boasted 
of having a large mansion and an extensive forest, a gentleman 



1 Varicose veins are so called 
from their crooked appearance. We 



have also the word divaricate, to 
branch off. 



382 



SIGNIFICANT ETYMOLOGY. 



who knew him said to a friend : " I assure you on my honour that 
he has not wood enough to make a toothpick, and that a tortoise 
might make the tour of his house in a quarter of an hour." This 
is the hyperbole of minimising. The hyperbole of magnifying is 
the more usual form. Of course hyperbole is often used to make 
a strong impression, and is not intended to be taken literally, as 
when Sydney Smith, in his burst of astonishment when told that 
a young neighbour was going to marry a very fat woman double 
his age, exclaimed : " Going to marry her ! going to marry her ! 
Impossible ! You mean a part of her ; he could not marry her 
all himself. It would be a case, not of bigamy, but of trigamy. 
The neighbourhood or the magistrates should interfere. There is 
enough of her to furnish wives for a whole parish. One man marry 
her ! It is monstrous. You might people a colony with her, or 
give an assembly with her, or perhaps take your morning's walk 
round her always provided that there were frequent resting-places, 
and that you were in rude health. I once was rash enough to try 
walking round her before breakfast, but only got half way, and 
gave it up exhausted. Or you might read the Riot Act, and 
disperse her. In short, you might do anything with her but 
marry her." Plausibility is the art of pleasing superficially, a fit- 
ness to gain applause (from L. platido, 1 to clap the hands, to 
praise, to applaud). Flattery comes probably horn flatten, to smooth 



1 Plaudo, plausi, plausum, plaud- 
$re, to clap the hands. This verb 
gives us plaudit, in pi. plaudits, 
which are an expression of praise, 
as clapping the hands, beating with 
the feet, &c. Plausible excuses, 
representations, &c., are those that 
sound all right but do not satisfy 
the judgment. Plausible persons 
speak fair. To applaud is to ex- 
press approbation with some de- 
gree of excitement, so that it is 
received with loud applause. The 
verb is sometimes spelt plodo, the 
diphthong cm (pronounced aou) 
being contracted into 6. This 
was the popular pronunciation in 
almost every such case. From 



this word we have not merely 
applause, in the sense of testify- 
ing admiration by clapping with 
the hands or beating with the feet, 
but praise loudly expressed in any 
way. We have also the word 
explosion, which is now used in 
the sense of a sudden, violent 
burst with a loud report, as of 
gun-cotton, dynamite, a bomb, or 
of gunpowder, which are called 
explosives ; but originally, as com- 
ing from the verb explodo, ex, out, 
and plodo, to clap the hands, it 
signified to hiss off the stage, to 
cry down (as an actor), to bring 
into disrepute, and to reject (as when 
we speak of an exploded theory). 



OUR MORAL NATURE. 



383 



down, to make flat, to smooth by a gentle caress, or to soothe 
with false praise. Parasitism is the conduct of a parasite, who 
is literally one who feeds with another (through L. parasitus, 
from Gr. parasitos para, beside, and sitein, to feed, from sitos, 
corn), the earning an invitation to the tables of the rich by 
various acts. Sycophancy is the behaviour of a sycophant 
(Gr. sycophantes, from sykos, a fig, and phaino, 1 to bring to 
light). The name is said to have been given to one who in- 
formed against persons who illegally exported figs from Athens, 
and so acting an obsequious part. The phrase "sucking up to 
one " seems to have come originally from this practice. Another 
and probable reason for the name is that it denotes one who 
brings figs to light by shaking the tree, hence one who makes 
rich men yield up their fruit by information and other vile arts. 
Aspersion is the act of spreading foul or slanderous reports, but 
originally and literally signified a sprinkling, as with dust or water, 
from the verb aspersus, besprinkled, from aspergo, aspersi, asper- 
sum, aspergere, to besprinkle (from L. ad, to, and spargo, 2 
I sprinkle), to sprinkle over; but gradually the verb also came 
to mean, to cover all over with evil reports, to slander. To 
slander a man is to speak falsehoods about him so as to injure 
his reputation. The word comes from the Gr. scandalon, a snare, 
also a stumbling-block or offence. It was originally scandele, 
which in OF. became esdandere, and then in English slander. 
Scandal also comes from the same word. It originally meant a 
defamatory report without any regard to its truth, as there are 
always people fond of listening to such scandalous or defamatory 
talk ; but now it has come to signify almost exclusively some 



1 The Gr. verb phaino (I show), 
phainomai (I appear), has many 
derivatives, such as phantom, 
phantasm, phantasmagoria, phan- 
tasy or fancy, fanciful, and fan- 
tastical ; a phase or phasis ; a 
phenomenon, quite phenomenal. 
Diaphanous is that which allows 
light to pass through it. Epiphany 
is a Church festival celebrated on 
the twelfth day after Christmas 



to commemorate the manifesta- 
tion (epiphaneia) to the Magi at 
Bethlehem. 

2 From spargo, sparsi, sparsum, 
spargSre, to scatter, we have dis- 
pergo, to disperse, to scatter here 
and there, to separate ; and to in- 
tersperse, to scatter here and there 
among other things ; and sparse, 
thinly scattered. 



384 



SIGNIFICANT ETYMOLOGY. 



very serious transgression, bringing a reproach on a man's posi- 
tion or profession. Slander may sometimes originate not in actual 
speech but in what we call an innuendo. An innuendo is an 
indirect reference or intimation, generally of an unfavourable kind 
literally a hint or suggestion conveyed by a nod. It is the ger- 
und ablative of the L. verb innuo (in, to, and nuo, niiere), to nod 
towards. It is very much the same in meaning as an insinuation, 
which, however, is still more frequently used in an unfavourable 
sense, the verb meaning to steal into one's affections, to ingratiate, 
.to insinuate oneself L. insinuo, to put or thrust into the bosom 
(in, into, and sinus, the bosom). Sophistry consists for the most 
part in using a word in one sense in the premise, and in another 
sense in the conclusion; and a sophist now means a man who 
employs what he knows to be fallacious reasoning for the purpose 
of deceit, a man who spends his time in verbal quibbles or philo- 
sophical juggles. When a false argument puts on the appearance 
of a true one, it is called a sophism. It comes from the Gr. word 
sophos, wise, or sophia, wisdom. The Sophists originally were 
professional teachers in ancient Greece, who for money gave in- 
struction in what was then known of physical science, in meta- 
physics, ethics, politics, and rhetoric. They prepared men for 
public life ; but as public argumentation required a knowledge 
of how the worse might be made to appear the better reason, un- 
scrupulous teachers acquired a bad name, especially when such 
philosophers as Socrates taught gratuitously. Sophistical reason- 
ing is often so subtle and ingenious that it cannot readily be 
detected or exposed, but yet we instinctively feel that it is a 
juggle of words. Philosophy comes from the same root, meaning 
properly the love of wisdom (from pliilos, a lover). Pythagoras 
was the first philosopher who called himself so, a lover of wisdom : 
previous philosophers were called sophists that is, wise men. 
Hypocrisy is literally the acting of a part on the stage, feigning 
to be what one is not from the Gr. hypokrisis, from hypokrinomai, 
to play on the stage, from hypo, under, and krinomai, 1 to decide. 



1 From krino, I judge, and krisis, 
a deciding, we have crisis, the de- 



cisive or turning-point in affairs 
before it is known whether the 



OUR MORAL NATURE. 



385 



Untruthfulness often arises from cowardice. Now a coward is one 
literally who turns tail, the word coming through the OF. couard, 
and It. codardo, from L. cauda, 1 a tail. While cowardice is the 
general term, we have several varieties, such as craven, dastard, 
and poltroon. A craven, from the AS. crqfian, to crave, to beg 
earnestly, to beseech, is so called because he craves or begs quarter 
or mercy from his antagonist when vanquished. A dastard is 
also a cowardly fellow who shrinks from danger. The word 
comes from a Scandinavian stem dost, literally dazed, and the 
F. suffix ard, stupid through fear. We often hear people speak 
of dastardly conduct, meaning conduct characterised by moral 
turpitude or great cruelty. This is an abuse of the word, which 
never signifies anything worse than conduct prompted by terror. 
A poltroon 2 is in the same category, one without courage or 



issue will be good or bad. We 
speak of the crisis of a fever, of 
a political crisis, of matters com- 
ing to a crisis. In this sense also 
we speak of the critical days of a 
fever. A critic is a man who 
is able to examine minutely and 
form an exact judgment on such 
subjects as a literary production, 
a work of art, &c. A judgment 
thus passed is called a criticism 
or critique. We may be very 
critical in judging of any literary 
or artistic production, or even 
hypercritical that is, unduly or 
over -rigidly critical. A criterion 
is something established and ap- 
proved, whereby we may form a 
correct judgment regarding actions, 
principles, or literary productions. 

1 From cauda we have the word 
caudal, pertaining to the tail, as 
Tyndal speaks of caudal nerves 
and Darwin of caudal plumes. A 
cue (F. queue) is the tail or end 
of anything or sometimes any- 
thing like a tail, as in people 
standing in a cue waiting their 
turn to get admission into some 
popular place. The phrase, giving 
any one the cue, is taken from the 
stage, where a player waits for the 



last words of the speaker who pre- 
cedes him, and knows from this 
end, or cue, that it is his turn to 
begin. 

2 There is much to be said in 
favour of Home Tooke's etymology 
of this word. He derives it from 
the L. pollice truncus, maimed or 
deprived of one's thumb L. pollex, 
pollicis, the thumb, and truncus, 
deprived or mutilated. So that, 
according to this, a poltroon was a 
man who had deprived himself of 
his thumb, or had got some one 
else to cut it off, that he might 
be rendered unfit for military ser- 
vice. Some doubt has been cast 
on this etymology, and yet he 
quotes a passage from ' The Times ' 
newspaper of October 1795, giving 
BO perfect a realisation of the 
primary idea of poltroon that one 
can scarcely resist accepting it. 
" One Samuel Paradise, who had 
been committed to the house of 
correction in Kendal, and there 
confined as a vagabond until put 
on board a king's ship, agreeable 
to the late Act, sent for his wife 
the evening before his intended 
departure. He was in a cell, and 
she spoke to him through the iron 



2 B 



386 



SIGNIFICANT ETYMOLOGY. 



spirit supposed to be literally "one who lies in bed," through 
the F. poltron, from It. pdltro (for polstro), originally a bed, from 
Ger. polster, a bolster. There is a close connection between 
coward and our word to cower, to sink down, generally through 
fear, to crouch. Connected with the idea of cowardice is also the 
word scoundrel, from the It. scondarnolo, a coward, from scondere, 
to hide, from L. abs-condere (from abs, away, and condere, to hide), 
to hide oneself. The It. scondariole meant originally a soldier 
who absconds or skulks at muster-roll. 

" Go ! if your ancient but ignoble blood 
Has crept through scoundrels ever since the flood." 

