This week we'll present toponyms: words from place names. We start with one that would also fit last week's 'military' theme.
zabernism – the misuse of military power or authority; bullying, aggression
From the town of Zabern (French Saverne) in Alsace, where ugly incidents of Prussian militarism occurred in late 1913. A more full account of these incidents and etymology will be posted on the board.
– George Bernard Shaw, Heartbreak House
I wondered if it were related to saber, but I guess not. Here is what the online Random House Dictionary says about the etymology of saber: "[Origin: 1670–80; < F sabre, sable < G Sabel (now Säbel), earlier sewel, schebel < Pol szabla; cf. Czech šavle, Serbo-Croatian sȁblja, Russ sáblya sword, saber, perh. all ult. < Hungarian szablya, though derivation and transmission uncert.]"
You would not expect that today's two toponyms, Trojan horse and troy ounce, refer to two different cities.
Trojan horse – someone or something intended to defeat or subvert from within usually by deceptive means [also used in computerese]
[from the conquest of the city of Troy, as told in the Iliad]
– Los Angeles Times, Nov. 5, 2006
[such a system was used at the fair of Troyes, France]
– Forbes, Nov. 9, 2006
Sodom – an place noted for extreme vice and corruption
[from Sodom and Gomorrah, the two wicked cities of the plain in Gen. xviii-xix. The same place is the source of the familiar word sodomy.]
– Los Angeles Times, Oct. 22, 2006
Indeed. Twentieth century American Christian fundamentalism was born in Los Angeles.
Many toponyms are names of cloth or clothing. We have previously mentioned several examples: taffeta, tuxedo, denim and jeans. Here are two more.
jodhpurs – (plural noun; picture here) trousers for horse riding, close-fitting below the knee and with reinforced patches inside the leg.
[after the Indian city (state?) of Jodhpur]
– David McCullough, Truman
I used a western saddle and rode in blue jeeans and cowboy boots, but the president [Reagan] preferred an English saddle, jodhpurs, and polished riding boots.
James Baker III, Work Hard, Study...and Keep Out of Politics!
[after the country of Panama. This is a misnomer, for it was originally made in Ecuador, but it was distributed north from Panama City.]
Ttan shoes with pink shoelaces
A polka-dot vest, and man, oh man! He wears
Tan shoes with pink shoelaces,
And a big panama with a purple hat band!
– Dodie Stevens, 1959
With Iraq in the news, let's take a toponym from that country.
baldachin – a ceremonial canopy over an altar, throne, or doorway.
[originally denoting a rich brocade from Baghdad: from Italian Baldacco ‘Baghdad’.]
– The Guardian, Apr. 5, 2005, at the funeral of Pope John Paul II
Re: Sodom and Gomorrah.
I know what Sodomy is but does anyone know what Gamorrahmy is? Or shouldn't I ask? When ignorance is bliss, 'tis folly to be wise.
missann, I checked just for grins. To my surprise, there is indeed such a word. OED would have you think it is rare and obsolete: its last example is 1613. But here's something a bit more recent:
- Time Magazine, Mar. 28, 2004
That's a lovely couple of phrases!
Build a man a fire and he's warm for a day. Set a man on fire and he's warm for the rest of his life.
Sodom has come to be associated with men, so it is logical that Gomorrah would be associated with women. It is possible the Time reporter created a "neologism", that is, "made up" Gomorrean, although the word had existed in the past.
Very interesting point, Sean. I found this (with a slightly variant spelling):
- Language, Violence, and Queer People: Social and Cultural Change Strategies
[QUOTE]Originally posted by missann:
I know what Sodomy is but …QUOTE]
I am not sure that Neveu's Twentieth century American Christian fundamentalists would approve. Fortunately, most of us are without such prejudice.
I was only joking when I asked the qustion. I didn't think there was such a word. However, there is a word for everything.