On the Study of Words
Richard C Trench

Part 3 out of 4

by this West-Indian tornado, many have seen an explanation of the name;
just in the same way as the Latin 'calamitas' has been derived from
'calamus,' the stalk of the corn. In both cases the etymology is
faulty; 'hurricane,' originally a Carib word, is only a transplanting
into our tongue of the Spanish 'huracan.'

It is a signal evidence of the conservative powers of language, that we
may continually trace in speech the record of customs and states of
society which have now passed so entirely away as to survive in these
words alone. For example, a 'stipulation' or agreement is so called, as
many affirm, from 'stipula,' a straw; and tells of a Roman custom, that
when two persons would make a mutual engagement with one another,
[Footnote: See on this disputed point, and on the relation between the
Latin 'stipulatio' and the old German custom not altogether dissimilar,
J. Grimm, _Deutsche Rechtsalterthümer_, pp. 121, sqq. [This account of
the derivation of 'stipulatio' is generally given up now; for Greek
cognates of the word see Curtius, _Greek Etymology_, No. 224.]] they
would break a straw between them. We all know what fact of English
history is laid up in 'curfew,' or 'couvre-feu.' The 'limner,' or
'illuminer,' for so we find the word in Fuller, throws us back on a
time when the _illumination_ of manuscripts was a leading occupation of
the painter. By 'lumber,' we are reminded that Lombards were the first
pawnbrokers, even as they were the first bankers, in England: a
'lumber'-room being a 'lombard'-room, or a room where the pawnbroker
stored his pledges. [Footnote: See my _Select Glossary_, s. v. Lumber.]
Nor need I do more than remind you that in our common phrase of
'_signing_ our name,' we preserve a record of a time when such first
rudiments of education as the power of writing, were the portion of so
few, that it was not as now an exception, but the custom, of most
persons to make their mark or 'sign'; great barons and kings themselves
not being ashamed to set this _sign_ or cross to the weightiest
documents. To 'subscribe' the name would more accurately express what
now we do. As often as we term arithmetic the science of calculation,
we implicitly allude to that rudimental stage in this science, when
pebbles (calculi) were used, as now among savage tribes they often are,
to help the practice of counting; the Greeks made the same use of one
word of theirs ([Greek: psephizein]); while in another ([Greek:
pempazein]) they kept record of a period when the _five_ fingers were
so employed. 'Expend,' 'expense,' tell us that money was once weighed
out (Gen. xxiii. 16), not counted out as now; 'pecunia,' 'peculatus,'
'fee' (vieh) keep record all of a time when cattle were the main
circulating medium. In 'library' we preserve the fact that books were
once written on the bark (liber) of trees; in 'volume' that they were
mostly rolls; in 'paper,' that the Egyptian papyrus, 'the paper-reeds
by the brooks,' furnished at one time the ordinary material on which
they were written.

Names thus so often surviving things, we have no right to turn an
etymology into an argument. There was a notable attempt to do this in
the controversy so earnestly carried on between the Greek and Latin
Churches, concerning the bread, whether it should be leavened or
unleavened, that was used at the Table of the Lord. Those of the
Eastern Church constantly urged that the Greek word for bread (and in
Greek was the authoritative record of the first institution of this
sacrament), implied, according to its root, that which was raised or
lifted up; not, therefore, to use a modern term, 'sad' or set, or, in
other words, unleavened bread; such rather as had undergone the process
of fermentation. But even if the etymology on which they relied (artos
from airo, to raise) had been as certain as it is questionable, they
could draw no argument of the slightest worth from so remote an
etymology, and one which had so long fallen out of the consciousness of
those who employed the word.

Theories too, which long since were utterly renounced, have yet left
their traces behind them. Thus 'good humour.' 'bad humour.' 'humours,'
and, strangest contradiction of all, '_dry_ humour,' rest altogether on
a now exploded, but a very old and widely accepted, theory of medicine;
according to which there were four principal moistures or 'humours' in
the natural body, on the due proportion and combination of which the
disposition alike of body and mind depended. [Footnote: See the
_Prologue_ to Ben Jonson's _Every Man out of His Humour_.] Our present
use of 'temper' has its origin in the same theory; the due admixture,
or right tempering, of these humours gave what was called the happy
temper, or mixture, which, thus existing inwardly, manifested itself
also outwardly; while 'distemper,' which we still employ in the sense
of sickness, was that evil frame either of a man's body or his mind
(for it was used of both), which had its rise in an unsuitable mingling
of these humours. In these instances, as in many more, the great
streams of thought and feeling have changed their course, flowing now
in quite other channels from those which once they filled, but have
left these words as abiding memorials of the channels wherein once they
ran. Thus 'extremes,' 'golden mean,' 'category,' 'predicament,'
'axiom,' 'habit'--what are these but a deposit in our ethical
terminology which Aristotle has left behind him?

But we have not exhausted our examples of the way in which the record
of old errors, themselves dismissed long ago, will yet survive in
language--being bound up in words that grew into use when those errors
found credit, and that maintain their currency still. The mythology
which Saxon or Dane brought with them from their German or Scandinavian
homes is as much extinct for us as are the Lares, Larvae, and Lemures
of heathen Rome; yet the deposit it has permanently left behind it in
the English language is not inconsiderable. 'Lubber,' 'dwarf,' 'oaf,'
'droll,' 'wight,' 'puck,' 'urchin,' 'hag,' 'night-mare,' 'gramary,'
'Old Nick,' 'changeling' (wechselkind), suggest themselves, as all
bequeathed to us by that old Teutonic demonology. [Footnote: [But the
words _puck_, _urchin_, _gramary_, are not of Teutonic origin. The
etymology of _puck_ is unknown; _urchin_ means properly 'a hedgehog,'
being the old French _eriçon_ (in modern French _hérisson_), a
derivative from the Latin _ericius_, 'a hedgehog'; _gramary_ is simply
Old French _gramaire_, 'grammar' = Lat. _grammatica_ (_ars_), just as
Old French _mire_, 'a medical man' = Lat. _medicum_.]] Few now have
any faith in astrology, or count that the planet under which a man is
born will affect his temperament, make him for life of a disposition
grave or gay, lively or severe. Yet our language affirms as much; for
we speak of men as 'jovial' or 'saturnine,' or 'mercurial'--'jovial,'
as being born under the planet Jupiter or Jove, which was the
joyfullest star, and of happiest augury of all: [Footnote: 'Jovial' in
Shakespeare's time (see _Cymbeline_, act 5, sc. 4) had not forgotten
its connexion with Jove.] a gloomy severe person is said to be
'saturnine,' born, that is, under the planet Saturn, who makes those
that own his influence, having been born when he was in the ascendant,
grave and stern as himself: another we call 'mercurial,' or light-
hearted, as those born under the planet Mercury were accounted to be.
The same faith in the influence of the stars survives in 'disastrous,'
'ill-starred,' 'ascendancy,' 'lord of the ascendant,' and, indeed, in
'influence' itself. What a record of old speculations, old certainly as
Aristotle, and not yet exploded in the time of Milton, [Footnote: See
_Paradise Lost_, iii. 714-719.] does the word 'quintessence' contain;
and 'arsenic' the same; no other namely than this that metals are of
different sexes, some male ([Greek: arsenika]), and some female. Again,
what curious legends belong to the 'sardonic' [Footnote: See an
excellent history of this word, in Rost and Palm's _Greek Lexicon_, s.
v. [Greek: sardonios].] or Sardinian, laugh; a laugh caused, as was
supposed, by a plant growing in Sardinia, of which they who ate, died
laughing; to the 'barnacle' goose, [Footnote: For a full and most
interesting study on this very curious legend, see Max Müller's
_Lectures on Language_, vol. ii. pp. 533-551; [for the etymology of the
word _barnacle_ in this connexion see the _New English Dictionary_ (s.
v.).]] to the 'amethyst' esteemed, as the word implies, a preventive
or antidote of drunkenness; and to other words not a few, which are
employed by us still.

A question presents itself here, and one not merely speculative; for it
has before now become a veritable case of conscience with some whether
they ought to use words which originally rested on, and so seem still
to affirm, some superstition or untruth. This question has practically
settled itself; the words will keep their ground: but further, they
have a right to do this; for no word need be considered so to root
itself in its etymology, and to draw its sap and strength from thence,
that it cannot detach itself from this, and acquire the rights of an
independent existence. And thus our _weekly_ newspapers commit no
absurdity in calling themselves 'journals,' or 'diurnals'; and we as
little when we name that a 'journey' which occupies not one, but
several days. We involve ourselves in no real contradiction, speaking
of a 'quarantine' of five, ten, or any number of days more or fewer
than _forty_; or of a population 'decimated' by a plague, though
exactly a tenth of it has not perished. A stone coffin may be still a
'sarcophagus,' without thereby implying that it has any special
property of consuming the flesh of bodies which are laid within
it. [Footnote: See Pliny, _H. N._ ii. 96; xxxvi. 17.] In like manner the
wax of our 'candles' ('candela,' from 'candeo') is not necessarily
_white_; our 'rubrics' retain their name, though seldom printed in
_red_ ink; neither need our 'miniatures' abandon theirs, though no
longer painted with _minium_ or carmine; our 'surplice' is not usually
worn over an undergarment of skins; our 'stirrups' are not ropes by
whose aid we climb upon our horses; nor are 'haversacks' sacks for the
carrying of oats; it is not barley or bere only which we store up in
our 'barns,' nor hogs' fat in our 'larders'; a monody need not be sung
by a single voice; and our lucubrations are not always by candlelight;
a 'costermonger' or 'costardmonger' does not of necessity sell costards
or apples; there are 'palaces' which are not built on the Palatine
Hill; and 'nausea' [Footnote: [From _nausea_ through the French comes
our English _noise_; see Bartsch and Horning, Section 90.]] which is
not sea-sickness. I remember once asking a class of school-children,
whether an announcement which during one very hard winter appeared in
the papers, of a '_white_ _black_bird' having been shot, might be
possibly correct, or was on the face of it self-contradictory and
absurd. The less thoughtful members of the class instantly pronounced
against it; while after a little consideration, two or three made
answer that it might very well be, that, while without doubt the bird
had originally obtained this name from its blackness, yet 'blackbird'
was now the name of a species, and a name so cleaving to it, as not to
be forfeited, even when the blackness had quite disappeared. We do not
question the right of the '_New_ Forest' to retain this title of New,
though it has now stood for eight hundred years; nor of 'Naples' to be
_New_ City (Neapolis) still, after an existence three or four times as

It must, then, be esteemed a piece of ethical prudery, and an ignorance
of the laws which languages obey, when the early Quakers refused to
employ the names commonly given to the days of the week, and
substituted for these, 'first day,' 'second day,' and so on. This they
did, as is well known, on the ground that it became not Christian men
to give that sanction to idolatry which was involved in the ordinary
style--as though every time they spoke of Wednesday they were rendering
homage to Woden, of Thursday to Thor, of Friday to Friga, and thus with
the rest; [ Footnote: It is curious to find Fuller prophesying, a very
few years before, that at some future day such a protest as theirs
might actually be raised (_Church History_, b. ii. cent. 6): 'Thus we
see the whole week bescattered with Saxon idols, whose pagan gods were
the godfathers of the days, and gave them their names. This some zealot
may behold as the object of a necessary reformation, desiring to have
the days of the week new dipt, and called after other names. Though,
indeed, this supposed scandal will not offend the wise, as beneath
their notice; and cannot offend the ignorant, as above their
knowledge.'] or at all events recognizing their existence. Now it is
quite intelligible that the early Christians, living in the midst of a
still rampant heathenism, should have objected, as we know they did, to
'dies _Solis_,' or Sunday, to express the first day of the week, their
Lord's-Day. But when the later Friends raised _their_ protest, the case
was altogether different. The false gods whose names were bound up in
these words had ceased to be worshipped in England for about a thousand
years; the words had wholly disengaged themselves from their
etymologies, of which probably not one in a thousand had the slightest
suspicion. Moreover, had these precisians in speech been consistent,
they could not have stopped where they did. Every new acquaintance with
the etymology or primary use of words would have entangled them in some
new embarrassment, would have required a new purging of their
vocabulary. 'To charm,' 'to bewitch,' 'to fascinate,' 'to enchant,'
would have been no longer lawful words for those who had outlived the
belief in magic, and in the power of the evil eye; nor 'lunacy,' nor
'lunatic,' for such as did not count the moon to have anything to do
with mental unsoundness; nor 'panic' fear, for those who believed that
the great god Pan was indeed dead; nor 'auguries,' nor 'auspices,' for
those to whom divination was nothing; while to speak of 'initiating' a
person into the 'mysteries' of an art, would have been utterly
heathenish language. Nay, they must have found fault with the language
of Holy Scripture itself; for a word of honourable use in the New
Testament expressing the function of an interpreter, and reappearing in
our 'hermeneutics,' is directly derived from and embodies the name of
Hermes, a heathen deity, and one who did not, like Woden, Thor, and
Friga, pertain to a long extinct mythology, but to one existing in its
strength at the very time when he wrote. And how was it, as might have
been fairly asked, that St. Paul did not protest against a Christian
woman retaining the name of Phoebe (Rom. xvi. I), a goddess of the same

