Monday, December 16, 2013

Word mysteries solved

As I've mentioned before, Charles Finch's Victorian mysteries featuring Charles Lenox are usually treasure troves of historical and etymological information. His latest, An Old Betrayal, reviewed here last week, pauses three times in the solution of the murder mystery to offer readers word histories. The three words are these:

magazine - Lenox finds a stack of old copies of The Gentleman's Magazine, at which point readers are informed that this was the first publication to call itself a magazine. Finch explains that the word comes from the French word for "storehouse," "although now, oddly, the word had migrated back to Paris from London and come to mean 'journal' there, too." A magazine, therefore, was considered to be a store of information. According to Word Nerd, the word originally came from the Arabic word makhzan, which also meant "storehouse."

curate - In a church parish in England, the rector and the vicar received most of the offerings donated by parishioners. "The curate merely got a 'cure,' a small fee, and ended up doing most of the work of these two greater men."

hogwash -  Kitchen scraps were called wash in Victorian times, Finch says. They were collected each day and turned into food for pigs. Thus, hogwash.

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