martinet
Posted: 11 October 2007 10:38 AM   [ Ignore ]
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Jean Martinet (c. 1779), a French army officer, is apparently the inspiration for this word.  Does anyone know more about who he is and how he achieved such a sad state of immortality?

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Posted: 11 October 2007 11:01 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 1 ]
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It’s an interesting question.  It could be from Martinet the man who was a drillmaster and perhaps a stickler for and enforcer of rules, or it could be from a type of whip “(in French probably derived from marteau)” from wiki.

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Posted: 11 October 2007 11:07 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 2 ]
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The OED (draft revision, 2000) comes down unambiguously for Jean Martinet as the origin.  The date given in the OED and wikipedia is rather different from Jim Wilton’s; both say that he died in 1672.

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Posted: 11 October 2007 10:38 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 3 ]
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All you need know about Jean Martinet.

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Posted: 13 October 2007 10:18 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 4 ]
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Eliza’s article also says that Martinet invented the bayonet for use in warfare and gives its etymology.

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Posted: 13 October 2007 10:55 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 5 ]
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I wouldn’t take everything2.com as an authority.  OED:

a. F. baïonnette, in Cotgr. bayonnette, of uncertain origin. Diez, Littré, Scheler, favour the usual derivation from the name of the city Bayonne, the weapon being supposed to have been either first made or first used there; the former notion is strengthened by a statement of Des Accords (a1583) that people spoke of bayonnettes de Bayonne ‘Bayonne bayonets,’ as of ‘Toulouse scissors,’ etc. But it is possible that the word may be a dim. of OF. bayon, baion ‘arrow or shaft of a cross-bow,’ from which Cotgr. still has bayonnier ‘an old word’ = arbalestier: the Sp. bayona sheath, and It. bajonetta ‘little joker’ (a possible appellation for a dagger), have also been suggested as the source.

I would call the Bayonne derivation likely but unproven.

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Posted: 14 October 2007 08:23 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 6 ]
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Eliza’s link also mentions ‘Colbert’, well-known in these parts of the world for inventing the double breasted jacket. Well, he got it named after him anyway…

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Posted: 15 October 2007 09:27 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 7 ]
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The actual origin of “bayonet” may be in question, but additionally Martinet’s invention of the contraption is also doubtful.  The word is cited from 1572 (as an attachment for a musket) and therefore predates him.

Oddly, Jean Martinet’s name has been adopted into english (for the disciplinarian meaning), but not into french.  Is this just another case of picking on foreigners to use as unpleasant examples?  Does the OED have a date for the english use of martinet?

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Posted: 15 October 2007 10:13 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 8 ]
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Does the OED have a date for the english use of martinet?

Answering this question involved discovering that English has (or has had) not one but four martinets!

#1 is ‘A martin; a swift’ or ‘A student at the University of Paris not living in a college’ (1956 J. BRODRICK St Ignatius Loyola viii. 229 Among the Martinets, composed mostly of young fellows who lived by their wits, were to be found not a few elderly men).

#2 is ‘A watermill for an iron forge,’ ‘A type of small cart,’ ‘A type of siege engine used in warfare for bombarding a target with large stones,’ or ‘A type of cat-o’-nine-tails formerly used in French schools’ (1881 P. B. DU CHAILLU Land Midnight Sun II. 262, I saw.. what resembled a policeman’s club, at the end of which was a thick piece of leather, the whole reminding one of a martinet).

#3 is ‘A demon supposed to summon witches to their assemblies.’

But #4 is what we’re interested in:

  1. Mil. The system of military drill devised by Martinet. Obs.
1677 W. WYCHERLEY Plain-dealer III. 52 What, d’ye find fault with Martinet?.. ‘tis the best exercise in the World.

  2. a. Originally: a person who leads others in military drill. Later: a military or naval officer who is especially concerned with strictness of discipline; (gen.) a rigid, inflexible, or merciless disciplinarian.
1718 J. BREVAL Play is Plot II. i. 24 Machone. Make your Exercise, come—join your Left Hand to your Piece. Peter. ..A brave Martinet! 1737 London Mag. 376/1 Commodus.. was properly what we call, in modern Language, a Martinet. [...] 1812 J. WEST Loyalists 52, I wish.. you could accompany me to see actual service; you would then feel a just contempt for military martinets and parade exercise. [...] 1888 Poor Nellie 300 A true-born martinet never thinks he is at all severe. 1921 L. STRACHEY Queen Victoria i. 8 Under the influence of military training,.. at first a disciplinarian and at last a martinet. [...] 1986 R. THOMAS White Dove vii. 168 The grey, starched martinet in her office lined with bound copies of nursing journals.

  b. A person who acts with precision; an automaton. Obs. rare.
1853 E. K. KANE U.S. Grinnell Exped. 254 We had drilled with knapsack and sledge, till we were almost martinets in our evolutions on the ice.

  B. adj. (attrib. and appositive). Of an idea or trait: characteristic of a martinet. Of a person: that is a martinet.
1814 SCOTT Waverley III. v. 60 A sort of martinet attention to the minutiæ and technicalities of discipline. [...] 1980 V. S. PRITCHETT Tale Bearers 172 His martinet behaviour with his wife who leaves her clothes on the floor.

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Posted: 15 October 2007 10:31 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 9 ]
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Thanks, LH.
The whip/cat o’nine tails meaning is not cited in french until 1743.
So the origin given as Jean Martinet looks very solid indeed!

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Posted: 15 October 2007 05:09 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 10 ]
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The actual origin of “bayonet” may be in question, but additionally Martinet’s invention of the contraption is also doubtful.  The word is cited from 1572 (as an attachment for a musket) and therefore predates him.

I don’t think anyone has claimed that Martinet “invented” the bayonet. His significance was that he was the first to equip an army with the weapon. That’s well documented.

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