The rise and fall of words, the honour which in tract of time they
exchanged for dishonour, and the dishonour for honour--all which in my
last lecture I contemplated mainly from an ethical point of view--is in
a merely historic aspect scarcely less remarkable. Very curious is it
to watch the varying fortune of words--the extent to which it has fared
with them, as with persons and families; some having improved their
position in the world, and attained to far higher dignity than seemed
destined for them at the beginning, while others in a manner quite as
notable have lost caste, have descended from their high estate to
common and even ignoble uses. Titles of dignity and honour have
naturally a peculiar liability to be some lifted up, and some cast down.
Of words which have risen in the world, the French 'maréchal' affords
us an excellent example. 'Maréchal,' as Howell has said, 'at first was
the name of a smith-farrier, or one that dressed horses'--which indeed
it is still--'but it climbed by degrees to that height that the
chiefest commanders of the gendarmery are come to be called marshals.'
But if this has risen, our 'alderman' has fallen. Whatever the civic
dignity of an alderman may now be, still it must be owned that the word
has lost much since the time that the 'alderman' was only second in
rank and position to the king. Sometimes a word will keep or even
improve its place in one language, while at the same time it declines
from it in another. Thus 'demoiselle' (dominicella) cannot be said to
have lost ground in French, however 'donzelle' may; while 'damhele,'
being the same word, designates in Walloon the farm-girl who minds the
cows. [Footnote: See Littré, _Etudes et Glanures_, p. 16; compare p. 30.
Elsewhere he says: Les mots ont leurs déchéances comme les families.]
'Pope' is the highest ecclesiastical dignitary in the Latin Church;
every parish priest is a 'pope' in the Greek. 'Queen' (gunae) has had a
double fortune. Spelt as above it has more than kept the dignity with
which it started, being the title given to the lady of the kingdom;
while spelt as 'quean' it is a designation not untinged with
contempt. [Footnote: [_Queen_ and _quean_ are not merely different
spellings of the same Old English word; for _queen_ represents Anglo-
Saxon _cwe:n_, Gothic _qens_, whereas _quean_ is the phonetic
equivalent of Anglo-Saxon _cwene_ Gothic _qino_]] 'Squatter' remains for
us in England very much where it always was; in Australia it is now the
name by which the landed aristocracy are willing to be known. [Footnote:
Dilke, _Greater Britain_, vol. ii. p. 40]

After all which has thus been adduced, you will scarcely deny that we
have a right to speak of a history in words. Now suppose that the
pieces of money which in the intercourse and traffic of daily life are
passing through our hands continually, had each one something of its
own that made it more or less worthy of note; if on one was stamped
some striking maxim, on another some important fact, on the third a
memorable date; if others were works of finest art, graven with rare
and beautiful devices, or bearing the head of some ancient sage or hero
king; while others, again, were the sole surviving monuments of mighty
nations that once filled the world with their fame; what a careless
indifference to our own improvement--to all which men hitherto had felt
or wrought--would it argue in us, if we were content that these should
come and go, should stay by us or pass from us, without our vouchsafing
to them so much as one serious regard. Such a currency there is, a
currency intellectual and spiritual of no meaner worth, and one with
which we have to transact so much of the higher business of our lives.
Let us take care that we come not in this matter under the condemnation
of any such incurious indifference as that which I have imagined.



If I do not much mistake, you will find it not a little interesting to
follow great and significant words to the time and place of their birth.
And not these alone. The same interest, though perhaps not in so high a
degree, will cleave to the upcoming of words not a few that have never
played a part so important in the world's story. A volume might be
written such as few would rival in curious interest, which should do no
more than indicate the occasion upon which new words, or old words
employed in a new sense--being such words as the world subsequently
heard much of--first appeared; with quotation, where advisable, of the
passages in proof. A great English poet, too early lost, 'the young
Marcellus of our tongue,' as Dryden so finely calls him, has very
grandly described the emotion of

'some watcher of the skies,
When a new planet swims into his ken.'

Not very different will be our feeling, as we watch, at the moment of
its rising above the horizon, some word destined, it may be, to play
its part in the world's story, to take its place for ever among the
luminaries in the moral and intellectual firmament above us.

But a caution is necessary here. We must not regard as certain in every
case, or indeed in most cases, that the first rise of a word will have
exactly consented in time with its first appearance within the range of
our vision. Such identity will sometimes exist; and we may watch i the
actual birth of some word, and may affirm with confidence that at such
a time and on such an occasion it first saw the light--in this book, or
from the lips of that man. Of another we can only say, About this time
and near about this spot it first came into being, for we first meet it
in such an author and under such and such conditions. So mere a
fragment of ancient literature has come down to us, that, while the
earliest appearance there of a word is still most instructive to note,
it cannot in all or in nearly all cases be affirmed to mark the exact
moment of its nativity. And even in the modern world we must in most
instances be content to fix a period, we may perhaps add a local
habitation, within the limits of which the term must have been born,
either in legitimate scientific travail, or the child of some flash of
genius, or the product of some _generatio aequivoca_, the necessary
result of exciting predisposing causes; at the same time seeking by
further research ever to narrow more and more the limits within which
this must have happened.

To speak first of words religious and ecclesiastical. Very noteworthy,
and in some sort epoch-making, must be regarded the first appearance of
the following:--'Christian'; [Footnote: Acts xi. 26.] 'Trinity';
[Footnote: Tertullian, _Adv. Prax._ 3.] 'Catholic,' as applied to the
Church; [Footnote: Ignatius, _Ad Smyrn_. 8.] 'canonical,' as a
distinctive title of the received Scriptures; [Footnote: Origen, _Opp_.
vol. iii. p. 36 (ed. De la Rue).] 'New Testament,' as describing the
complex of the sacred books of the New Covenant; [Footnote: Tertullian,
_Adv. Marc._ iv. I; _Adv. Prax._ xv. 20.] 'Gospels,' as applied to the
four inspired records of the life and ministry of our Lord. [Footnote:
Justin Martyr, _Apol_. i. 66.] We notice, too, with interest, the
first coming up of 'monk' and 'nun,' [Footnote: 'Nun' (nonna) first
appears in Jerome (_Ad Eustoch. Ep._ 22); 'monk' (monachus) a little
earlier: Rutilius, a Latin versifier of the fifth century, who still
clung to the old Paganism, gives the derivation:
Ipsi se _monachos_ Graio cognomine dicunt,
Quod _soli_ nullo vivere teste volunt.] marking as they do the
beginnings of the monastic system;--of 'transubstantiation,' [Footnote:
Hildebert, Archbishop of Tours (d. 1134), is the first to use it
(_Serm_. 93).] of 'concomitance,' [Footnote: Thomas Aquinas is
reported to have been the first to use this word.] expressing as does
this word the grounds on which the medieval Church defended communion
in one kind only for the laity; of 'limbo' in its theological
sense; [Footnote: Thomas Aquinas first employs 'limbus' in this sense.]
witnessing as these do to the _consolidation_ of errors which had long
been floating in the Church.

Not of so profound an interest, but still very instructive to note, is
the earliest apparition of names historical and geographical, above all
of such as have since been often on the lips of men; as the first
mention in books of 'Asia'; [Footnote: Aeschylus, _Prometheus Vinctus_,
412.] of 'India'; [Footnote: Id. _Suppl_. 282.] of 'Europe'; [Footnote:
Herodotus, iv. 36.] of 'Macedonia'; [Footnote: Id. v. 17.] of 'Greeks';
[Footnote: Aristotle, _Meteor_, i. 14. But his _Graikoi_ are only an
insignificant tribe, near Dodona. How it came to pass that Graeci, or
Graii, was the Latin name by which all the Hellenes were known, must
always remain a mystery.] of 'Germans' and 'Germany'; [Footnote:
Probably first in the _Commentaries_ of Caesar; see Grimm, _Gesch. d.
Deutschen Sprache_, p. 773.] of 'Alemanni'; [Footnote: Spartian,
_Caracalla_, c. 9.] of 'Franks'; [Footnote: Vopiscus, _Aurel_. 7;
about A.D. 240.] of 'Prussia' and 'Prussians'; [Footnote: 'Pruzia' and
'Pruzzi' first appear in the _Life of S. Adalbert_, written by his
fellow-labourer Gaudentius, between 997-1006.] of 'Normans'; [Footnote:
The _Geographer of Ravenna_.] the earliest notice by any Greek author
of Rome; [Footnote: Probably in Hellanicus, a contemporary of Herodotus.]
the first use of 'Italy' as comprehending the entire Hesperian peninsula;
[Footnote: In the time of Augustus Caesar; see Niebuhr, _History of
Rome_, Engl. Translation, vol. i. p. 12.] of 'Asia Minor' to designate
Asia on this side Taurus. [Footnote: Orosius, i. 2: in the fifth century
of our era.] 'Madagascar' may hereafter have a history, which will make
it interesting to know that this name was first given, so far as we can
trace, by Marco Polo to the huge African island. Neither can we regard
with indifference the first giving to the newly-discovered continent in
the West the name of 'America'; and still less should we Englishmen
fail to take note of the date when this island exchanged its earlier
name of Britain for 'England'; or again, when it resumed 'Great
Britain' as its official designation. So also, to confirm our assertion
by examples from another quarter, it cannot be unprofitable to mark the
exact moment at which 'tyrant' and 'tyranny,' forming so distinct an
epoch as this did in the political history of Greece, first appeared;
[Footnote: In the writings of Archilochus, about 700 B.C. A 'tyrant'
was not for Greeks a bad king, who abused a rightful position to
purposes of lust or cruelty or other wrong. It was of the essence of a
'tyrant' that he had attained supreme dominion through a violation of
the laws and liberties of the state; having done which, whatever the
moderation of his after-rule, he would not escape the name. Thus the
mild and bounteous Pisistratus was 'tyrant' of Athens, while a
Christian II. of Denmark, 'the Nero of the North,' would not in Greek
eyes have been one. It was to their honour that they did not allow the
course of the word to be arrested or turned aside by occasional or
partial exceptions in the manner of the exercise of this ill-gotten
dominion; but in the hateful secondary sense which 'tyrant' with them
acquired, and which has passed over to us, the moral conviction,
justified by all experience, spake out, that the ill-gotten would be
ill-kept; that the 'tyrant' in the earlier sense of the word, dogged by
suspicion, fear, and an evil conscience, must, by an almost inevitable
law, become a 'tyrant' in our later sense of the word.] or again, when,
and from whom, the fabric of the external universe first received the
title of 'cosmos,' or beautiful order; [ Footnote: Pythagoras, born B.C.
570, is said to have been the first who made this application of the
word. For much of interest on its history see Humboldt, _Kosmos_, 1846,
English edit., vol. i. p. 371.] a name not new in itself, but new in
this application of it; with much more of the same kind.

Let us go back to one of the words just named, and inquire what may be
learned from acquaintance with the time and place of its first
appearance. It is one the coming up of which has found special record
in the Book of life: 'The disciples,' as St. Luke expressly tells us,
'were called Christians first in Antioch' (Acts xi. 26). That we have
here a notice which we would not willingly have missed all will
acknowledge, even as nothing can be otherwise than curious which
relates to the infancy of the Church. But there is here much more than
an interesting notice. Question it a little closer, and how much it
will be found to contain, how much which it is waiting to yield up.
What light it throws on the whole story of the apostolic Church to know
where and when this name of 'Christians' was first imposed on the
faithful; for imposed by adversaries it certainly was, not devised by
themselves, however afterwards they may have learned to glory in it as
the name of highest dignity and honour. They did not call themselves,
but, as is expressly recorded, they 'were called,' Christians first at
Antioch; in agreement with which statement, the name occurs nowhere in
Scripture, except on the lips of those alien from, or opposed to, the
faith (Acts xxvi. 28; I Pet. iv. 16). And as it was a name imposed by
adversaries, so among these adversaries it was plainly heathens, and
not Jews, who were its authors; for Jews would never have called the
followers of Jesus of Nazareth, 'Christians,' or those of Christ, the
very point of their opposition to Him being, that He was _not_ the
Christ, but a false pretender to the name. [Footnote: Compare Tacitus
(_Annal_, xv. 24): Quos _vulgus_ ... Christianos appellabat. It is
curious too that, although a Greek word and coined in a Greek city, the
termination is Latin. Christianos is formed on the model of Romanus,
Albanus, Pompeianus, and the like.]

Starting then from this point, that 'Christians' was a title given to
the disciples by the heathen, what may we deduce from it further? At
Antioch they first obtained this name--at the city, that is, which was
the head-quarters of the Church's missions to the heathen, in the same
sense as Jerusalem had been the head-quarters of the mission to the
seed of Abraham. It was there, and among the faithful there, that a
conviction of the world-wide destination of the Gospel arose; there it
was first plainly seen as intended for all kindreds of the earth.
Hitherto the faithful in Christ had been called by their adversaries,
and indeed often were still called, 'Galileans,' or 'Nazarenes,'--both
names which indicated the Jewish cradle wherein the Church had been
nursed, and that the world saw in the new Society no more than a Jewish
sect. But it was plain that the Church had now, even in the world's
eyes, chipped its Jewish shell. The name 'Christians,' or those of
Christ, while it told that Christ and the confession of Him was felt
even by the heathen to be the sum and centre of this new faith, showed
also that they comprehended now, not all which the Church would be, but
something of this; saw this much, namely, that it was no mere sect and
variety of Judaism, but a Society with a mission and a destiny of its
own. Nor will the thoughtful reader fail to observe that the coming up
of this name is by closest juxtaposition connected in the sacred
narrative, and still more closely in the Greek than in the English,
with the arrival at Antioch, and with the preaching there, of that
Apostle, who was God's appointed instrument for bringing the Church to
a full sense that the message which it had, was not for some men only,
but for all. As so often happens with the rise of new names, the rise
of this one marked a new epoch in the Church's life, and that it was
entering upon a new stage of its development. [Footnote: Renan (_Les
Apôtres_ pp. 233-236) has much instruction on this matter. I quote a
few words; though even in them the spirit in which the whole book is
conceived does not fail to make itself felt: L'heure où une création
nouvelle reçoit son nom est solennelle; car le nom est le signe
définitif de l'existence. C'est par le nom qu'un être individuel ou
collectif devient lui-même, et sort d'un autre. La formation du mot
'chrétien' marque ainsi la date précise où l'Eglise de Jésus se sépara
du judaïsme.... Le christianisme est complètement détaché du sein de sa
mère; la vraie pensée de Jésus a triomphé de l'indécision de ses
premiers disciples; l'Eglise de Jérusalem est dépassée; l'Araméen, la
langue de Jésus, est inconnue à une partie de son école; le
christianisme parle grec; il est lancé définitivement dans le grand
tourbillon du monde grec et romain; d'où il ne sortira plus.] It is a
small matter, yet not without its own significance, that the invention
of this name is laid by St. Luke,--for so, I think, we may confidently
say,--to the credit of the Antiochenes. Now the idle, frivolous, and
witty inhabitants of the Syrian capital were noted in all antiquity for
the invention of nicknames; it was a manufacture for which their city
was famous. And thus it was exactly the place where beforehand we might
have expected that such a title, being a nickname or little better in
their mouths who devised it should first come into being.