POPE. 

Panic seems at one time to have signified a contagious emotion, 
and Shaftesbury, writing in his 'Characteristics' in 1709, says, 
" We may call every passion panic which is raised in a multitude 
and conveyed by aspect, or as if it were by contact and sympathy " ; 
and again he says, "There are many panics in mankind besides 
merely that of fear." It is usual to derive it from Pan, the Greek 
god. Sounds heard by night on mountains and in valleys were 
attributed to Pan, and hence he was reputed to be the cause of 
any sudden or groundless fear ; but many of the stories more or 
less elaborated to account for the origin of the expression are obvi- 
ously invented, and we are strongly inclined to regard the word as 
coming from the Gr. pan, the neuter of pas, all, meaning wide- 
spread or universal, as the feeling of fear is that which is most 
contagious and spreads most widely, especially when unreasoning, 
groundless, or excessive. 

(2) Justice and tlie reverse. Justice comes from the L. jus, 1 
law, and, like the L. Justus, signified originally what is lawful ; but 



door. After which he put his 
hand underneath, and she, with 
a mallet and chisel concealed for 
the purpose, struck off a finger 
and thumb to render him unfit for 
his Majesty's service." 

1 From jus, juris, right, law ; 
Justus, just ; and judex, judicis, a 
judge, we have justice, justiciary, 



judicial, juridical, jury, juror, 
jurisdiction, jurisprudence, jurist ; 
also injury, injure, injurious treat- 
ment, justify, justifiable, justifica- 
tion, judge, judgment, judicial, 
judicious, judicatory, judicature, 
judiciary, to adjudge, adjudica- 
tion, adjust, adjustment, pre- 
judge, prejudicial. 



OUR MORAL NATURE. 



387 



gradually it came to mean what we understand by being just, or 
doing what is just, not only according to human law, but accord- 
ing to the moral law written on our consciences. Honesty comes 
through L. Tionestus, from honor, 1 our " honour " ; and impartiality 
from in, not, and partialis, low L. from pars.- In regard to the 
rights of others, justice shows itself in such words as loyalty, 
civility, politeness, urbanity, courtesy, and courtliness. Loyalty 
meant originally faithful to law (F. loi, from L. legatus, pertain- 
ing to the law, from L. lex, legts, 2 law), and then came to signify 
loyal or faithful adherence to one's country or sovereignty. Civil- 
ity, which is good -breeding or politeness, comes from civisf a 



1 From honor, honoris, honour, 
we have the word honest, which, 
like the L. honestus, in old Eng- 
lish meant honourable, actuated 
by principles of honour. " Pro- 
vide things honest [i.e., honour- 
able] in the sight of all men " 
(Rom. xii. 17). In modern English 
honest means fair and straight- 
forward in one's dealings. We 
speak of honest motives, of honest 
inquiry after truth. Honesty is 
the best policy. The opposite of 
honesty is dishonesty. Dishonour 
is disgrace and shame, the opposite 
of honour. Dishonourable means 
with dishonour ; unhonoured, with- 
out honour. An honorary degree 
is one intended to confer honour. 
A honorarium is a sum paid to a 
professional man in recognition of 
his services. 

2 From pars, partis, we have 
the following words : a parcel 
(from particula, a little part) 
means a package or bundle. To 
parse a word, to tell the part of 
speech ; to partake is to have a 
part or share of ; to participate is 
to have a share in common with 
others. We speak of the sun and 
the moon being partially eclipsed ; 
of participles and of participial 
forms ; a particle, particular, parti- 
cularly, particularise, particularity ; 
a partisan, partisanship, partition, 



partitive, partners, and a party. 
A portion is the part allotted, as 
one's portion in life, a marriage 
portion. Apart means at a greater 
or less distance. An apartment 
is a room. To apportion is to 
divide in just proportion, to mete 
out suitably. A compartment is 
a separate part (of space), as a 
railway compartment. A depart- 
ment is a division or branch of 
a business. To depart is to go 
away ; and death is sometimes 
spoken of as a timely or untimely 
departure. To impart is to give a 
part or share of what is properly 
one's own. Proportion is relative 
measure. Things are proportion- 
ate when they are harmoniously 
adjusted in respect of quantity or 
degree. Numbers are proportional 
to others when their . comparative 
relation is the same as that of the 
others ; while we have dispropor- 
tion and disproportionate. A 
repartee is a sharp, ready, and 
witty reply. A retort is more in 
earnest. 

3 From lex, legis, the law, we 
derive legal, legitimate, illegal, 
illegitimate, illegality, legitimacy, 
legalise, legislate, legislators, legis- 
lation, legislature, 

4 From civis we have civic and 
civil and citadel, civilities and in- 
civilities, civilian and civilisation. 



388 SIGNIFICANT ETYMOLOGY. 

citizen, or freeman of a civitas or city, where they observed the 
little courtesies in the intercourse of life. Politeness might be 
supposed to be the sort of courtesy shown by those who live in a 
polls " (Gr. for city), but there is good reason for believing that the 
word comes not from the Gr. polis, but from the L. politus, past 
participle of polio, to polish ; and urbanity from urbs, urbis, a 
city. 2 

Justice in regard to the merits of others requires respect, 
reverence, and veneration. Respect implies esteem for merit. 
The verb means literally to look again, or to look back upon, 
from L. respicio, respexi, respectum, respicere from re, back, and 
specio, to look. The word respectable literally means looking 
back upon a man whom you would look at again by turning 
round, as being worthy of your regard ; which word indeed means 
very much the same, for regard originally signified to look or gaze 
from the F. regarder, from re, and garder, to keep, look after, to 
hold in respect and affection. Reverence is fear arising from 
high respect, through F. reverer, from L. revereor, from re, in- 
tensive, and vereor, veritus, vereri, to feel awe, to revere that is, to 
regard with the feelings due to what is sacred. To reverence 
expresses this mental homage, and also the expression of it in an 
outward way. There is more of worship in reverence, and more 
of esteem in veneration, from L. veneratus, pp. of veneror. What 
we venerate is not so far removed from ourselves as what we 
reverence. Reverend is a title given to clergymen. "We speak 



1 Polio, ivi, itum, ire, to file, 
polish, make smooth. We speak 
of a polished surface, and also of 
polished manners. A polite man 
is both civil and courteous, and 
polished in his courtesies. To 
interpolate meant first to patch 
and polish up so as to give a new 
appearance. It now means to in- 
sert a word spuriously in what 
was written by another. Inter- 
polations were sometimes made in 
ancient manuscripts by transfer- 
ring marginal explanations into 
the text. 

2 The suburbs of a city are the 



outlying parts of it, the outlying 
districts around it which we call 
suburban. Urban means belong- 
ing to a city ; urbane, courtesy in 
manners. Urbanity of manners 
and demeanour makes men agree- 
able to others and liked by them. 
We have also courtesy and court- 
liness, or court-like manners, from 
the word court, used often for the 
palace of the sovereign, such man- 
ners as are acquired at court ; and 
it also signifies the gesture of salu- 
tation or respect used by women, 
to make a courtesy, but generally 
in this sense spelt curtsey or curtsy. 



OUR MORAL NATURE. 



389 



of reverent behaviour, and of a reverential esteem for things 
sacred. 

In regard to the property of others, justice is violated by 
dishonesty in its various forms of robbery, larceny, burglary, and 
cheating. The word robbery comes from the OF. rober, 1 to take 
by force or violence, to plunder or steal ; but this word rober 
comes from a Latin word of the sixth century, the verb raubare, 
signifying to steal, to strip off. " Si quis in via, alterum adsalierit 
et eum raubaverit," says the Lex Salica : that is, " If any one 
shall assail another on the road and shall strip him." This verb, 
which is of Teutonic origin (OH.Ger. roubon, mod. Ger. rauberi), 
signifies to pillage, to rob. Larceny, which is the legal term in 
England and Ireland for stealing, theft, comes through the F. 
larcin, from L. latrocinium, signifying originally military service, 
and afterwards robbery, highway robbery. This word comes from 
L. latro (Gr. latris), signifying a soldier hired for money and dis- 
charged at the end of the war. And as these on their return 
home frequently committed robbery, the word latro came to signify 
a robbery, and latrocinium, highway robbery. Burglary, which 
is much more common in our day than ever it was before, 
was long since described as nocturnal housebreaking with 
felonious intent, and spoken of as burgi latrocimum. It comes 
to us through the French from the Latin the F. bourg, town, 
from Ger. Imrg (English borough), and OF. leres, from L. latro, a 
robber. Cheating, or to cheat, is a corruption of escheat, 
from the OF. eschet, from escheoir (mod. F. echoir), from low L. 
excadere from ex, out, and cado, to fall or to happen. Escheat as 
a noun was originally property which falls to the State for want of 
an heir ; and cheat originally meant an unexpected acquisition or 



1 The remarkable thing is that 
from the OF. word rober, to steal or 
strip off, is derived the word robe, 
both French and English, a gown 
or mantle, a long loose garment 
worn over the dress. The medieval 
L. rauba was the equivalent of the 
L. spolium, which signified origin- 
ally the skin of an animal drawn 
or cast off, and then that which a 



soldier took from a slain enemy, 
especially arms, spoils ; then any- 
thing taken from an enemy in 
war, especially effects, equipment, 
dresses ; then anything obtained by 
robbery or plunder, and so the 
general word ultimately was cir- 
cumbended into vestments, tunics, 
robes. 



390 



SIGNIFICANT ETYMOLOGY. 



windfall. It seems gradually to have sunk in the world of mean- 
ing, and from an unexpected acquisition soon came to signify what 
was easily acquired ; and in one sense the easiest way of acquiring 
anything is by cheating. 

We shall now take some of those words which imply a want of 
justice, selecting a few of those which are offences against rights and 
usages, such as outrage, violence beyond measure (through French 
OF. oultrage, from low L. ultragium, from L. ultra, beyond), a 
gross violation of the feelings, an offensive insult or attack on the 
person. We speak of an outrageous speech or an outrageous 
crime. To insult is to treat with indignity or contempt, and an 
insult is abuse, contumely. To insult is literally to leap or jump 
on, to spring at from L. insilio (in, on, and salio ^ to leap) : an 
insult consists in words or actions of an offensive or derogatory 
kind. To call a man a liar or a coward is to insult him. We 
speak of insults (in triumph) over a fallen enemy, over men's 
fatuity. Even in Cicero's time the L. verb insilio was used in 
the figurative sense of behaving insolently towards any one, to 
scoff at, to abuse or revile. 

