Wednesday, November 02, 2016

Boycotts, dovecots and apricots

In my course on contemplative practices yesterday we spent time looking at plans of monasteries (thank you, Bryn Mawr Art & Archeology library), ranging from an Egyptian monastery built in the 4th century and continuously occupied (and updated) until the 19th century, to a much later Carthusian charterhouse.

The questions to wrestle with included how the rule of life was supported by the architecture, but students also noted the practical sides of life which needed to be provided for.  Kitchens and infirmaries. And dovecots, to provide a ready supply of domestic pigeons.

One student joked if a dovecot was a place to keep doves, what did that make a boycott? ...and what about apricots?

So now I know that boycott is an eponym, for Charles Boycott, an Irish land agent who was shunned for his demands during the Irish Land Wars.  The tactic of refusing to use a service or good now bears his name.

And apricots get their cot from precocious, through the Latin praecocia - they ripen early.


  1. I enjoy knowing the derivation of words, both familiar and new. Interesting note about boycott, in particular. Love the image of the apricots! Doris

    1. Thanks, Doris! I enjoy knowing the sources of the words, too.

  2. Michelle, just wanted to let you know how much I enjoy your blog! Pat

  3. Made me think of this exchange:

    What makes the Hottentot so hot?

    What puts the "ape" in ape-ricot?

    Whatta they got that I ain't got?