Top Hat.

Back in 2008 I posted about hats, quoting from Diana Crane’s The Social Meanings of Hats and T-shirts, where we are told:

The top hat, which appeared in England at the beginning of the nineteenth century, was worn first by the middle and upper classes. During the century, it spread downward, possibly because it was adopted by coachmen in the 1820s and for policemen’s uniforms in the same period…. In the 1840s and 1850s, unskilled laborers and fishermen were photographed wearing these hats …. At mid-century, they were being worn by all social classes…

Which is good to know, but it leaves unanswered the question OrneryBob asks at WordOrigins.org: why is it called that? Oecolampadius says:

The “top” may have been influenced by the French name for this hat, Haut de Forme. the word “haut” could be translated “high” or “tall” or “top.” According to this French site, It seems to have had the connotation of “high” in the sense of social order as in: “Man of the bourgeois in the 19th Century.”

But “top” doesn’t mean “high” or “tall,” and either of the latter words would make more sense as a description. Syntinen Laulu says:

When tall hats began to be worn in the 1790s (think all those French revolutionaries, and Beau Brummel & co.) they were known as round hats, because the brim was no longer ‘cocked’, i.e. bent at a sharp angle to make a ‘cocked hat’ (what we’d call a tricorne or bicorne, although both those words are later), but was more-or-less flat all round. The first citation for top hat in the OED (admittedly an un-updated definition) is surprisingly late – 1881.

The OED entry is from 1913; the citation is M. E. Braddon Asphodel xvi “She liked to have her son well-dressed and in a top-hat.” ElizaD antedates that with a quote from Alfred Drayson’s 1875 The Gentleman Cadet (referring to a cadet at Woolwich, London):

I was in the rear of the division, and dressed in plain clothes; my hat was what modern slang would term “a top hat,” and what in those days we called “a beaver.”

She adds a link to an interesting article about the history of the top hat from The Field; I like this cautious statement: “With any style of hat it is often difficult to pinpoint the first of a type, not just for the history of top hats. I would suggest that the Hetherington hat may well not have been the very first but one of the first.” But I’m still wondering why the term is “top hat.”

Lagniappe, in case it hasn’t been linked here before: xkcd on quotative like.

Comments

  1. Jen in Edinburgh says:

    Reading an OED quote suggesting that a top quark is like an up quark only more so has made me wonder if top hat was originally a kind of punning name for something higher than what was known as a high hat.

  2. Jen in Edinburgh says:

    Although, surprisingly, OED quotes for ‘topper’ go back to 1820 for the hat, and 1709 for a ‘thing surpassingly or exceptionally good or excellent’, so maybe that’s the original form.

  3. If you read contemporary documents about the hat-making trade in mid-nineteenth-century America, they are almost always called “beaver hats.” (Fur trapping in the Pacific Northwest was the main economic activity practiced by the first whites in the area, so the beaver pelt business gets a lot of attention in historical discussions of the period.) “High hat” would make a more sensible name than “top hat” for the stovepipe hat (also a pretty good name), but it’s too late for it now, since a “high hat” is part of a drum kit.

    Regarding the naming of quarks, the top and bottom quarks were indeed named based on being exactly the like up and down quarks, respectively, except heavier. However, there is more to the story than that. The original quarks were named by Gell-Mann the “up” or “u” because it was the positively charged constituent of ordinary nuclear matter, “down” or “d,” because it was the negative constituent of nuclear matter, and “strange” or “s,” because it was not present in normal, stable particles (because it is heavier and decays into a u, an electron, and a neutrino).

    Actually, before that, it had already been recognized that certain unstable particles, like kaons and hyperons, carried a quantum number called “strangeness,” “S.” When a fourth quantum number number, corresponding to a heavier positive quark was discovered, they were both called “charm,” or “c” for the quark itself. Up to that point, the discovery of each quark was somewhat unexpected. (However, the other creator of the quark model, George Zweig, correctly predicted the existence of the charm quark, a heavier analogue of the up, to go with the strange as a heavier analogue of the down. He wanted to call them “aces,” because there were four of them.) But, by the late 1970s, it was understood that particles had to come in groups (“generations” or “families”). So after a third-generation charged lepton (a particle exactly like an electron, only heavier), the tau, was found, it was known that there had to be three more particles to go with it, a tau neutrino and two more quarks, one positive and one negative, like the u and d.

    People began referring to these as “top,” “t” and “bottom,” “b,” mostly. There was some friction about this, since naming the particles, whose masses were unknown and we’re yet to be discovered, was seen as somewhat presumptuous. Naming rights often go to the discoverers. Also, there were physicists who just thought “top” and “bottom” were insipid names. They pushed for names more like the earlier “strange” and “charm”: “truth” and “beauty.” These were chosen to work with the “t” and “b” as well. After the discovery of the bottom quark, the name question was basically resolved, although there are still people you use “beauty” as the name of the quantum number, “B,” carried by the bottom quark. “Beauty meson” is thus a synonym for “bottom meson.” This distinction does not come up for top quarks, though, because the top is so heavy and unstable that it decays before it ever has a chance to bind with other quarks to make a hadron.