Affront is closely connected with insult : it means to insult 



1 From salio, salui, sattum, salire, 
to leap or spring (bearing in mind 
that the compound verb is insilio, 
insilui, insultum, insallre), we have 
salient, springing or bounding, and 
then prominent, conspicuous. We 
speak of the salient traits of a 
man's character, or the salient 
points of an argument. To sally is 
to issue suddenly, as when besieged 
troops make a sally or sudden rush 
from their fortified place. A 
salmon (L. salmo) is, as we have 
seen, literally a leaper (p. 47). To 
assail is to attack energetically. 
To assault is to attack in a more 
offhand way. Desultory studies or 
reading and desultory remarks are 
rambling and unconnected. An 
exile (L. exsul, now derived from 
salio) is one banished from one's 
native country or home. Exile 
may be honourable. To exult is 



to rejoice exceedingly, to be glad 
above measure. A man's bosom 
swells with exultation. We are 
exultant at the news of a victory. 
Men resile that is, recoil or start 
back from their previous intention. 
Johnson speaks of the common re- 
siliency (or resilience) of the mind 
from one extreme to another. Re- 
sults and consequences are different 
forms of effects. A cause has an 
effect which is generally thought of 
as immediate ; the consequences are 
more remote, springing perhaps 
from the immediate effect. The re- 
sults include the sum of all. A 
person makes a somersault (lit., an 
overleap) when he throws his heels 
over his head and alights again on 
his feet. This word is a corruption 
of the F. soubresaut, It. soprasalto, 
from L. supra, over, and saltus, a 
leap of course from salio, to leap. 



OUR MORAL NATURE. 



391 



openly, to meet front to front through F. affronter, from L. ad, to, 
and frons, 1 frontis, the forehead. Impudence signifies literally 
want of shame, shamelessiiess, from the impersonal verb pudet, 2 it 
shames. Interference is a coming into collision, an intermeddling, 
literally a striking in between through OF., from L. inter, 
between, and ferio, 3 to strike. In our practical use of the word, 
interference is always something offensive. Impertinence is liter- 
ally " not belonging to the place or person," not pertinent, and hence 
impertinent from L. in, not, and pertinent, from L. pertineo (see 
p. 50), to belong to. Intrusion is an offence of a similar kind, 
and means a thrusting of oneself in where one has no business 
to be from in, in, and tnido, trusi, trusum, truderef to push or 
thrust. 

Injustice in governing is described by such words already con- 
sidered as tyrannical, despotic, and also austere from Gr. austeros, 
bitter, harsh, from auo, to dry up or parch, hence harsh or bitter, 
as the effect produced in the mouth by a parched dry feeling. As 
regards injustice on the part of the governed, we have treachery, 
treason, sedition, insurrection, rebellion. Treachery is faithless- 
ness, from the OF. trecherie (F. tricherie), from trecher (F. tricfier 
from Dutch trekken, to draw). Treason is a betraying of the 



1 From frons we have the front, 
frontage, frontispiece, frontier, 
frontlet. To frounce (old form of 
flounce) is to wrinkle, curl, or plait. 
" Buff coats all frounced and broid- 
ered o'er" (Scott). Ladies may 
wear flounces on their frocks. To 
confront is an energetic word mean- 
ing to face ; men confront their 
opponents ; effrontery is shameless 
impudence, as when a person asks a 
favour of one whom he has wronged. 

- From pudet we have also re- 
pudiate, to put away what others 
would connect with us, to disavow 
strongly. The term repudiation 
was at one time employed in the 
sense of divorce. 

3 From ferio, ferire, to strike, we 
have a ferule, a rod for punishing 
children, and in ancient times for 
slaves. 



4 From trudo, trusi, &c., we have 
abstruse, thrust away from common 
or easy understanding, as abstruse 
ideas. To extrude is to thrust out or 
to push out. Obtrude differs from 
intrude in this, that while unwel- 
come and uncongenial persons or 
things intrude themselves, because 
though they are not wanted they 
come, self-asserting persons and 
irresponsible thoughts obtrude 
themselves, they come in spite of 
us. Intruders are uninvited, their 
coming is intrusive ; obtruders 
force their way with obtrusive bold- 
ness. We also speak of the ob- 
trusion of crude opinions on the 
world ; of intrusionists and non- 
intrusionists. To protrude is to 
shoot forward, to be thrust for- 
ward. Motion which thrusts for- 
ward is called protrusive. 



392 



SIGNIFICANT ETYMOLOGY. 



government or an attempt to overthrow it from OF. traison, 
F. trahison, from trahir, from L. trado, to give up, betray (from 
trans, across, and dare, to give) ; and what is handed down from 
generation to generation is called tradition. Sedition, L. seditio 
(from se, apart, and eo, ivi, itum, to go), is a going apart. Insur- 
rection is literally a rising up against authority from L. insurgo, 
from in, upon, and surgo, 1 to rise. 

(3) Benevolence and its opposite. Benevolence, which has 
now come to signify beneficence, etymologically means goodwill 
or wishing well from bene, well, and volo, 2 to wish ; while benefi- 
cence is from bene, well, and facio, to do, and means doing well, 
bountiful kindness to others and active goodness. From bene, 
well, we have benediction (with dicere) and benefaction and 
beneficence. A benefit is some good conferred on another, and he 
who confers it is a benefactor. Early rising and exercise are 
beneficial to health. Parsonages, vicarages, manses, and some 
other ecclesiastical livings, are called benefices, and the clergymen 
who hold them are called beneficed. Benignity is from bene, well, 
and genitus, born. We generally speak of rich and powerful 
people rather than of poor people as benignant ; we also speak of 
the benign influence of the seasons. The opposites of benevolence 
are very strongly marked, being derived from L. male, badly, or 
mains, bad. A malefactor is an evil-doer from L. male, badly, 



1 From surgo, surrexi, surrectum, 
surgZre (for surreglre sub and re- 
gere), we have the source of a 
stream ; surges, great swelling 
waves, "the surging waters like a 
mountain rise." When people take 
up arms or rise in rebellion against 
the governing power in the country, 
they are called insurgents. Re- 
surrection means rising again, espe- 
cially rising again from the dead. 

2 From volo, volui, velle, to be 
willing, and voluntas, freewill, and 
voluptas, pleasure, we have several 
important words. The will is the 
mental power ; volition is the put- 
ting forth this power in act. All 
our actions not done under compul- 



sion are voluntary, whatever be 
their motive ; but we may do them 
unwillingly that is, we may be 
averse to do them. The motion of 
our heart and internal organs is 
involuntary. A voluntary in re- 
ligious matters is one who pro- 
poses to have religious matters sup- 
ported by voluntary contributions. 
A volunteer is one who enters the 
military service from free choice. 
People are also said to volunteer 
to do any work. A voluptuary or 
voluptuous person is one devoted 
to sensuous pleasures. Malevolent 
persons, again, are ill-disposed to 
others. Malevolence is less strongly 
personal than malice or malignity. 



OUR MORAL NATURE. 



393 



and facio, 1 to do. Malice is badness literally, ill-will, spite, dis- 
position to harm others through French from L. malitia, from 
malusy bad, originally dirty, black, from Gr. melas, black. Malig- 
nity, extreme malevolence from malign, of an evil nature or 
disposition towards others. 

Closely connected with benevolence is that which has so largely 
usurped the name of charity, viz., alms-giving, a word which sig- 
nifies relief given out of pity for the poor, and comes from the 
AS. almcesse, through late L. from eleemosyne, from the Gr. eleos, 



1 From facio, fed, factum, JacSre, 
we have so great a multitude of 
words that we can merely enumer- 
ate them without giving their 
special meanings. (From this verb 
also we have L. facilis, easy.) A 
fact is a thing which really took 
place ; a faction ; a factious opposi- 
tion ; factitious means not real, but 
artificial ; a facsimile, an exact 
copy ; a factor, a factory ; a facto- 
tum, a person employed to do all 
kinds of work. A faculty is a 
natural power. To fashion is to 
shape, mould, or arrange the form. 
Fashion means the arranged make 
(F. facon, L. factio, onis) ; feasible, 
feasibility. A feat is an exploit, 
but on a small scale. A feature is 
the make of lineaments of the face. 
A fetish or fetich (F. fetiche, Port. 
fertico) is a name given by the 
Portuguese to the roughly made 
idols of Africa. A fiat means in 
Latin, let it be done, and expresses 
a sovereign and effective command. 
Fit is either the obsolete feat, the 
OF. faict, formed for, neat, or it is 
a Norse word ; fitness denotes every 
sort of adaptation. Affair is prop- 
erly a f aire (F.), something to do. 
That which affects, takes effect 
upon the condition. We speak of 
an affectation of contempt when it 
is not really felt, and of an affected 
manner which is not natural. We 
listen to an affecting address, and 
there are people who are disaffected. 
We speak of disaffection. Fear and 



hope are affections of the mind. 
A comfit is a seed coated with 
sugar. A confection is any prepar- 
ation of fruit with sugar. A con- 
fectioner makes and sells such con- 
fectionery. To counterfeit is to 
make a copy with intent to deceive 
or cheat. We all know what is 
meant by defeat, defect, deficiency, 
deficit. We effect a purpose in 
spite of difficulties, and we effectu- 
ate our desires. A man's effects 
are his personal estate, often all he 
has effected during his life. We 
speak of an efficient cause, of the 
efficiency of an institution, and of 
an effective or effectual remedy ; 
also of efficacious and inefficacious. 
We have infectious diseases through 
infection passing through the air. 
An office is any special duty or 
charge, and to officiate is to perform 
official duties. 'An officious person 
is unduly forward. The olfactory 
organs are those used in smelling ; 
and we have perfect and imperfect 
and pluperfect and defective, pro- 
ficient and proficiency, profit and 
unprofitable. A refectory is a place 
for refreshments, originally in con- 
vents and monasteries. To suffice 
or be sufficient means to be enough 
to meet a demand : a man may have 
a sufficiency of friends to pay a 
debt, he may wear sufficient cloth- 
ing, he may be sufficiently well 
read in a subject to teach it ; and 
a surfeit means an excess in eating 
and drinking. 



394 



SIGNIFICANT ETYMOLOGY. 



compassion, whence the word eleemosynary. Charity, however, 
which properly signifies love, comes from the L. caritas (F. charite), 
from earns, dear (i) in the sense of high price or value, and (ii) of 
great worth or value, beloved. Surprise has been expressed that 
in 1 Cor. xiii. the Authorised Version should have rendered the 
Greek word by charity and not by love, but about that time (1611) 
there was a feeling against the use of " love " in the language 
of religious feeling. On the other hand, the Eevised Version 
never uses the word " charity," and in the twenty-nine cases where 
it occurs in the Authorised Version, it is always rendered " love " 
in the Eevised Version. 

