Posted: 10 September 2017 11:33 PM   [ Ignore ]
Total Posts:  734
Joined  2013-10-14

In Act 11 of Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night, Fabian, a servant to Olivia, says: “ Now is the woodcock near the gin.” (My italics) I looked up the word gin in the glossary section of the book; its meaning was snare.
Therefore, I followed up with OED’s etymology of the word and I found it to be an interesting origin.  It was probably borrowed from French, gin, engin. Engine.


gin, n.1

Etymology: Probably < Anglo-Norman gin, ginne (also egin ), variant (with reduction and loss of the prefix) of Anglo-Norman and Old French, Middle French engin engine n.

Compare later engine n.(Show Less)
Thesaurus »

†1. Skill, ingenuity. Also in a negative sense: cunning, craft, artifice (cf. engine n. 1a). Obs.

gin, v.2

1. trans. To catch in a trap (cf. gin n.1 4), to ensnare. Also fig. Obs.

Engine has an equally interesting history as a noun and a verb.

Engine, n.

Etymology: < Anglo-Norman engine, enginne, engynne, ingein, Anglo-Norman and Old French engign, enging, Anglo-Norman and Old French, Middle French engin, engien (French engin ) inborn talent, intelligence, or wit (12th cent. in Old French), tool, implement (12th cent. or earlier in Anglo-Norman), ruse, deceit, expedient (1119), large machine or instrument used in warfare (1165), ingenuity, skill (late 12th cent. or earlier in Anglo-Norman), magic power (late 12th cent. or earlier in Anglo-Norman), instrument of torture (early 13th cent. or earlier in Anglo-Norman), tackle (early 13th cent. or earlier in Anglo-Norman), trap, snare used in hunting (13th cent.), (of a person) natural disposition (1496), piece of machinery by which a character (especially a god) could appear suspended above the stage (1565 in the passage translated in quot. 1579 at sense 7), penis (a1600) < classical Latin ingenium natural disposition, temperament, inherent quality or character, natural inclination or desire, mental powers, natural abilities, talent, intellect, mind, cleverness, skill, ingenuity, clever device, contrivance, in post-classical Latin also trick, craft, malice (late 2nd cent. in Tertullian), means (6th cent.), trap (6th cent.), instrument (11th cent.), siege-machine (frequently from 12th cent. in British and continental sources): see ingenium n. Compare Old Occitan engenh (also engen , ingein , engien ), Spanish ingenio (1251 as engeño ), Portuguese engenho (13th cent.), Italian ingegno (a1292). Compare gin n.1
In β. forms probably originally showing alteration after classical Latin ingenium (compare ingeny n.). Variation between α. forms and β. forms occurs from Middle English through to the 16th cent. In the 17th cent. β. forms apparently only survive in branch I. (For survival of branch I. in Scots see ingine n.). From the 19th cent. onwards β. forms appear in branch II. (chiefly in U.S. regional use), probably representing a colloquial pronunciation of engine n.

a. Ingenuity, artfulness; cunning, trickery. Also with modifying word, as evil engine, false engine: evil machination, ill intention; cf. malengine n. a. Obs.

Engine, v.

Origin: Of multiple origins. Partly a borrowing from French. Partly formed within English, by conversion. Etymons: French enginnier ; engine n.
Etymology: Originally (in senses 1 and 2) < Anglo-Norman and Old French enginnier, Anglo-Norman and Old French, Middle French engignier, Anglo-Norman and Middle French
enginer, engigner (French engeigner ; now rare) to deceive, beguile (c1100 in Old French), to devise, construct (first half of the 12th cent. in Anglo-Norman), to understand, to work out (c1180 or earlier in Anglo-Norman), to plot, contrive (mid 13th cent. or earlier in Anglo-Norman) < post-classical Latin ingeniare ingeniate v. In later use either influenced by or independently < engine n. Compare Old Occitan engenhar , enginhar , Catalan enginyar (a1405), Spanish ingeniar (late 15th cent. as engeñar ), Portuguese engenhar (14th cent.), Italian ingegnare (13th cent.; now chiefly in reflexive use), all in senses ‘to deceive, beguile’, ‘to devise, contrive, design’. Compare engineer v.
In Middle English and early modern English with stress on the second syllable and rhyming w

1.  trans. To trick or deceive; to ensnare; to seduce, entice. Obs.

2. trans. To contrive, plan, design; to construct. Also: to frame or fit together by design. Obs.

Both entries were updated recently.

Posted: 11 September 2017 01:44 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 1 ]
Total Posts:  2654
Joined  2007-02-19

For some reason, the machine for separating cotton fibers from the seeds, patented by Eli Whitney in 1794, was (and so far as i know, still is) called a “cotton gin”. Is there any special reason for this? Are, or were, other pieces of machinery called “gins”, besides Whitney’s invention?

Edit: Well done, logophile. Indeed, an extremely interesting etymology!

[ Edited: 11 September 2017 01:50 AM by lionello ]
Posted: 11 September 2017 03:22 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 2 ]
Total Posts:  231
Joined  2007-02-24

Found this in Online Etymology Dictionary:

“machine for separating cotton from seeds,” 1796, American English, used earlier of other machineries, especially of war or torture, from Middle English gin “ingenious device, contrivance” (c. 1200), from Old French gin “machine, device, scheme,” shortened form of engin (see engine). The verb in this sense is recorded from 1789. Related: Ginned; ginning. Middle English had ginful “ingenious, crafty; guileful, treacherous” (c. 1300).

I would like to see some names of the “...other machineries, especially of war or torture,...”. This definition is a teaser.

[ Edited: 11 September 2017 03:33 AM by Eyehawk ]
Posted: 11 September 2017 05:29 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 3 ]
Total Posts:  1169
Joined  2007-03-01

I would like to see some names of the “...other machineries, especially of war or torture,...”. This definition is a teaser.

The OED gives as sense 2a:

An instrument of torture; spec. the rack. Cf. engine n. 4b. Obs.

c1225 (▸?c1200) St. Katherine (Royal) (1981) 904 Þis pinful gin wes of swuch wise iginnet þet te twa turnden eiðer wið oðer.
a1529 J. Skelton Magnyfycence (?1530) sig. Giiv I bequethe hym the gowte and the gyn.
1590 Spenser Faerie Queene i. v. sig. E4v Typhœus ioynts were stretched on a gin.
1592 T. Lodge Euphues Shadow (1883) 14 Trying vanitie in the gin, attyring Vertue with the garland.
1659 C. Clobery Divine Glimpses 5 Tenter up Nature to the highest pin; And rack Philosophy with quaintest gin.

Posted: 11 September 2017 07:34 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 4 ]
Total Posts:  2654
Joined  2007-02-19

Light dawns:

O Thou, who didst with Pitfall and with Gin
Beset the path I was to wander in.......

I always supposed that the Gin referred to was the insidious alcoholic beverage, however unlikely it may have been to flow freely around Naishapur. But now I see what Fitzgerald was referring to. Much more simple.

Gin: a spirituous liquor, originally produced in the Low Countries, and flavoured with juniper berries (hence the Dutch name, genever = juniper).  When I lived in England, many years ago, copious draughts of gin were used by working girls to induce an abortion, together with massive doses of Beecham’s Pills (a laxative, of which juniper extract was one of the ingredients).  Juniper extract was supposed to induce contraction of smooth muscle. The well-to-do crossed the Channel to have their abortions, and consumed their gin at home for pleasure, mixed with lime juice or Ribena.

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