Word origins: hobby, limousine

Here are a couple of examples culled from recent TV programmes.

Evidently Henry IIX kept a stable of "hobby horses", leading to the use of the word hobby for any pastime that takes up a lot of time and money, though for some reason his use of decapitation hasn't survived as a synonym for divorce. And it seems limousine derives from the French sheepskins used to keep chauffeurs nice and snug.

Who says telly isn't educational?

A limousine, somewhat obviously


To reassure JD that I can still read as well as slob in front of the box, just today I finished The Last Corsair, a history of the WW1 German surface raider the Emden. It's an almost unbelievable yarn and well worth a read.

Following their hair-raising adventures the survivors of her crew were treated to a 'bierabend' (beer-evening). Could that be the origin of the phrase to go on a bender?

6 comments:

The Ridger, FCD said...

I'm certainly glad you tossed in that comment about decapitation, or I don't know how long it would have taken me to realize that Henry IIX is the same person as Henry VIII ... it's been a long week.

gareth said...

Nice spot on "bierabend". No idea if it's true or not but it certainly sounds plausible.

Roy said...

According to www.etymonline.com the word bender is US slang for a drinking bout first attested in 1846. Maybe the German's borrowed it.

Roy said...

Another possible origin of bender: this was slang for an old sixpence piece, so called because it had some silver in it and it could be bent to prove it was genuine. Going on a bender was to go out drinking with a whole sixpence. This was, of course, before the last budget tax increases on alcohol.

Brian said...

A limousine is usually considered something like a large luxurious automobile usually driven by a chauffeur. The word limousine or shorter limo is a French word and there is really no English equivalent. That is, if you call it anything else, a town car or whatever, it is either a limousine or it isn't.

JD said...

I'd say that limousine is an English word. From French, but definitely English now (as well as French, I presume).

After all, if we used the word in our magazine, we wouldn't italicise it to indicate a foreign word.