Escalate
Posted: 26 June 2017 01:53 AM   [ Ignore ]
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I only just learned that the verb escalate was formed, in the 1920s, as a back-formation from escalator, which in turn was a trade name owned by the Otis Elevator Company, coined around 1900.

Obv, this is not the only verb formed from a trade name (eg Hoover) but it is the only one that looks like a normal word with a classical etymology.

(BTW, seems to me that it would have been better if the verb was Hoov ... so that the Hoover is something that Hoovs.)

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Posted: 26 June 2017 02:21 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 1 ]
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Interesting and unexpected find, OPT. Well done!

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Posted: 26 June 2017 08:07 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 2 ]
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I think the etymology comes from the word scale

OED

Etymology: < Italian scala or its source Latin scāla < prehist. *scanslā (scand- + -tlā ), < scandĕre to climb (see scan v. 7). Compare Provençal escala, Spanish escala, Portuguese escala, Old French eschiele (modern French échelle).(Show Less)
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a. A ladder; in early use, a scaling-ladder.

1412–20 Lydgate tr. Hist. Troy ii. 7962 Þay haue..Her wallis maskued, and ageyn oure skalis..made gret ordinaunce.
1426 Lydgate tr. G. de Guileville Pilgrimage Life Man 566 I sawh..ffolkys, wych dyde entende To helpe her ffrendys to ascende..By scalys throgh the strong closure.
a1572 J. Knox Hist. Reformation Scotl. in Wks. (1846) I. 452 Preparatioun of scailles and ledderis was maid for the assault.

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Posted: 27 June 2017 05:20 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 3 ]
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The verb escalade is older, dating to 1801. Meaning to climb via a ladder, especially a wall or rampart, it was never very common. The verb comes from the noun escalade, the action of climbing the walls of a fortification. The noun dates to the sixteenth century. It’s from the French, which can eventually be traced to the Latin scala, or ladder.

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Posted: 27 June 2017 01:02 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 4 ]
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Etymonline says that the word was formed from escalade and the -ator ending of elevator. Wikipedia, citing a thesis entitled “Like Blood to the Veins: Escalators, their History, and the Making of the Modern World” , refutes this. The thesis states that Otis’s Charles Seeberger’s own notes indicate he started with the Latin “scala” and built from there without reference to either escalade or elevator.

The same thesis states that Seebergerit to be pronounced with the emphasis on the second syllable, es-CAL-a-tor, which only makes me think of this fellow:

skeletor-he-man-and-the-masters-of-the-universe-1.5.jpg

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Posted: 28 June 2017 02:40 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 5 ]
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OP Tipping - 26 June 2017 01:53 AM

(BTW, seems to me that it would have been better if the verb was Hoov ... so that the Hoover is something that Hoovs.)

I would agree but I would spell it hoove.  This could lead to an interesting alternate meaning for the word behoove.

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Posted: 28 June 2017 09:04 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 6 ]
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Escalier in French is a staircase, known to me purely from Diderot’s wonderful expression (from which work I’ve forgotten) l’esprit de l’escalier, witty thoughts that come to you after you’ve left the room and are going down the back staircase. It’s been a lifelong favourite of mine as unfortunately most of my best replies have been undelivered ones of this nature.

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Posted: 30 June 2017 08:58 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 7 ]
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And as always the French are fighting a (losing) battle to keep out the word “escalateur”, brought in from English and given a French twist. Used by many and easily found on Google.fr but not in any of the main dictionaries.  The “official” term being “escalier mécanique”.

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