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This was once also called candlestaf; and it is certain, that, before metals and better materials were used, nothing but a stick was employed. I have seen a stick slit at one end for the purpose of holding the candle, as also three nails stuck in a stick for the same use; and we still call this utensil a candlestick, though it may be made of silver, brass, glass, &c.
CHRIST-CROSS-Row. The alphabet is commonly so called, though now it is often printed without a cross being prefixed, as formerly.
CARD, or SEAMAN'S CARD. This means the mariner's compass, the points being de lineated on a card anciently, whatever they are now, and so it is called a card still.
HORN, and FRENCH HORN. At first, horns were used both for blowing and drinking, and the name continued, though both the drinking-horn and the blowing-horn were made of better substances, ivory, silver, brass, &c.
An IRON, or SMOOTHING-IRON. These were made at first af hammered iron, but now are generally made of sow-metal, but are still called irons.
KERCHIEF, and HANDKERCHIEF. The kerchief, as the French word couverchef imports, was. originally worn on the head, but now, though it keeps the name, it is commonly worn about the neck or in the pocket, and so there is an impropriety in terming it an handkerchief.
LEAF. This answers to the Latin folium, which was applied to books, because the ancients wrote on the leaves of trees or plants. The Latin liber in like manner took its name from the bark on which they wrote. We, though we write on paper, still keep calling the constituent parts of books, leaves.
A pot is properly, and in strictness of speech, a vessel made of earth; hence a potter and a pottery; but it is now applied to utensils for boiling, though they are composed of very different materials, as brass or iron; as also to vessels for drinking, though they consist of silver (as the coffeepot), or pewter. By a pot of beer we also mean a quart.
Pole, or PERCH. This is now a certain measure of sixteen feet and a half, forty poles making a quarter of an acre: the reason of this name is, that, though land may be now measured by a chain, the custom formerly was to do it by a pole of this length. The case is the same with a rod of work, which no doubt was measured at first by a rod or pole; as likewise with the yard, the length of three feet, which was adjusted by a yerde or virga, of that length. Yerde and rod seem to me to be the same word, by a metathesis of letters, as common in our language. Hither also may be referred the cord, meaning a certain and determinate quantity of wood, when stacked, namely as much as was usually measured at once by a cord or string,
The covers of books were anciently made of boards; many are now remaining in their original binding made of that material. Folds of paper were afterwards pasted together for covers; and this substance, though so different from the former, preserved the name of board, being called pasteboard.
POKING-STICK, or SETTING-STICK This is now commonly made of bone or steel, but formerly was really a stick, V. Stowe, Chronicle p. 1038,
It is evident from various monuments of antiquity, that at first, people rode without either saddles or stirrops; and when the latter began to be used here in this island, espe. cially by our Saxon ancestors, a rope was applied for the purpose of mounting, and was termed a stigh-rope, from stigan, ascendere. That this is the true etymology of the word is evident from the Saxon name of the thing, stigerapa,
stapia. There is no rope, however, used at this day about the modern stirrops. Of this, and sallet-oil, I may say more to you perhaps hereafter; at present I go on.
SCABBARD. The sheath used for a sword, of which Junius gives this etymon: “Videtur esse a Teut. Schap, promptuarium, theca. V. quæ infra annotamus in Scep, cumera. Gawino Episc. Dunkel. in Scot. translatione Virgiliana, circa ini. tium xi. Æneid. evore scalbert dicitur eburnea vagina." I think it very plain from this passage of Gawin Douglas, that the true orthography is scalbord, corrupted since to scabbard. Now scalbord implies a board, or rather two pieces of board, hollowed for the reception of the blade of the sword, and then fastened together with glue. The two pieces would be called scales, just as the two laminæ in the handle of a knife are termed by the cutlers, scales. In short, the sheath of the sword was formerly, as I apprehend, made of wood, though it is now composed of leather. Mr. Ed. Lhuyd, in Archæol. Brit. p. 15, writes it sgabard.
A STONE. A weight of 14lb. in some places only of 8lb. The reason of the name is, that weights at first were generally made of stone, Deut. xxv. 13. and we see some few of the sort now; but most commonly they are made, the larger ones especially, of lead, but still go by the old name.
STONE-Bow. This is the cross-bow. Wisdom of Sol. v. 22. and Littleton's Dict. in voce. The French call it pierrier. The reason of the term in both languages is, that formerly the bullet, discharged by the cross-bow, was commonly made of stone.
