Pagina-afbeeldingen
PDF
ePub

Stentorian, very loud and strong ; from Stentor, whom Homer describes

as the loudest-voiced man in the Grecian army that was besieging

Troy. Tantalise, to tease with impossible hopes ; from Tantalus, a king of

Lydia in Asia Minor. He offended the gods, and was placed in Hadés up to his lips in a pool of water, which, when he attempted to drink it, ran away ; and with bunches of grapes over his head, which, when he tried to grasp them, were blown from his reach by a blast of

wind. Tawdry, shabby - a term often applied to cheap finery; from St

Ethelreda, which became St Audrey: originally applied to clothes sold at St Audrey's fair. (Compare Tooley from St Olave; Ted from

St Edmund; etc.) Volcano and Vulcanite, from the Roman god of fire and smiths, Vulcanus.

A volcano was regarded as the chimney of one of his workshops.

WORDS DERIVED FROM THE NAMES OF

PLACES.

Academy, from Academia, the house of Acadēmus, a friend of the great

Greek philosopher Plato, who was allowed to teach his followers there. Plato taught either in Academus's garden, or in his own

house. Artesian (well), from Artois, the name of an old province in the north

west of France, the inhabitants of which were accustomed to pierce

the earth for water. Bayonet, from Bayonne, in the south of France, on the Bay of Biscay.

(Compare Pistol from Pistoia, a town in the north of Italy.) Bedlam, the name for a lunatic asylum-a corruption of the word Beth

lehem (Hospital). Cambric, the name of the finest kind of linen ; from Cambray, a town in

French Flanders, in the north-west of France. Canter, an easy and slow gallop ; from the pace assumed by the Canter

bury Pilgrims, when riding along the green lanes of England to the

shrine of Thomas à Becket. Carronade, a short cannon ; from Carron, in Stirlingshire, Scotland,

where it was first made. Cherry ; from Cerasus, a town in Pontus, Asia Minor, where it was much

grown. Copper and Cypress ; from the island of Cyprus, in the Mediterranean. Currants, small dried grapes from Corinth, in Greece, where they are still

grown in large quantities. They are shipped at the port of Patras. Damson, a contraction of damascene; from Damascus=the Damascus

plum. (Hence also damask.) Dollar, a coin-the chief coin used in America ; from German Thaler

(= Daler, or something made in a dale or valley). The first coins of this sort were made in St Joachimsthal in Bohemia, and were called

Joachim's thaler. Elysian (used with fields or bliss), from Elysium, the place to which the

souls of brave Greeks went after death. Ermine, the fur worn on judges' robes ; from Armenia, because this fur

is “the spoil of the Armenian rat."

Florin, a two-shilling piece; from Florence. Professor Skeat says :

“Florins were coined by Edward III. in 1337, and named after the

coins of Florence.” Gasconading, boasting; from Gascony, a southern province of France, the

inhabitants of which were much given to boasting. One Gascon, on being shown the Tuileries- the palace of the Kings of France-re. marked that it reminded him to some extent of his father's stables,

which, however, were somewhat larger. Gipsy, a corrupt form of the word Egyptian. The Gipsies were supposed

to come from Egypt. (The French call them Bohemians.) Guinea, a coin value 21s. now quite out of use, except as a name-made

of gold brought from the Guinea Coast, in the west of Africa. Hock, the generic term for all kinds of Rhine-wine, but properly only the

name of that which comes from Hochheim, a celebrated vineyard. Indigo, a blue dye, obtained from the leaves of certain plants ; from the

