Monday, 28 January 2013

truant and trout

The earliest meaning of truant in English is "one who begs without justification" (OED). I find this interesting, as I don't think we have a single lexical item for this anymore.

It is borrowed from Old French truant, probably borrowed from Celtic, cf Welsh truan "wretched", Scots Gaelic truagh "wretched, pitiful". MacBain's derives this from Proto-Indo-European *streig- "to stroke, rub, press". The AHD and Pokorny derive it from an extended form of *terh₁- "to rub".

An extended form of *terh₁-, something like *troh₁-g-, became Greek τρώγω trōgō "to gnaw" and τρώκτης trōktēs "gnawer" also "a sea-fish with sharp teeth". This was borrowed into Late Latin as tructus and into Old English as truht, becoming modern trout.

1 comment :

Montag said...

How does one beg without justification?
Assuming it means "beg" as does a beggar (and not something like beg for food as a well fed dog does), then it must mean "beg, even though one has means."

If it came from French and Gaelic terms for "wretched", it is easier to see how it might have applied to begging, but not to begging without justification.

Unless, "without justification" is a judgement in the eye of the person who sees the beggar, and does not actually refer to any economic status of the beggar themselves.