Among dispositions which are helpful to the exercise of the 
benevolent affections are agreeableness, affability, and obligingness. 
Agreeableness is the quality of pleasing from F. agreer, to accept 
kindly, from L. ad, to, and gratiis, 1 kindly. Affable means easy 
to speak to from L. affari, from ad, to, and /or, 2 fatus, fari, to 



1 From grains, pleasing, or gratia, 
derived from it, agreeableness, we 
have grace, favour shown towards 
those who have offended. We 
speak of the grace of a person's 
behaviour, or the gracefulness of 
an orator's action. Gracious means 
kind to inferiors as well as to 
those who have no personal 
claim, and we speak of an un- 
gracious refusal. Sometimes people 
prove ungrateful and show their 
ingratitude. Gratitude may be too 
deep for words. To gratify means 
to please iu a high degree. The 
well-doing of those connected with 
us is a great gratification. Gratis 
means for nothing. A gratuity is 
a free gift ; and the blessings of 
heaven are gratuitous, and so we 
speak of a gratuitous assumption. 
Agree expresses harmony in taste, 
statement, purpose, &c. ; and agree, 
agreement, agreeable, and the op- 
posites disagree, disagreement, dis- 
agreeable, come from gratia through 
F. To congratulate (L. gratulari) 
a person on any piece of good 
fortune is to wish him joy. We 



speak of a congratulatory letter or 
address. To disgrace is to deprive 
of respect or favour. Disgraceful 
conduct causes a man to lose the 
respect of others. We ingratiate 
ourselves with a person or into his 
favour when we gain his favour by 
proper means : base persons insin- 
uate themselves or steal into the 
favour of their superiors. 

2 From the verb for, fatus, fari, 
to speak, and fabula, a story, we 
have a fable and a fib and fabulous, 
not historically true. Fate means 
literally what has been spoken and 
thus decreed, and hence it means 
what must come to pass. An event 
is fated when it is doomed to be. 
It is fatal when it is actually pro- 
ductive of death. We have fatalism, 
fatalist, and fatality. A fairy is a 
being that charms as witches do. 
To confabulate is to talk familiarly 
or chat together. Ineffable things 
are unutterable things, incapable of 
being expressed in words through 
their admirable qualities. An infant 
means one not speaking. Infantry 
means foot-soldiers, for the general 



OUR MORAL NATURE. 



395 



speak to. Obligingness is the disposition to oblige or to confer 
favours through French from L. obligo, obUgdtum, from ob, and 
tigo, 1 to bind and to oblige. It is literally to bind or constrain by 
some favour rendered, but now to do a favour to one without any 
thought of laying him under any obligation. The outward expres- 
sion opposite to benevolence is often annoying, provoking, tantalis- 
ing. To annoy, to trouble or vex, is from the F. ennuyer, It. 
annoiare, from the L. in odio 2 esse, to be hateful to, literally to 
be in hatred (Sp. enqyo, old Venetian inodio, vexation). Another 
word which is often used, but incorrectly, in almost the same sense, 
is the verb to aggravate, from the L. aggravare, to make heavier, to 
add to the weight (from ad, to, and gravis, heavy), as when we 
speak of aggravating the offence, or when we say that injury is 
aggravated by the addition of insult. An insult may be aggravated 
by being offered to a man who is courteous and kindly, as it may 
be palliated by being offered to a brute and a bully ; but it is a 
misuse of the word to employ it in the sense of to provoke to 
anger, to vex, as in such expressions as " He aggravates me by 
his impudence," for he angers me, or " Her martyr-like airs were 



addresses them as lads ! mes enfants. 
What is nefarious is too impious to 
be spoken. So preface is something 
spoken by way of introduction, and 
some prefatory remarks are gener- 
ally made before the proper subject 
is handled. 

1 From ligo, avi, atum, are, to 
bind or tie, we have many deriv- 
atives e.g., a league, a union, a 
confederacy for mutual interest and 
support. An alliance is for the 
sake of harmonious action. Liable 
means bound by law, or capable of 
being acted on. We speak of a 
bankrupt's liabilities. We have 
also ligaments and ligatures. To 
alloy (formerly allay = alligare) is to 
mix a baser metal with a more 
precious one. When we speak of 
gold 18 carats fine, we mean that 
in 24 parts 18 are pure gold and 
6 are alloy. (Carat comes from 
Arabic qirat, a small weight.) 
To disoblige is to displease by 



refusing to do an act of kind- 
ness, or to be accommodating. 
To rally is to reassemble (re-ally) 
and re-form for a fresh effort. 
Religion means the discharge of our 
duties to God ; it also denotes any 
system of religion, true or false. 
We have religious duties, religious 
edifices, religious sects, and relig- 
ious wars. 

2 From the noun odium, hatred, 
we derive the English word odium, 
which signifies general dislike. 
Odious measures, &c., are such as 
bring odium on a government. A 
person's conduct may also be an 
annoyance. Ennui, borrowed from 
the French, means langour of mind, 
listless weariness, arising from want 
of occupation and want of interest 
in what is going on. Noisome 
means injurious to health, as 
noisome effluvia and the noisome 
pestilence. 



396 



SIGNIFICANT ETYMOLOGY. 



very aggravating," the right word being " irritating," or " Some 
speeches grated upon and aggravated him more than he could bear " : 
so also with the cognate word aggrieve. To provoke is to excite to 
anger, but literally and originally to call forth hompro, forth, and 
vocare, to call (p. 125) ; but as what we call forth is generally 
anger, this has come to be its usual meaning, though it was not 
always so. The Authorised Version of the Bible (1611) was made 
at the time when the meaning of the word was just beginning to 
change for the worse, and so we find it there in both senses. In one 
passage (Eph. vi. 4) we read, "And, ye fathers, provoke not your 
children to wrath : but bring them up in the nurture and admoni- 
tion of the Lord" ; and in another passage (CoL iii. 21), "Fathers, 
provoke not your children to anger, lest they be discouraged." 
" Let us consider one another to provoke unto love and to good 
works " (Heb. x. 24). To tantalise is to tease or torment by placing 
a desirable object just within reach but not allowing the person to 
get it. The word comes from Tantalus, a mythical king of Phrygia, 
who for divulging the secrets of his father, Jupiter, was condemned 
to be put up to the chin in water, with choice fruits hanging above 
him, all of which withdrew themselves in proportion as he attempted 
to reach up to them, while the water receded as he struggled to drink. 
(4) Self-control and the want of it. This word control, signify- 
ing restraint, check, or command, comes from the F. controle, from 
contre-role, a duplicate register for checking the original. To 
control thus means primarily to keep a duplicate or a check on 
a roll, and hence it means to govern or regulate men's actions, 
wills, or appetites. The word roll, or F. rouler, meant originally 
to hum like a wheel, then to be formed into a roll or cylinder, and 
then that which was rolled up or wound into a circular form, as 
paper often was, especially a register, thus coming through the 
OF. roeller (F. rouler), from the low L. rotulare, from L. rotula, 
a little wheel, and this from L. rota, 1 a wheel, (i) The quali- 



1 From rota, rotce, a wheel, we 
have not only to roll, but to rotate, 
to move round a centre. We speak 
of the earth's rotation round its 
axis in twenty - four hours ; of 



rotatory movements and rotary 
steam - engines. Rote means fre- 
quent repetition without attention 
to the meaning ; to know or repeat 
a thing by rote is an operation of 



OUR MORAL NATURE. 



397 



fications for self-control are decision, determination. Decision is 
the settling according to one's judgment, the making up one's 
mind through F. decider, from L. decidere, from de, away, and 
ccedo, 1 ccesum, to cut; hence to settle a dispute in the shortest 
manner by cutting away, and so settling its fate. Determination 
comes from L. determine, to enclose within boundaries, and then to 
end or finish from de, and termino, from terminus? a boundary, a 
limit, that which prevents it from extending farther, the boundary 
line which is not to be passed, (ii) The control of the bodily appe- 
tites is secured by temperance, moderation, sobriety, abstemious- 
ness, and abstinence. And first of temperance. We speak of a 
man being moderate in his desires, and temperate in his gratifica- 
tion of them. No very good explanation can be given of how the 
word came to bear this meaning. Temperantia, from which the 
word temperance comes, is itself derived from tempero, to observe 
due measure in a thing ; and there seems little doubt that tempero 3 



mere memory, not of intelligence. 
Rotund means round, but it is 
applied only to solid bodies. We 
speak of the rotundity of a turnip 
or of the earth. A rowel (F. 
rouelle) is a small wheel (a spur). 
Some men's passions are allowed to 
become uncontrollable, and there is 
a controller of the accounts. 

1 Ctedo, cecldi, ccesum, ccedere, to 
cut or kill. If we remember that 
in its compounds the ce becomes i, 
we find the following words derived 
from it : caesura, a pause in a verse, 
generally when the last syllable of 
a word is cut off, and metrically 
connected with the next word. 
From this root probably come 
scissors and chisel. There is a 
concise style, and we may have a 
decided preference for it. There 
have been decisive victories, and 
there have been parricides, fratri- 
cides, matricides, and suicides. 
The surgeon makes an incision 
when he cuts into the flesh. There 
are incisive remarks and incisor 
teeth. Precise has the idea of 
going straight to the point ; there 



is precision of thought, and pre- 
ciseness often denotes an excess 
of nicety. 

2 From terminus, a limit or 
boundary, we have a term, ter- 
minate, terminology, and inter- 
minable. A railway terminus is 
the first or last station of a rail- 
way, while conterminous means the 
same bounds, bordering upon. Pre- 
determination is the determining 
beforehand. We speak of the de- 
terminate counsel of God ; while 
to exterminate is to root out or 
destroy ; and we speak of the ex- 
termination of error, or of weeds 
from a field. 

3 From tempero, avi, atum, are, to 
apportion, to regulate, to qualify, 
we have temper, the due mixture 
of qualities ; to tamper with is to 
meddle with unfairly. There may 
be intemperance in eating and 
drinking. A man's temperament, 
as we have seen (p. 10), is his 
peculiar physical or mental con- 
stitution. The temperature is the 
degree of heat or cold ; to attemper 
is to regulate or grind in due pro- 



398 



SIGNIFICANT ETYMOLOGY. 



comes from tempus, 1 temporis, time, from Gr. temno, tempo, to cut, 
from root tern, to cut, and so signifying a bit cut off, a portion 
of time. Moderation is a word of very much the same mean- 
ing : it means not excessive, literally keeping within measure 
or bounds from L. moderor, moderatus, to give or set a meas- 
ure to a thing, from L. modus? a measure or standard of 
a thing. Sobriety is habitual temperance. The word sober, 
in L. sobi*itis, means free from drunkenness, sobrius being from 
so or se, apart, and ebrius, drunk, from which we have the 
words inebriety and inebriation. Abstemiousness is from L. 
dbstemius, from abs, without, and temetum, wine ; while ab- 
stinence signifies literally the withholding or refraining from 
F. abstenir, from L. abs, from, and teneo, to 'hold. 

Lack of self- control (i) as displayed in want of energy. 
Energy itself is from Gr. energeia, from ergon, a work, and signifies 
strenuous work. Energy had first the meaning of inherent ani- 
mate force : it then came to mean living power, forcibly exerted 
by beings possessed of will. The opposite of energy is apathy, 

portion ; and we speak of particular 
distempers of animals and of the 
human mind. 

