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INFANTRY

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INFANTRY

Postby Dr. Goodword » Sat Feb 12, 2005 12:14 am

• infantry •

Pronunciation: in-fên-tri • Hear it!

Part of Speech: Noun

Meaning: The foot-soldiers in the military

Notes: I thought we needed to look at this Good Word in honor of that branch of the military that is taking the brunt of the action in Iraq and to answer that age-old question: "When was the infantry made up of infants?" (For the answer, see its history below.) If infantocracy is the rule of a baby (as do my granddaughters) and infantolatry is the worship of babies (which I am also very familiar with), then an infantry should be a collection of babies. In fact, the word has been used jocularly in this sense.

In Play: Although it is not a real meaning of the word, the use of this Good Word to refer to infants collectively is not unheard-of. The Oxford English Dictionary reports this sentence from 1863: "There was one A.B.C. book, or pretty nearly one, for the whole ‘infantry’ of the country." Today's word is best known, however, in the expression, "If all else fails, call in the infantry." They are, historically, the last line of defense.

Word History: So, you have wondered when the infantry was composed of infants. It is a good question since this Good Word should refer to a collection of babies. In fact, however, it comes from French infanterie, a word the French borrowed from Old Italian infanteria, which was a collection of infante "youth, foot soldier." The Italian word came down from Latin infans "infant", its meaning rusted a bit in the river of time. Now it really gets interesting. The Latin infans (infant- with endings) was a derivation from in- "not" + fans, the present participle of fari "to speak", i.e. "not speaking". For those of you who doubt that humans are distinguished from other species by speech, harken: even the ancestors of the Romans thought so.
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Postby Apoclima » Sat Feb 12, 2005 1:31 am

Truly fascinating, Doctor!

I love that about words, you use them and hear them, and don't always think about them much, and then, when someone points out their origins or etymology, it is quite beyond your imagination.

"Infantry!" What a journey!

Thank you!

Apo
'Experiments are the only means of knowledge at our disposal. The rest is poetry, imagination.' -Max Planck
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infant-ry well the non-coms anyway

Postby KatyBr » Sat Feb 12, 2005 3:31 am

you should see them when they get off-base, They go nutty like Infants, no restraint!

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Infantry

Postby Dr. Goodword » Sun Feb 13, 2005 11:28 am

I try to find words that tell a story about us and where we come from, how we really think, what we are currently up to. Other WotDs aim at vocabulary building--and most of our words are chosen for that, too. However, the words of a language draw a map of the people who speak them and, to use your metaphor, a journey with that map is a journey through a thousand new doors. That, to me, is the greatest value of examining words.
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Postby Apoclima » Sun Feb 13, 2005 4:12 pm

Well said, Doctor!

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'Experiments are the only means of knowledge at our disposal. The rest is poetry, imagination.' -Max Planck
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Postby M. Henri Day » Tue Feb 15, 2005 11:11 am

In addition to the obvious military terms, Swedish seems (the SAOB is careful here) to have derived «fant» («cheat», «wag», «scamp») and «fjant» («bootlicker», «fool») from the Italian word. This business of behaving badly off base must go back at the very least to the Thirty Years' War....

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revelry

Postby KatyBr » Tue Feb 15, 2005 12:17 pm

"How can we keep 'em down on the farm, after they've seen Paree!"

Do you suppose the Roman world conquers were equally silly away from home?

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Postby M. Henri Day » Tue Feb 15, 2005 1:33 pm

What's the point of being away from home if one can't be silly ?...

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Re: revelry

Postby Stargzer » Tue Feb 15, 2005 4:34 pm

KatyBr wrote:"How can we keep 'em down on the farm, after they've seen Paree!"

Do you suppose the Roman world conquers were equally silly away from home?

Katy


I guess you could ask the Sabine women . . . although that was a bit closer to home, actually. :wink:
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Postby tcward » Tue Feb 15, 2005 7:10 pm

M. Henri Day wrote:What's the point of being away from home if one can't be silly ?...


Here, here! (or is that hear, hear?)

Although I am not known for waiting until I am away from home to be silly... ;)

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silly

Postby KatyBr » Tue Feb 15, 2005 7:21 pm

HA! I'm silliest in the confines of my own home! I'm OCD and shy, not a good combination for much public silliness!

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Re: silly

Postby M. Henri Day » Wed Feb 16, 2005 10:59 am

KatyBr wrote:HA! I'm silliest in the confines of my own home! ...

The attractive thing about fora like these is that we can be silly in the comfort of our own homes, offices, etc, yet at the same time share the moment - and our thoughts - with others....

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eggzachery!

Postby KatyBr » Wed Feb 16, 2005 1:21 pm

eggzachary!

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Postby Philip Hudson » Sat May 26, 2012 12:43 am

Apoclima: I am posting here because you seem to have disappeared after this posting. Where did you go? Can you return? I am especially interested in your "signature" quotation: 'Experiments are the only means of knowledge at our disposal. The rest is poetry, imagination.' -Max Planck

Although Plank was a great man and has a scientific constant named after him, he may not be the end-all of wisdom. What does his definition of knowledge exclude? Are history, biography, fiction, art, music, philosophy and all such fields of study mere poetry or imagination? I am more liberal in what is knowledge than Plank is, but I have no constant named after me.
It is dark at night, but the Sun will come up and then we can see.
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Postby LukeJavan8 » Sat May 26, 2012 11:41 am

You really dug up an old one: last post - 2005.
Hope there is some reply.
-----please, draw me a sheep-----
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