Hunting and weapons
Posted: 26 July 2007 11:57 AM   [ Ignore ]
Rank
Total Posts:  4
Joined  2007-07-26

I’m in the midst of a debate with someone over whether or not the term “weapon” applies to hunting, to cover items such as rifles, bows, arrows, etc. used to take game animals.  The two objections being raised are that “weapon” implies combat or warfare, and thus is not applicable to a device used to injure or kill in any non-military context.  The other objection is that the word “hunting” just means to search for or chase something, and doesn’t have anything to do with injury or killing.  Since the ONLY reference the other party in the debate will accept is the OED (which references an 1880 Enc. Brit. phrase “sporting and military weapons") it’s kind of hard to prove, since I think nothing short of the phrase “hunting weapon” appearing in the OED 3 will actually convince him… Anyway, thoughts on this, for either side, are welcome.

On another track, I’ve been digging through the 1911 Britannica and Chamber’s 1728 Cyclopaedia looking into the subjects of arms (the more common synonym for “offensive weapon") and hunting, and I’ve found a few oddities that bear some more research, but I’m short on resources.

First, it appears that the word “sport” may have been synonymous with recreational hunting some time ago; can anyone provide any evidence that relates to this?  There is no article for “sport” in the 1911 EB or the 1728 Cyclopaedia, and I don’t know of any handy century old dictionaries I can use for reference--nor do I have ready access to the OED.

Second, the 1728 Cyclopaedia states “In Its general sense Hunting includes the Pursuit of both hairy and feather’d Game; but in its more proper and restraine’d Significance, it is only applicable to the Beasts of Venery and Chace.” One other reference I recall seeing mentioned “venery”, but it wasn’t until I looked up the definition for that in the Compact OED that I began to wonder about that.  The COED defines “venery” as “noun archaic sexual indulgence.  — ORIGIN Latin veneria, from venus ‘sexual love’.” Now, either they’re missing a sense of the word, or there’s some serious suppression of historical records of hunting going on…

--scot

Profile
 
 
Posted: 26 July 2007 01:44 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 1 ]
RankRankRankRankRank
Total Posts:  3539
Joined  2007-01-29

On the last point, they’re using the older word venery “The practice or sport of hunting beasts of game; the chase.” It’s from Latin venari ‘to hunt,’ so it’s unrelated to the word you looked up.

Profile
 
 
Posted: 26 July 2007 01:58 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 2 ]
RankRankRank
Total Posts:  158
Joined  2007-02-14

The OED is a good tool.  However, if it is the only source that the other side will accept to resolve a dispute—that doesn’t permit much of a discussion.  It sounds as if your friend is more interested in winning the argument than in getting at the truth.

For me the word “weapon” is used in two ways.  One is based strictly on use.  For example, one’s bare hands or feet can be weapons if used to intentionally inflict injury on another person—but bare hands or feet are not typically weapons.

Weapon is also used to designate items that are principally used as weapons—whether or not they are actually used for that purpose.  For example, a spear is a weapon whether or not it is used in battle.  If you hang a spear on your mantle or use a spear for hunting, that doesn’t change its status as a weapon. 

I also think that the meaning of the word—while principally referring to tools of war—has extended itself to hunting.  So a tool exclusively used for hunting animals—say a snare for catching rabbits or a birding rifle—may be called a weapon or a “hunting weapon”.

Profile
 
 
Posted: 26 July 2007 02:24 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 3 ]
Rank
Total Posts:  4
Joined  2007-07-26

I did have a friend who has OED access send me links to both definitions of “venery”; it looks like the variant that came via Middle English means “hunting” (uses back to the 1300s), while the later use comes from the Latin root “venus”.

