Thursday, February 28, 2008

Words I'm Looking Up

lucre


Money or profits. -- American Heritage Dictionary

American Heritage also offers this pretty interesting word history:

Word History: When William Tyndale translated aiskhron kerdos, "shameful gain" (Titus 1:11), as filthy lucre in his edition of the Bible, he was tarring the word lucre for the rest of its existence. But we cannot lay the pejorative sense of lucre completely at Tyndale's door. He was merely a link, albeit a strong one, in a process that had begun long before with respect to the ancestor of our word, the Latin word lucrum, "material gain, profit." This process was probably controlled by the inevitable conjunction of profit, especially monetary profit, with evils such as greed. In Latin lucrum also meant "avarice," and in Middle English lucre, besides meaning "monetary gain, profit," meant "illicit gain." Furthermore, many of the contexts in which the neutral sense of the word appeared were not wholly neutral, as in "It is a wofull thyng . . . ffor lucre of goode . . . A man to fals his othe [it is a sad thing for a man to betray his oath for monetary gain]." Tyndale thus merely helped the process along when he gave us the phrase filthy lucre.

2 comments:

David said...

I've never had as much fun reading anything as I've had reading Grammar Snobs. Thanks for making making sense make sense.

June Casagrande said...

Thank you so much! This comes at a time when I'm feeling a little -- um -- insecure in my abilities. (I just finished reading Cormac McCarthy's "The Road" and am kinda sick with jealousy. Apples and oranges ... I know. ... Still ...)

Thank you!

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