See the beach for the sand…
Posted: 26 June 2007 07:24 AM   [ Ignore ]
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Apparently, beach was originally applied to the pebbles worn away by waves; in and around Sussex/Kent it’s still used that way. OED explains: “Thence the transference of the term to the place covered by ‘beach,’ was easy for those who heard such phrases as ‘to lie’ or ‘walk on the beach,’ without knowing the exact significance. The French grève shows precisely the same transference.”

Can anyone think of any other examples of words which originally meant part of the whole, and were then transferred to the whole, or vice versa?

[ Edited: 26 June 2007 08:19 AM by etymolog ]
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Posted: 26 June 2007 10:11 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 1 ]
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It seems something like synecdoche unrecognized.

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Posted: 26 June 2007 10:28 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 2 ]
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A clock was originally just the bell inside the timepiece ... and bureau, according to the OED was originally “coarse woollen stuff, baize (for covering writing-desks)”, so here we have a double transfer, first to mean the whole desk, then to mean the whole office ...

“The Federal Coarse Woollen Stuff of Investigation”, hmmm ...

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Posted: 26 June 2007 10:47 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 3 ]
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Zythophile - 26 June 2007 10:28 AM

A clock was originally just the bell inside the timepiece ... and bureau, according to the OED was originally “coarse woollen stuff, baize (for covering writing-desks)”, so here we have a double transfer, first to mean the whole desk, then to mean the whole office ...

“The Federal Coarse Woollen Stuff of Investigation”, hmmm ...

Nice finds!

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Posted: 26 June 2007 10:55 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 4 ]
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Toilet.

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Posted: 26 June 2007 11:17 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 5 ]
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Or pars pro toto or totum pro parte.

From the first link: “Inhabitants of the Netherlands who live in provinces other than North or South Holland may feel excluded when “Holland” is used to describe their country.” Need I say more…

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Posted: 29 June 2007 12:01 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 6 ]
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Found another one: mistletoe

The plant was originally called “mistel”, and “mistel-tan” meant “mistel twig”, and people confused “tan” as the plural of “ta” which means “toe”. So, the original reason for “tan” was lost, and now we have a word derived from a part of the plant being applied to the entire plant.

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Posted: 05 July 2007 03:33 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 7 ]
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Zythophile - 26 June 2007 10:28 AM

A clock was originally just the bell inside the timepiece ... and bureau, according to the OED was originally “coarse woollen stuff, baize (for covering writing-desks)”, so here we have a double transfer, first to mean the whole desk, then to mean the whole office ...

“The Federal Coarse Woollen Stuff of Investigation”, hmmm ...

So presumably ‘clock’ comes from ‘glock’?

Edit: love your avatar etymolog

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Posted: 05 July 2007 06:17 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 8 ]
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So presumably ‘clock’ comes from ‘glock’?

No, they are cognate with one another. They both come from the 8th century Latin clocca. The origin of this Latin word is uncertain. It could be a borrowing from Celtic, most likely Irish.

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Posted: 05 July 2007 06:39 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 9 ]
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I don’t think that I understand the original question.  How has the term “beach” changed?  As far as I can see, beach still refers to the sand or gravel that lies at the edge of the water.  The sand or gravel does not cover the beach—it is the beach.

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Posted: 05 July 2007 06:41 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 10 ]
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But you wouldn’t say “I’m going down to the gravel.” Beach has come to mean a place, not a substance.

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Posted: 05 July 2007 10:09 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 11 ]
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Can anyone think of any other examples of words which originally meant part of the whole, and were then transferred to the whole, or vice versa?

Bar

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Posted: 12 July 2007 03:37 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 12 ]
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Convertible? Hardtop.
Archtop (guitar).
These are synechdoches but not like “wheels” for car which is an alternative name for any car rather than for a specific type?

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