Roll Out the Barrow

“I’ll make it worth your while,” C.J. said. “Trust me.”

I couldn’t see his eyes through those shades. A warning box popped up on my mental computer screen: “Unverified data; downloading may damage your files. If you trust the source, click OK.” I gulped. “OK,” I said. “The Boss Lady never said any of her requests were confidential.”

“Good. You’ll be glad you agreed.” I hoped so. “What were you saying about barrow? What does that have to do with burgers?”

“Nothing. And I wasn’t talking about barrow as in wheelbarrow, but an obsolete word for a mountain or hill that comes from the Germanic term for mountain, berg. You can still find that barrow in local names for hills in England, like Cadon Barrow in Cornwall.”

“So what does the barrow in wheelbarrow mean?”

“Well, there was a Middle English word barewe, which probably comes from a Germanic word barwôn- , a derivative of ber-an ‘to bear [a load].’ It meant a stretcher or bier.”

“Too bad they don’t serve beer here. I could go for a cold Burgie. I know; don’t tell me: Burgermeister has got to mean something like town-master or mayor.”


This entry was posted in English language, etymology and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s