Latin adjective Indicus=belonging to India. Laconic, short, pithy, and full of sense ; from Laconia, a country in the

south of Greece, the capital of which was Sparta or Lacedæmon. The Laconians, and especially the Spartans, were little given to talk

ing, unlike their lively rivals, the Athenians. Lilliputian, very small; from Lilliput, the name of the imaginary country

of extremely small men and women, visited by Captain Lemuel

Gulliver, the hero of Swift's tale called 'Gulliver's Travels.' Lumber, useless things; from Lombard, the Lombards being famous for

money-lending. The earliest kind of banking was pawnbroking; and pawnbrokers placed their pledges in the “ Lombard-room," which, as it gradually came to contain all kinds of rubbish, came also to mean and

to be called "lumber-room.” In America, timber is called lumber. Meander (to), to "wind about and in and out ;" from the Mæander, a

very winding river in the plain of Troy, in Phrygia, in the north-west

of Asia Minor. Magnesia and Magnet, from Magnesia, a town in Thessaly, in the north

of Greece. Milliner, originally a dealer in wares from Milan, a large city in the north •

of Italy, in the plain of the Po. Muslin, from Mosul, a town in Asiatic Turkey, on the Tigris. Palace, from the Latin palatium, a building on Mons Palatinus, one of

the seven hills of Rome. This building became the residence of Augustus and other Roman emperors; and hence palace came to be the generic term for the house of a king or ruling prince. Palatinus, itself comes from Pales, a Roman goddess of flocks, and is connected

with the Lat. pater, a father or feeder. Peach, from Lat. Persicum (malum), the Persian apple, from Persia.

The r has been gradually absorbed. Pheasant, from the Phasis, a river of Colchis in Asia Minor, at the eastern

end of the Black Sea, from which these birds were first brought,

Port, a wine from Oporto, in Portugal. (Compare Sherry from Xeres, in

the south of Spain.) Rhubarb, from Rha barbarum, the wild Rha plant. Rha is an old name

for the Volga, from the banks of which this plant was imported. Solecism, a blunder in the use of words ; from Soli, a town in Cilicia,

in Asia Minor, the inhabitants of which used a mixed dialect. Spaniel, a sporting-dog remarkable for its sense ; from Spain. The best

kinds are said to come from Hispaniola, an island in the West Indies,

now called Hayti. Stoic, from Stoa Poikilé, the Painted Porch, a porch in Athens, where

Zeno, the founder of the Stoic School, taught his disciples. Utopian, impossible to realise ; from Utopia (= Nowhere), the title of a

story written by Sir Thomas More, in which he described, under the guise of an imaginary island, the probable state of England, if her laws and customs were reformed.

145

WORDS DISGUISED IN FORM.

names.

WHEN a word is imported from a foreign language into our own, there is a natural tendency among the people who use the word to give it a native and homely dress, and so to make it look like English. This is especially the case with proper

Thus the walk through St James's Park from Buckingham Palace to the House of Commons was called Bocage Walk (that is, shrubbery walk); but, as Bocage was a strange word to the Londoner, it became quickly corrupted into Birdcage Walk, though there is not, and never was, any sign of birdcages in the neighbourhood. Birdcage is a known word, Bocage is notthat is the whole matter. In the same way, our English sailors, when they captured the French ship Bellerophon, spoke of it as the Billy Ruffian; and our English soldiers in India mentioned Surajah Dowlah, the prince who put the English prisoners into the Black Hole, as Sir Roger Dowler. The same phenomenon is observed also in common names—and not infrequently. The following are some of the most remarkable examples :

Alligator, from Spanish el lagarto, the lizard. The article el (from Latin

ille) has clung to the word. Lat. lacerta, a lizard. (The Arabic

article al has clung to the noun in alchemy, algebra, almanac, etc.) Artichoke (no connection with choke), from Ital. articiocco; from Arabic

al harshaff, an artichoke. Atonement, a hybrid--atone being English, and ment a Latin ending.

Atone=to bring or come into one. Shakespeare has “Earthly things,

made even, atone together.” Babble, from ba and the frequentative le; it means "to keep on saying” ba. Bank, a form of the word bench, a money-table. Belfry (nothing to do with bell), from M. E. berfray; 0. Fr. berfroit, a watch-tower.

K

« VorigeDoorgaan »