My personal use has always been to restrict “weapon” to items that are intended or used to injure or kill; a bullseye target pistol would not be a weapon, while a hunting rifle or a pistol carried for self defense would be.  I did find a Google tool I hadn’t encountered before, that does a book search (books.google.com).  That turned up various uses of “hunting weapon” in histories and anthropological works back more than a century and a half, including a 1974 Encyclopedia Britannica article; since the OED quotes EB, that certainly appears to carry equal weight.

--scot

Profile
 
 
Posted: 26 July 2007 03:10 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 4 ]
Administrator
Avatar
RankRankRankRankRank
Total Posts:  4812
Joined  2007-01-03

I concur with my brother about weapon.

The other objection is that the word “hunting” just means to search for or chase something, and doesn’t have anything to do with injury or killing.

Not at all. The oldest uses of hunt documented in the OED are in reference to game. The killing of the animals is most definitely part of it. The definition of the second sense reads: “to pursue (wild animals or game) for the purpose of catching or killing.”

First, it appears that the word “sport” may have been synonymous with recreational hunting some time ago; can anyone provide any evidence that relates to this?

Yes, it’s true. The oldest sense of sport in the OED is a pleasant pastime or diversion, dating to the mid-15th century. The more specific sense meaning hunting appears in the mid-17th century.

Profile
 
 
Posted: 26 July 2007 05:53 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 5 ]
Avatar
RankRankRankRankRank
Total Posts:  2863
Joined  2007-01-31

“weapon” implies combat or warfare, and thus is not applicable to a device used to injure or kill in any non-military context.

So the concepts of “carrying a concealed weapon” or “assault with a deadly weapon” are effectively nullified: a hoodlum who carries a gun in his jacket and uses it to shoot someone has not carried or used a weapon, since the context is non-military.

Why waste your time arguing with such a fugghead?

BTW, the Compact OED is available free online and has entries for both senses of venery.

[ Edited: 26 July 2007 07:42 PM by Dr. Techie ]
Profile
 
 
Posted: 26 July 2007 09:18 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 6 ]
Avatar
RankRankRankRank
Total Posts:  710
Joined  2007-02-07

This “debate” is nonsense.

The two objections being raised are that “weapon” implies combat or warfare

So what?

weapon

• noun 1 a thing designed or used for inflicting bodily harm or physical damage.

Nothing about combat or warfare. If you believe it “implies” combat or warfare, that’s fine, but you’re arguing about a definition that you’ve made up. Are you going to tell me that shooting an arrow into a deer doesn’t inflict bodily harm to the deer?

The other objection is that the word “hunting” just means to search for or chase something, and doesn’t have anything to do with injury or killing.

hunt

• verb 1 pursue and kill (a wild animal) for sport or food.

Did either of you bother to look in a dictionary?

a bullseye target pistol would not be a weapon

Until I shoot you with it.

A weapon is ANYTHING used as one. Smack your friend upside the head with a cast iron frying pan and tell him that you were just making lunch since a frying pan is designed for cooking.

Profile
 
 
Posted: 27 July 2007 12:17 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 7 ]
Avatar
RankRankRankRank
Total Posts:  2032
Joined  2007-02-19

Why waste your time arguing with such a fugghead?

I agree wholeheartedly with Dr. T. You are interested in words; the person with whom you are having this argument, appears only interested in gaining some kind of ascendancy over you.  --- Drop him/her and come and join us. Of course, if you’re married to him/her, drastic measures may be called for ;-). As to what to do with the body --- one tasteful solution is proposed in Lord Dunsany’s short story “The Two Bottles of Relish”. {The diet might grow boring after a few weeks).

;-) ;-) ;-)

You sound as though you are hard up for sources.  The Internet makes that hardship unnecessary.  It’s got everything --- including the OED, which, if you live in the UK, you can access free (on-line) through your public library. That’s what our fortunate British colleagues do. Those of us in outer darkness make do with sites like this:

http://www.onelook.com/

The world Wide Web is chock full of ‘em. get out there.