  4. David Eddyshaw says:

    Bottom, beauty – it’s a natural association of ideas …

  5. @David Eddyshaw: Clearly.

  6. AJP Crown says:

    To electricians, high hats are recessed light fixtures and there’s a theatre stage light called a top hat. To drummers, hi-hat is the cymbals stand (I suppose the spelling means it started as a trade name).

    From the Field article: However, we do know that it was Frenchman Antoine Gibus who, in 1834, first registered a patent for the collapsible opera hat or chapeau claque.
    Or do we?
    On May 5, 1812, a London hatter called Thomas Francis Dollman patented a design for “an elastic round hat” supported by ribs and springs. His patent was described as:

    An elastic round hat, which “may be made of beaver, silk, or other materials.” “The top” of the crown and about half an inch from the top “as well as “the brim and about an inch , the crown from the bottom” are stiffened in the ordinary manner.

    Take that, French persons.

    My worthless guess (I’ve no evidence) is that the answer is top-o-logical. A shiny flat plane on top, a circle with a sharp edge, is more work to construct than say, a felt dome or dented crown or cone shape or a knitted beanie, where the highest surface pretty much resolves itself. Therefore hatters remarked on the ‘flat top’ -> top.

  7. I think you’re right, and I thank you for finding and linking to the Stack Exchange thread (which is worth it just for this photo):

    Barrie England’s supposition, “it was a hat that had a top”, could explain how the hat earned its slang term, the distinctive headgear certainly had a flat top. Note the word top is set off with quotation marks in the excerpt below.

  8. A little googling reveals that hats in the top hat shape began to be worn at the beginning of the 19th century, and that two materials were used – beaver felt and silk plush. Beaver was favored at first but started to lose out to silk in mid-century. So that would explain the decline of the term beaver. But why top hat instead of silk hat?

    A humorous article from 1882 in the Dovorian, the magazine of Dover College (a public – i.e. private – high school), purports to report the conclusions of an antiquarian living two millennia in the future, who has researched the phenomenon of the top hat. (Top hats would have been required for public school boys.) The antiquarian is befuddled by the name and concludes that it must arise from the existence of an under-hat, although he can’t find any evidence of such hats. (Think of the model of top coat.)

    This suggests that even at the height of the top hat’s popularity, its wearers recognized that the name is somewhat odd.

    I did an ngram of top hat, top coat, and interestingly they both creep along at the bottom of the graph until about 1880, when they both move sharply up – although top hat does so much more dramatically. But I can’t come with a explanation for why a top hat would be thought of as an outer hat, so I have to chalk this up to coincidence.

    If anyone wants to play at being the Dovorian’s imagined antiquarian, I suspect that there’s plenty of research to be done. Not by me, though.

  9. Giacomo Ponzetto says:

    AJP Crown’s topological guess crossed my mind as well. The top hat has a top, which the cocked hat doesn’t: typically the tallest part of cocked hats is their upturned brim. Moreover, from the hatter’s point of view the top of the top hat is distinct from the crown in some ways. As contemporary sources confirm, a beaver hat is a single piece of felt, but it is ironed in three steps on three lathes: one for the top, one for the crown, one for the brim. A silk hat takes four pieces of silk: for the top, the crown, the upper brim and lower brim.

    However, I very much suspect this is all ex-post rationalization. The same hat was also called a “high hat” or a “tall hat,” as Google Books confirms, and many more colloquial names.

    My preferred guess, though an equally worthless one unsupported by evidence, is that “top hat” eventually prevailed for two reasons.

    First, precisely because “high” or “tall” make more sense as a description. This may have made it tougher to shed their plain meaning and turn them into compounds, particularly since there were top hats that were particularly tall/high—famously Lincoln’s.

    Second, “top hat” went hand-in-hand with the colloquialism “topper,” which was rather successful, I suspect originally upper class, and tempting on too many levels: the hat is literally the item topping its wearer; it is a fancy, high-quality item; and it was surely the attire of choice for self-important snobs such as Topper Topper, Esq., of Topper Hall, Toppershire (whose biography is reported by Hunt’s Merchants’ Magazine in 1856).

  10. Here is an 1883 stab at the etymology of “top hat” — only two years after that earliest citation in the OED — in the “Dovorian,” school magazine of Dover College. (See article entitled “Top Hats” beginning on page 5, subtitled “Report of the British Society of Antiquaries of A.D. 4321 on the subject of Top Hats as worn A.D. 1882” ).

    From the Dovorian piece: “The names ‘top hat’ and ‘topper’ seem to be synonymous, and the latter word was probably another form of the former. They denote that this hat was worn on the top of another one, and we are of the opinion that this statement has more evidence for it than against it. The pictures certainly in no case shew that anything was worn beneath the top hat, and one would think that in at lease some cases the under hat would appear. his objection can be met, for most probably the under hat was fastened to the top hat before being put on, and such a way that it would not be seen.”