This one example is sufficient to show that new words will often repay
any amount of attention which we may bestow upon them, and upon the
conditions under which they were born. I proceed to consider the causes
which suggest or necessitate their birth, the periods when a language
is most fruitful in them, the sources from which they usually proceed,
with some other interesting phenomena about them.

And first of the causes which give them birth. Now of all these causes
the noblest is this--namely, that in the appointments of highest Wisdom
there are epochs in the world's history, in which, more than at other
times, new moral and spiritual forces are at work, stirring to their
central depths the hearts of men. When it thus fares with a people,
they make claims on their language which were never made on it before.
It is required to utter truths, to express ideas, remote from it
hitherto; for which therefore the adequate expression will naturally
not be forthcoming at once, these new thoughts and feelings being
larger and deeper than any wherewith hitherto the speakers of that
tongue had been familiar. It fares with a language then, as it would
fare with a river bed, suddenly required to deliver a far larger volume
of waters than had hitherto been its wont. It would in such a case be
nothing strange, if the waters surmounted their banks, broke forth on
the right hand and on the left, forced new channels with a certain
violence for themselves. Something of the kind they must do. Now it was
exactly thus that it fared--for there could be no more illustrious
examples--with the languages of Greece and Rome, when it was demanded
of them that they should be vehicles of the truths of revelation.

These languages, as they already existed, might have sufficed, and did
suffice, for heathenism, sensuous and finite; but they did not suffice
for the spiritual and infinite, for the truths at once so new and so
mighty which claimed now to find utterance in the language of men. And
thus it continually befell, that the new thought must weave a new
garment for itself, those which it found ready made being narrower than
that it could wrap itself in them; that the new wine must fashion new
vessels for itself, if both should be preserved, the old being neither
strong enough, nor expansive enough, to hold it. [ Footnote: Renan,
speaking on this matter, says of the early Christians: La langue leur
faisait défaut. Le Grec et le Sémitique les trahissaient également. De
là cette énorme violence que le Christianisme naissant fit au langage
(_Les Apôtres_, p. 71)] Thus, not to speak of mere technical matters,
which would claim an utterance, how could the Greek language possess a
word for 'idolatry,' so long as the sense of the awful contrast between
the worship of the living God and of dead things had not risen up in
their minds that spoke it? But when Greek began to be the native
language of men, to whom this distinction between the Creator and the
creature was the most earnest and deepest conviction of their souls,
words such as 'idolatry,' 'idolater,' of necessity appeared. The
heathen did not claim for their deities to be 'searchers of hearts,'
did not disclaim for them the being 'accepters of persons'; such
attributes of power and righteousness entered not into their minds as
pertaining to the objects of their worship. The Greek language,
therefore, so long as they only employed it, had not the words
corresponding. [Footnote: [Greek: Prosopolaeptaes, kardiognostaes.]]
It, indeed, could not have had them, as the Jewish Hellenistic Greek
could not be without them. How useful a word is 'theocracy'; what good
service it has rendered in presenting a certain idea clearly and
distinctly to the mind; yet where, except in the bosom of the same
Jewish Greek, could it have been born? [Footnote: We preside at its
birth in a passage of Josephus, _Con. Apion._ ii. 16.]

These difficulties, which were felt the most strongly when the thought
and feeling that had been at home in the Hebrew, the original language
of inspiration, needed to be transferred into Greek, reappeared, though
not in quite so aggravated a form, when that which had gradually woven
for itself in the Greek an adequate clothing, again demanded to find a
suitable garment in the Latin. An example of the difficulty, and of the
way in which the difficulty was ultimately overcome, will illustrate
this far better than long disquisitions. The classical language of
Greece had a word for 'saviour' which, though often degraded to
unworthy uses, bestowed as a title of honour not merely on the false
gods of heathendom, but sometimes on men, such as better deserved to be
styled 'destroyers' than 'saviours' of their fellows, was yet in itself
not unequal to the setting forth the central office and dignity of Him,
who came into the world to _save_ it. The word might be likened to some
profaned temple, which needed a new consecration, but not to be
abolished, and another built in its room. With the Latin it was
otherwise. The language seemed to lack a word, which on one account or
another Christians needed continually to utter: indeed Cicero, than
whom none could know better the resources of his own tongue, remarkably
enough had noted its want of any single equivalent to the Greek
'saviour.' [Footnote: Hoc [Greek: soter] quantum est? ita magnum ut
Latinè uno verbo exprimi non possit.] 'Salvator' would have been the
natural word; but the classical Latin of the best times, though it had
'salus' and 'salvus,' had neither this, nor the verb 'salvare'; some,
indeed, have thought that 'salvare' had always existed in the common
speech. 'Servator' was instinctively felt to be insufficient, even as
'Preserver' would for us fall very short of uttering all which
'Saviour' does now. The seeking of the strayed, the recovery of the
lost, the healing of the sick, would all be but feebly and faintly
suggested by it, if suggested at all. God '_preserveth_ man and beast,'
but He is the 'Saviour' of his own in a more inward and far more
endearing sense. It was long before the Latin Christian writers
extricated themselves from this embarrassment, for the 'Salutificator'
of Tertullian, the 'Sospitator' of another, assuredly did not satisfy
the need. The strong good sense of Augustine finally disposed of the
difficulty. He made no scruple about using 'Salvator'; observing with a
true insight into the conditions under which new words should be
admitted, that however 'Salvator' might not have been good Latin before
the Saviour came, He by his coming and by the work had made it such;
for, as shadows wait upon substances, so words wait upon things.
[Footnote: _Serm_. 299. 6: Christus Jesus, id est Christus Salvator:
hoc est enim Latine Jesus. Nec quaerant grammatici quam sit Latinum,
sed Christiani, quam verum. Salus enim Latinum nomen est; salvare et
salvator non fuerunt haec Latina, antequam veniret Salvator: quando ad
Latinos venit, et haec Latina fecit. Cf. _De Trin_. 13. 10: Quod verbum
[salvator] Latina lingua antea non habebat, sed habere poterat; sicut
potuit quando voluit. Other words which we owe to Christian Latin,
probably to the Vulgate or to the earlier Latin translations, are
these--'carnalis,' 'clarifico,' 'compassio,' 'deitas' (Augustine, _Civ.
Dei_, 7. i), 'glorifico,' 'idololatria,' 'incarnatio,' 'justifico,'
'justificatio,' 'longanimitas,' 'mortifico,' 'magnalia,' 'mundicors,'
'passio,' 'praedestinatio,' 'refrigerium' (Ronsch, _Vulgata_, p. 321),
'regeneratio,' 'resipiscentia,' 'revelatio,' 'sanctificatio,'
'soliloquium,' 'sufficientia,' 'supererogatio,' 'tribulatio.' Many of
these may seem barbarous to the Latin scholar, but there is hardly one
of them which does not imply a new thought, or a new feeling, or the
sense of a new relation of man to God or to his fellow-man. Strange too
and significant that heathen Latin could get as far as 'peccare' and
'peccatum,' but stopped short of 'peccator' and 'peccatrix.'] Take
another example. It seemed so natural a thing, in the old heathen world,
to expose infants, where it was not found convenient to rear them, the
crime excited so little remark, was so little regarded as a crime at
all, that it seemed not worth the while to find a name for it; and thus
it came to pass that the word 'infanticidium' was first born in the
bosom of the Christian Church, Tertullian being the earliest in whose
writings it appears.

Yet it is not only when new truth, moral or spiritual, has thus to fit
itself to the lips of men, that such enlargements of speech become
necessary: but in each further unfolding of those seminal truths
implanted in man at the first, in each new enlargement of his sphere of
knowledge, outward or inward, the same necessities make themselves felt.
The beginnings and progressive advances of moral philosophy in Greece,
[Footnote: See Lobeck, _Phrynichus_, p. 350.] the transplantation of
the same to Rome, the rise of the scholastic, and then of the mystic,
theology in the Middle Ages, the discoveries of modern science and
natural philosophy, these each and all have been accompanied with
corresponding extensions in the domain of language. Of the words to
which each of these has in turn given birth, many, it is true, have
never travelled beyond their own peculiar sphere, having remained
purely technical, or scientific, or theological to the last; but many,
too, have passed over from the laboratory and the school, from the
cloister and the pulpit, into everyday use, and have, with the ideas
which they incorporate, become the common heritage of all. For however
hard and repulsive a front any study or science may present to the
great body of those who are as laymen in regard of it, there is yet
inevitably such a detrition as this continually going forward, and one
which it would be well worth while to trace in detail.

Where the movement is a popular one, stirring the heart and mind of a
people to its depths, there these new words will for the most part
spring out of their bosom, a free spontaneous birth, seldom or never
capable of being referred to one man more than another, because in a
manner they belong to all. Where, on the contrary, the movement is more
strictly theological, or has for its sphere those regions of science
and philosophy, where, as first pioneers and discoverers, only a few
can bear their part, there the additions to the language and extensions
of it will lack something of the freedom, the unconscious boldness,
which mark the others. Their character will be more artificial, less
spontaneous, although here also the creative genius of a single man, as
there of a nation, will oftentimes set its mark; and many a single word
will come forth, which will be the result of profound meditation, or of
intuitive genius, or of both in happiest combination--many a word,
which shall as a torch illuminate vast regions comparatively obscure
before, and, it may be, cast its rays far into the yet unexplored
darkness beyond; or which, summing up into itself all the acquisitions
in a particular direction of the past, shall furnish a mighty vantage-
ground from which to advance to new conquests in those realms of mind
or of nature, not as yet subdued to the intellect and uses of man.

'Cosmopolite' has often now a shallow or even a mischievous use; and he
who calls himself 'cosmopolite' may mean no more than that he is _not_
a patriot, that his native country does _not_ possess his love. Yet, as
all must admit, he could have been no common man who, before the
preaching of the Gospel, launched this word upon the world, and claimed
this name for himself. Nor was he a common man; for Diogenes the Cynic,
whose sayings are among quite the most notable in antiquity, was its
author. Being demanded of what city or country he was, Diogenes
answered that he was a 'cosmopolite'; in this word widening the range
of men's thoughts, bringing in not merely a word new to Greek ears, but
a thought which, however commonplace and familiar to us now, must have
been most novel and startling to those whom he addressed. I am far from
asserting that contempt for his citizenship in its narrower sense may
not have mingled with this his challenge for himself of a citizenship
wide as the world; but there was not the less a very remarkable
reaching out here after truths which were not fully born into the world
until _He_ came, in whom and in whose Church all national differences
and distinctions are done away.

As occupying somewhat of a middle place between those more deliberate
word-makers and the multitude whose words rather grow of themselves
than are made, we must not omit him who is a _maker_ by the very right
of his name--I mean, the poet. That creative energy with which he is
endowed, 'the high-flying liberty of conceit proper to the poet,' will
not fail to manifest itself in this region as in others. Extending the
domain of thought and feeling, he will scarcely fail to extend that
also of language, which does not willingly lag behind. And the loftier
his moods, the more of this maker he will be. The passion of such times,
the all-fusing imagination, will at once suggest and justify audacities
in speech, upon which in calmer moods he would not have ventured, or,
venturing, would have failed to carry others with him: for it is only
the fluent metal that runs easily into novel shapes and moulds. Nor is
it merely that the old and the familiar will often become new in the
poet's hands; that he will give the stamp of allowance, as to him will
be free to do, to words which hitherto have lived only on the lips of
the people, or been confined to some single dialect and province; but
he will enrich his native tongue with words unknown and non-existent
before--non-existent, that is, save in their elements; for in the
historic period of a language it is not permitted to any man to do more
than work on pre-existent materials; to evolve what is latent therein,
to combine what is apart, to recall what has fallen out of sight.

But to return to the more deliberate coining of words. New necessities
have within the last few years called out several of these deliberate
creations in our own language. The almost simultaneous discovery of
such large abundance of gold in so many quarters of the world led some
nations so much to dread an enormous depreciation of this metal, that
they ceased to make it the standard of value--Holland for instance did
so for a while, though she has since changed her mind; and it has been
found convenient to invent a word, 'to demonetize' to express this
process of turning a precious metal from being the legal standard into
a mere article of commerce. So, too, diplomacy has recently added more
than one new word to our vocabulary. I suppose nobody ever heard of
'extradition' till within the last few years; nor of 'neutralization'
except, it might be, in some treatise upon chemistry, till in the
treaty of peace which followed the Crimean War the 'neutralization' of
the Black Sea was made one of the stipulations. 'Secularization,' in
like manner, owes its birth to the long and weary negotiations which
preceded the Treaty of Westphalia (1648). Whenever it proved difficult
to find anywhere else compensation for some powerful claimant, there
was always some abbey or bishopric which with its revenues might be
seized, stripped of its ecclesiastical character, and turned into a
secular possession. Our manifold points of contact with the East, the
necessity that has thus arisen of representing oriental words to the
western world by means of an alphabet not its own, with the manifold
discussions on the fittest equivalents, all this has brought with it
the need of a word which should describe the process, and
'transliteration' is the result.

