Word Hoard

Monday, October 22, 2007

Peerage 2

I was going through my bedside dictionary (Webster's 7th New Collegiate 1965) probably looking up naughty, from naught/nothing. As my eyes are wont, they caught notice of marquess or (marquis). It comes from Middle French ultimately from marche--march. It means 1 a nobleman of hereditary rank in Europe and Japan and, for our purposes, 2 a member of the second grade of the peerage in Great Britain ranking below a duke and above an earl. So the first bit is filled out. Which word is penultimate?

Earl comes from Old English eorl warrior, nobleman "akin to Old Norse jarl warrior, nobleman. It is defined only as a member of the third grade of the British peerage ranking below a marquess and above a . . .

Viscount comes from Latin vicecomes vice + comes count (comes from companion, one of the imperial court, from com + ire to go. It means, as you would expect, a member of the peerage in Great Britain ranking below an earl and above a baron.

Baron is from Old French of Germanic origin "akin to Old High German baro freeman."

And to close things out dukeis from Latin ducere to lead.


  • At October 22, 2007 11:13 PM, Blogger Wishydig said…

    Eorl could be as loaded as "hero" or as neutral as "man" in OE.

    A line in Beowulf:
    - - - - swylc eorl scolde
    wesan aérgód swylc Æschere wæs

    would be translated along these lines "so should a man be wise through experience as was Æschere." Within that we might read an implication that not all 'eorl's were necessarily so a priori.

  • At October 22, 2007 11:16 PM, Blogger Daniel said…

    Thanks. How did you do on the quiz?

  • At October 23, 2007 10:06 PM, Blogger Wishydig said…

    I misplaced viscount. I overestimated the rank placing it just under duke. But the ordering of all others was correct.

    Going mostly on "feel" really...

  • At October 23, 2007 10:09 PM, Blogger Daniel said…

    Sure, you can fool the others, but I know you're part of the British peerage.


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