Q From Damian D Reese: I received this email today and I can’t find anything to disprove it yet: ‘In Scotland, a new game was invented. It was entitled Gentlemen Only Ladies Forbidden, and thus the word golf entered into the English language’. What do you say?
A That’s an excellent example of a kind of inventiveness that is very common. It seems to turn up especially often in a series of e-mail pieces that circulate eternally online.
Claims that word origins are acronyms are almost always spurious (other well-known examples are said — incorrectly — to be derived from the initial letters of “Constable On Patrol”, “For Unlawful Carnal Knowledge”, “Port Out, Starboard Home”, and “To Insure Promptness”). In fact, there’s no known example of a word being generated as a acronym before the beginning of the twentieth century (and they were rare until the inter-war years).
It’s easy to refute such suggestions by a look at a dictionary, though in this case the process may not enlighten you much, since the true origin of golf is unknown. There is a Scots word gowf for a blow or slap, but the experts think this probably comes from the game, rather than being its source. The name of the game may be related to a Dutch word kolf for a club or bat.
Search World Wide Words
Recently added or updated
Gibberish; You snowing me?; Chi-ike; Salop; Hairy eyeballs; Broom-squire; Latrinalia; Charon; True blue; Nakation; Hands off?; Who coined forecast?; Vigintillion; Hingle; Bookaneer; Pig sick; Adimpleate; Deodand; Ilk; Fowler’s Modern English Usage; Skint; Vellichor; Galoot; Crizzling; Caparisoned.
Support World Wide Words!
Donate via PayPal. Select your currency from the list and click Donate.
Buy from Amazon and get me a small commission at no cost to you. Select your preferred site and click Go!