Monday, April 10, 2006

Back on Track (?)

Apologies for my lack of posts 'round here lately. I hope to start getting a few things up of perhaps at least marginal interest.

I thought Merriam-Webster's word-of-the-day for yesterday was intriguing. Here it is:

catchpole \KATCH-poal\ noun

: a sheriff's deputy; especially : one who makes arrests for failure to pay a debt

Example sentence:
David knew that it must be the catchpole knocking at his door, so he quickly threw on his shoes and coat and snuck out the back.

Did you know?
Imagine chasing a chicken around the barnyard. Catching it would be no mean feat. And chasing down someone who owes you money is pretty challenging too. It's no surprise then that these two taxing tasks come together in "catchpole," which derives from a word that literally means "chicken chaser" — Anglo-French "cachepole." Before it referred to the debt police, "catchpole" was used more generally for any tax collector. That's the sense demonstrated in a 12th-century homily about the apostle Matthew: "Matheus thet wes cachepol thene he iwende to god-spellere" ("Matthew who was a catchpole until he turned into a writer of the Gospel").

*Indicates the sense illustrated in the example sentence.

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