– a fire in celebration of an event, I am apt to believe this Custom was continued in memory of burning their Dead, and that from hence came the original of Bonefires. – from The Church History of Britain from the Birth of Jesus Christ, until the year MDCXLVIII (1655), by the Church of England clergyman Thomas Fuller (1608-61): Both parties in gratitude to God would in a bonefire of their generall joy, have burnt this unhappy bone of dissention cast betwixt them. The most difficult question is why a word that apparently referred to common practice (the burning of bones) emerged in a written text only at the end of the fifteenth century. Bourne served as a curate of the Parochial Chapel of All-Saints in Newcastle upon Tyne. For example, in The Martyr’d Souldier, published in 1638, the playwright Henry Shirley (died 1627) wrote: Methinks Christians make the bravest Bonefires of any people in the Vniverse.
A look at “things” behind “words” always pays off. a Bane; os, ossiculum, ossillum; osseus participium. Considering the ritualistic origin of the English noun, this fact need not bother us too much. See bone (n.) + fire (n.). What is puzzling me is burn and brand confusion. Save my name, email, and website in this browser for the next time I comment. As usual, I am aware of a few unsupportable etymologies of bonfire; they do not deserve our attention. maner of fyres. This was really written nine months ago? The meaning has softened with time; in Middle English to be full of mischief was to be miserable; to make mischief was "to result in misery.". Oxford University Press'sAcademic Insights for the Thinking World. In A Dictionary of the English Language (1755), the English lexicographer Samuel Johnson (1709-84) thus defined bonfire: [from bon, good, French, and fire.] For a change, bonfire is “a word of (fairly well-)known origin,” so don’t expect revelations. In 1715, the bookseller and antiquary John Bagford (1650?-1716) wrote: I have heard of another Custom that is practised in some Parts of Lincolnshire, where, on some peculiar Nights, they make great Fires in the publick Streets of their Towns with Bones of Oxen, Sheep, &c. which are heaped together for some time before.
From 17c. His column on word origins, The Oxford Etymologist, appears on the OUPblog each Wednesday. bonfire 1550s, from Middle English banefire (late 15c. Midsummer, StJohn or Jāņi a.k.a. The dialect of the English part is believed to be that of northern Yorkshire. Engl. However, it is always instructive to observe people beating about the bush long after it has burned up. Now will the Christian miscreants be glad. This explains why bone has the form bane; in the North, long a (the vowel like Modern Engl. ), 23 June, the summer solstice. Meaning "harm or evil considered as the work of some agent or due to some cause" is from late 15c. But the Russian for “(bon)fire” is kostyor (stress on –or), first recorded in 1216, and Russian kost’ means “bone.” Do we then have at least one good “counterpart”of bonfire? Bonfire, spelled as banefyre, first turned up in Catholicon Anglicum (1483), a late Middle English-Latin Dictionary. History and Etymology for bonfire. A more ingenious derivation of bonfire was offered in the nineteenth century by Hensleigh Wedgwood: he suggested that bone– had come from Danish bavn “beacon.” The Danish word is correct, but why should an English compound be half-English and half-Danish? One was clene bones and noo woode / & that is called a bone fyre A nother is clene wode & no bones. as "large fire from any material," But Samuel Johnson was mistaken: bonfire originally denoted a great fire in which bones were burnt in the open air. a in spa) did not become long o.
In worshyppe of saynte Iohan the people waked at home. This hybrid is as unlikely as bonfire being made up of a French adjective and an English noun. a in spa) did not become long o. The Porter mentions “the primrose way to the everlasting bonfire” (Act II, Scene 3: note that the man’s speech almost begins with the word hell-gate). Joan! – Dutch vreugdevuur.
However, the circumstances surrounding the emergence of the English compound should not be ignored. This explains the difference in the pronunciation of Christ and Christmas, holy and holiday, south and southern, and the like. Hushpuppy is an example of a hybrid English-French compound. Both authors knew that bon(e)fires ought to burn bones and punned on the two meanings of the word. It usually rains like cats and dogs. bale (not related to bale “evil” or bale “bundle”) was in use for many centuries. is made of wode and bones.
The .iii. It was, we should also agree, a native coinage, for no foreign model presents itself. bonfire (n.) 1550s, from Middle English banefire (late 15c.
A fire made for some publick cause of triumph or exultation. Oxford University Press is a department of the University of Oxford.
), "a fire in which bones are burned." Your email address will not be published. ), "a fire in which bones are burned." Welsh banffagl “lofty fire” is, most probably, a borrowing from English. The image of beating about the bush suggested the title of this post. Besides, the everyday Scandinavian cognate of fire are eld ~ ild and eld(u)r “fire”, a point rubbed in by the irritated Skeat. Lors de la Bonfire Night, les Anglais se rassemblent autour de feux de joie pour brûler des Guy Fawkes.
king’s colour)? Those interested in the long discussion of the word’s history will find numerous useful references in my Bibliography of English Etymology. Ringing with ioy their superstitious belles: Mischief Night in 19c. Some deduce it from fires of bones, relating it to the burning of martyrs. It remains only to say something about the dangers of analogy promised in the title. Belithus, a ritualist of ancient times, as Brand calls him in his Observations on Popular Antiquities, wrote of a custom known in some churches: people made fires of bones, so that the smoke might drive away the dragons. Middle English bonefire a fire of bones, from bon bone + fire and it is called saynt Iohannis fyre. In support of this etymology, bonfire in several languages is, literally, fire of joy. Noah Webster believed the same. ; as "large open-air fire for public amusement or celebration," from late 15c.
Image credits: (1) Catholicon Anglicum via Medievalists.net. The writer glossed (translated) the compound as ignis ossium, literally “(the) fire of bones.” In and of itself, this fact is not of decisive importance, for the medieval lexicographer might be seduced by so-called folk etymology. Yet the important thing is not his office but the fact that bones, as he explained, were burned during the Vigil of St. Joan. For example: – French feu de joie More modern researchers expressed doubts about the origin of bonfire, jumped at conclusions, and fought one another, as is their wont.
– a great blazing fire made for amusement. ; Feu de jardin. In The festyuall, a collection of homilies for the festivals of the liturgical year, the Augustinian Canon Regular John Mirk (floruit 1403?) John Minsheu, our earliest etymologist (1617), traced bonfire to Dutch but connected it with bone. The memory of the original sense was retained longer in Scotland with the spelling banefyre , bane being a spelling of bone which was long common in Scotland. The useful Middle English verb mischieve (early 14c. Stephen Skinner (1671) came to the conclusion that bonfire meant “good fire,” and Samuel Johnson followed him (French bon “good”). Wow. Bale-fyre may have given an impetus to the emergence of bane–fyre, a word of which we have no record before 1483, but this scenario, though proposed in the past, is unlikely. Required fields are marked *. The dogmatic formulation given in modern dictionaries (bonfire, from bone and fire, because bones were used as fuel) must be correct, but it does not do justice to the word’s history, and one understands Henry Cecil Wyld’s cautious statement: “Perhaps from bone; said to be so called because bones were formerly chief materials used.” Bones were never used as “chief materials,” and the earliest bonfires are unthinkable without reference to rituals.