1 From tempus, temporis, time, we 
have temporal ; the temporalities 
of a sacred office are the secular 
possessions of it. Temporary means 
lasting for a time only. To tem- 
porise is to yield to circumstances. 
A tempest is a violent storm, and 
we speak of tempestuous weather. 
Tense is the grammatical distinc- 
tion of the time of an action. Con- 
temporary means living or existing 
at the same time. Movements are 
said to be contemporaneous, or to 
occur contemporaneously. What 
is said or done on the spur of the 
moment is said to be extempore. 
We speak of an extemporary or 
extemporaneous discourse ; also of 
extemporising a speech ;that is, 
speaking it without preparation of 
the words. The temples (L. tem- 
pera) are the flat portions of the 
sides of the head above the cheek- 
bones. 

2 From modus we have a mode, 



or regular manner. A model has 
the idea of a perfect pattern. A 
thing is modern which belongs to 
the present order (mode) of things. 
Modesty is the absence of all tend- 
ency to over-estimate ourselves, also 
purity of behaviour. A modicum 
of sense is a small quantity of it. 
To modify a thing is to change its 
quality slightly. In a long life a 
man's opinions admit of various 
modifications. Words and sounds 
are modifiable. Mood means the 
manner of inflecting a verb to show 
how an action is presented. We 
modulate the voice, and we speak 
of the various modulations of 
musical sounds. A mould (F. 
moule, L. moduhis) is the cavity 
or shape in which metals, &c., are 
cast. We accommodate ourselves 
to circumstances, but we prefer 
when accommodation is provided 
at an inn. A commodious (L. 
commodus) house means a con- 
venient one. To incommode is to 
put to inconvenience. To remodel 
is to fashion again. 



OUR MORAL NATURE. 



399 



lethargy, laziness, listlessness, indolence, supineness. Apathy is 
literally want of feeling or indifference, from Gr. a, privative, 
and pathos, feeling (note, p. 139). Lethargy signifies heavy 
unnatural sleepiness or sluggish indifference, through French from 
L. and Gr. lethargia, drowsy forgetfulness, and so we speak of 
a deep lethargy, and of lethargic indifference ; but lethargy comes 
from Gr. argos (idle), and lethe, forgetfulness, from lethe, the old 
form of lanthanein, to lie hid or to forget. Letlie is also the 
name of one of the mythological rivers in the infernal regions, said 
to cause forgetfulness of the past to all who drank of its waters. 
It is of importance in using the word to remember that it consists 
of two syllables, otherwise ludicrous mistakes occur, of one of 
which I was a hearer. It was in the early days of the use of 
chloroform, and a distinguished professor of surgery delivered a 
lecture on its nature and uses. He gave an exceedingly clear and 
interesting account of the method of its administration, tracing it 
up to when the person inhaling it had come fairly under its influ- 
ence. " The patient may now be said to have drunk of the Water 
of Leith " ! The effect was irresistibly ludicrous on all who knew 
that the Water of Leith had at that time a most unsavoury reputa- 
tion for evil smells, and as a filthy and polluted stream, and we 
certainly pitied the patient. Laziness is a slothful habit of body 
and disinclination to work, from ME. lasche, from OF. lasche (F. 
Idche), slack, weak, from L. lax-us, 1 slack or loose. Listlessness 
means having no desire or wish, from list (a word frequently in 
use in writings of the seventeenth century), to have pleasure in, 
to like or please, to choose, from AS. lystan, to desire, and suffix 
less, which signifies free from or without "the wind bloweth 
where it listeth." Indolence, denoting a love of ease and culpable 
aversion to active effort, if not from the L. indoles, the disposition, 



1 From laxus, slack or loose, we 
have to lease. To lease a tenement 
or a farm is to let it (to let it go, 
laxare) for a term of years. A leash 
is a loose thing or rope for holding in 
a dog. Shakespeare speaks of being 
"leashed in like hounds." We 
speak of lax principles and of laxity, 
a laxness of discipline, also of laxa- 
tive medicine. A prolix statement 



is one of wearisome length. To 
relax is to loosen or unbend any 
physical or mental force by a 
pleasant walk or by some suitable 
state of occupation. Such relaxa- 
tion gives relief after effort. To 
release is to set free from what 
binds. We speak of a release from 
prison, from pain, and from an 
obligation. 



400 



SIGNIFICANT ETYMOLOGY. 



comes from in, not, and dolens, part, of doleo, 1 to suffer from or 
grieve, so that it signified literally and originally free from, pain or 
trouble. Supineness, the absence of interest or indifference, signi- 
fies literally lying on one's back, from L. supinus, 2 from sub, under, 
and this from Gr. huptios, from hupo, under. 

Lack of self-control (ii) as displayed in defective will -power 
and misapplied energy. We have impulsiveness, caprice, vacilla- 
tion, obsequiousness, precipitation. Impulsiveness is acting on a 
sudden excitement but not continuous effort from impello, im- 
pulsum, from in, on, and pello, to drive (see note, p. 25). 
Caprice seems to come from L. caper, capri, a he-goat. To caper 
is to dance about in sport, to skip about (as a goat) ; and caprice 
means the acting from the slightest preference of the moment, not 
from fixed principles or deliberation. Capricious persons are ever 
variable. Vacillation (from L. vacillare, to waver) means hesita- 
tion, uncertainty. For obsequiousness see p. 150. Precipitation 
means rash headlong haste, rushing headlong from L. prce, 
before, and caput, 8 the head. 



1 From doleo, dolui, dolitum, 
dolere, to grieve, we have doleful, 
meaning exciting or expressing sad- 
ness. We speak of a doleful 
countenance, a doleful sight, sound, 
or story. Dolorous means full of 
wretchedness. To condole with is 
to express sympathy or to grieve 
with one. Steele speaks of one 
whose congratulations and con- 
dolences are equally words of 
course. 

2 Supine is also the name given 
in the Latin grammar to the verbal 
form in urn and u, so called perhaps 
because, though furnished with case 
endings, it falls back on the verb. 

3 From caput, capitis, a head, 
we have cabbage, so named from 
its round head (OF. cabus, from It. 
capuccio, a little head). Cadet (OF. 
capdet, low L. capitellum, a little 
head) was a younger son, so dis- 
tinguished from the eldest son, who 
was or was to be the head of the 
family. Cadets are the lowest 



grades of commissioned officers. 
The word cadet has been shortened 
into cadie and then cad, a strong 
word for a mean, vulgar fellow, irre- 
spective of social position. A cap is 
a headdress. A cape is a headland. 
The capital is the head or principal 
town of a country. A man's capital 
is that with which he trades ; a cap- 
italist has large funds for trading. 
Capital punishment is death. A 
town capitulates when it surrenders 
on terms, the heads of the agreement 
being first settled. A capitation 
tax is a tax per head i.e., payable 
by every individual. Captain is 
the head of a company, and in the 
navy commands the ship. The 
word cattle is short for capital, as 
anciently cattle formed the chief 
part of a man's property or capital, 
and so we still speak of a man's 
goods and chattels, both words 
meaning the same thing : so also we 
have a chapter, chief, and chieftain. 
What is achieved (F. achever, to 



OUR MORAL NATURE. 



401 



(iii) As to ill-regulated mil power, we have obstinacy, con- 
tumacy, stubbornness. Obstinacy is an excess of firmness, from 
L. obstino (from ob, in the way of, and sto, to stand). Contumacy 
is obstinate disobedience, from L. contumacia (from contumax, 
dcis, insolent, from root con and perhaps root tern in L. temno, 1 to 
despise). Stubbornness expresses immovable fixedness of opinion, 
and means literally "fixed like a stub," a stub being the name 
given to the stump left after a tree is cut down (from the AS. 
styb, akin to L. stipes and Gr. stypos, a stem, a stake). 

(iv) As to the appetites. An appetite is a natural desire (L. 
appetitus, from appeto ad, to, and peto, to seek : see in p. 172). 
As regards the appetite expressed by hunger, a man may be an epi- 
cure, a gourmand, or a glutton. An epicure was so called from the 
Gr. Epicurus, who taught that pleasure was the chief good, but now 
signifies one who is devoted to the luxuries of the table, but who 
is at the same time very dainty about his food. A gourmand is a 
French word signifying one who eats greedily. The origin of the 
word is unknown. The verb, anglicised " gormandise " as early as 
the sixteenth century, signifies to indulge in the pleasures of the 
table to excess, to devour greedily. A glutton is one who eats to 
excess (F. glouton, from L. glutio, 2 to swallow, from L. glutus, the 
throat). As regards thirst, we have intoxication and inebriation. 
Intoxication, which now signifies the condition of being drunk, 
originally signified the state of being poisoned, and perhaps not so 
much by what was taken through the mouth as by poison ingested 



bring to a head) is something grand. 
An achievement is the result of 
heroic and painstaking effort. We 
have decapitate, to behead ; the 
occiput, the hind head. We have 
precipice and precipitous, and to 
recapitulate a subject is to go over 
the heads of it, to sum up the 
principal things spoken or written. 
1 From temno, tempsi, temptum, 
temnere, to despise or slight, we 
have contemn and contemptible, 
contemptuous and contempt ; con- 
tumely is the contemptuous treat- 
ment of another to his face, while 



contumelious treatment is not con- 
fined to words. 

2 From ylutio or gluttio, ivi, itum, 
ire, to swallow, we have the English 
word to glut, signifying to fill to 
excess, as in Byron, " Arise, ye 
Goths, and glut your ire." We speak 
of a glut of the market, meaning a 
superabundant supply. A glutton- 
ous person is one who gorges himself 
with food. Milton speaks of " their 
sumptuous gluttonies and gorgeous 
feasts." Deglutition is the act or 
power of swallowing. 



2c 



402 



SIGNIFICANT ETYMOLOGY. 



into the body. There is no early Latin word for intoxicate, but 
there is a low Latin verb intoxico, which is derived from the word 
toxicum, which was taken from the Gr. toksicon, where we have to 
look for its meaning, which was a name given to a poison in which 
arrows were dipped. It is supposed to have been some poison of 
the nature of laudanum. But the name was given to it from its 
connection with arrows. The Greek word tokson signifies a bow, 
and the adj. toksicos signified relating to arrows, or skilled in 
archery, and we have the word toxophilist, which signifies fond of 
archery. Inebriation also signifies drunkenness. It comes from 
the L. ebrius, drunk ; but the in prefixed rather intensifies than 
negatives the meaning of the simple word. Sober is from the L. 
sobritts = soebritts, not drunk. 

