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The Story of Lady, Lady- Bird, Lasmmas, Loaf and Lord PDF Nyomtatás E-mail
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LADY [        ] ,sb, -- The word originates from OE hlaefdige, which consisted of ‘hlaf’ (bread) and the root ‘dig-‘ (to knead). Like the corresponding masc. designation hlaford (lord), the word is not found outside Eng.

The OE <ae> being regularly shortened in ME before two consonants yielded regularly <a> and <e> according to dialect. The ME lefdi, levdi is represented by Sc. leddy. The other form lafdi became lavedi, then because of open-syllable lengthening lavedi and finally the Great Vowel Shift changed the [  ] to the diphtong [  ].

The original meaning ‘the female head of a household’ first appeared in OE in the beginning of the 9th century. From the 11th century on, it was also used as the female designation corresponding to lord. It was used by Chaucer in the sense of ‘a woman, who is the object of chivalrous devotion’. In the early modern English period it was also applied to fairies, for example by Milton. In the Victorian era, it started to be used for ‘a woman whose manners, habits and sentiments have the refinement charecteristic of the higher ranks of society’, we find the word in this meaning in George Eliot’s Silas Marner. The meaning ‘designation of a public convenience for females’ emerged in the 20th century.


LADY-BIRD [                ], sb, --  The genitive singular of the OE hlaefdige (lady), which was hlaefdigan, became by regular phonetic change in ME coincident in form with the nominative, hence certain syntactical combinations have the appearance of proper compounds - lady-bird is an example for this.

The word first appeared in Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet in the sense of ‘sweetheart’. This meaning was used even in the 19th century. The usage of the word as a common name for the coleopterous insects belonging to the genus Coccinella was first used by A. van Leuwenhoek in 1704. The word can also refer to the pintail duck (anas acuta), in this sense it started to be used in the end of the last century.


LAMMAS [          ], sb – The word originates from OE hlafmaesse, which was a compound consisting of the words hlaf (bread) and maesse (mass). In the 16th century the first part of the word had been misinterpreted as ‘lamb’, so by analogy the spelling ‘Lambmass’ was used until the late 17th century.

The word was already used by King Aelfred in the sense of ‘the 1st of August’ in 893. In the early modern English period the form ‘latter Lammas’ appeared in the sense of ‘a day that will never come’. The compound Lammas-apple (a kind of apple ripening at Lammas) started to be used only in the late 19th century, while the first appearance of the term Lammas-day occured already around 1000.


LOAF  [      ], sb – In this word the sound indicated by the two vowels represents the regular development of OE [  ] in hlaf, which in ME became [  ] everywhere except in the north. This  [  ] later underwent the Great Vowel Shift and this is why in Modern English it is pronounced with the diphtong [  ]. The loss of the initial <h> happenned during the early Middle English period, the form lafe appeared around 1200. The spelling with <oa> first appears in the 16th century, following the GVS.

The word is quite well attested even during the OE period in its earliest meanings. For example it appears in the Lindisfarne Gospel (c950) in the meaning ‘bread’. The word ‘sugar-loaf’ emerged in the Middle English period (14th c), while the usage of ‘loaf’ in the sense of ‘a head (of cabbage)’ appeared in the Early Modern English period. Its meaning ‘minced or chopped meat moulded into the shape of a loaf and cooked’ was first used in the late 18th century. The slang meanings ‘head’ and ‘dead’, which are based on the rhyming of these words and the term ‘a loaf of bread’, appeared in the first half of the 20th century.    


LORD  [       ]  sb, -- This word goes back to OE hlafweard which originally meant breadkeeper, the head of the household, who gives bread to the family and the servants, but it had already acquired a wider application before the literary period of OE. The development of the sense has been largely influenced by the adoption of the word as the customary rendering of the Latin dominus.

Following the loss of the initial <h> in the early Middle English period, as a result of corruption, the word only preserved the <l> from the compound’s first unit, while the the <w> of weard first altered to <v> and then disappeared by the 14th century. The long [  ] sound is a result of pre-cluster lengthening (‘rd’-cluster).

The  meaning ‘the male head of a household’ appears in the Lindisfarne Gospel (c950), but the word was used in the sense of ‘one who has dominion over others as his subjects’ already in Beowulf. It was first used as a vocative for God by Aelfric around 1000. From the 14th century on, the figurative meaning ‘one who or something which has the mastery or preeminence’ is also in usage. The word was first used for ‘magnates in some particular trade’ in the 19th century.




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