We have long had 'assimilation' in our dictionaries; 'dissimilation'
has as yet scarcely found its way into them, but it speedily will. [It
has already appeared in our books on language. [Footnote: See Skeat's
_Etym. Dict_. (s. v. _truffle_). Pott (_Etym. Forsch_. vol. ii. p. 65)
introduced the word 'dissimilation' into German.]] Advances in
philology have rendered it a matter of necessity that we should possess
a term to designate a certain process which words unconsciously undergo,
and no other would designate it at all so well. There is a process of
'assimilation' going on very extensively in language; the organs of
speech finding themselves helped by changing one letter for another
which has just occurred, or will just occur in a word; thus we say not
'a_df_iance,' but 'a_ff_iance,' not 're_n_ow_m_,' as our ancestors did
when 'renom' was first naturalized, but 're_n_ow_n_'; we say too,
though we do not write it, 'cu_b_board' and not 'cu_p_board,'
'su_t_tle' and not 'su_b_tle.' But side by side with this there is
another opposite process, where some letter would recur too often for
euphony or ease in speaking, were the strict form of the word too
closely held fast; and where consequently this letter is exchanged for
some other, generally for some nearly allied; thus 'cae_r_uleus' was
once 'cae_l_uleus,' from caelum [Footnote: The connexion of _caeruleus_
with _caelum_ is not at all certain.] 'me_r_idies' is for 'me_d_idies/
or medius dies. In the same way the Italians prefer 've_l_eno' to
've_n_eno'; the Germans '_k_artoffel' to '_t_artüffel,' from Italian
'tartufola' = Latin terrae tuber, an old name of the potato; and we
'cinnamo_n_' to 'cinnamo_m_' (the earlier form). So too in 'turtle,'
'marble,' 'purple,' we have shrunk from the double '_r_' of 'turtur,'
'marmor,' 'purpura.' [Footnote: See Dwight, _Modern Philology_, 2nd
Series, p. 100; Heyse, _System der Sprachwissenschaft_, Section 139-
141; and Peile, _Introduction to Greek and Latin Etymology_, pp. 357-
379.] New necessities, new evolutions of society into more complex
conditions, evoke new words; which come forth, because they are
required now; but did not formerly exist, because in an anterior period
they were not required. For example, in Greece so long as the poet sang
his own verses, 'singer' (aoidos) sufficiently expressed the double
function; such a 'singer' was Homer, and such Homer describes Demodocus,
the bard of the Phaeacians; that double function, in fact, not being in
his time contemplated as double, but each of its parts so naturally
completing the other, that no second word was required. When, however,
in the division of labour one made the verses which another chaunted,
then 'poet' or 'maker,' a word unknown to the Homeric age, arose. In
like manner, when 'physicians' were the only natural philosophers, the
word covered this meaning as well as that other which it still retains;
but when the investigation of nature and natural causes detached itself
from the art of healing, became an independent study, the name
'physician' remained to that which was as the stock and stem of the art,
while the new offshoot sought out and obtained a new name for itself.

But it is not merely new things which will require new names. It will
often be discovered that old things have not got a name at all, or,
having one, are compelled to share it with something else, often to the
serious embarrassment of both. The manner in which men become aware of
such deficiencies, is commonly this. Comparing their own language with
another, and in some aspects a richer, compelled, it may be, to such
comparison through having undertaken to transfer treasures of that
language into their own, they become conscious of much worthy to be
uttered in human speech, and plainly utterable therein, since another
language has found utterance for it; but which hitherto has found no
voice in their own. Hereupon with more or less success they proceed to
supply the deficiency. Hardly in any other way would the wants in this
way revealed make themselves felt even by the most thoughtful; for
language is to so large an extent the condition and limit of thought,
men are so little accustomed, indeed so little able, to contemplate
things, except through the intervention, and by the machinery, of words,
that the absence of words from a language almost necessarily brings
with it the absence of any sense of that absence. Here is one advantage
of acquaintance with other languages besides our own, and of the
institution that will follow, if we have learned those other to any
profit, of such comparisons, namely, that we thus become aware that
names are not, and least of all the names in any one language, co-
extensive with things (and by 'things' I mean subjects as well as
objects of thought, whatever one can _think_ about), that innumerable
things and aspects of things exist, which, though capable of being
resumed and connoted in a word, are yet without one, unnamed and
unregistered; and thus, vast as may be the world of names, that the
world of realities, and of realities which are nameable, is vaster
still. Such discoveries the Romans made, when they sought to transplant
the moral philosophy of Greece to an Italian soil. They discovered that
many of its terms had no equivalents with them; which equivalents
thereupon they proceeded to devise for themselves, appealing for this
to the latent capabilities of their own tongue. For example, the Greek
schools had a word, and one playing no unimportant part in some of
their philosophical systems, to express 'apathy' or the absence of all
passion and pain. As it was absolutely necessary to possess a
corresponding word, Cicero invented 'indolentia,' as that 'if I may so
speak' with which he paves the way to his first introduction of it,
sufficiently declares. [Footnote: _Fin_. ii. 4; and for 'qualitas' see
_Acad_. i. 6.] Sometimes, indeed, such a skilful mint-master of words,
such a subtle watcher and weigher of their force as was Cicero,
[Footnote: Ille verborum vigilantissimus appensor ac mensor, as
Augustine happily terms him.] will have noticed even apart from this
comparison with other languages, an omission in his own, which
thereupon he will endeavour to supply. Thus the Latin had two
adjectives which, though not kept apart as strictly as they might have
been, possessed each its peculiar meaning, 'invidus' one who is envious,
'invidiosus' one who excites envy in others; [Footnote: Thus the
monkish line:
_Invidiosus_ ego, non _invidus_ esse laboro.] at the same time
there was only one substantive, 'invidia' the correlative of them both;
with the disadvantage, therefore, of being employed now in an active,
now in a passive sense, now for the envy which men feel, and now for
the envy which they excite. The word he saw was made to do double duty;
under a seeming unity there lurked a real dualism, from which manifold
confusions might follow. He therefore devised 'invidentia,' to express
the active envy, or the envying, no doubt desiring that 'invidia'
should be restrained to the passive, the being envied. 'Invidentia' to
all appearance supplied a real want; yet Cicero himself did not succeed
in giving it currency; does not seem himself to have much cared to
employ it again. [Footnote: _Tusc._ iii. 9; iv. 8; cf. Döderlein,
_Synon._ vol. iii, p. 68.] We see by this example that not every word,
which even an expert in language proposes, finds acceptance; [Footnote:
Quintilian's advice, based on this fact, is good (i. 6. 42): Etiamsi
potest nihil peccare, qui utitur iis verbis quae summi auctores
tradiderunt, multum tamen refert non solum quid _dixerint_, sed etiam
quid _persuaserint_. He himself, as he informs us, invented 'vocalitas'
to correspond with the Greek [Greek: euphonia] (_Instit._ i. 5. 24),
but I am not conscious that he found any imitators here.] for, as
Dryden, treating on this subject, has well observed, 'It is one thing
to draw a bill, and another to have it accepted.' Provided some words
live, he must be content that others should fall to the ground and die.
Nor is this the only unsuccessful candidate for admission into the
language which Cicero put forward. His 'indolentia' which I mentioned
just now, hardly passed beyond himself; [Footnote: Thus Seneca a little
later is unaware, or has forgotten, that Cicero made any such
suggestion. Taking no notice of it, he proposes 'impatientia' as an
adequate rendering of [Greek: apatheia]. There clung this inconvenience
to the word, as he himself allowed, that it was already used in exactly
the opposite sense (_Ep_. 9). Elsewhere he claims to be the inventor of
'essentia' (_Ep_. 38;.)] his 'vitiositas,' [Footnote: _Tusc_. iv. 15.]
'indigentia,' [Footnote: _Ibid_. iv. 9. 21.] and 'mulierositas,'
[Footnote: _Ibid_. iv. ii.] not at all. 'Beatitas' too and 'beatitudo,'
[Footnote: Nat. Dear. i. 34.] both of his coining, yet, as he owns
himself, with something strange and unattractive about them, found
almost no acceptance at all in the classical literature of Rome:
'beatitude,' indeed, obtained a home, as it deserved to do, in the
Christian Church, but 'beatitas' none. Coleridge's 'esemplastic,' by
which he was fain to express the all-atoning or unifying power of the
imagination, has not pleased others at all in the measure in which it
pleased himself; while the words of Jeremy Taylor, of such Latinists as
Sir Thomas Browne and Henry More, born only to die, are multitudinous
as the fallen leaves of autumn. [Footnote: See my _English Past and
Present_, 13th edit. p. 113.] Still even the word which fails is often
an honourable testimony to the scholarship, or the exactness of thought,
or the imagination of its author; and Ben Jonson is over-hard on
'neologists,' if I may bring this term back to its earlier meaning,
when he says: 'A man coins not a new word without some peril, and less
fruit; for if it happen to be received, the praise is but moderate; if
refused, the scorn is assured,' [Footnote: Therefore the maxim: Moribus
antiquis, praesentibus utere verbis.]

I spoke just now of comprehensive words, which should singly say what
hitherto it had taken many words to say, in which a higher term has
been reached than before had been attained. The value of these is
incalculable. By the cutting short of lengthy explanations and tedious
circuits of language, they facilitate mental processes, such as would
often have been nearly or quite impossible without them; and such as
have invented or put these into circulation, are benefactors of a high
order to knowledge. In the ordinary traffic of life, unless our
dealings are on the smallest scale, we willingly have about us our
money in the shape rather of silver than of copper; and if our
transactions are at all extensive, rather in gold than in silver: while,
if we were setting forth upon a long and costly journey, we should be
best pleased to turn even our gold coin itself into bills of exchange
or circular notes; in fact, into the highest denomination of money
which it was capable of assuming. How many words with which we are now
perfectly familiar are for us what the circular note or bill of
exchange is for the traveller or the merchant. As innumerable pence, a
multitude of shillings, not a few pounds are gathered up and
represented by one of these, so have we in some single word the
quintessence and final result of an infinite number of anterior mental
processes, ascending one above the other, until all have been at length
summed up for us in that single word. This last may be compared to
nothing so fitly as to some mighty river, which does not bring its
flood of waters to the sea, till many rills have been swallowed up in
brooks, and brooks in streams, and streams in tributary rivers, each of
these affluents having lost its separate name and existence in that
which at last represents and contains them all.

Science is an immense gainer by words which thus say singly, what whole
sentences might with difficulty have succeeded in saying. Thus
'isothermal' is quite a modern invention; but how much is summed up by
the word; what a long story is saved, as often as we speak of
'isothermal' lines. Physiologists have given the name of 'atavism' to
the emerging again of a face in a family after its disappearance during
two or three generations. What would have else needed a sentence is
here accomplished by a word. Lord Bacon somewhere describes a certain
candidate for the Chair of St. Peter as being 'papable.' There met,
that is, in him all the conditions, and they were many, which would
admit the choice of the Conclave falling upon him. When Bacon wrote,
one to be 'papable' must have been born in lawful wedlock; must have no
children nor grandchildren living; must not have a kinsman already in
the Conclave; must be already a Cardinal; all which facts this single
word sums up. When Aristotle, in the opening sentences of his
_Rhetoric_, declares that rhetoric and logic are antistrophic,' what a
wonderful insight into both, and above all into their relations to one
another, does the word impart to those who have any such special
training as enables them to take in all which hereby he intends. Or
take a word so familiar as 'circle,' and imagine how it would fare with
us, if, as often as in some long and difficult mathematical problem we
needed to refer to this figure, we were obliged to introduce its entire
definition, no single word representing it; and not this only, but the
definition of each term employed in the definition;--how well nigh
impossible it would prove to carry the whole process in the mind, or to
take oversight of all its steps. Imagine a few more words struck out of
the vocabulary of the mathematician, and if all activity and advance in
his proper domain was not altogether arrested, yet would it be as
effectually restrained and hampered as commercial intercourse would be,
if in all its transactions iron or copper were the sole medium of
exchange. Wherever any science is progressive, there will be progress
in its nomenclature as well. Words will keep pace with things, and with
more or less felicity resuming in themselves the labours of the past,
will at once assist and abridge the labours of the future; like tools
which, themselves the result of the finest mechanical skill, do at the
same time render other and further triumphs of art possible, oftentimes
such as would prove quite unattainable without them. [Footnote: See
Mill, _System of Logic_, iv. 6, 3.]

It is not merely the widening of men's intellectual horizon, which,
bringing new thoughts within the range of their vision, compels the
origination of corresponding words; but as often as regions of this
outward world hitherto closed are laid open, the novel objects of
interest which these contain will demand to find their names, and not
merely to be catalogued in the nomenclature of science, but, so far as
they present themselves to the popular eye, will require to be
popularly named. When a new thing, a plant, or fruit, or animal, or
whatever else it may be, is imported from some foreign land, or so
comes within the sphere of knowledge that it needs to be thus named,
there are various ways by which this may be done. The first and
commonest way is to import the name and the thing together,
incorporating the former, unchanged, or with slight modification, into
the language. Thus we did with the potato, which is only another form
of 'batata,' in which shape the original Indian word appears in our
earlier voyagers. But this is not the only way of naming; and the
example on which I have just lighted affords good illustration of
various other methods which may be adopted. Thus a name belonging to
something else, which the new object nearly resembles, may be
transferred to it, and the confusion arising from calling different
things by the same name disregarded. It was thus in German, 'kartoffel'
being only a corruption, which found place in the last century, of
'tartuffel' from the Italian 'tartiiffolo'(Florio), properly the name
of the truffle; but which not the less was transferred to the potato,
on the ground of the many resemblances between them. [Footnote: [See
Kluge, _Etym. Dict_. (s. v. _Kartoffel_).]] Or again this same transfer
may take place, but with some qualifying or distinguishing addition.
Thus in Italy also men called the potato 'tartufo,' but added 'bianco,'
the white truffle; a name now giving way to 'patata.' Thus was it, too,
with the French; who called it apple, but 'apple of the earth'; even as
in many of the provincial dialects of Germany it bears the name of
'erdapfel' or earth-apple to this day.