Pride shows a want of proper self-control as a personal quality, 
as manifested in its external display and in the treatment of others. 
As a personal quality we find haughtiness, arrogance, dogmatism, 
and vanity, presumption, ambition. Haughtiness, from haughty, 
ME. hautein, from OF. Jiautain, haut, high, from L. altus, 1 high. 
Arrogance, an undue assumption of importance, claiming unduly, 
from arrofjo, from ad, to, and rogo, 2 to ask or claim. Dogmatism is 
the repulsive, overbearing, and positive assertion of opinion from 
Greek for opinion, but this from dokeo, to think (see p. 78). 
Vanity is from L. vamis, 3 empty. Ambition, the desire of power, 



1 From L. altus, alia, altum, high, 
we have an altar (L. attare), an 
erection made for sacrifice ; altitude, 
a more scientific word for height. 
To exalt is to elevate to a dignified 
or important position. Exaltation 
is the opposite of humiliation. 
Hauteur is a haughty tone, a 
haughty and imperious temper. A 
hautboy (pronounced hoboi) is a 
wind instrument of music, so called 
from its high tone. 

2 From rogo, avi, atum, are, to 
ask, we derive not merely arrogate, 
to claim haughtily some pre-emin- 
ence, but abrogate and abrogation, 
to derogate and derogatory, inter- 
rogate and interrogatory The pre- 
rogative : one of the king's prerog- 
atives is to prorogue Parliament 



that is, to adjourn it to another 
session. Prorogation means literal- 
ly asking forward. Supererogation 
means properly the paying out of 
the Treasury more than has been 
asked for and obtained from the 
people. Works of supererogation 
mean the performance of more 
duties than are supposed necessary 
for salvation, more than there is a 
moral necessity laid on us to do. 

3 From vanus, o, um, we have 
vain itself and vanity. To vaunt 
one's wealth is to bring it promin- 
ently forward. The pleasures and 
joys of life are evanescent. They 
vanish away like a vapour. Hence 
Horace Smith calls a mummy or 
embalmed man "an imperishable 
type of the evanescent." 



OUR MORAL NATURE. 



403 



honour, fame, from the L. ambitio, the going about, the canvassing 
for votes practised by the candidates for offices in Rome, from 
L. anibi, about, and eo, Hum, to go. Presumption is the act of 
presuming, a confidence grounded on something not proved ; forward 
conduct, literally a taking beforehand, acting forwardly (through 
the OF. from L. prcesumptio), presumptuous, from L. prcesumo (prce, 
before, and sumo, 1 to take). Pride (AS. pryte) as manifested in 
its external display in ostentation, parade, bombast, pedantry. 
Ostentation is the act of making a display (always an ambitious 
display), through F. from L. ostendo, to show or to spread out, to 
stretch out. Ostensible means that which is held out without the 
appearance of reality, and a liberal subscription is often an osten- 
tatious display of generosity. To display is to unfold or spread 
out, OF. desployer, from des ( = L. dis), negative, and ployer, the 
same as plier, from L. ptico, to fold. Parade is literally a prep- 
aration for exhibition (F., from Sp. parada, from parar, to halt, from 
L. paro, 2 paratum, to prepare). It is first a place for the exercise 



1 From sumo, sumpsi, sumptum, 
sumere, to take up (for subemere), and 
sumptum, cost, expense, we have 
a sumpter horse or mule, one which 
carries baggage. Sumptuary laws 
are laws made to restrain excessively 
expensive dress, food, or style. A 
sumptuous house, a sumptuous 
feast, and sumptuous apparel are 
expensive and magnificent. To 
assume is literally to take to one's 
self. An assumption of authority 
may be with or without right. To 
consume is to use up, so as to do 
away with the article. Those who 
use the goods in the market are 
called consumers. We have con- 
sumptive and consumption. To 
presume is to suppose something to 
be true which has not yet been cer- 
tainly proved. A presumption may 
be a mere guess, or very probable, or 
a moral certainty, but our presump- 
tive evidence is derived from cir- 
cumstances which usually or neces- 
sarily attend facts. Man may sin 
ignorantly or even presumptuously. 
To resume is to take back again, or 
to take up again. We speak of the 



resumption of a grant, of reason 
resuming her place, of resuming a 
discourse or an argument. 

2 From paro, avi, atum, are, to 
make ready, to prepare, we have a 
parachute, which is for par-d-cJmte, 
that which prepares against a fall 
(chute). It is an umbrella-like ap- 
paratus to enable balloonists to drop 
without injury. A parapet, literally 
guarding the breast. A parasol, a 
small umbrella used by ladies to 
keep off the sun's heat. To pare 
(F. parer) an apple is to shave off its 
outer surface or rind. To parry a 
blow or a thrust is to ward it off. 
We have apparatus, compare, com- 
parison, comparative, compara- 
tively. We prepare land for a crop, 
we make preparations for war, and 
we adopt preparatory measures. 
Rampart comes from re, em for in, 
and par are. We have repair and 
reparation ; separate, separation, 
separable, inseparable ; and sep- 
arate comes through the F. sever. 
Several indicates more than two, 
but not very many. 



404 



SIGNIFICANT ETYMOLOGY. 



of troops, and then such a military display. A man may make a 
parade or an ostentatious show of his possessions, his learning, or 
any dignity. Bombast, which signifies inflated or high-sounding 
language, is said to have meant originally cotton or any soft ma- 
terial used for stuffing garments, and to have been derived from 
bombaz, the low Latin for cotton, from the Gr. bombyx, silk ; so 
Prince Hal calls Falstaff, " My sweet creature of bombast" Its 
application to an inflated style is an obvious jest, and is first found 
in Nashe (1589), "the swelling bombast of a bragging blank 
verse." It is not likely to be much older than his time. 1 Pedantry 
is the vain, useless, and unseasonable ostentation of learning F., 
from It. pedante, probably formed from Gr. paideuo, to instruct, 
from paideia, instruction, from paisf paidos, a boy. 



1 Fustian, in a similar sense, is of 
about the same age, and is a similarly 
jocose application of the name of the 
coarse stuff so called. Fustian is a 
kind of coarse tinted cotton cloth. 
The word comes to us through the 
OF. fustaine, F. futaine, from It. 
fustaigno, from low L. fustaneum, 
from Fostat or Flestat, a suburb of 
Cairo, or another name for Cairo in 
Egypt, where it was first made. So 
the Greeks used lekuthos, originally 
" an oil jar " (swelling in the body), 
for a bombastic style, whence they 
formed a verb lekuthidzo, to write 
fustian or to speak in pompous 
terms. Horace translated the former 
by the Latin ampulla (and coined a 
verb ampullor to correspond, signi- 
fying to speak in a high or inflated 
style), which signified properly an 
oblong earthen jar with a large 
belly, but as used by him signifying 
anything blown or puffed up. In 
his " Ars Poetica," line 97, he says, 
"Profecit ampullas et sesquipedalia 
verba." " Sesquipedalis " properly 
signifies a foot and a half long, but 
Horace uses the plural here to ex- 
press long words ; and in this line 
"ampullas " signifies bombast, high- 
flown stuff and rodomontade, and 
"sesquipedalia verba," words of in- 
terminable length and little meaning. 



2 From pais and paideia we have 
pedagogue (from agogos, a guide, 
and ago, I lead), signifying origin- 
ally one who led the boys to school, 
rather than a schoolmaster in the 
first instance, as in the New Testa- 
ment. The law was our school- 
master to bring us to Christ. The 
Greek word used is pedagogos, the 
person who leads the boy to school. 
Afterwards it came to signify a 
schoolmaster, or one who, by exer- 
cising this office, had acquired a stiff 
and pedantic manner. Such a word 
as pedagogue conveys little or no 
idea to the ordinary mind. I had 
been lecturing on the use and mis- 
use of words in the Chambers In- 
stitute at Peebles, and meeting a 
gentleman on my return the follow- 
ing afternoon, he asked me if I had 
remained at the hotel all night. I 
said, "No; I had accepted an invit- 
ation from a gentleman who lived at 
St Mary's Mount to spend the night 
with him." " St Mary's Mount," 
he said ; "I think I know it. Is it 
not that house on the hillside with 
something like a Chinese pedagogue 
on the top of it ? " I think pagoda 
was the word intended. By peda- 
gogic or pedagogics we mean the 
principles or rules which ought to 
guide the schoolmaster in instruct- 



OUR MORAL NATURE. 



405 



In our treatment of others pride is shown by superciliousness, 
scorn, and disdain. Superciliousness comes from L. supercilium, 
an eyebrow (from L. super, above, and cilium, an eyelid) ; and so 
supercilious means contemptuous, from the habit of contracting 
the eyebrows (supercilia) haughtily. To scorn is to hold in 
extreme contempt, to disdain, or to deride from OF. escorner, 
It. scornar, lit. to take the horns off, to humble, to insult, 
from L. excornis, hornless, from ex, without, and cornua, 
horns. 

Disdain is to think any one unworthy, to treat as unworthy 
from OF. desdaigner, from L. dedignor, from de, privative, and 
dignus, 1 worthy. 

Envy is seen in jealousy and suspicion. Envy is to look with 
a grudging eye F. envie, from L. invidia, from in, on, and video, 
to look (see p. 123); it is the ill-will caused by seeing another's 
greatness and success. Jealous is etymologically the same root 
as zealous (Gr. zelos, emulous, or eager desire or ardour, from 
zeein, to boil). Jealousy is painful suspicion that preference is, 
or will be, given to another. I am jealous of another when I 
am painfully apprehensive that he occupies, or will come to 
occupy, some place in another's affections, or will receive some 
advantage that I very much desire for myself. Suspicion, 
or the act of suspecting, comes from the L. suspicio, to look 
at secretly, from sub, beneath, and specio, to look at (see 
p. 16). 

(v) As to the passions 

(1) Generally such as wrath, choler, rage, resentment, vehemence, 
violence, and fierceness. Wrath, a violent anger, is in AS. wrcedh, 
lit. a twist in the temper, just as wroth, wrathful, from AS. 
wradh, which originally signified twisted. Choler, a word seldom 
used now, signifies the bile, and the choleric temper which was 



ing and disciplining the young. A 
cyclopaedia, or an encyclopaedia, is 
a work containing, usually in alpha- 
betical order, the entire circle of the 
sciences, or the entire range of our 
knowledge of any department of 



them. We speak of a man's learn- 
ing as being encyclopaedic or cyclo- 
paedic. 

1 From digmis, worthy, we have 
to deign, dignify, dignity, dignitary, 
indignity, indignation, indignant. 



406 



SIGNIFICANT ETYMOLOGY. 



supposed to proceed from the bile. The Gr. word cholera comes 
from Gr. chole, the bile. Rage, which signifies violent excite- 
ment, through F. rage, Sp. rabia, from L. rabies, from rabo, to 
rave, akin to Sanskrit rabh, to be agitated or enraged. Resent- 
ment meant originally to take either well or ill. In older 
English we read of a "grateful resentment"; but as people 
more frequently took things ill than weD, resentment has come 
now to signify, almost exclusively, displeasure. The word comes 
through the F. from L. re, in return, and sentio, to feel or 
perceive. Vehement, signifying furious, comes through F. from 
L. vehemens, 1 which is frequently said to be composed of ve, out 
of, and mens, the mind. 

