"That's a great deal to make one word mean," Alice said in a thoughtful tone. "When I make a word do a lot of work like that," said Humpty Dumpty, "I always pay it extra."
Monday, 11 May 2009
GB asked me about the origin of the word hanker on his blog yesterday. I didn't know the answer but I shall share with you all what I discovered:-
The first known appearance of "hanker" dates back to about 1600 in England, and it has been used by the likes of Milton and Thackeray so it has a genuine pedigree.
The origin of "hanker" is a bit obscure, but most authorities have come to the conclusion that it arose as a form of the verb "to hang" and meant "to hang around, to loiter with expectation or longing." Thus, in this original sense, a lovesick swain might "hanker" in the vicinity of his beloved, hoping for an encounter (as in Thomas Hughes, 1859: "I used to hanker round the kitchen, or still-room, or wherever she might happen to be"). By the late 17th century, "hanker" had lost its "loitering" connotation and had settled on its modern meaning of "to long for or crave something."
My daughter Helen commented in November 2008 in her Blog that she was now keeping a notebook of new words that she came across during her reading. "This week I bought a lovely little leather bound book to write new words in as I read them . I've added a few from "1984", but my favourite has to be persiflage (from the French persifler) which means banter." I later discovered that my older daughter, Bryony, also kept a similar notebook.
This inspired me to create a Word blog. This will include both new words, favourite words and the origins of phrases that we commonly use. A definition and some comment, perhaps even a relevant quotation, will acompany the word or phrase.
“I am a Bear of Very Little Brain, and long words bother me.” - Winnie the Pooh
I'm a blogger - nowadays that seems to be my main occupation and Rambles from My Chair is my main blog. I’m a retired local government executive - now studying how to survive a neurological disorder that gives me various problems but, hopefully, a whole new outlook on life and an increased sense of humour and perspective. I enjoy all manner of communication apart from the telephone and am constantly e-mailing, texting, writing postcards and letters and commenting on other people's blogs.
Scriptor Senex is Latin for Old Writer and my real name is John but I've almost forgotten that nowadays...
“He’s not so old. He’s just the age that he is, that’s all.” (Gerald Hammond)