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#204416 01/29/12 02:54 PM
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"From a book I'm reading: "None of this means that the Middle Ages had failed to diffuse advances in practical knowledge, but this effort was restricted by their institutions. The guilds of artisans kept the tricks of the trade secret; they were valuable property, as are today patents and copyrights. By an unconcious pun, the French for craft - métier- was thought (erroneously) to be derived from mistère(= mystery)." -

I looked up the closest easy to find etymology of metier adn found:

1792, from Fr. métier "trade, profession," from O.Fr. mestier, from Gallo-Romance *misterium, from L. ministerium "office, service," from minister "servant" (see minister).

It seems to me that métier coming from *misterium is more plausible than it coming from L. ministerium in spite of what the author of the book says. More likely the English, only starting to use it from 1792 connected it to "office".

Last edited by BranShea; 01/29/12 08:47 PM.
BranShea #204417 01/29/12 03:07 PM
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I seem to recall that some religious rites were considered "mysteries" in pre-Christian times, and the Christian church picked up on the idea of mystery. Is there no connection between an ecclesiastical mystery and a trade secret? To me they seem to follow.

HalAl #204418 01/29/12 03:49 PM
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... and most certainly the Mediæval Gilds referred to their trade secrets as "the mysteries of the craft."


I'm immortal until proven otherwise
Rhubarb Commando #204419 01/29/12 04:07 PM
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As do the Masonic lodges today.


----please, draw me a sheep----
Rhubarb Commando #204422 01/29/12 08:42 PM
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Originally Posted By: Rhubarb Commando
... and most certainly the Mediæval Gilds referred to their trade secrets as "the mysteries of the craft."
Yes indeed, that is what the quote is telling us. I brought it in here because of the writer's opinion that the French were "erroneous" about the etymology. That is what I doubt.


Last edited by BranShea; 01/29/12 08:45 PM.
BranShea #204426 01/30/12 03:59 AM
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zmjezhd? Can you enlighten us on this intriguing mystery? (I love a good mystery; thanks, Branny!)

I will say, I can see how 'minister' prolly went to 'serve' then 'work'. This stuff is so much fun!

Jackie #204429 01/30/12 10:50 AM
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Yes and I can see how métier, mestier could come from misterium and so I wonder, yes I wonder who stole the show.

BranShea #204432 01/30/12 11:57 AM
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Folk etymologies almost always do seem to make sense. That doesn't make them right.

Jackie #204434 01/30/12 12:46 PM
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Can you enlighten us on this intriguing mystery?

Sorry, not really. Either looks plausible. All the dictionaries I checked derive métier from ministerium and not from mysterium. You'd really need to talk to a French lexicographer to find out what's up. It's good to remember that the etymologies one finds in dictionaries are just an abbreviated form of what scholars write out in articles and monographs which would contain more of an argument for why a certain etymology lost out to another one.


Ceci n'est pas un seing.
zmjezhd #204442 01/30/12 06:36 PM
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Then we'll live with one more intriguing mystery left intact. As is OK. Thanks for taking the trouble.

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