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Posted by Michael Stueber on June 27, 2001 at 12:53:26:

In Reply to: Re: WORD ORIGINS posted by Mark Lyons on June 26, 2001 at 23:51:50:

: How about "deputy

From the Middle English "deputen", "to appoint", which comes ultimately from the Late Latin "deputare" (deh-poo-tah'-ruh), with the same meaning. A deputy is, therefore, either appointed when the need arises, or appointed to act in the absence of his commander.

"Sergeant" is closely related to "servant" (both ultimately from the Latin "servire" (sur-veer'-uh), "to serve"). The idea is that a sergeant carries out the judgements of a court or authority figure.

Straight French: "lieu"+"tenant" (from Latin "locum"[place] and "tenens"[to hold]), "holding place". Therefore, a lieutenant would, strictly, be someone authorized to act in place of his commander. Sort of the military equivalent of a vice-president. Incidentally, "tenens" ("to hold") is also the origin of "tenacious". Would you say that Lieutenants are tenacious? ; )

:and corporal"?
I really love some of these reference books. To save space, they discuss etymologically related words in one place; this means that they redirect you a lot. For example: "corporal: see: 'leprechaun'" ; )
Anyhow, "corporal" is the modern form of the Old Italian "caporale", from "capo", meaning "head". So a corporal is simply the head of his company. (most of our modern rank designations are very specific uses of old words that were much vaguer).

One more thing: there are a few false etymologies (read: "bad origins ; ) ) of "cop" out there. It _doesn't_ stand for "constable on patrol" and it doesn't come from copper buttons or badges. "Cop" (and an old variant "cap") have been used in English since around 1600 to mean "seize, capture, lah hold of, arrest, take, or steal". It ultimately comes from the Latin "capere" meaning "to seize". Therefore, a "copper" is "one who seizes or arrests".
Ironically, while "copper" was first used to mean "policeman" sometime in the early nineteenth century, before that it was used to mean "a thief".

Sooooo... Is the word origins section gonna end up being twice the size you expected? ; )

: On a different topic, I was looking at the sheriff departments jail contraband display and noticed a yellow handcuff key. It was made of plastic and was perfect in every way. It tuns out that an inmate made it out of a tooth brush. He made the walls just right and the tab was exact. He even drilled the post hole perfectly straight. I do not think that the fine people at Peerless could have made a better one!

Neat. Any idea if the prisoner had a key to work from, or if it was from memory? (I assume that he made a plastic one to get past a metal detector).
On a sorta related note, I once saw a discussion of plastic handcuff keys intended for cops who wanted to make sure their own cuffs weren't used against them. Anybody know if these are still made?


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