    Now, from this point on, it becomes clear that the writer is pulling our leg, with a yarn claiming that the “stovepipe” name denoted that something hot was kept in the hat, that being a heated tile to keep the head warm.

    Nevertheless, the notion that it was called a top hat because there was also an “under hat” or liner has some plausibility. The stiffness of the hat made it quite uncomfortable to wear, to the point that an 1888 correspondent of The Lancet proposed its abolition for reasons of hygiene. But perhaps in earlier days, this problem was solved by means of a separable soft liner, leading to the term top head for the visible portion.

    In any case, the Dovorian piece makes it clear that even back then, the derivation of “top hat” was not clear.

  11. Sorry, looks like Bloix and I both found the Dovorian, I should have looked more closely at the prior comments.

  12. @Martin: A little duplication is no big deal, and that letter to The Lancet is hilarious.

  13. The linked article in The Field mentions this: “[in 1832] The Duke of Wellington surveyed the newly elected House of Commons and said: “I have never seen so many shocking bad hats in my life.” Presumably these were silk toppers, hastily bought to try to enable the new members of parliament to look the part.”

    Not just to look the part – hats were actually an important part of an MP’s kit, because he couldn’t raise a point of order unless he put his hat on. (At other times hats were allowed but not compulsory.) This rule lasted until 1998 (I say again, 1998) and two collapsible hats were kept in the chamber and handed to MPs who hadn’t brought their own. MPs in a hurry simply put their order papers on their heads, vice an actual hat.

  14. Great heavens! This world is stranger than I had imagined.

  15. I have a mental list of things that actually exist in Britain but which foreigners could be forgiven for assuming existed only in the pages of a young-adult fantasy novel: the Black Watch, the Shadow Cabinet, the House of Keys, Cape Wrath, the Lord Lyon King of Arms, Castle Gloom (which is perched on an outcrop of land between the Burn of Sorrow and the Burn of Care) and so on.

  16. Trond Engen says:

    Are you sure Britain wasn’t invented by a Young Adult Fantasy White?

  17. David L says:

    This Wikipedia article on Gold Stick and Silver Stick would make for a good exam question. Please read it carefully and answer the following questions:

    1. How many Gold Sticks are there and why?
    2. Describe the relationship of Silver Stick-in-Waiting to Silver Stick and Gold Stick.
    3. What is the role of Silver Stick Adjutant?
    4. Who is Major-General Sir Edward Smyth-Osbourne? What kind of Stick is he, and when?

  18. AJP Crown says:

    Those are all Scottish except for the Manx House of Keys. Nearly all parliamentary democracies modeled after Westminster have a shadow cabinet; including of course Scotland. In England or whatever we’re supposed to call it now, the Labour Shadow Cabinet has someone called a Pairing Whip. I expect the tories have a Pairing Whip too; they’re the s&m experts historically. Incidentally tory needs no capitalisation, I found out today, so I’ve stopped. Only Tory Party (but then I’d write Conservative). Don’t ask for a citation because I can’t remember where I saw it (somewhere fairly official).

  19. No one’s mentioned Black Rod yet?

  20. … hats were actually an important part of an MP’s kit, because he couldn’t raise a point of order unless he put his hat on.

    I don’t believe that is quite right. A hat needed to be worn to raise a point of order only during a division (which is to say, during voting). A member wishing to raise a point of order during ordinary debate would rise uncovered just as they would to raise a point of substance. I guess the rationale may have had something to do with distinguishing themself from the generality of members rising to make their way to the voting lobbies (which, far back enough in time, they did with hats off though they voted with hats on). Members now distinguish themselves in such a circumstance by the position in the House from which they raise points of order (the second bench near to the Speaker). I presume that points of order are actually the only points which a member can raise during a division.

    The procedure is described in a Commons factsheet here which also contains this passage from Alfred Kinnear MP describing hat-wearing rules as understood in 1900:

    At all times remove your hat on entering the House, and put it on upon taking your seat; and remove it again on rising for whatever purpose. If the MP asks a question he will stand, and with his hat off; and he may receive the answer of the Minister seated and with his hat on. If on a division he should have to challenge the ruling of the chair, he will sit and put his hat on. If he wishes to address the Speaker on a point of order not connected with a division, he will do so standing with his hat off. When he leaves the House to participate in a division he will take his hat off, but will vote with it on. If the Queen sends a message to be read from the chair, the Member will uncover. In short, how to take his seat, how to behave at prayers, and what to do with his hat, form between them the ABC of the parliamentary scholar.

    The expectation that the hat in question should be a top hat was broken by Keir Hardie, future first leader of the parliamentary Labour party, when, after election for West Ham South as an independent MP in 1892, he entered the Commons in a deerstalker.

  21. David Marjanović says:

    the Shadow Cabinet

    Briefly imported to Austria almost 20 years ago, very quickly renamed to Cabinet of Light, and then promptly forgotten (like, meanwhile, the leader of the largest opposition party at that time, even though he managed to become chancellor later).