(2) As displayed in words chiefly such as sarcasm, satire, 
irony, invective, and Billingsgate. Sarcasm, from L. sarcastmis 
and Gr. sarkasmos, from sarkazo, to tear flesh like dogs, to 
speak bitterly, comes from Gr. sarks, sarkos, flesh : it means 
bitter personal satire. Satire (through F. from L. satira), or 
satura (lanx, a dish, understood), originally a dish full of all 
kinds of fruit, then a medley, then a dramatic piece in which 
dancing and music and words were intermingled, afterwards satire 
in its present sense of severity of remark or ridicule, from L. 
satur, full, from satis, enough (see p. 32). Irony is a mode of 
speech conveying in words the very opposite meaning of what 
is really intended. The word comes through F. from L. ironla 
and Gr. eironeia, dissimulation, from eiron, a dissembler, from 
eiro, to talk. Billingsgate is foul abusive language like that 
spoken in Billingsgate, the great fish - market in London. 
Invective is a violent accusation brought against one, a violent 
attack with words from inveigh, lit. to carry or bring against, 
from L. inveho, invectum, from in, and veho, to carry. 



1 The derivation above is very 
unsatisfactory. It is true that the 
prefix ve, with long e, has the 
force sometimes of amplification, 
and sometimes of diminution, as 
in the case of sanus, sane, vesanus, 



insane ; but with short it never 
has that effect, and the v& in 
vehemens is not long, but short, 
so that we adhere to our orig- 
inal etymology from v&ho, as in 
p. 91. 



OUR MORAL NATURE. 



407 



(3) As displayed in disputes chiefly such as misunderstand- 
ing, dissension, altercation, squabbling, wrangling, quarrelsome- 
ness, bantering. A misunderstanding is really another name 
for understanding wrongly, and has now come to be another 
name for a quarrel, which often originates in a misunderstand- 
ing. Dissension lit. a thinking differently means a disagree- 
ment in opinion, hence discord or strife, from L. dissentio dis, 
apart from, and sentio, to think. Altercation, from L. altercor, catus, 
to bandy words from one to the other (alter). The word bandy 
itself is properly a club bent at the end for striking a ball, and 
the verb " to bandy " means to beat to and fro as with a bandy, 
to toss from one to another (as words), like playing at bandy ; 
past part, bandied (F. bander, to bend, and Ger. band, a tie, 
string); so also bandy-legged i.e., having bandy or crooked 
legs. Squabbling is akin to low Ger. Tcabbeln, to quarrel, and 
Prov. Ger. schwabbeln, to jabber. Wrangling is the making of 
a disturbance, an angry dispute, a frequentative from the past tense 
of wring, to twist. Quarrelsomeness is the disposition to quarrel. 
In ME. a quarrel was querele, from F. querelle, from L. querela, 
from quwar, to complain. Brawling is a noisy quarrel, from 
Welsh bragal, to vociferate, and supposed to be a frequentative 
of brag, a root found in all the Celtic languages. 

(4) When accompanied with ill -humour and bitterness as 
irritation, exasperation, mortification, chagrin. Irritation, from 
L. irrito, atum, probably and generally said to come from L. irrio, 
to snarl (as a dog). I can find no trace of this verb irrio, and 
prefer deriving the word from the L. noun ira, 1 anger, as irrita- 
tion itself means the exciting or making angry. Exasperation, 
from exasperate, to make very rough or angry, to irritate in a high 
degree from L. ex, intensive, and aspero, to make rough, from 



1 From ira, anger, we have the 
English ire, a poetical word express- 
ing unreasoning explosive anger or 
wrath. We read of an irate re- 
monstrance, of irascibility of tem- 
per, and we meet with men who 



are both irascible and irritable. 
Medical men apply certain sub- 
stances as counter-irritants, to bring 
the irritation or inflammation to 
the outside. 



408 



SIGNIFICANT ETYMOLOGY. 



asper, rough. Mortification (from mortify, lit. to make dead, 
through F. from L. mortifico, lit. to cause death to, from more, 1 
death, and facio, to make) is a word used primarily in the sense 
of destroying the vital functions or to lose vitality, and came 
afterwards to signify to vex, to humble, to inflict vexation. 

(5) As displayed outwardly in complaining, fretfulness, pet- 
ulance, vituperation, scurrility, insolence. Complaining is an 
expression of pain, a sense of injury (F. complaindre, low L. 
complangere, from com, intensive, and plangere, 2 to bewail. 
Fretfulness is literally the wearing away by rubbing, and then 
came to signify irritation, ill-humour; the AS. word is fretan, 
to gnaw, from for, intensive prefix, and etan, to eat. Vituperation 
is verbal abuse, or the act of finding fault with abusively (L. 
vitupero, avi, atum, are, from vitium, 5 a fault, and paro,* to 
prepare or set about). Censure is an unfavourable judgment, 
blame, or reproof from L. censura, an opinion, a severe judgment, 
from censeo, 5 to estimate or judge. Insolence, lit. "what is 
unusual," through F. from L. insolens, from in, not, and solens, 



1 From mors, mortis, death, we 
have such words as mortal, subject 
to death, and mortality, immortal, 
and immortality ; to mortgage 
(gage, a pledge) is to pledge prop- 
erty or lands in security for debts : 
lands are thus said to be held in 
mortgage ; the mortgagee is the 
person to whom they are granted 
in pledge. Mortmain, lit. " the 
dead hand," is the transfer of prop- 
erty to the Church or to any cor- 
poration, which is said to be a dead 
hand, or one that can never part 
with it again. Mortification also is 
used in Scotland to denote a be- 
quest made to some institution. 
The word murrain, signifying an 
infectious and fatal disease among 
cattle, comes through the OF. 
marine, a dead carcass, through 
morior, to die, from mors, death. 

2 From plango, planxi, planctum, 
plangere, to strike noisily, to beat 
the breast, to bewail, and plaga, a 
stroke, we have a plague, (1) a 



severe trouble, (2) or a pestilential 
disease. A plaint is an expression 
of sorrow (as of beating the breast), 
or a representation of wrong done 
(complaint). We speak of a plain- 
tive song or melody. The plaintiff 
is the person who brings an action 
at law. 

3 From vitium, a fault or blemish, 
we have vice, moral depravity ; with 
vice, an evil habit. Vicious is the 
opposite of virtuous. We have also 
viciousness. To vitiate is to taint 
or spoil, to make faulty or cause to 
fail in its effect. We speak of the 
vitiation of taste or moral tone. 

4 Pa.ro, see p. 403. 

6 From censeo, ui, um, ere, to give 
an opinion, an estimate, we have 
the word censor, a Roman officer 
who estimated the property of citi- 
zens with a view to taxing ; also 
the title of a man who used to ex- 
amine books or transcripts before 
they were allowed to be printed, 
and so we speak of the censorship 



OUR MORAL NATURE. 



409 



pres. part, of soleo, 1 to be accustomed to. It meant originally 
conduct contrary to the established rule and custom of society. 
It now means a rude incivility or studied disrespect. 

(6) When accompanied with fierceness we have such words as 
barbarian, rascal, ruffian, blackguard. 2 Barbarian (see p. 215) 
(through L. barbarus, from Gr. barbaros, from bar, bar, an imita- 
tion of unintelligible sounds), applied by the Greeks, and after- 
wards by the Romans, to those speaking a different language 
from themselves. The word soon came to signify a cruel, brutal 
man, little better than an uncivilised man or savage. Wanton 
cruelty to men or animals is called barbarous treatment or 
barbarity, being characteristic of men in a wild state. Rascal, 3 
a tricky dishonest fellow, a knave, a rogue lit. the scrapings 
or refuse of anything : F. racaille, the scum of the people, from 
raceler, OF. rascler, to scrape, through a supposed L. form, 
rasiculare, from rasus, scraped. Ruffian, a brutal, boisterous 
fellow, almost a robber and murderer : F. rufien, It. rufiano, 
from a root ruf, seen in Prov. Ger. ruffer and ruffeln, to 
pander. (A roug7i-ian 1) 



of the press. The census was the 
report made at Rome every five 
years of the censor ; in this country 
the census, or enumeration of the 
inhabitants, is made every ten 
years. 

1 From the verb soleo we have 
also the word obsolete, a word or 
custom that has gone out of use. 



2 Blackguard, see p. 214. 

3 The Gr. rokos, a word of the 
same meaning, would suit well if 
it were necessary to have recourse 
to the Greek ; and indeed Littr6 
approves of the etymology from 
raca, an opprobrious Syrian word 
used in the Jfew Testament in 
Matt. v. 22. 



410 



CHAPTER XXX. 



OUR SPIRITUAL NATURE. 



MAN has not merely a bodily nature like the lower animals, a 
mental nature, and a moral nature conscious of an immutable 
distinction between right and wrong apart altogether from their 
consequences, but he has also a spiritual nature with a spiritual 
faculty, through which he becomes capable of knowing God, and 
conscious of his responsibility to Him. The lower animals have 
no such faculty. Man is the god of the animal ; and the lower 
animals do this or avoid that, not because the one is right and the 
other is wrong, but because they have learned that this will please 
and that will displease their master, and that according to his 
pleasure or displeasure with them will be their happiness or misery. 
There are a great variety of opinions and beliefs regarding the 
divine existence and the divine nature, some even going so far as 
to avow themselves Atheists. 

Atheism is composed of the Gr. a (privative), not or without, 
and tJieos, 1 God, and thus signifying without God, or atheism. An 



1 From theos, God, we derive a 
great many words, such as a theist, 
who believes in a personal God. 
Theism is the opposite of atheism. 
The theistic principle is the first 
principle of the Christian faith. 
Pantheism is the doctrine that all 
(pan) the universe man included 
is God, or simply modes or mani- 
festations of God ; that the entire 
forces, good and evil, and the laws 
which regulate them, are evolutions 
of the divine soul of nature. A 
polytheist (Gr. polloi, many) believes 



in many gods. The name of pagan, 
an idolater, one who worships false 
gods, comes through the L. paganus 
(L. pagus, a village), a villager. 
Before the introduction of Christi- 
anity these words were used to dis- 
tinguish the dwellers in hamlets and 
villages from the inhabitants of 
towns and cities. After the Gospel 
began to be preached in the Roman 
Empire, it was first received in the 
towns and cities the seats and 
centres of intelligence while in the 
hamlets and villages of the country 



OUR SPIRITUAL NATURE. 