It will sometimes happen that a language, having thus to provide a new
name for a new thing, will seem for a season not to have made up its
mind by which of these methods it shall do it. Two names will exist
side by side, and only after a time will one gain the upper hand of the
other. Thus when the pineapple was introduced into England, it brought
with it the name of 'ananas' erroneously 'anana' under which last form
it is celebrated by Thomson in his _Seasons_. [Footnote: [The word
ananas is from a native Peruvian name _nanas_. The pineapple was first
seen by Europeans in Peru; see the _New English Dictionary_ (s. v.).]]
This name has been nearly or quite superseded by 'pineapple' manifestly
suggested by the likeness of the new fruit to the cone of the pine. It
is not a very happy formation; for it is not _likeness_, but _identity_,
which 'pineapple' suggests, and it gives some excuse to an error, which
up to a very late day ran through all German-English and French-English
dictionaries; I know not whether even now it has disappeared. In all of
these 'pineapple' is rendered as though it signified not the anana, but
this cone of the pine; and not very long ago, the _Journal des Débats_
made some uncomplimentary observations on the voracity of the English,
who could wind up a Lord Mayor's banquet with fir-cones for dessert.

Sometimes the name adopted will be one drawn from an intermediate
language, through which we first became acquainted with the object
requiring to be named. 'Alligator' is an example of this. When that
ugly crocodile of the New World was first seen by the Spanish
discoverers, they called it, with a true insight into its species, 'el
lagarto,' _the_ lizard, as being the largest of that lizard species to
which it belonged, or sometimes 'el lagarto de las Indias,' the Indian
lizard. In Sir Walter Raleigh's _Discovery of Guiana_ the word still
retains its Spanish form. Sailing up the Orinoco, 'we saw in it,' he
says, 'divers sorts of strange fishes of marvellous bigness, but for
_lagartos_ it exceeded; for there were thousands of these ugly serpents,
and the people call it, for the abundance of them, the river of
_lagartos_, in their language.' We can explain the shape which with us
the word gradually assumed, by supposing that English sailors who
brought it home, and had continually heard, but may have never seen it
written, blended, as in similar instances has often happened, the
Spanish article 'el' with the name. In Ben Jonson's 'alligarta,' we
note the word in process of transformation. [Footnote: 'Alcoran'
supplies another example of this curious annexation of the article.
Examples of a like absorption or incorporation of it are to be found in
many languages; in our own, when we write 'a newt,' and not an ewt, or
when our fathers wrote 'a nydiot' (Sir T. More), and not an idiot; in
the Italian, which has 'lonza' for onza; but they are still more
numerous in French. Thus 'lierre,' ivy, was written by Ronsard,
'l'hierre,' which is correct, being the Latin 'hedera.' 'Lingot' is our
'ingot,' but with fusion of the article; in 'larigot' and 'loriot' the
word and the article have in the same manner grown together. In old
French it was l'endemain,' or, le jour en demain: 'le lendemain,' as
now written, is a barbarous excess of expression. 'La Pouille,' a name
given to the southern extremity of Italy, and in which we recognize
'Apulia,' is another variety of error, but moving in the same sphere
(Génin, _Récréations Philologiques_, vol. i. pp. 102-105); of the same
variety is 'La Natolie,' which was written 'L'Anatolie' once. An Irish
scholar has observed that in modern Irish 'an' (='the') is frequently
thus absorbed in the names of places, as in 'Nenagh, 'Naul'; while
sometimes an error exactly the reverse of this is committed, and a
letter supposed to be the article, but in fact a part of the word,
dropt: thus 'Oughaval,' instead of 'Noughhaval' or New Habitation. [See
Joyce, _Irish Local Names_.]]

Less honourable causes than some which I have mentioned, give birth to
new words; which will sometimes reflect back a very fearful light on
the moral condition of that epoch in which first they saw the light. Of
the Roman emperor, Tiberius, one of those 'inventors of evil things,'
of whom St. Paul speaks (Rom. i. 30), Tacitus informs us that under his
hateful dominion words, unknown before, emerged in the Latin tongue,
for the setting out of wickednesses, happily also previously unknown,
which he had invented. It was the same frightful time which gave birth
to 'delator,' alike to the thing and to the word.

The atrocious attempt of Lewis XIV. to convert the Protestants in his
dominions to the Roman Catholic faith by quartering dragoons upon them,
with license to misuse to the uttermost those who refused to conform,
this 'booted mission' (mission bottée), as it was facetiously called at
the time, has bequeathed 'dragonnade' to the French language. 'Refugee'
had at the same time its rise, and owed it to the same event. They were
called 'réfugiés' or 'refugees' who took refuge in some land less
inhospitable than their own, so as to escape the tender mercies of
these missionaries. 'Convertisseur' belongs to the same period. The
spiritual factor was so named who undertook to convert the Protestants
on a large scale, receiving so much a head for the converts whom he

Our present use of 'roué' throws light on another curious and shameful
page of French history. The 'roué,' by which word now is meant a man of
profligate character and conduct, is properly and primarily one broken
on the wheel. Its present and secondary meaning it derived from that
Duke of Orleans who was Regent of France after the death of Lewis XIV.
It was his miserable ambition to gather round him companions worse, if
possible, and wickeder than himself. These, as the Duke of St. Simon
assures us, he was wont to call his 'roués'; every one of them
abundantly deserving to be broken on the wheel,--which was the
punishment then reserved in France for the worst malefactors.
[Footnote: The 'roués' themselves declared that the word expressed
rather their readiness to give any proof of their affection, even to
the being broken upon the wheel, to their protector and friend.] When
we have learned the pedigree of the word, the man and the age rise up
before us, glorying in their shame, and not caring to pay to virtue
even that hypocritical homage which vice finds it sometimes convenient
to render.

The great French Revolution made, as might be expected, characteristic
contributions to the French language. It gives us some insight into its
ugliest side to know that, among other words, it produced the
following: 'guillotine,' 'incivisme,' 'lanterner,' 'noyade,'
'sansculotte,' 'terrorisme.' Still later, the French conquests in North
Africa, and the pitiless severities with which every attempt at
resistance on the part of the free tribes of the interior was put down
and punished, have left their mark on it as well; 'razzia' which is
properly an Arabic word, having been added to it, to express the swift
and sudden sweeping away of a tribe, with its herds, its crops, and all
that belongs to it. The Communist insurrection of 1871 bequeathed one
contribution almost as hideous as itself, namely 'pétroleuse,' to the
language. It is quite recently that we have made any acquaintance with
'recidivist'--one, that is, who falls back once more on criminal

But it would ill become us to look only abroad for examples in this
kind, when perhaps an equal abundance might be found much nearer home.
Words of our own keep record of passages in our history in which we
have little reason to glory. Thus 'mob' and 'sham' had their birth in
that most disgraceful period of English history, the interval between
the Restoration and the Revolution. 'I may note,' says one writing
towards the end of the reign of Charles II., 'that the rabble first
changed their title, and were called "the mob" in the assemblies of
this [The Green Ribbon] Club. It was their beast of burden, and called
first "mobile vulgus," but fell naturally into the contraction of one
syllable, and ever since is become proper English.' [Footnote: North,
_Examen_, p. 574; for the origin of 'sham' see p. 231. Compare Swift in
_The Tatler_, No. ccxxx. 'I have done the utmost,' he there says, 'for
some years past to stop the progress of "mob" and "banter"; but have
been plainly borne down by numbers, and betrayed by those who promised
to assist me.'] At a much later date a writer in _The Spectator_ speaks
of 'mob' as still only struggling into existence. 'I dare not answer,'
he says, 'that mob, rap, pos, incog., and the like, will not in time be
looked at as part of our tongue.' In regard of 'mob,' the mobile
multitude, swayed hither and thither by each gust of passion or caprice,
this, which _The Spectator_ hardly expected, while he confessed it
possible, has actually come to pass. 'It is one of the many words
formerly slang, which are now used by our best writers, and received,
like pardoned outlaws, into the body of respectable citizens.' Again,
though the murdering of poor helpless lodgers, afterwards to sell their
bodies for dissection, can only be regarded as the monstrous wickedness
of one or two, yet the verb 'to burke,' drawn from the name of a wretch
who long pursued this hideous traffic, will be evidence in all after
times, unless indeed its origin should be forgotten, to how strange a
crime this age of ours could give birth. Nor less must it be
acknowledged that 'to ratten' is no pleasant acquisition which the
language within the last few years has made; and as little 'to
boycott,' which is of still later birth. [Footnote: This word has found
its way into most European languages, see the New English Dictionary (s.

We must not count as new words properly so called, although they may
delay us for a minute, those comic words, most often comic combinations
formed at will, wherein, as plays and displays of power, writers
ancient and modern have delighted. These for the most part are meant to
do service for the moment, and, this done, to pass into oblivion; the
inventors of them themselves having no intention of fastening them
permanently on the language. Thus Aristophanes coined [Greek:
mellonikiao], to loiter like Nicias, with allusion to the delays by
whose aid this prudent commander sought to put off the disastrous
Sicilian expedition, with other words not a few, familiar to every
scholar. The humour will sometimes consist in their enormous
length, [Footnote: As in the [Greek: amphiptolemopedesistratos] of
Eupolis; the [Greek: spermagoraiolekitholachanopolis] of Aristophanes.
There are others a good deal longer than these.] sometimes in their
mingled observance and transgression of the laws of the language, as in
the [Greek: danaotatos], in the [Greek: autotatos] of the Greek comic
poet, the 'patruissimus' and 'oculissimus,' comic superlatives of
patruus and oculus, 'occisissimus' of occisus; 'dominissimus' of
dominus; 'asinissimo' (Italian) of asino; or in superlative piled on
superlative, as in the 'minimissimus' and 'pessimissimus' of Seneca,
the 'ottimissimo' of the modern Italian; so too in the 'dosones,'
'dabones,' which in Greek and in medieval Latin were names given to
those who were ever promising, ever saying 'I will give,' but never
crowning promise with performance. Plautus, with his exuberant wit, and
exulting in his mastery of the Latin language, is rich in these,
'fustitudinus,' 'ferricrepinus' and the like; will put together four or
five lines consisting wholly of comic combinations thrown off for the
occasion. [Footnote: _Persa_, iv. 6, 20-23.] Of the same character is
Chaucer's 'octogamy,' or eighth marriage; Butler's 'cynarctomachy,' or
battle of a dog and bear; Southey's 'matriarch,' for by this name he
calls the wife of the Patriarch Job; but Southey's fun in this line of
things is commonly poor enough; his want of finer scholarship making
itself felt here. What humour for example can any one find in
'philofelist' or lover of cats? Fuller, when he used 'to avunculize,'
meaning to tread in the footsteps of one's uncle, scarcely proposed it
as a lasting addition to the language; as little did Pope intend more
than a very brief existence for 'vaticide,' or Cowper for 'extra-
foraneous,' or Carlyle for 'gigmanity,' for 'tolpatchery,' or the like.

Such are some of the sources of increase in the wealth of a language;
some of the quarters from which its vocabulary is augmented. There have
been, from time to time, those who have so little understood what a
language is, and what are the laws which it obeys, that they have
sought by arbitrary decrees of their own to arrest its growth, have
pronounced that it has reached the limits of its growth, and must not
henceforward presume to develop itself further. Even Bentley with all
his vigorous insight into things is here at fault. 'It were no
difficult contrivance,' he says, 'if the public had any regard to it,
to make the English tongue immutable, unless hereafter some foreign
nation shall invade and overrun us.' [Footnote: Works, vol. II. p. 13.]
But a language has a life, as truly as a man, or as a tree. As a man,
it must grow to its full stature; unless indeed its life is prematurely
abridged by violence from without; even as it is also submitted to his
conditions of decay. As a forest tree, it will defy any feeble bands
which should attempt to control its expansion, so long as the principle
of growth is in it; as a tree too it will continually, while it casts
off some leaves, be putting forth others. And thus all such attempts to
arrest have utterly failed, even when made under conditions the most
favourable for success. The French Academy, numbering all or nearly all
the most distinguished writers of France, once sought to exercise such
a domination over their own language, and might have hoped to succeed,
if success had been possible for any. But the language heeded their
decrees as little as the advancing tide heeded those of Canute. Could
they hope to keep out of men's speech, or even out of their books,
however they excluded from their own _Dictionary_, such words as
'blague,' 'blaguer,' 'blagueur,' because, being born of the people,
they had the people's mark upon them? After fruitless resistance for a
time, they have in cases innumerable been compelled to give way--though
in favour of the words just cited they have not yielded yet--and in
each successive edition of their _Dictionary_ have thrown open its
doors to words which had established themselves in the language, and
would hold their ground there, altogether indifferent whether they
received the Academy's seal of allowance or not. [Footnote: Nisard
(_Curiosites de l'Etym. Franc._ p. 195) has an article on these words,
where with the epigrammatic neatness which distinguishes French prose,
he says, Je regrette que l'Académie repousse de son Dictionnaire les
mots _blague, blagueur_, laissant gronder à sa porte ces fils effrontés
du peuple, qui finiront par l'enfoncer. On this futility of struggling
against popular usage in language Montaigne has said, 'They that will
fight custom with grammar are fools'; and, we may add, not less fools,
as engaged in as hopeless a conflict, they that will fight it with

Littré, the French scholar who single-handed has given to the world a
far better Dictionary than that on which the Academy had bestowed the
collective labour of more than two hundred years, shows a much juster
estimate of the actual facts of language. If ever there was a word born
in the streets, and bearing about it tokens of the place of its birth,
it is 'gamin'; moreover it cannot be traced farther back than the year
1835; when first it appeared in a book, though it may have lived some
while before on the lips of the people. All this did not hinder his
finding room for it in the pages of his _Dictionary_. He did the same
for 'flâneur,' and for 'rococo,' and for many more, bearing similar
marks of a popular origin. [Footnote: A work by Darmesteter, _De la
Création actuelle de Mots nouveaux dans la Langue Française_, Paris,
1877, is well worth consulting here.] And with good right; for though
fashions may descend from the upper classes to the lower, words, such I
mean as constitute real additions to the wealth of a language, ascend
from the lower to the higher; and of these not a few, let fastidious
scholars oppose or ignore them for a while as they may, will assert a
place for themselves therein, from which they will not be driven by the
protests of all the scholars and all the academicians in the world. The
world is ever moving, and language has no choice but to move with it.
[Footnote: One has well said, 'The subject of language, the instrument,
but also the restraint, of thought, is endless. The history of language,
the mouth speaking from the fulness of the heart, is the history of
human action, faith, art, policy, government, virtue, and crime. When
society progresses, the language of the people necessarily runs even
with the line of society. You cannot unite past and present, still less
can you bring back the past; moreover, the law of progress is the law
of storms, it is impossible to inscribe an immutable statute of
language on the periphery of a vortex, whirling as it advances. Every
political development induces a concurrent alteration or expansion in
conversation and composition. New principles are generated, new
authorities introduced; new terms for the purpose of explaining or
concealing the conduct of public men must be created: new
responsibilities arise. The evolution of new ideas renders the change
as easy as it is irresistible, being a natural change indeed, like our
own voice under varying emotions or in different periods of life: the
boy cannot speak like the baby, nor the man like the boy, the wooer
speaks otherwise than the husband, and every alteration in
circumstances, fortune or misfortune, health or sickness, prosperity or
adversity, produces some corresponding change of speech or inflection
of tone.']