  22. PlasticPaddy says:

    @ajp
    Tory apparently comes from an Irish word that was formerly used for “bandit”.
    https://www.teanglann.ie/en/fgb/t%c3%b3ra%c3%ad

  23. The expectation that the hat in question should be a top hat was broken by Keir Hardie, future first leader of the parliamentary Labour party, when, after election for West Ham South as an independent MP in 1892, he entered the Commons in a deerstalker.

    Oh, to have a video record of the commotion he caused!

  24. J.W. Brewer says:

    It is commonly claimed although I have never personally examined the evidence that both lexemes in the matched set “tory” and “whig” started as pejorative exonyms and both eventually became non-pejorative endonyms. Obviously the factional rivals of those who used them as endonyms may have continued to use them with pejorative overtones …

  25. Owlmirror says:

    Are you sure Britain wasn’t invented

    If Britain did not exist, it would be necessary to invent it.

  26. Trond Engen says:

    Me: a Young Adult Fantasy White

    My new phone is trying to correct all English words to Norwegian, surnames, or, if I’m lucky, an English word I’ve used before.

  27. David Eddyshaw says:

    I did wonder whether you might be protesting against a lack of diversity among elves.

  28. “existed only in the pages of a young-adult fantasy novel”
    But the authors of young adult fantasy novels model their fantasy institutions and customs on those of Britain!

  29. David Marjanović says:

    En vrai, c’est pire.

  30. AJP Crown says:

    At all times remove your hat on entering the House, and put it on upon taking your seat; and remove it again on rising for whatever purpose.

    The phasing here is another tradition; see Matt Lucas’s twitteo from the day after Johnson’s tv corona advice.

    Plast-o’pad: Tory apparently comes from an Irish word that was formerly used for “bandit”.
    Fitting, in the sense that nowadays it seems to be only used by opponents and not by tories themselves.

    Something else that occurred to me: there is no adequate noun for Labour MPs or party supporters. There are tories, Democrats, Liberals, whigs, greens, Republicans, republicans, Scottish nationalists etc. but for Labour only socialists or Labourites (the latter is too ugly & clumsy for most, the extent to which it’s socialist is a discussion in itself but it’s not part of the name), so you’re left with “Labour members (of Parliament)” or “Party members”. I think the problem is that labour started life more as noun than adjective (as liberal or conservative must have), but I’m sure there’s a better explanation.

  31. both lexemes in the matched set “tory” and “whig” started as pejorative exonyms and both eventually became non-pejorative endonyms

    “Tory”, I would say, is still pejorative. You won’t find actual Tories in the UK referring to themselves as Tories very often. They’re “Conservatives”. John Buchan, a Conservative himself, put this speech in the mouth of a Conservative running for election in “John Macnab” (1925):
    “”Our opponents call us Tories,” he said; “they can call us anything they jolly well please. I am proud to be called a Tory. I understand that the name was first given by Titus Oates to those who disbelieved in his Popish Plot. What we want to-day is Toryism–the courage to give the lie to impudent rogues.”

    Since we don’t have a Liberal party any more, “Whig” isn’t really used much, but people who do use it tend to mean it in a negative way; the Whig Interpretation of History and so on.

    I would definitely capitalise both, incidentally. Certainly when referring to members of the actual party.

  32. Something else that occurred to me: there is no adequate noun for Labour MPs or party supporters. There are tories, Democrats, Liberals, whigs, greens, Republicans, republicans, Scottish nationalists etc. but for Labour only socialists or Labourites

    For the collective you could just use “Labour”.

    “While the Tories and the Lib Dems are both behind the bill, Labour and the Greens are firmly opposed.”

    What there isn’t is a good singular noun. You can say your father is a lifelong Tory or a fervent Green, but you can’t say he’s an active Labour.

  33. But the authors of young adult fantasy novels model their fantasy institutions and customs on those of Britain!

    Alas yes. I would certainly read, for a change, a young-adult fantasy novel in which the governance of the Realm of Faerie was modelled on the structure of the European Union. Directives of the High Council of Mages must be passed by qualified majority voting in both the Seelie and Unseelie Courts of Fae, and then translated into implementing regulation by the Order of the Greenwood, for implementation in each individual Domain of the Fae through local enabling legislation.

  34. David Marjanović says:

    a good singular noun

    In Austria the colors are used for this (Schwarzer “member of the conservative party”); in addition, there’s SPÖler, ÖVPler, FPÖler with a suffix extracted from some other compound.

    I wonder if a member of the NEOS is a NEO. The name is not an abbreviation, is always treated as plural, and is often spelled in normal capitalization.

  35. Jen in Edinburgh says:

    One thing I have found out this morning is that ‘Unionist’ in the Tory sense means not ‘opposed to Scottish indepedence’ but ‘opposed to Irish Home Rule’.

  36. AJP Crown says:

    Ajay, the Conservative party started when Robert Peel wrote the Tamworth Manifesto, after the 1832 Reform Act. Before that, they were Tories (likewise, Whigs became Liberals a couple of decades later). The Whig view of history comes from Macaulay, who was a whig historian; it wasn’t seen as negative and isn’t inherently negative now, just more old-fashioned.