Profile
 
 
Posted: 27 July 2007 02:08 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 8 ]
RankRankRank
Total Posts:  362
Joined  2007-03-05

Having had a quick google I note that the British standard term (ie: used in police reports etc.) is always ‘offensive weapon’ - on a quiet and boring day I may be moved to wander into my local police station and ask them to define an ‘inoffensive weapon’ for me . . . !

Profile
 
 
Posted: 27 July 2007 02:16 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 9 ]
RankRankRankRank
Total Posts:  845
Joined  2007-03-01

Offensive weapon” is the legal term used, defined in law as “any article made or adapted for use to causing injury to the person, or intended by the person having it with him for such use” (http://cps.gov.uk/legal/section12/chapter_c.html) precisely because “weapon” alone would not imply that the article was for that purpose. There are also hunting weapons (try Googling the phrase) and defensive weapons, which would not be illegal under the Prevention of Crime Act.

Profile
 
 
Posted: 27 July 2007 02:51 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 10 ]
Avatar
RankRankRankRank
Total Posts:  1197
Joined  2007-02-14

And even if there weren’t hunting weapons and defensive weapons there’s this discussion of the nature of modification, intersective vs. appositive, in Language Log.

Profile
 
 
Posted: 27 July 2007 08:57 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 11 ]
RankRankRank
Total Posts:  362
Joined  2007-03-05

And how does one employ a defensive weapon except offensively?

Profile
 
 
Posted: 27 July 2007 02:25 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 12 ]
Administrator
Avatar
RankRankRankRankRank
Total Posts:  4812
Joined  2007-01-03

And how does one employ a defensive weapon except offensively?

The web site cited by Syntinen Laulu contains the following:

‘Offensive weapon’ is defined as any article made or adapted for use to causing injury to the person, or intended by the person having it with him for such use. The courts have been reluctant to find many weapons as falling within the first limb of the definition and reliance should usually be placed upon the second. On that basis it must be shown that the defendant intended to use the article for causing injury.

Lord Lane, CJ, in R v Simpson (C), 78 Cr. App. R. 115, identified three categories of offensive weapons: those made for causing injury to the person, i.e. offensive per se; those adapted for such a purpose; and those not so made or adapted, but carried with the intention of causing injury to the person.

In the first two categories, the prosecution do not have to prove that the defendant had the weapon with him for the purpose of inflicting injury: if the jury are sure that the weapon is offensive per se, the defendant will only be acquitted if he establishes lawful authority or reasonable excuse.

From this, I would conclude that a handgun or military assault rifle would be “offensive per se.” A knife, hunting firearm, or cast-iron skillet would not be “offensive per se,” but could be deemed “offensive” if used to attack someone else. Employing a knife, hunting firearm, or skillet against someone who is attacking you would be a defensive use.

Profile
 
 
Posted: 29 July 2007 01:33 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 13 ]
RankRankRank
Total Posts:  158
Joined  2007-02-14

"Defensive weapon” is not a concept that I am familiar with.  But perhaps mace or pepper spray would be an example.

Profile
 
 
Posted: 30 July 2007 02:09 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 14 ]
RankRankRank
Total Posts:  362
Joined  2007-03-05

In the UK it’s illegal to sell knives, knife blades, axes and razor blades to anyone under 16. The exception is a Swiss Army type knife where the blade folds as long as it is less than 3 inches long. Flick knives, butterfly knives and disguised knives are illegal for anyone in the UK no matter what age they are. Mace is also illegal here. As for lawful authority/reasonable excuse that would cover carrying - say - a set of cooking knives from one place to another, or a disassembled and packed sporting rifle. Carrying anything ‘for personal protection’ in the UK is extremely risky legally - there’ve been a number of cases of taxi drivers arguing their case for carrying such things as hammers in their cabs to protect themselves in case of violent theft of their takings. You’d need an incredible lawyer to argue for a large knife or loaded gun.

Profile
 
 
   
 
 
‹‹ why study word origins?      Carbon confusion ››