Those who make attempts to close the door against all new comers are
strangely forgetful of the steps whereby that vocabulary of the
language, with which they are so entirely satisfied that they resent
every endeavour to enlarge it, had itself been gotten together--namely
by that very process which they are now seeking by an arbitrary decree
to arrest. We so take for granted that words with which we have been
always familiar, whose right to a place in the language no one dreams
now of challenging or disputing, have always formed part of it, that it
is oftentimes a surprise to discover of how very late introduction many
of these actually are; what an amount, it may be, of remonstrance and
resistance some of them encountered at the first. To take two or three
Latin examples: Cicero, in employing 'favor,' a word soon after used by
everybody, does it with an apology, evidently feels that he is
introducing a questionable novelty, being probably first applied to
applause in the theatre; 'urbanus,' too, in our sense of urbane, had in
his time only just come up; 'obsequium' he believes Terence to have
been the first to employ. [Footnote: On the new words in classical
Latin, see Quintilian, Inst. viii. 3. 30-37.] 'Soliloquium' seems to us
so natural, indeed so necessary, a word, this 'soliloquy,' or talking
of a man with himself alone, something which would so inevitably demand
and obtain its adequate expression, that we learn with surprise that no
one spoke of a 'soliloquy' before Augustine; the word having been
coined, as he distinctly informs us, by himself. [Footnote: Solil. 2.

Where a word has proved an unquestionable gain, it is interesting to
watch it as it first emerges, timid, and doubtful of the reception it
will meet with; and the interest is much enhanced if it has thus come
forth on some memorable occasion, or from some memorable man. Both
these interests meet in the word 'essay.' Were we asked what is the
most remarkable volume of essays which the world has seen, few, capable
of replying, would fail to answer, Lord Bacon's. But they were also the
first collection of these, which bore that name; for we gather from the
following passage in the (intended) dedication of the volume to Prince
Henry, that 'essay' was itself a recent word in the language, and, in
the use to which he put it, perfectly novel: he says--'To write just
treatises requireth leisure in the writer, and leisure in the
reader; ... which is the cause which hath made me choose to write
certain brief notes set down rather significantly than curiously, which
I have called _Essays_. The word is late, but the thing is ancient.'
From this dedication we gather that, little as 'essays' now can be
considered a word of modesty, deprecating too large expectations on the
part of the reader, it had, as 'sketches' perhaps would have now, as
'commentary' had in the Latin, that intention in its earliest use. In
this deprecation of higher pretensions it resembled the 'philosopher'
of Pythagoras. Others had styled themselves, or had been willing to be
styled, 'wise men.' 'Lover of wisdom' a name at once so modest arid so
beautiful, was of his devising. [Footnote: Diogenes Laërtius, Prooem.
Section 12.] But while thus some words surprise us that they are so new,
others surprise us that they are so old. Few, I should imagine, are
aware that 'rationalist,' and this in a theological, and not merely a
philosophical sense, is of such early date as it is; or that we have
not imported quite in these later times both the name and the thing
from Germany. Yet this is very far from the case. There were
'rationalists' in the time of the Commonwealth; and these challenging
the name exactly on the same grounds as those who in later times have
claimed it for their own. Thus, the author of a newsletter from London,
of date October 14, 1646, among other things mentions: 'There is a new
sect sprung up among them [the Presbyterians and Independents], and
these are the _Rationalists_, and what their reason dictates them in
Church or State stands for good, until they be convinced with better;'
[Footnote: _Clarendon State Papers_, vol. ii. p. 40 of the _Appendix._]
with more to the same effect. 'Christology' has been lately
characterized as a monstrous importation from Germany. I am quite of
the remonstrant's mind that English theology does not need, and can do
excellently well without it; yet this novelty it is not; for in the
_Preface_ to the works of that illustrious Arminian divine of the
seventeenth century, Thomas Jackson, written by Benjamin Oley, his
friend and pupil, the following passage occurs: 'The reader will find
in this author an eminent excellence in that part of divinity which I
make bold to call _Christology_, in displaying the great mystery of
godliness, God the Son manifested in human flesh.' [Footnote: _Preface
to Dr. Jackson's Works_, vol. i. p. xxvii. A work of Fleming's,
published in 1700, bears the title, _Christology_.] In their power of
taking up foreign words into healthy circulation and making them truly
their own, languages differ much from one another, and the same
language from itself at different periods of its life. There are
languages of which the appetite and digestive power, the assimilative
energy, is at some periods almost unlimited. Nothing is too hard for
them; everything turns to good with them; they will shape and mould to
their own uses and habits almost any material offered to them. This,
however, is in their youth; as age advances, the assimilative energy
diminishes. Words are still adopted; for this process of adoption can
never wholly cease; but a chemical amalgamation of the new with the old
does not any longer find place; or only in some instances, and very
partially even in them. The new comers lie upon the surface of the
language; their sharp corners are not worn or rounded off; they remain
foreign still in their aspect and outline, and, having missed their
opportunity of becoming otherwise, will remain so to the end. Those who
adopt, as with an inward misgiving about their own gift and power of
stamping them afresh, make a conscience of keeping them in exactly the
same form in which they have received them; instead of conforming them
to the laws of that new community into which they are now received.
Nothing will illustrate this so well as a comparison of different words
of the same family, which have at different periods been introduced
into our language. We shall find that those of an earlier introduction
have become English through and through, while the later introduced,
belonging to the same group, have been very far from undergoing the
same transforming process. Thus 'bishop' [A.S. biscop], a word as old
as the introduction of Christianity into England, though derived from
'episcopus,' is thoroughly English; while 'episcopal,' which has
supplanted 'bishoply,' is only a Latin word in an English dress.
'Alms,' too, is thoroughly English, and English which has descended to
us from far; the very shape in which we have the word, one syllable for
'eleëmosyna' of six, sufficiently testifying this; 'letters,' as Horne
Tooke observes,' like soldiers, being apt to desert and drop off in a
long march.' The seven-syllabled and awkward 'eleëmosynary' is of far
more recent date. Or sometimes this comparison is still more striking,
when it is not merely words of the same family, but the very same word
which has been twice adopted, at an earlier period and a later--the
earlier form will be thoroughly English, as 'palsy'; the later will be
only a Greek or Latin word spelt with English letters, as 'paralysis.'
'Dropsy,' 'quinsy,' 'megrim,' 'squirrel,' 'rickets,' 'surgeon,'
'tansy,' 'dittany,' 'daffodil,' and many more words that one might name,
have nothing of strangers or foreigners about them, have made
themselves quite at home in English. So entirely is their physiognomy
native, that it would be difficult even to suspect them to be of Greek
descent, as they all are. Nor has 'kickshaws' anything about it now
which would compel us at once to recognize in it the French 'quelques
choses' [Footnote: 'These cooks have persuaded us their coarse fare is
the best, and all other but what they dress to be mere _quelques
choses_, made dishes of no nourishing' (Whitlock, _Zootomia_, p.
147).]--'French _kickshose_,' as with allusion to the quarter from
which it came, and while the memory of that was yet fresh in men's
minds, it was often called by our early writers. A very notable fact
about new words, and a very signal testimony of their popular origin,
of their birth from the bosom of the people, is the difficulty so often
found in tracing their pedigree. When the _causae vocum_ are sought, as
they very fitly are, and out of much better than mere curiosity, for
the _causae rerum_ are very often wrapt up in them, those continually
elude our research. Nor does it fare thus merely with words to which
attention was called, and interest about their etymology awakened, only
after they had been long in popular use--for that such should often
give scope to idle guesses, should altogether refuse to give up their
secret, is nothing strange--but words will not seldom perplex and
baffle the inquirer even where an investigation of their origin has
been undertaken almost as soon as they have come into existence. Their
rise is mysterious; like almost all acts of _becoming_, it veils itself
in deepest obscurity. They emerge, they are in everybody's mouth; but
when it is inquired from whence they are, nobody can tell. They are but
of yesterday, and yet with inexplicable rapidity they have already lost
all traces of the precise circumstances under which they were born.

The rapidity with which this comes to pass is nowhere more striking
than in the names of political or religious parties, and above all in
names of slight or of contempt. Thus Baxter tells us that when he wrote
there already existed two explanations of 'Roundhead,' [Footnote:
_Narrative of my Life and Times_, p. 34; 'The original of which name is
not certainly known. Some say it was because the Puritans then commonly
wore short hair, and the King's party long hair; some say, it was
because the Queen at Stafford's trial asked who that _round-headed_ man
was, meaning Mr. Pym, because he spake so strongly.'] a word not nearly
so old as himself. How much has been written about the origin of the
German 'ketzer' (= our 'heretic'), though there can scarcely be a doubt
that the Cathari make their presence felt in this word. [Footnote: See
on this word Kluge's _Etym. Dict_.] Hardly less has been disputed about
the French 'cagot.' [Footnote: The word meant in old times 'a leper';
see Cotgrave's _Dictionary_, also _Athenceum_, No. 2726.] Is 'Lollard,'
or 'Loller' as we read it in Chaucer, from 'lollen,' to chaunt? that is,
does it mean the chaunting or canting people? or had the Lollards their
title from a principal person among them of this name, who suffered at
the stake?--to say nothing of 'lolium,' found by some in the name,
these men being as _tares_ among the wholesome wheat. [Footnote: Hahn,
_Ketzer im Mittelalter_ vol. ii. p. 534.] The origin of 'Huguenot' as
applied to the French Protestants, was already a matter of doubt and
discussion in the lifetime of those who first bore it. A distinguished
German scholar has lately enumerated fifteen explanations which have
been offered of the word. [Footnote: Mahn, _Etymol. Untersuch_. p. 92.
Littré, who has found the word in use as a Christian name two centuries
before the Reformation, has no doubt that here is the explanation of it.
At any rate there is here what explodes a large number of the proposed
explanations, as for instance that Huguenot is another and popular
shape of 'Eidgenossen.'] [How did the lay sisters in the Low Countries,
the 'Beguines' get their name? Many derivations have been suggested,
but the most probable account is that given in Ducange, that the
appellative was derived from 'le Bègue' the Stammerer, the nickname of
Lambert, a priest of Liège in the twelfth century, the founder of the
order. (See the document quoted in Ducange, and the 'New English
Dictionary' (s. v.).)] Were the 'Waldenses' so called from one Waldus,
to whom these 'Poor Men of Lyons' as they were at first called, owed
their origin? [Footnote: [It is not doubted now that the Waldenses got
their name from Peter Waldez or Valdo, a native of Lyons in the twelfth
century. Waldez was a rich merchant who sold his goods and devoted his
wealth to furthering translations of the Bible, and to the support of a
set of poor preachers. For an interesting account of the Waldenses see
in the _Guardian_, Aug. 18, 1886, a learned review by W. A. B. C. of
_Histoire Littéraire des Vaudois_, par E. Montet.]] As little can any
one tell us with any certainty why the 'Paulicians' and the 'Paterines'
were severally named as they are; or, to go much further back, why the
'Essenes' were so called. [Footnote: Lightfoot, _On the Colossians_, p.
114 sqq.] From whence had Johannes Scotus, who anticipated so much of
the profoundest thinking of later times, his title of 'Erigena,' and
did that title mean Irish-born, or what? [Footnote: [There is no doubt
whatever that _Erigena_ in this case means 'Irish-born.']] 'Prester
John' was a name given in the Middle Ages to a priest-king, real or
imaginary, of wide dominion in Central Asia. But whether there was ever
actually such a person, and what was intended by his name, is all
involved in the deepest obscurity. How perplexing are many of the
Church's most familiar terms, and terms the oftenest in the mouth of
her children; thus her 'Ember' days; her 'Collects'; [Footnote: Freeman,
_Principles of Divine Service_, vol. i. p. 145.] her 'Breviary'; her
'Whitsunday'; [Footnote: See Skeat, s. v.] the derivation of 'Mass'
itself not being lifted above all question. [Footnote: Two at least of
the ecclesiastical terms above mentioned are no longer perplexing, and
are quite lifted above dispute: _ember_ in 'Ember Days' represents
Anglo-Saxon _ymb-ryne_, literally 'a running round, circuit, revolution,
anniversary'; see Skeat (s. v.); and _Whitsunday_ means simply 'White
Sunday,' Anglo-Saxon _hwita Sunnan-daeg_.] As little can any one inform
us why the Roman military standard on which Constantine inscribed the
symbols of the Christian faith should have been called 'Labarum.' And
yet the inquiry began early. A father of the Greek Church, almost a
contemporary of Constantine, can do no better than suggest that
'labarum' is equivalent to 'laborum,' and that it was so called because
in that victorious standard was the end of _labour_ and toil (finis
laborum)! [Footnote: Mahn, _Elym. Untersuch_. p. 65; cf. Kurtz,
_Kirchen-geschichte_, 3rd edit. p. 115.] The 'ciborium' of the early
Church is an equal perplexity; [Footnote: The word is first met in
Chrysostom, who calls the silver models of the temple at Ephesus (Acts
xix, 24) [Greek: mikra kiboria]. [A primary meaning of the Greek
[Greek: kiborion] was the cup-like seed-vessel of the Egyptian water-
lily, see _Dict. of Christian Antiquities_, p. 65.]] and 'chapel'
(capella) not less. All later investigations have failed effectually to
dissipate the mystery of the 'Sangraal.' So too, after all that has
been written upon it, the true etymology of 'mosaic' remains a question

And not in Church matters only, but everywhere, we meet with the same
oblivion resting on the origin of words. The Romans, one might
beforehand have assumed, must have known very well why they called
themselves 'Quirites,' but it is manifest that this knowledge was not
theirs. Why they were addressed as Patres Conscripti is a matter
unsettled still. They could have given, one would think, an explanation
of their naming an outlying conquered region a 'province.'
Unfortunately they offer half a dozen explanations, among which we may
make our choice. 'German' and 'Germany' were names comparatively recent
when Tacitus wrote; but he owns that he has nothing trustworthy to say
of their history; [Footnote: _Germania_, 2.] later inquirers have not
mended the matter, [Footnote: Pott, _Etymol. Forsch._ vol. ii. pt. 2,
pp. 860-872.]

