Wednesday, June 24, 2009

David’s Definitions for August 2009


The man in a marriage. Originally, the word had a rather different meaning, which survives in specialized ways. It comes from the Old Norse word husbondi meaning “master of a household.” That word had nothing to do with whether the man was married. When the Norsemen settled in England, they often married local, Anglo-Saxon women. The Anglo-Saxon word for a married woman, wif, continued to be used for those women. That became our word wife. But because such marriages were so common, the Anglo-Saxon term for a husband, wer, was gradually replaced by the Norse husbondi, which became our word husband. The master of a household took care of the land, the animals, and all the other resources associated with his property — good care, if he was a good husbondi. So farming was once called “husbandry,” and taking care of farm animals is still called “animal husbandry.” We also still speak of “husbanding resources” — i.e., taking care to preserve them. In nautical usage, the person who manages a ship’s expenses and receipts is called the “ship’s husband.”

(Will be published in the August 2009 issue of Denver's Community News.)

I'm collecting all of these at:


Chris said...

Something tells me no amount of me spouting this definition to Katrina is going to make me master of our household.

David said...

Maybe if you said it loudly in Old Norse while waving a giant sword and acting like a Berserker?

Maybe she'd call the cops.

Kristen said...

Chris - that depends. Are you taking care of the land, the animals, and all things associated with the property? Ya gots to EARN the title. ;-)