411 



agnostic is a name invented by Prof. Huxley some forty years 
ago, and means one who does not know (Gr. agnostos, from a (priv.), 
and gnosis, knowledge see p. 20), one who knows nothing of the 
existence or nature of God or of any kindred subject. There may 
be a God, for anything that agnosticism can say to the contrary. 
It simply asserts that, from the nature of our faculties, we cannot 
even hope to know whether there be a God or not. It is said that 
Dr Blomfield, Bishop of London, while yet a rector of a country 
parish, was anxious to preach extempore, and resolved to make the 
attempt with the text, " The fool hath said in his heart, There is 
no God." Wishing to know at the close of the service how he 
had succeeded in this unwonted attempt, he overtook a rustic 
member before he left the churchyard. Addressing him at once, 
he put the question how he had liked the sermon, in answer to 
which he received the answer, " Very well, sir ; but notwithstand- 
ing all that you have said, I still think there be a God." The 
' New English Dictionary,' in the first volume in 1886, adds 
that the word was " suggested by Prof. Huxley at a party held 
previous to the now defunct Metaphysical Society at Mr James 



the old heathen superstition and 
idolatry long continued to retain 
their hold of the people ; so that the 
name of pagans or villagers came to 
be applied to the worshippers of the 
ancient gods. The same explana- 
tion accounts for the name heathen 
being similarly employed. It comes 
from AS. hcethen, heathen (from 
hceth, a heath), literally one who 
lived on the heaths and moors, and 
not in a walled town, where idolatry 
was no longer prevalent. We have 
also theocracy, a government im- 
mediately directed by God ; and we 
speak of the theocratic state of the 
Israelites. Theology proper is the 
science which treats of God, of His 
character, being, and attributes ; 
and theological treatises contain not 
only the doctrine about God, but 
they inquire into the nature of 
man, the duties he owes to God 
and his fellow- men, the organisa- 



tion of the Church, the future life, 
&c. A man skilled in natural, 
moral, practical, exegetical, and 
systematic theology is called a 
theologian. That branch of heathen 
theology which treats of the nature 
and generation of the gods is called 
theogony (from Gr. gone, race or 
progeny). A theophany (from phai- 
nomai, I appear) is a manifestation 
of God to man by actual appearance. 
An enthusiast is influenced by as 
great a fervour of mind in favour of 
some cause or subject as if he were 
inspired by a deity : this is true 
enthusiasm. A pantheon is a build- 
ing dedicated to all the gods, especi- 
ally the buildings in Rome now 
dedicated to the Virgin Mary and 
all saints. A monotheist (Gr. monos, 
one) is one who believes in the ex- 
istence of only one God the living 
and true God. 



412 SIGNIFICANT ETYMOLOGY. 

Knowles's house on Clapham Common, one evening in 1869, in 
my hearing. He took it from St Paul's mention of the altar to 
'the unknown God.'" R H. Button, in letter, 13th March 1881. 
Since this letter appeared in print Prof. Huxley has himself given 
the history of the word in ' The Nineteenth Century ' (of which 
Mr Knowles was editor) for February 1889. "When I reached 
intellectual maturity and began to ask myself whether I was an 
atheist, altruist, or a pantheist, a materialist or an idealist, a 
Christian or a freethinker, I found that the more I learned and 
reflected, the less ready was the answer, until at last I came to the 
conclusion that I had neither art nor part with any of these 
denominations except the last. The one thing in which the most 
of these good people agreed was the one thing in which I differed 
from them. They were quite sure they had attained a certain 
gnosis, had more or less successfully solved the problem of exist- 
ence, while I was quite sure I had not, and had a pretty strong 
conviction that the problem was insoluble. . . . This was my 
situation when I had the good fortune to find a place among the 
members of that remarkable confraternity of antagonists, long since 
deceased, but a green and pious memory the Metaphysical Society. 
Every variety of philosophical and theological opinion was repre- 
sented there, and expressed itself with entire openness. Most of 
my colleagues were ists of one sort or another, and however kind 
and friendly they might be, I, the man without a rag of a label 
to cover himself with, could not fail to have some of the uneasy 
feelings which must have beset the historical fox when, after leav- 
ing the trap in which his tail remained, he presented himself to 
normally elongated companions. So I took thought, and invented 
what I conceived to be the appropriate title of ' agnostic.' It came 
into my head as suggestively antithetic to the gnostic of Church 
history, who professed to know so much about the very things 
of which I was ignorant, and I took the earliest opportunity of 
parading it in our Society, to show that I too had a tail 
like the other foxes. To my great satisfaction the term took ; 
and when ' The Spectator ' had stood godfather to it, any sus- 
picion in the minds of respectable people that a knowledge of 



OUR SPIRITUAL NATURE. 



413 



its parentage might have awakened was of course completely 
lulled." 

A materialist is also an atheist, inasmuch as he denies the 
independent existence of spirit, and maintains that there is "but 
one substance viz., matter. There are various arguments in proof 
of the divine existence, which go by different names : there are 
specially two, called from the Latin the a priori and the a posteriori 
arguments. The a priori argument is so called from being an 
argument proceeding downward from causes to effects, or from 
general and necessary principles to some particular consequence 
necessarily resulting from them ; while the a posteriori argument 
proceeds in the contrary direction, from effects backward and up- 
ward to their cause, or from certain particular consequences to the 
general and necessary principles from which they result literally, 
from the former and from the latter. The cosmological argument, 
so called, proceeds after the a posteriori fashion, and deduces the 
necessary existence of a first self-existent cause from the fact that 
the world certainly exists, and is evidently an effect. The word 
" cosmological," from cosmology, the science of the universe, is 
from the Greek word cosmos, 1 the world, as an orderly systematic 
whole, opposed to chaos, disorder or confusion. Another form of 
argument is called the teleological, or that argument which, from 
the evidences of design in creation, seeks to establish the fact that 
the great self-existent first cause of things is an intelligent and 
voluntary personal spirit. The word comes from Gr. teleo, I 
accomplish or end, or telos, an end, and logos, a discourse ; and so 
teleology comes to be the doctrine of final causes that is, the 
science of the ends or purposes for which those exhibiting marks of 
intelligence were created or caused to be what they are. The Latin 



1 From the Gr. word Jcosmos, order, 
ornament, also the world or uni- 
verse, we have the words cosmic 
and cosmical, which refer to the 
universe or to the laws which regu- 
late it. Cosmogony means either 
the origin and formation of the 
world or the doctrine or science 
which treats of this formation. 



Cosmography is a description of the 
mundane system generally. A cos- 
metic is an external application that 
tends to beautify. A microcosm 
(Gr. mikros, small) is a small world, 
a world in miniature. In contrast 
to this the great world or universe 
is called the macrocosm (from Gr. 
makros, large). 



414 



SIGNIFICANT ETYMOLOGY. 



word for God is Deus, 1 also Divus, God or Deity. A deist believes 
in God, but not in the Christian revelation ; deism is thus inter- 
mediate between theism and atheism. A theist holds, both from the 
reason of the case and from universal experience, that a supernatural 
revelation is absolutely necessary to make certain, by additional evi- 
dences, the conclusions of reason, and to complete, and render 
practically adequate, the knowledge of God which reason other- 
wise has reached. A divine revelation is thus a clearer 
manifestation of God and His ways to men from L. re, back, 
and velum, 2 a sail, or veil ; lit. to unveil, to draw back the veiL 
What Christians accept as a divine revelation they call the Bible, 
the Scriptures, the Old and New Testament, the Word of God. 
It is called the Bible lit. the Book from Gr. biblion (p. 244) ; 
the Scriptures (from scribere, to write), because holy men wrote as 
they were moved by the Holy Ghost ; and the Old and New 
Testaments, or Old and New Covenants, a covenant being from 
the OF. covenant, twelfth to fifteenth century, from convenant 
viz., pres. part, of convenir, to agree, from con, together, and venire, 3 



1 From Deus we have deuce, or 
possibly from Zeus, Jupiter. Divine 
means relating to God. A divinity 
is a deity. A divinity student is a 
student of theology. 

2 From velum, a sail (originally 
connected with veho, to carry), we 
have also a veil or vail, a curtain. 
To take the veil is to become a nun. 
We speak of unveiling one's face or 
a statue, or of revealing or making 
known what was formerly unknown 
or mysterious. 

3 From venio, veni, ventum, vtnire, 
to come, we have to venture, adven- 
ture, adventurous. Advent means 
coming or arrival. Adventitious 
means foreign to, not properly be- 
longing to, casually acquired, not 
essentially inherited. An avenue is 
a long opening or passage by which 
we approach or enter ; so circum- 
vent, contravene, convene, convener, 
convenient, and inconvenient. A 
convent is an association or com- 
munity of monks or nuns. A con- 



ventual church is one attached to a 
convent. A conventicle is a small 
gathering for religious purposes. 
Convention means first a coming 
or meeting together, and then the 
meeting itself. What is conven- 
tional is sanctioned by general con- 
currence, which is used out of 
custom or special agreement. Event 
means (1) that which comes or falls 
out, any occurrence or springing 
out of a previous state of things ; 
and (2) the issue of consequences. 
A scheme may not succeed at first, 
but it may eventually, and be an 
eventual success. To intervene 
means literally to come between : 
the moon is obscured by the inter- 
vention of clouds. To invent is to 
contrive or find out a mode of doing 
a thing, as in the invention of gun- 
powder. Those who are ready or 
skilled in devising means are in- 
ventive, or are said to have an 
inventive head. An inventory gives 
a true description, with the value 



OUR SPIRITUAL NATURE. 



415 



to come. The books that make up the Old and New Testaments 
were first called canonical by Origen. The canon of Holy Scrip- 
ture is the entire Word of God, consisting of all the books which 
the holy men of old wrote as they were moved by the Spirit of 
God, constituting one complete and only rule of faith and practice ; 
for the Gr. word Tcanon, from which it comes, connected also with 
kanne, L. canna, a reed, signifies a straight rod, a rule line used 
by builders. When we speak of the inspiration of Scripture, we 
mean that God so guided the sacred writers in all they wrote 
that what they wrote was infallibly true, and to the very purpose 
for which God designed it, yet left them free to exercise their 
natural faculties, and to use material drawn from different sources, 
both natural and supernatural. The word " inspiration " comes 
from in, into, and spiro, 1 to breathe, signifying literally to draw 
breath into the lungs, but figuratively to communicate divine or 
other influence, as if this were the breathing of another nature. 
Inspiration is said to be plenary when it is full or complete. It 
comes from the L. verb pleo* plevi, pletum, plere, to fill ; and so 



of certain goods and chattels. We 
speak of a misadventure, and we 
say peradventure. To prevent 
meant in OE. (1) to go or come 
before, and (2) to do before or to 
duplicate. Prevention is better 
than cure. Revenue means annual 
rents or income. A souvenir is a 
remembrance, a keepsake ; and to 
supervene is to come or take place 
after. 

1 From spiro, avi, at um, are, to 
breathe, and spiritus, breath, we 
have many words, such as the 
spirit, which is the higher nature 
of man. God is a Spirit. We 
speak of spiritual gifts, of spirit- 
ualising a text, of spiritualism, 
the belief in spirits distinct from 
matter, of spirituality of mind. 
We spe