Thursday, April 30, 2020

Language of Confusion: Lure

Kind of a short one this week. Sometimes word origins are very self-contained. But no less weird.

Lure showed up in the early fourteenth century, and get this, it was originally a name for a device used to recall a hawk—like in falconry. The word comes from the Anglo French lure, the Old French loirre, and the Frankish lothr, which in turn comes from the Proto Germanic lothran, to call. So because a lure was used to call hawks, the word migrated (ha!) into general use.

There’s also allure, which does indeed come from the same place. It showed up in the fifteenth century, from the Anglo French allurer and Old French aleurer, meaning specifically to attract/train a falcon to hunt. The word is made up of the prefix ad-, to, and of course loirre. To call (a falcon) to. Allure.

I have to say, this is a pretty good example of verbing a word. People were so into falcon hunting, that their word for calling them became a word for attracting things in general. Hell, these days, when you say a lure, you’re a lot more likely to think of fishing than birds. Hey, fishing. Another example of a word that can often be used with nothing to do with its original meaning.

Now to think of what to post for next week…

No, it’s not going to be fish. That seems a tad too obvious.



  1. Do fish! I bet some of their names have other meanings, like the grouper and flounder.

  2. Quarantine? I did send you that link to the random word generator, didn't I? That would make it easier. It'll pick a word at random for you.

  3. I think you'd find a wealth of interesting things in fish names. I mean, where the heck did a word like barracuda or tuna come from?


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