Saunter
Posted: 04 October 2017 07:31 AM   [ Ignore ]
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Saw this one on Facebook this weekend:

“I don’t like the word hike. I don’t like either the word or the thing. People ought to saunter in the mountains - not hike! Do you know the origin of that word ‘saunter?’ It’s a beautiful word. Away back in the Middle Ages people used to go on pilgrimages to the Holy Land, and when people in the villages through which they passed asked where they were going, they would reply, ‘A la sainte terre,’ ‘To the Holy Land.’ And so they became known as sainte-terre-ers or saunterers. Now these mountains are our Holy Land, and we ought to saunter through them reverently, not ‘hike’ through them.”

While I can admire Muir for his conservationism, I think his etymology is full of holes.

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Posted: 04 October 2017 08:17 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 1 ]
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The OED’s entry was last updated in 1910 and amounts to little more that a WAG in the etymology department.

The current suggestion that the word is < Anglo-Norman sauntrer (= s’auntrer ), to venture oneself, is unlikely (apart from difficulties of meaning) on the ground that the Anglo-Norman word, of which only one instance has been found (1338 in Yearbks. Trinity 12 Edw. III, p. 619) is apparently an adoption of Middle English auntre to adventure v., and possibly a mere nonce-word; the conjecture that it represents a medieval Latin type *exadventūrāre is phonologically inadmissible.

M-W has no etymological guess whatever.

AHD has this

[Probably from Middle English santren, to muse.]

which the OED (again 1910) notes that the “muse” meaning is probably not related to the modern word.

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Posted: 04 October 2017 10:00 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 2 ]
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Discussed at LH in 2004, with no improvement on the traditional incorrect etymologies.

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Posted: 04 October 2017 11:14 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 3 ]
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This from Online Etymology Dictionary (don’t know how accurate it is):

saunter (n.)
“a leisurely stroll,” 1828, from saunter (v.). Earlier it meant “idle occupation, diversion” (1728).
saunter (v.)
late 15c., santren “to muse, be in reverie,” of uncertain origin despite many absurd speculations. Meaning “walk with a leisurely gait” is from 1660s, and may be a different word. Klein suggests this sense of the word derives via Anglo-French sauntrer (mid-14c.) from French s’aventurer “to take risks,” but OED finds this “unlikely.” Related: Sauntered; sauntering.

http://www.etymonline.com/index.php?allowed_in_frame=0&search=saunter

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Posted: 04 October 2017 11:21 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 4 ]
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It’s interesting to see how many people, otherwise sane, intelligent, literate, and reasonably logical, will go to enormous lengths, torturing words and whole phrases, to justify phony etymologies such as that sainte-terre nonsense.  It strikes me that for most of us, a common-sense approach to intellectual questions is very difficult to acquire and maintain, and very easy to lose.

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