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#73981 - 06/23/02 01:51 PM WO'N challenge
wwh Offline
Carpal Tunnel

Registered: 01/18/01
Posts: 13858
WO'N suggested posting etymologies of three words:
The second I chose to do first:

Main Entry: dow·a·ger
Pronunciation: 'dau-i-j&r


Function: noun
Etymology: Middle French douagiere, from douage dower, from
douer to endow, from Latin dotare, from dot-, dos gift, dower -- more
at DATE
Date: 1530
1 : a widow holding property or a title from her deceased husband
2 : a dignified elderly woman

The second word, spinster, was in www.takeourword.com, Issue 49:

As might seem obvious, this word derives from spin. It is a
reference to the spinning of yarn from wool. Any woman who
spun wool for a living was known as a spinster beginning in about
the 13th century. Eventually, the word came to be appended to a
woman's name as an indication of her occupation. By the 17th
century the term was used to signify any unmarried woman, and it
was used in legal documents for that purpose. Later, however,
spinster came to apply to older, unmarried women. This
association likely occurred because the older a single woman was, the longer she had been known as
so-and-so spinster.

His third word was "bachelor"

: : Bachelor originated ?probably before 1300 ?bacheler?: a young man, a squire, a young unmarried
man; later a young knight (before 1376), a university graduate or a junior member of a guild (1418). The
word is borrowed from Old French ?bacheler,? ?bachelier,? from Medieval Latin ?baccalaris,? probably a
variant of ?baccalarius? helper or tenant on a ?baccalaria,? section of land; later ?baccalarious? also had
the meaning ?junior member of a guild, university student,? the latter meaning seen in the pun on
?baccalaureus? under ?baccalaureate.?? From the ?Barnhart Concise Dictionary of Etymology? by Robert
K. Barnhart (HarperCollins Publishers, New York, 1995).



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#73982 - 06/23/02 04:27 PM Re: WO'N challenge
WhitmanO'Neill Offline
Carpal Tunnel

Registered: 03/13/01
Posts: 4189
Loc: Rio Grande, Cape May County, N...
This association likely occurred because the older a single woman was, the longer she had been known as so-and-so spinster.

This is interesting, Dr. Bill, because I seem to recall from historical text, literature, and film, that there was a time in history where an elder never-married woman actually came to be referred to by that title in her community (Spinster Browne, for instance) as if were perfectly appropriate to address her that way...although, I'm not sure if someone would have actually used this to the woman in person.

dowager

2 : a dignified elderly woman


Hmmm...also a bit of a surprise, since I've always viewed this term as less than dignified, as in "some old dowager."

bachelor

later a young knight (before 1376)


I find this early meaning for bachelor intriguing.

Does anyone have any examples of this usage in period literature?





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#73983 - 06/23/02 04:57 PM Re: WO'N challenge
wwh Offline
Carpal Tunnel

Registered: 01/18/01
Posts: 13858
Dowager Empress Tzu Hsi

http://www.royalty.nu/Asia/China/TzuHsi.html

History: how a third grade concubine became very powerful.


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#73984 - 06/23/02 05:21 PM Re: WO'N challenge
wwh Offline
Carpal Tunnel

Registered: 01/18/01
Posts: 13858

Bachelor

The exact origins of this word are unknown; the earliest meaning of bachelor was "a young knight not old
enough to display his own banner and hence in the service of an older knight." It is in this sense, for
example, Chaucer uses the word in his Prologue to the Canterbury Tales.

"With him ther was his sone, a
young squyer,
A lovyere, and a lusty bacheler."


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#73985 - 06/23/02 05:59 PM Re: WO'N challenge
Geoff Offline
old hand

Registered: 11/12/00
Posts: 819
Loc: Portland,Oregon, USA
Dowager Empress Tzu Hsi

... a third grade concubine...


Damn! She started in third grade? A child prodigy!


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#73986 - 06/23/02 06:53 PM Re: WO'N challenge
wwh Offline
Carpal Tunnel

Registered: 01/18/01
Posts: 13858
Okay, Geoff, I should have said third rank. But she wasn't rank. She was outstanding
beautiful. But she got to the top, and a lot of her enemies mysteriously disappeared.
She gave the emperor a son and the others were unable to.
To be sure none of the concubines hid a weapon, they were carried naked by
a eunuch, and deposited on the foot of the emperors. bed.
(The eunuch didn't dare peek, because he was two shy.)


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#73987 - 06/23/02 07:35 PM Re: WO'N challenge
WhitmanO'Neill Offline
Carpal Tunnel

Registered: 03/13/01
Posts: 4189
Loc: Rio Grande, Cape May County, N...
"With him ther was his sone, a young squyer, A lovyere, and a lusty bacheler."

Great citation, Dr. Bill! Thanks!



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