  37. David Eddyshaw says:

    The singular term for a Labour member is “good guy”, or in some cases “fine upstanding woman.” (The individual member’s choice is definitive, of course.)

    Modern Tories do indeed think that “Tory” is pejorative (they’ve never been keen on real history.) There was a whingeing microcampaign by some of them a year or so back about this very thing: the wicked Media, dominated by evil Socialists as they are, were using the term in order to spread disaffection among the loyal Populace, one gathered.

    My own feeling is that this is a matter of linguistic contamination by collocation, just as the innocent adjective “senile” (“pertaining to old people”) is irrevocably tainted by its association with “dementia”* so with “Tory greed”, “”Tory hypocrisy”, “Tory heartlessness”, “Tory cuts” and so forth.

    *When I were a lad there was an eye disease called “Senile Macular Degeneration”, but it has long since been rebaptised.

  38. Have I got it backwards then? I thought it was Hume’s History that was Whiggish, and Macauley’s was a Tory re-envisioning of the approximate same era.

  39. The Whig view of history comes from Macaulay, who was a whig historian; it wasn’t seen as negative and isn’t inherently negative now, just more old-fashioned.

    I’m not sure what you mean by “inherently negative now,” but it’s certainly not positive, and hasn’t been for a couple of generations — if a reviewer says a new book manifests a Whig view of history, I guarantee you it’s not a compliment. The idea that history is a record of endless progress, ever onward and upward, has long been seen for the idiocy it is.

  40. David Marjanović says:

    There was a whingeing microcampaign by some of them a year or so back about this very thing: the wicked Media, dominated by evil Socialists as they are, were using the term in order to spread disaffection among the loyal Populace, one gathered.

    That surprises me. This famous video doesn’t use that word once.

  41. AJP Crown says:

    Phil Jennings Have I got it backwards then?
    Maybe a little bit. None of these things fit into easy categories and for Hume, it depends which Whigs you’re talking about, 17th or 18thC. For Macaulay, Macaulay & the Whig tradition.

    Language I’m not sure what you mean by “inherently negative now,”
    The Whig view of history would be examined by historians of the 17-18C Whigs (the British Whigs) and Tories in a different light to some book review that’s really about “the march of progress”, is what I mean. There’s a lot more to Macaulay and the rest than that.

    ‘Unionist’ in the Tory sense means not ‘opposed to Scottish independence’ but ‘opposed to Irish Home Rule’
    It was clearer back at the dawn of time (say up until about Bloody Sunday 1972), when the Ulster Unionists were the one and only political party of the Prods and basically the Northern-Irish arm of the Conservative party.

  42. When the representatives from the British labor movement were elected primarily as Liberals (before Labour took over from the Liberals as one of the two major parties), they were known as “liblabs.”

    Separately: The Battle of Kings Mountain was a battle fought late in the American Revolution, which was notable for being fought entirely between militia irregulars. This led to an unusual bit of terminology. Calling Americans loyalists opposed to independence “tories” was well established by this point. (At the time, there was not an active Tory party in Britain, and prior to the war, the word tory was basically only as an epithet used to describe reactionaries.) So, since the Whigs in Britain had been the traditional political enemies of the Tories, the patriot militia called themselves “Whigs.” However, I don’t know whether this terminology was actually used (but little remarked upon) in describing sourthern patriot militias before the battle, or whether it was a spontaneous development in the lead-up to Kings Mountain.

  43. AJP Crown says:

    When I were a lad there was an eye disease called “Senile Macular Degeneration”

    I never liked “Juvenile Diabetes,” myself. As if it was a silly, unsophisticated illness.

  44. J.W. Brewer says:

    1. “Tory/ies” has been used at least in prior decades in Canadian English as a reasonably neutral (best as I can tell) nickname for the center-right party at least back when it was the “Progressive Conservatives.” Whether the nickname has survived the various factional realignments and reconfigurations to the right of the Grits (as the Canadian Liberal Party’s officeholders and/or electoral supporters are for some reason sometimes known) is not clear to me. I can’t quickly google up confirmation of this, but I have a reasonably clear memory that as of the 1970’s the English-language press in Japan would sometimes use “Tory/ies” as an alternative nickname for the center-right Liberal Democratic Party.

    2. I think I may have an ancestor who was killed at the Battle of Kings Mountain or some similar local affray in the same area (where everyone on both sides was local) and the sources I’ve seen are a bit vague as to which side he was fighting on – which *may* support a sort of Gricean inference that he was fighting on the “wrong” side, but who knows. That particular branch of the family tree moved northwest from North Carolina into Ohio long before the next opportunity (in 1861) to fight on the wrong side arose.