STEAN-POT. This should, by the etymon, be made of stone, but is usually earthenware.
TOUCH-HOLE. Our fire-arms were at first discharged by applying a lighted match to the touch-hole, and consequently by touching the hole, as is now done in firing great guns, And though that method is now left off, by means of the later improvement of the lock, the hole still keeps its old
TREACLE. OngiaxnTheriaca, corrupted afterwards to theriacal, was originally a medicine, or compound, good against the bite of a serpent. From this theriacal comes the modern word treacle; and though the treacle of the apothecary, and the grocer's treacle, which is the molasses, are not now used with any such intention, they still keep a name borrowed from the first intention of the medicine or antidote.
THIRDBOROW. This is a corruption of headborore, the same in the north as tithingman, or borsholder in the south. See borsholder.
UPSHOT. Though archery is now so much disused amongst us, the term upshot (for which see Stowe's Survey of London, 1. p. 302), in the sense of the end or conclusion of any business, is still retained.
WINDOW. The windows of houses and churches were either entirely open, or filled with lattice-work, formerly. Hence Judges, v. 28. we read, “ The mother of Sisera looked out at a window, and cried through the lattice.” These apertures were commonly the places where the wind entered the buildings, and so took the name of window, though now, being closed with glass, nothing of that nature attends them; on the contrary, they are now so contrived as to exclude the wind.
WARD. A term relative to a forest, and still used in places to which forests extended; though such forests are now no
The same may be said of forests themselves, which are still so called, though they are not now properly forests. · These, Mr. Urban, are all the instances I can recollect at present: many more, no doubt, will occur to others, who, perhaps may not be displeased to be put into a way of thinking on a subject that is sure to afford them some amuse
Yours, &c. 1774, June, July.
MR. URBAN, I HERE beg leave to add, as a supplement to what I advanced in your late Magazine on the word stirrop, that, in
Matth. Paris, p. 565, the word strepa apparently signifies a stirrop. See also Dr. Watts's Glossary there in voce. St. Jerome, again, has strapia, for the same thing: and there is likewise such a word in Latin as struppus, for a string or thong; whence some, perhaps, may incline to fancy (the lovers, I mean, of etymology), that the word stirrop may have come to us from some of those barbarous Latin words*; that the strap and stirrop had the same original, and that they meant one and the same thing. Dr. Watts, I think, was of that opinion; and it is certain, that strepe, in Blount's Tenures, p. 33, signifies a stirrop, and that Dr. Littleton, in the word struppus, says, “Hinc Angl. a strap, a stirrup." But now, as I esteem the orthography of the word to be stirrop (so Skelton writes it, p. 188), and not stirrup, as Dr. Littleton gives itt, it is more natural to think it took its name from a rope, formerly used instead of a leathern strap now in vogue, sti-rope meaning the rope by which they used to ascend or mount their horses. Thus, sty signifies to ascend, in the Mirrour of Magistrates, p. 402, where Sir Anthony Woodvile, Lord Rivers, says,
Then grew the king and realm to quiet rest,
Our stock and friends still stying higher and higher. And stee-hopping is playing the hobby-horse, that is, hopping high, in Somersetshire. Hence also the word stile, scalarium, scala, from the A. Sax. stigle, which word stile is pronounced, in Derbyshire, stee, the very name they give to a ladder in Yorkshire, the degrees of which are in many places called steles. Hence, again, the word stair comes from the Saxon stegher, gradus, which is derived from stigan, ascendere, as sty, stee, stile, or stigle, or steles, above-mentioned, all are. This etymology of the word stirrop is certainly much corroborated by the Saxon name of it, which I mentioned in my last paper, viz. stigerapa, plainly shewing, that it is an easy derivation from stighrope, and manifestly ought to have the preference before any of those barbarous words specified above.
I shall now take the liberty, Mr. Urban, to add a word on sallet-oil; a subject intimately connected with my late paper, but for which I had then no room. People are very
* Slippa is used, in Blount's Tenures, p. 31, for a stirrup; but I suspect it to be an error, for stippa, which occurs in Camden, Col. 1023.
+ Dr. Plott also so writes it, Hist. Staff. p. 577, and more corruptly, viz. sturrup, p. 376.