Etymology of the Day: Galoshes

If it’s raining outside, you might want to put on your “log-feet”—er, galoshes. Good thing we don’t look to etymology for fashion tips.

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The patten, ancestor of the galosh? At least you wouldn’t get dog poo on your shoes. (My Learning)

Galoshes

English put on the word galosh—which we usually use as galoshes, because footwear comes in pairs—in the late 14th century. Back then, galoshes named a variety of boots and shoes, though especially a kind of wooden shoe strapped onto the foot with leather thongs or the like. By the mid-1800s, the word was slipping into its modern sense, a waterproof overshoe, usually made of rubber. Today in the US, galoshes tend to refer rubber to rain boots. 

How’d we go from wood to rubber? Let’s just we’ve come a long way in our shoe technology. Over the centuries, galoshes could refer to pattens. These were a kind of outdoor footwear, worn over one’s regular shoes, with a wooden platform (clog) or metal ring that elevated the stepper over mud—and dung. Also worn over shoes and protecting the shoe from the elements, galoshes provide a similar, though less ridiculous looking, function. 

The English galosh is from the French galoche, whose origin has two main theories. The first traces galosh to the Late Latin galliculua, short for gallicula solea, “Gallic shoe,” a type of footwear associated with the Gauls and perceived as rustic.

The other theory roots galosh in the Vulgar Latin *galopia, borrowed from the Greek kalopous (κᾱλόπους), literally “log-foot.” The word joins kalon (κᾶλον, a word used of logs or firewood) and pous (πούς, meaning and related to our word “foot”).

Etymologyever the trendsetter.

m ∫ r ∫

Review: The Word Detective by John Simpson

I’ve often been asked, “You’re the kind of person who likes to read the dictionary, aren’t you?” Well, I’m not just someone who enjoys reading the dictionary. I’m also someone who takes great pleasure in reading books about the dictionary. In this case, it’s John Simpson’s The Word Detective: Searching for the Meaning of It All at the Oxford English Dictionary (Basic Books, 2016).

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United Airlines might learn a thing or two from the origin of “accommodate”

United Airlines is under fire after guards violently dragged a passenger from a flight the airline overbooked on Monday. Its CEO, Oscar Munoz, only made matters worse when he apologized for “having to re-accommodate these customers.” United is clearly making up its own, all-too-self-accommodating definition of accommodate. So, let’s help them out: The history and origin of accommodate has some valuable lessons to impart. 

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Accommodation, etymologically, is making sure the pieces fit. (Pixabay)

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Etymology of the Day: Caddie

After a career chasing a major, Spanish golfer Sergio Garcia swung his way back to clinch the Masters Tournament on Sunday. When he sank his winning putt, Garcia warmly acknowledged his final contender, Justin Rose, and his caddie, before embracing his own, Glen Murray. For as they say, behind every great golfer is a caddie. But what’s behind the word caddie?

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The other modern-day caddie? (Pixabay)

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The many folds of “complicit”

After Ivanka Trump told CBS that “I don’t know what it means to be complicit,” Merriam-Webster helped her out with its definition: “Helping to commit a crime or do wrong in some way.” The dictionary, whose lexicographical sick burns have been lighting up Twitter, observed that complicit also trended back in March, used by Saturday Night Live as the name of a perfume in parody of the president’s daughter.

In its look at complicit, Merriam-Webster noted that the word, which it first attests in 1856, is likely a back-formation of complicity, notoriously defined in the late 17th-century as “a consenting or partnership in evil.” But what are the deeper roots of complicity? Let’s unfold them.

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The “twists” and “turns” of fate? (Pixabay)

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“Showdowns” and “filibusters”: on the etymological floor of the US Senate

There is a partisan showdown in the US Senate. Democrats have the votes to filibuster the nomination of Neil Gorsuch for the Supreme Court, preventing the cloture needed to take up his vote. Will Republican Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, as he seems poised to do, use the nuclear option?

Senate politics doesn’t just brim with conflict—it’s also teeming with colorful and unusual vocabulary. Let’s take these terms to the etymological floor. 

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“Delirious”: literary hoax, ancient metaphor

Around April Fool’s Day in 1708, Jonathan Swift, ever mischievous, set out to humiliate one, John Partridge, a noted English astrologer and almanac-maker.

Under the pseudonym Isaac Bickerstaff, Esq., Swift published “Predictions for the Year 1708,” which foretold Partridge would die of a “raging fever” on March 29 that year. To deepen the prank, Swift then fabricated a letter from a purported acquaintance confirming Partridge had died as predicted.

Swift’s prank was wildly successful. People in the community even began undertaking funeral preparations when they heard the alleged news. But Swift’s hoax is fascinating for another reason—at least for word lovers.

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Grandma’s off her…furrow? (Pixabay)

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