    3. On some recent thread either here or at the Log I mentioned the awesome Yeats lines “Whence came our thought? From four great minds that hated Whiggery . . . [objection interposed re Burke having been a Whig] . . . Whether they knew it or not.” I don’t know whether the noun “Whiggery” was always pejorative (although Yeats certainly means it as such), with self-identified Whigs preferring Whigdom or Whiggishness or Whiggitude or something like that.

  45. J.W. Brewer says:

    To partially address my own prior question #3, a quick skim of pre-1900 uses of “Whiggery” in the google books corpus suggests that they are typically (maybe not invariably, I didn’t dig deep enough) pejorative, and there’s an interesting note in Bartlett’s 1860 “Dictionary of Americanisms” specifically saying that the word is *not* pejorative in the U.S., thus implying it was in the U.K. Bartlett was publishing shortly after the demise of the (U.S.) Whig Party, however, and as time went on the non-pejorative American use may have fallen into desuetude.

  46. Jen in Edinburgh says:

    Yes, it makes sense when I think about it. Sort of.

    The Scottish Unionists go back a bit further than I realised – I thought the name was more or less contemporary with the nationalist stirrings of the 1920s

  47. AJP Crown says:

    a bit further than I realised

    The origins of the Scottish Unionist Party lie in the 1886 split of the Liberal Party and the emergence of the Liberal Unionists under Joseph Chamberlain. The Union in question was the 1800 Irish Union, not that of 1707. Before this, the Tory party in Scotland had never achieved parity with the dominant Whig and Scottish Liberal ascendancy since the election reforms of 1832.

    Wow, yes, I see what you mean. Yes, me too, no idea. So it was happening at the same time and perhaps as a reaction to Parnell’s Irish Home Rule bills. It’s interesting that Scotland has used Unionist and Socialist over Conservative and Labour to avoid the baggage of the English names and always interesting that the tories have no base voters in Scotland.

  48. Jen in Edinburgh says:

    They’re the Scottish Conservative and Unionist Party now, I think. Interestingly, also Pàrtaidh Tòraidheach na h-Alba.

    And Scottish Labour. One of them is part of the larger UK party and one isn’t, but I can’t remember which is which.

    (Things being Different In Scotland has been a theme of the past few days. Separate Gold Stick and Silver Stick. Glasites and Sandemanians. But I had it in my mind before that, and there have been others.)

  49. David Eddyshaw says:

    All three remaining members of Scottish Labour are part of the UK party.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Scottish_Labour

  50. John Cowan says:

    In the 19C the U.S. Democratic Party was often called the Democracy by their members.

  51. Jen in Edinburgh says:

    There must be a few more of them than that, they’re a Shadow Cabinet!

    (I can’t decide whether Her Majesty’s Most Loyal Opposition belongs on ajay’s list or not.)

  52. David Eddyshaw says:

    There must be a few more of them than that, they’re a Shadow Cabinet!

    There’s a lot of multitasking.

  53. David Marjanović says:

    Pàrtaidh Tòraidheach na h-Alba

    I consider my day saved.

  54. Lars Mathiesen says:

    But note that although Scottish Labour is not the second-largest party in the Scottish Parliament they still arrogate to themselves the name of Shadow Cabinet. Pride goeth before destruction, and an haughty spirit before a fall.

    The idea really works best in a de-facto two-party system. We had one here before last year’s election because the only realistic alternative to the sitting conservative/liberal (right wing, blue block) government was one led by the Social Democrats and they more or less had their list of ministers ready. The red block is in power now, but the opposition has fractured and is not able to muster a credible governing coalition even if they could roll back the electoral shift — so ministers apparent or presumptive cannot be named on that side.

    (Normally we are so far from a two-part system that even the prime minister’s party maintains a list of ordførerskaber, roles given to MPs who will represent the party in parliamentary debates on specific subjects while the relevant minister is occupied with something else, presumably more useful. As DE said, lots of multitasking in the smaller groups).

  55. David Marjanović says:

    and an haughty spirit before a fall

    A naughty spirit, on the other hand, often goes so long before a fall that the causation may be questioned…

  56. John Cowan says:

    Pàrtaidh Tòraidheach na h-Alba.

    Which (allowing for spelling reforms and the angle of the accent mark) could be read as the Pursuit Party of Scotland; cf. the Pursuit of Diarmuid and Gráinne. The OED2 defines tory as ‘in the 17th cent., one of the dispossessed Irish, who became outlaws, subsisting by plundering and killing the English settlers and soldiers; a bog-trotter, a rapparee; later, often applied to any Irish Papist or Royalist [Jacobite, I suppose?] in arms’ and labels it “Obs. exc. Hist.” In ScG, however, the Classical Irish form tóraigheachd has been syncopated to tòrachd in the sense ‘pursuit’, so no confusion would arise there.

    A naughty spirit, on the other hand

    Here’s a bit of the First Folio of Julius Caesar 1:1, where Flavius and Marullus (spelled Murellus here) are interrogating citizens to find out, among other things, their occupations:

    Mur. […] You sir, what Trade are you?

    Cobl. Truely Sir, in respect of a fine Workman, I am but as you would say, a Cobler [bungler].