The derivation of words which are the very key to the understanding of
the Middle Ages, is often itself wrapt in obscurity. On 'fief' and
'feudal' how much has been disputed. [Footnote: Stubbs, _Constitutional
History of England_, vol. i. p. 251.] 'Morganatic' marriages are
recognized by the public law of Germany, but why called 'morganatic' is
unsettled still. [Footnote: [There is no mystery about this word; see a
good account of the term in Skeat's _Diet_. (s. v.).]] Gypsies in
German are 'zigeuner'; but when this is resolved into 'zichgauner,' or
roaming thieves, the explanation has about as much scientific value as
the not less ingenious explanation of 'Saturnus' as satur annis,
[Footnote: Cicero, _Nat. Deor._ ii. 25.] of 'severitas' as saeva
veritas (Augustine); of 'cadaver' as composed of the first syllables of
_ca_ro _da_ta, _ver_mibus. [Footnote: Dwight, _Modern Philology_, lst
series, p. 288.] Littré has evidently little confidence in the
explanation commonly offered of the 'Salic' law, namely, that it was
the law which prevailed on the banks of the Saal. [Footnote: For a full
and learned treatment of the various derivations of 'Mephistopheles'
which have been proposed, and for the first appearance of the name in
books, see Ward's _Marlowe's Doctor Faustus_, p. 117.]

And the modern world has unsolved riddles innumerable of like kind. Why
was 'Canada' so named? And whence is 'Yankee' a title little more than
a century old? having made its first appearance in a book printed at
Boston, U.S., 1765. Is 'Hottentot' an African word, or, more probably,
a Dutch or Low Frisian; and which, if any, of the current explanations
of it should be accepted? [Footnote: See _Transactions of the
Philological Society_, 1866, pp. 6-25.] Shall we allow Humboldt's
derivation of 'cannibal,' and find 'Carib' in it? [Footnote: See Skeat,
s. v.] Whence did the 'Chouans,' the insurgent royalists of Brittany,
obtain their title? When did California obtain its name, and why?
Questions such as these, to which we can give no answer or a very
doubtful one, might be multiplied without end. Littré somewhere in his
great Dictionary expresses the misgiving with which what he calls
'anecdotal etymology' fills him; while yet it is to this that we are
continually tempted here to have recourse.

But consider now one or two words which have _not_ lost the secret of
their origin, and note how easily they might have done this, and having
once lost, how unlikely it is that any searching would have recovered
it. The traveller Burton tells us that the coarse cloth which is the
medium of exchange, in fact the money of Eastern Africa, is called
'merkani.' The word is a native corruption of 'American,' the cloth
being manufactured in America and sold under this name. But suppose a
change should take place in the country from which this cloth was
brought, men little by little forgetting that it ever had been imported
from America, who then would divine the secret of the word? So too, if
the tradition of the derivation of 'paraffin' were once let go and lost,
it would, I imagine, scarcely be recovered. Mere ingenuity would
scarcely divine the fact that a certain oil was so named because 'parum
affinis,' having little affinity which chemistry could detect, with any
other substance.

So, too, it is not very probable that the derivation of 'licorice,'
once lost, would again be recovered. It would exist, at the best, but
as one guess among many. There can be no difficulty about it when we
find it spelt, as we do in Fuller, 'glycyrize or liquoris.'

Those which I cite are but a handful of examples of the way in which
words forget, or under predisposing conditions might forget, the
circumstances of their birth. Now if we could believe in any merely
_arbitrary_ words, standing in connexion with nothing but the mere
lawless caprice of some inventor, the impossibility of tracing their
derivation would be nothing strange. Indeed it would be lost labour to
seek for the parentage of all words, when many probably had none. But
there is no such thing; there is no word which is not, as the Spanish
gentleman loves to call himself, an 'hidalgo,' or son of something.
[Footnote: The Spanish _hijo dalgo_, a gentleman, means a son of wealth,
or an estate; see Stevens' _Dict_. (s. v.)] All are embodiments, more
or less successful, of a sensation, a thought, or a fact; or if of more
fortuitous birth, still they attach themselves somewhere to the already
subsisting world of words and things, [Footnote: J. Grimm, in an
interesting review of a little volume dealing with what the Spaniards
call 'Germanía' with no reference to Germany, the French 'argot,' and
we 'Thieves' Language,' finds in this language the most decisive
evidence of this fact (_Kleine Schrift_. vol. iv. p. 165): Der
nothwendige Zusammenhang aller Sprache mit Ueberlieferung zeigt sich
auch hier; kaum ein Wort dieser Gaunermundart scheint leer erfunden,
und Menschen eines Gelichters, das sich sonst kein Gewissen aus Lügen
macht, beschämen manchen Sprachphilosophen, der von Erdichtung einer
allgemeinen Sprache geträumt hat. Van Helmont indeed, a sort of modern
Paracelsus, is said to have _invented_ the word 'gas'; but it is
difficult to think that there was not a feeling here after 'geest' or
'geist,' whether he was conscious of this or not.] and have their point
of contact with it and departure from it, not always discoverable, as
we see, but yet always existing. [Footnote: Some will remember here the
old dispute--Greek I was tempted to call it, but in one shape or
another it emerges everywhere--whether words were imposed on things
[Greek: thesei] or [Greek: physei], by arbitrary arrangement or by
nature. We may boldly say with Bacon, Vestigia certe rationis verba
sunt, and decide in favour of nature. If only they knew their own
history, they could always explain, and in most cases justify, their
existence. See some excellent remarks on this subject by Renan, _De
l'Origine du Langage_, pp. 146-149; and an admirable article on 'Slang'
in the _Times_, Oct. 18, 1864.] And thus, when a word entirely refuses
to tell us anything about itself, it must be regarded as a riddle which
no one has succeeded in solving, a lock of which no man has found the
key--but still a riddle which has a solution, a lock for which there is
a key, though now, it may be, irrecoverably lost. And this difficulty--
it is oftentimes an impossibility--of tracing the genealogy even of
words of a very recent formation, is, as I observed, a strong argument
for the birth of the most notable of these out of the heart and from
the lips of the people. Had they first appeared in books, something in
the context would most probably explain them. Had they issued from the
schools of the learned, these would not have failed to leave a
recognizable stamp and mark upon them.

There is, indeed, another way in which obscurity may rest on a new word,
or a word employed in a new sense. It may tell the story of its birth,
of the word or words which compose it, may so bear these on its front,
that there can be no question here, while yet its purpose and intention
may be hopelessly hidden from our eyes. The secret once lost, is not
again to be recovered. Thus no one has called, or could call, in
question the derivation of 'apocryphal' that it means 'hidden away.'
When, however, we begin to inquire why certain books which the Church
either set below the canonical Scriptures, or rejected altogether, were
called 'apocryphal' then a long and doubtful discussion commences. Was
it because their origin was _hidden_ to the early Fathers of the Church,
and thus reasonable suspicions of their authenticity entertained?
[Footnote: Augustine (_De Civ. Dei_, xv. 23): Apocrypha nuncupantur eo
quod eorum occulta origo non claruit Patribus. Cf. _Con. Faust_, xi.
2.] Or was it because they were mysteriously kept out of sight and
_hidden_ by the heretical sects which boasted themselves in their
exclusive possession? Or was it that they were books not laid up in the
Church chest, but _hidden away_ in obscure corners? Or were they books
_worthier to be hidden_ than to be brought forward and read to the
faithful? [Footnote: For still another reason for the epithet
'apocryphal' see Skeat's _Etym. Dict_.]--for all these explanations
have been offered, and none with such superiority of proof on its side
as to have deprived others of all right to be heard. In the same way
there is no question that 'tragedy' is the song of the goat; but why
this, whether because a goat was the prize for the best performers of
that song in which the germs of Greek tragedy lay, or because the first
actors were dressed like satyrs in goatskins, is a question which will
now remain unsettled to the end. [Footnote: See Bentley, _Works_, vol.
i. p. 337.] You know what 'leonine' verses are; or, if you do not, it
is very easy to explain. They are Latin hexameters into which an
internal rhyme has forced its way. The following, for example, are all

Qui pingit _florem_ non pingit floris _odorem_:
Si quis det _mannos_, ne quaere in dentibus _annos_.
Una avis in _dextra_ melior quam quattuor _extra_.

The word has plainly to do with 'leo' in some shape or other; but are
these verses leonine from one Leo or Leolinus, who first composed them?
or because, as the lion is king of beasts, so this, in monkish
estimation, was the king of metres? or from some other cause which none
have so much as guessed at? [Footnote: See my _Sacred Latin Poetry_,
3rd edit. p. 32.] It is a mystery which none has solved. That frightful
system of fagging which made in the seventeenth century the German
Universities a sort of hell upon earth, and which was known by the name
of 'pennalism,' we can scarcely disconnect from 'penna'; while yet this
does not help us to any effectual scattering of the mystery which rests
upon the term. [Footnote: See my _Gustavus Adolphus in Germany_, p. 131.
[_Pennal_ meant 'a freshman,' a term given by the elder students in
mockery, because the student in his first year was generally more
industrious, and might be often seen with his _pennal_ or pen-case
about him.]] The connexion of 'dictator' with 'dicere', 'dictare,' is
obvious; not so the reason why the 'dictator' obtained his name.
'Sycophant' and 'superstition' are words, one Greek and one Latin, of
the same character. No one doubts of what elements they are composed;
and yet their secret has been so lost, that, except as a more or less
plausible guess, it can never now be recovered. [Footnote: For a good
recapitulation of what best has been written on 'superstitio' see Pott,
_Etym. Forschungen_, vol. ii. p. 921.]

But I must conclude. I may seem in this present lecture a little to
have outrun your needs, and to have sometimes moved in a sphere too
remote from that in which your future work will lie. And yet it is in
truth very difficult to affirm of any words, that they do not touch us,
do not in some way bear upon our studies, on what we shall hereafter
have to teach, or shall desire to learn; that there are any conquests
which language makes that concern only a select few, and may be
regarded indifferently by all others. For it is here as with many
inventions in the arts and luxuries of life; which, being at the first
the exclusive privilege and possession of the wealthy and refined,
gradually descend into lower strata of society, until at length what
were once the elegancies and luxuries of a few, have become the
decencies, well-nigh the necessities, of all. Not otherwise there are
words, once only on the lips of philosophers or theologians, of the
deeper thinkers of their time, or of those directly interested in their
speculations, which step by step have come down, not debasing
themselves in this act of becoming popular, but training and elevating
an ever-increasing number of persons to enter into their meaning, till
at length they have become truly a part of the nation's common stock,
'household words,' used easily and intelligently by nearly all.

I cannot better conclude this lecture than by quoting a passage, one
among many, which expresses with a rare eloquence all I have been
labouring to utter; for this truth, which many have noticed, hardly any
has set forth with the same fulness of illustration, or the same sense
of its importance, as the author of _The Philosophy of the Inductive
Sciences_. 'Language,' he observes, 'is often called an instrument of
thought, but it is also the nutriment of thought; or rather, it is the
atmosphere in which thought lives; a medium essential to the activity
of our speculative powers, although invisible and imperceptible in its
operation; and an element modifying, by its qualities and changes, the
growth and complexion of the faculties which it feeds. In this way the
influence of preceding discoveries upon subsequent ones, of the past
upon the present, is most penetrating and universal, although most
subtle and difficult to trace. The most familiar words and phrases are
connected by imperceptible ties with the reasonings and discoveries of
former men and distant times. Their knowledge is an inseparable part of
ours: the present generation inherits and uses the scientific wealth of
all the past. And this is the fortune, not only of the great and rich
in the intellectual world, of those who have the key to the ancient
storehouses, and who have accumulated treasures of their own, but the
humblest inquirer, while he puts his reasonings into words, benefits by
the labours of the greatest. When he counts his little wealth, he finds
he has in his hands coins which bear the image and superscription of
ancient and modern intellectual dynasties, and that in virtue of this
possession acquisitions are in his power, solid knowledge within his
reach, which none could ever have attained to, if it were not that the
gold of truth once dug out of the mine circulates more and more widely
among mankind.'



