Parnassian

Pronounced: par-NAS-ee-uhn, adj

Notes: This word has an interesting meaning


Yesterday’s word

The word blackbird, besides the noun meaning a bird with black plumage, means (as a noun) “an indentured laborer or slave kidnapped from the South Pacific”. As a verb, it means “to engage in slave trade” or “to kidnap a person to work as an indentured laborer or slave”

First usage

Our word goes back to the mid-1300s for the bird-related definition; the other definitions came into usage in the mid-1800s.

Background / Comments

The meaning related to birds just came from birds that were black, and thus “black bird” became “blackbird”. Apparently, the indentured laborer or slave meaning arose because the term blackbird was used for someone from the South Pacific islands. In the second half of the 1800s, these people were kidnapped to work in Peru, Australia, Fiji, and other places, and thus those meanings arose. I didn’t know any of this background, so I though I’d pass it along.

Published by Richard

Christian, lover-of-knowledge, Texan, and other things.

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