    Mur. But what Trade art thou? Answer me directly.

    Cob. A Trade Sir, that I hope I may vse, with a safe Conscience, which is indeed Sir, a Mender of bad soules [soles].

    Fla. What Trade thou knaue? Thou naughty knaue, what Trade?

    Cobl. Nay I beseech you Sir, be not out [angry] with me: yet if you be out [have holes in your shoes] Sir, I can mend you.

    Mur. What mean’st thou by that? Mend mee, thou sawcy Fellow?

    Cob. Why sir, Cobble you.

    Fla. Thou art a Cobler, art thou?

    Cob. Truly sir, all that I liue by, is with the Aule [ouch!]: I meddle with no Tradesmans matters [politics], nor womens matters; but withal I am indeed Sir, a Surgeon to old shooes: when they are in great danger, I recouer [re-cover] them. As proper [elegant] men as euer trod vpon Neats [bovine’s] Leather, haue gone vpon my handy-worke.

    Fla. But wherefore art not in thy Shop to day?
    Why do’st thou leade these men about the streets?

    Cob. Truly sir, to weare out their shooes, to get my selfe into more worke. But indeede sir, we make Holyday to see Caesar, and to reioyce in his Triumph.

    (F1 does not use periods at the ends of speeches normally, but I have supplied them here.)

  57. Again reminded of how odd it is that “neat”, meaning a cow, has fallen so completely out of use so quickly. No one needed to gloss it in 1810; no one used it in 1910; no one knows what it means now.

  58. @ajay: Neat was one of the words that William Morris used in the 1890s, in The Wood Beyond the World and The Well at the World’s End (and perhaps elsewhere), in what seemed like a deliberate attempt to sound archaic. (I just searched the texts of those two novels, and it turns out that he did not actually use the words as often as I had thought, but it appears a fair number of times in each book.) The situation with neat seems similar to the way Morris uses chapman and the related chaffer. It feels as if he picked a relatively small number of old-fashioned words and then overused them, rather than developing a broader and more mixed old-fashioned vocabulary. (This problem is, of course, hardly unique to Morris. Another example that immediately springs to mind is The Night Land, by William Hope Hodgson, from 1912. Hodgson writes the entire work in mock-seventeenth-century English, frequently reusing the same archaic-sounding words and grammatical constructions.)

  59. AJP Crown says:

    Wm Morris was very close to the Pre-Raphaelites. Anything archaic-sounding in his writing must come from that mid-Victorian view of medieval (15C) art & craft and their manifesto for working with it once again. That idea pretty much lasted in England until 1914. The young Tolkien was also an admirer of the pre-Raphaelites, he founded a club at school in their honour (I forget the details) and I’ll bet CS Lewis didn’t exactly hate them. Likewise Richard Dadd and The fairy feller’s master-stroke and later illustrators like Kate Greenaway and Arthur Rackham; they were all into this medieval fairy stuff in England. (Meanwhile in France during the same period, say 1860s-1914, you’ve got Impressionism, Post-Impressionism, Analytical Cubism, Fauvism and early Duchamp.)

  60. J.W. Brewer says:

    To Brett’s point, are there novels out there written in a deliberately archaic style that are actually good at it? (Or at least so good at it that you need to be a serious specialist in the relevant earlier period to spot the slip-ups?) Two mid-late 20th century novels written in an 18th century prose style that come to my mind w/o thinking too hard are Barth’s The Sotweed Factor and Jong’s Fanny, neither of which I have gone back to in decades. But I’m sure there must be others. And obviously the gap between a “modern” prose style and a reign-of-George-II style is not quite as wide as that between a “modern” style and a reign-of-Eliz-I style, so maybe that affects how easy it is to pull off?

  61. John Cowan says:

    I think Tolkien’s intellectual contacts with the PRB were mostly through Morris. It is dead obvious that Tolkien started out by trying to write like Morris, and I’m told by those who seem to understand the criticism of painting (pretty much a closed subject to me) that Tolkien’s paintings and even his maps are Morris-influenced. Alan Lee, who illustrated the books and did the concept art for the Middle-earth sextuplet of movies, names Arthur Rackham and Edmund Dulac as strong influences, but also the PRB.

    Tolkien’s TCBS (Tea Club and Barrovian Society) was supposed to be a group of mutually supportive artists in the spirit of the PRB rather than based on the PRB’s own work. There were nine of them, all poets and other kinds of verbal artists: only Tolkien and one other (Christopher Wiseman, who trained naval officers) survived the War.

  62. PlasticPaddy says:
  63. To Brett’s point, are there novels out there written in a deliberately archaic style that are actually good at it? (Or at least so good at it that you need to be a serious specialist in the relevant earlier period to spot the slip-ups?)

    We discussed the use of archaic words here and Historical Novelese in general here and here. And in the latter thread I mentioned David I. Masson’s “A Two-Timer” (“I was standing, as it chanc’d, within the shade of a low Arch-way…”), which I should really read again.

    And ho, what have we here?