Synonyms, and the study of synonyms, with the advantages to be derived
from a careful noting of the distinction between them, constitute the
subject with which in my present Lecture I shall deal. But what, you
may ask, is meant when, comparing certain words with one another, we
affirm of them that they are synonyms? We imply that, with great and
essential resemblances of meaning, they have at the same time small,
subordinate, and partial differences--these differences being such as
either originally, and on the strength of their etymology, were born
with them; or differences which they have by usage acquired; or such as,
though nearly or altogether latent now, they are capable of receiving
at the hands of wise and discreet masters of language. Synonyms are
thus words of like significance in the main; with a large extent of
ground which they occupy in common, but also with something of their
own, private and peculiar, which they do not share with one another.
[Footnote: The word 'synonym' only found its way into the English
language about the middle of the seventeenth century. Its recent
incoming is marked by the Greek or Latin termination which for a while
it bore; Jeremy Taylor writing 'synonymon,' Hacket 'synonymum,' and
Milton (in the plural) 'synonyma.' Butler has 'synonymas.' On the
subject of this chapter see Marsh, _Lectures on the English Language_,
New York, 1860, p. 571, sqq.]

So soon as the term 'synonym' is defined thus, it will be at once
perceived by any acquainted with its etymology, that, strictly speaking,
it is a misnomer, and is given, with a certain inaccuracy and
impropriety, to words which stand in such relations as I have just
traced to one another; since in strictness of speech the terms,
'synonyms' and 'synonymous' applied to words, affirm of them that they
cover not merely almost, but altogether, the same extent of meaning,
that they are in their signification perfectly identical and
coincident; circles, so to speak, with the same centre and the same
circumference. The term, however, is not ordinarily so used; it
evidently is not so by such as undertake to trace out the distinction
between synonyms; for, without venturing to deny that there may be such
perfect synonyms, words, that is, with this absolute coincidence of the
one with the other, yet these could not be the objects of any such
discrimination; since, where no real difference exists, it would be
lost labour and the exercise of a perverse ingenuity to attempt to draw
one out.

There are, indeed, those who assert that words in one language are
never exactly synonymous, or in all respects commensurate, with words
in another; that, when they are compared with one another, there is
always something more, or something less, or something different, in
one as compared with the other, which hinders this complete equivalence.
And, those words being excepted which designate objects in their nature
absolutely incapable of a more or less and of every qualitative
difference, I should be disposed to consider other exceptions to this
assertion exceedingly rare. 'In all languages whatever,' to quote
Bentley's words, 'a word of a moral or of a political significance,
containing several complex ideas arbitrarily joined together, has
seldom any correspondent word in any other language which extends to
all these ideas.' Nor is it hard to trace reasons sufficient why this
should be so. For what, after all, is a word, but the enclosure for
human use of a certain district, larger or smaller, from the vast
outfield of thought or feeling or fact, and in this way a bringing of
it under human cultivation, a rescuing of it for human uses? But how
extremely unlikely it is that nations, drawing quite independently of
one another these lines of enclosure, should draw them in all or most
cases exactly in the same direction, neither narrower nor wider; how
almost inevitable, on the contrary, that very often the lines should
not coincide--and this, even supposing no moral forces at work to
disturb the falling of the lines.

How immense and instructive a field of comparison between languages
does this fact lay open to us; while it is sufficient to drive a
translator with a high ideal of the task which he has undertaken well-
nigh to despair. For indeed in the transferring of any matter of high
worth from one language to another there are losses involved, which no
labour, no skill, no genius, no mastery of one language or of both can
prevent. The translator may have worthily done his part, may have
'turned' and not 'overturned' his original (St. Jerome complains that
in his time many _versiones_ deserved to be called _eversiones_
rather); he may have given the lie to the Italian proverb, 'Traduttori
Traditori,' or 'Translators Traitors,' men, that is, who do not
'render' but' surrender' their author's meaning, and yet for all this
the losses of which I speak will not have been avoided. Translations,
let them have been carried through with what skill they may, are, as
one has said, _belles infideles_ at the best.

How often in the translation of Holy Scripture from the language
wherein it was first delivered into some other which offers more words
than one whereby some all-important word in the original record may be
rendered, the perplexity has been great which of these should be
preferred. Not, indeed, that there was here an embarrassment of riches,
but rather an embarrassment of poverty. Each, it may be, has advantages
of its own, but each also its own drawbacks and shortcomings. There is
nothing but a choice of difficulties anyhow, and whichever is selected,
it will be found that the treasure of God's thought has been committed
to an earthen vessel, and one whose earthiness will not fail at this
point or at that to appear; while yet, with all this, of what far-
reaching importance it is that the best, that is, the least inadequate,
word should be chosen. Thus the missionary translator, if he be at all
aware of the awful implement which he is wielding, of the tremendous
crisis in a people's spiritual life which has arrived, when their
language is first made the vehicle of the truths of Revelation, will
often tremble at the work he has in hand; he will tremble lest he
should permanently lower or confuse the whole spiritual life of a
people, by choosing a meaner and letting go a nobler word for the
setting forth of some leading truth of redemption; and yet the choice
how difficult, the nobler itself falling how infinitely below his
desires, and below the truth of which he would make it the bearer.

Even those who are wholly ignorant of Chinese can yet perceive how vast
the spiritual interests which are at stake in China, how much will be
won or how much lost for the whole spiritual life of its people, it may
be for ages to come, according as the right or the wrong word is
selected by our missionaries there for designating the true and the
living God. As many of us indeed as are ignorant of the language can be
no judges in the controversy which on this matter is, or was lately,
carried on; but we can all feel how vital the question, how enormous
the interests at stake; while, not less, having heard the allegations
on the one side and on the other, we must own that there is only an
alternative of difficulties here. Nearer home there have been
difficulties of the same kind. At the Reformation, for example, when
Latin was still more or less the language of theology, how earnest a
controversy raged round the word in the Greek Testament which we have
rendered 'repentance'; whether 'poenitentia' should be allowed to stand,
hallowed by long usage as it was, or 'resipiscentia,' as many of the
Reformers preferred, should be substituted in its room; and how much on
either side could be urged. Not otherwise, at an earlier date, 'Sermo'
and 'Verbum' contended for the honour of rendering the 'Logos' of St.
John; though here there can be no serious doubt on which side the
advantage lay, and that in 'Verbum' the right word was chosen.

But this of the relation of words in one language to words in another,
and of all the questions which may thus be raised, is a sea too large
for me to launch upon now; and with thus much said to invite you to
have open eyes and ears for such questions, seeing that they are often
full of teaching, [Footnote: Pott in his _Etymol. Forschungen_, vol. v.
p. lxix, and elsewhere, has much interesting instruction on the subject.
There were four attempts to render [Greek: eironeia], itself, it is
true, a very subtle word. They are these: 'dissimulatio' (Cicero);
'illusio' (Quintilian); 'simulatio' and 'irrisio.'] I must leave this
subject, and limit myself in this Lecture to a comparison between words,
not in different languages, but in the same.

Synonyms then, as the term is generally understood, and as I shall use
it, are words in the same language with slight differences either
already established between them, or potentially subsisting in them.
They are not on the one side words absolutely identical, for such, as
has been said already, afford no room for discrimination; but neither
on the other side are they words only remotely similar to one another;
for the differences between these last will be self-evident, will so
lie on the surface and proclaim themselves to all, that it would be as
superfluous an office as holding a candle to the sun to attempt to make
this clearer than it already is. It may be desirable to trace and fix
the difference between scarlet and crimson, for these might easily be
confounded; but who would think of so doing between scarlet and green?
or between covetousness and avarice; while it would be idle and
superfluous to do the same for covetousness and pride. They must be
words more or less liable to confusion, but which yet ought not to be
confounded, as one has said; in which there originally inhered a
difference, or between which, though once absolutely identical, such
has gradually grown up, and so established itself in the use of the
best writers, and in the instinct of the best speakers of the tongue,
that it claims to be openly recognized by all.

But here an interesting question presents itself to us: How do
languages come to possess synonyms of this latter class, which are
differenced not by etymology, nor by any other deep-lying cause, but
only by usage? Now if languages had been made by agreement, of course
no such synonyms as these could exist; for when once a word had been
found which was the adequate representative of a thought, feeling, or
fact, no second one would have been sought. But languages are the
result of processes very different from this, and far less formal and
regular. Various tribes, each with its own dialect, kindred indeed, but
in many respects distinct, coalesce into one people, and cast their
contributions of language into a common stock. Thus the French possess
many synonyms from the _langue d'Oc_ and _langue d'Oil_, each having
contributed its word for one and the same thing; thus 'atre' and
'foyer,' both for hearth. Sometimes different tribes of the same people
have the same word, yet in forms sufficiently different to cause that
both remain, but as words distinct from one another; thus in Latin
'serpo' and 'repo' are dialectic variations of the same word; just as
in German, 'odem' and 'athem' were no more than dialectic differences
at the first. Or again, a conquering people have fixed themselves in
the midst of a conquered; they impose their dominion, but do not
succeed in imposing their language; nay, being few in number, they find
themselves at last compelled to adopt the language of the conquered;
yet not so but that a certain compromise between the two languages
finds place. One carries the day, but on the condition that it shall
admit as naturalized denizens a number of the words of the other; which
in some instances expel, but in many others subsist as synonyms side by
side with, the native words.

These are causes of the existence of synonyms which reach far back into
the history of a nation and a language; but other causes at a later
period are also at work. When a written literature springs up, authors
familiar with various foreign tongues import from one and another words
which are not absolutely required, which are oftentimes rather luxuries
than necessities. Sometimes, having a very sufficient word of their own,
they must needs go and look for a finer one, as they esteem it, from
abroad; as, for instance, the Latin having its own expressive
'succinum' (from 'succus'), for amber, some must import from the Greek
the ambiguous 'electrum.' Of these thus proposed as candidates for
admission, some fail to obtain the rights of citizenship, and after
longer or shorter probation are rejected; it may be, never advance
beyond their first proposer. Enough, however, receive the stamp of
popular allowance to create embarrassment for a while; until, that is,
their relations with the already existing words are adjusted. As a
single illustration of the various quarters from which the English has
thus been augmented and enriched, I would instance the words 'wile,'
'trick,' device,' finesse,' 'artifice,' and 'stratagem.' and remind you
of the various sources from which we have drawn them. Here 'wile,' is
Old-English, 'trick' is Dutch, 'devise' is Old-French, 'finesse' is
French, 'artificium' is Latin, and '[Greek: stratagema]' Greek.

By and by, however, as a language becomes itself an object of closer
attention, at the same time that society, advancing from a simpler to a
more complex condition, has more things to designate, more thoughts to
utter, and more distinctions to draw, it is felt as a waste of
resources to employ two or more words for the designating of one and
the same thing. Men feel, and rightly, that with a boundless world
lying around them and demanding to be catalogued and named, and which
they only make truly their own in the measure and to the extent that
they do name it, with infinite shades and varieties of thought and
feeling subsisting in their own minds, and claiming to find utterance
in words, it is a wanton extravagance to expend two or more signs on
that which could adequately be set forth by one--an extravagance in one
part of their expenditure, which will be almost sure to issue in, and
to be punished by, a corresponding scantness and straitness in another.
Some thought or feeling or fact will wholly want one adequate sign,
because another has two. [Footnote: We have a memorable example of this
in the history of the great controversy of the Church with the Arians,
In the earlier stages of this, the upholders of the orthodox faith used
[Greek: ousia] and [Greek: hypostasis] as identical in force and
meaning with one another, Athanasius, in as many words, affirming them
to be such. As, however, the controversy went forward, it was perceived
that doctrinal results of the highest importance might be fixed and
secured for the Church through the assigning severally to these words
distinct modifications of meaning. This, accordingly, in the Greek
Church, was done; while the Latin, desiring to move _pari passu_ did
yet find itself most seriously embarrassed and hindered in so doing by
the fact that it had, or assumed that it had, but the one word,
'substantia,' to correspond to the two Greek.] Hereupon that which has
been well called the process of 'desynonymizing' begins--that is, of
gradually discriminating in use between words which have hitherto been
accounted perfectly equivalent, and, as such, indifferently employed.
It is a positive enriching of a language when this process is at any
point felt to be accomplished; when two or more words, once
promiscuously used, have had each its own peculiar domain assigned to
it, which it shall not itself overstep, upon which others shall not
encroach. This may seem at first sight only as a better regulation of
old territory; for all practical purposes it is the acquisition of new.

This desynonymizing process is not carried out according to any
prearranged purpose or plan. The working genius of the language
accomplishes its own objects, causes these synonymous words insensibly
to fall off from one another, and to acquire separate and peculiar
meanings. The most that any single writer can do, save indeed in the
terminology of science, is to assist an already existing inclination,
to bring to the clear consciousness of all that which already has been
obscurely felt by many, and thus to hasten the process of this
disengagement, or, as it has been well expressed, 'to regulate and
ordinate the evident nisus and tendency of the popular usage into a
severe definition'; and establish on a firm basis the distinction, so
that it shall not be lost sight of or brought into question again. Thus
long before Wordsworth wrote, it was obscurely felt by many that in
'imagination' there was more of the earnest, in 'fancy' of the play, of
the spirit, that the first was a loftier faculty and power than the
second. The tendency of the language was all in this direction. None
would for some time back have employed 'fancy' as Milton employs
it, [Footnote: _Paradise Lost_, v. 102-105 5 so too Longinus, _De
Subl._ 15.] ascribing to it operations which we have learned to reserve
for 'imagination' alone, and indeed subordinating 'imaginations' to
fancy, as a part of the materials with which it deals. Yet for all this
the words were continually, and not without injury, confounded.
Wordsworth first, in the _Preface_ to his _Lyrical Ballads_, rendered
it impossible for any, who had read and mastered what he had written
on the matter, to remain unconscious any longer of the essential


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