    J.W. Brewer says:
    November 5, 2011 at 8:41 pm

    Are there modern novels written in a setting-appropriate pastiche of 17th or 18th century style that actually works? I recall being impressed back in the early ’80’s with the 18th century pastiche of Erica Jong’s _Fanny_, but I haven’t gone back and reread it since and didn’t have much to compare it to at the time, so that wasn’t a very informed judgment. Maybe the Sot-Weed Factor?

  64. Some of Tolkien’s color illustrations, such as “Rivendell,” “The Hill: Hobbiton-Across-the Water,” and “Bilbo Comes the Huts of the Raft-Elves,” are very much in an Arts-and-Crafts-influence style, as are many of his sketches. As I was searching for this, I found that some of the author’s artworks have recently been rendered as tapestries—which were another popular medium of the Arts and Crafts movement.

  65. “neat”, meaning a cow, has fallen so completely out of use so quickly. …; no one knows what it means now.

    It comes up often enough in (cryptic) crossword solutions.

    And any leather-worker or leather-saddled bicycle-rider knows of ‘Neatsfoot oil’.

  66. Jen in Edinburgh says:

    Surely a leather-saddled-bicycle rider?

  67. J.W. Brewer says:

    Well, if I am no better informed than I was in 2011, at least I have not backslid?

  68. And for that you can congratulate yourself. I seem to spent half my time backsliding.

  69. Middle Earth seems much less exotic in the style of a South Shore Line “See the Indiana Dunes!” poster.

  70. Surely a leather-saddled-bicycle rider?

    No, no: you apply the oil to your backside; then attach the leather saddle; then get on the bike.

    I guess leather saddles have also fallen out of use almost completely. Before the invention of padded bike shorts, touring bike riders used chamois pads (oil-soaked) slipped inside their shorts.

    “Michael Gilhaney,” said the sergeant, “is an example of a man that is nearly banjaxed from the principle of the atomic theory.
    Would it astonish you to hear that he is nearly half a bicycle?”

    [Flann O’Brien, The Third Policeman ]

  71. John Cowan says:

    What I remember irritating me about Fanny was the excessive Consistency in capitalizing every Noun and no Words of other syntactic Types, however Important in the Sentence. English is not German.

    Would it astonish you to hear that he is nearly half a bicycle?

    It would not.

  72. It would surprise me unconditionally.

  73. John Cowan says:

    The Plain People of Ireland: Isn’t the German very like the Irish? Very guttural and so on?

    Myself: Yes.

    The Plain People of Ireland: People say that the German language and the Irish language is very guttural tongues.

    Myself: Yes.

    The Plain People of Ireland: The sounds is all guttural do you understand.

    Myself. Yes.

    The Plain People of Ireland: Very guttural languages the pair of them the Gaelic and the German.

    I have occasionally taken the role of Myself in such conversations as this, and I never know whether I am being mocked, or the Plain Person is seeking my approval as an expert, or what.

  74. AJP Crown says:

    One clue might be that no one in the history of the world ever used the word guttural as a compliment. Perhaps in consequence (in my experience), Germans don’t consider their language to be guttural they merely make the joke about Schmetterling being an uglier word than papillon. Someone could have told Brian that it’s supposed to be called Irish, not Gaelic [braces for corrections].

  75. PlasticPaddy says:

    @ajp
    I personally think Schmetterling is just as mellifluous as papillon, and the latter is capable of producing more spit. Perhaps the onset is too close for German speakers to schmäh- , schmier- and Schmalz, giving the word a vituperative or oleaginous association and is “ugly” for speakers of languages without initial shm. The kerry accent has palatalised s in front of m and can sometimes have an oleaginous feel, although I think this has more to do with pitch and timbre.

  76. David Marjanović says:

    Perhaps the onset is too close for German speakers to

    No, no, the trick is that zerschmettern means “smash into small fragments”, giving the poor butterfly a bizarrely violent etymology.

    The real one is the same as that of butterfly: butterflies used to be associated with witches somehow, and witches make the milk go sour, and on the edges of Bohemia the Czech word smetana, “cream”, has been borrowed as Schmetten.

  77. AJP Crown says:

    Paddy, I personally think Schmetterling is just as mellifluous as papillon, and the latter is capable of producing more spit.

    Yes, I agree. The joke never made much sense to me except that maybe Germans thought that if foreigners considered the language of Goethe & Schiller ugly ffs, they must find Schmetterlink unglaublich.

  78. It comes up often enough in (cryptic) crossword solutions.

    And any leather-worker or leather-saddled bicycle-rider knows of ‘Neatsfoot oil’.

    Sure, but outside those groups, I would say it’s pretty much unknown – to the point where, I would guess, most L1 English speakers with pretty large vocabularies wouldn’t have a clue. (And how many users of neat’s-foot oil know?)

  79. Jen in Edinburgh says:

    I would have guessed, I think, that it was some kind of plant oil, probably because there’s a plant called coltsfoot.

  80. AJP Crown says:

    Coltsfoot: hestehov in Norwegian.

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