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A sault of lions... no such thing!

A discussion of word histories and origins.

A sault of lions... no such thing!

Postby eberntson » Thu May 06, 2010 4:49 pm

The supposed collective noun "sault", as in "A sault of lions", does not seem to be in any of the common dictionaries. The only definition is "A sault (pronounced soo in English) is waterfall or a rapids in pre-17th century French"

The OED has a bunch of references to old french referencing works back to 1267, but "lions" are never mentioned. Unless referencing french military lancers has some archaic reference to lions.

Am I missing something or are collective nouns definitions often more slang or colloquial then real. Or is this a verbal joke?
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Postby Stargzer » Thu May 06, 2010 5:59 pm

Sault Sainte Marie

Which, I'm sure, you too found at Wikipedia.

But, maybe the reference to rampant lions comes from here:

Online Etymology Dictionary wrote:sault
"waterfall or rapid," 1600, from colonial Fr. sault, 17c. spelling of saut "to leap," from L. saltus, from salire "to leap" (see salient).

salient
1562, "leaping," a heraldic term, from L. salientem (nom. saliens), prp. of salire "to leap," from PIE base *sel- "to jump" (cf. Gk. hallesthai "to leap," M.Ir. saltraim "I trample," and probably Skt. ucchalati "rises quickly"). The meaning "pointing outward" (preserved in military usage) is from 1687; that of "prominent, striking" first recorded 1840, from salient point (1672), which refers to the heart of an embryo, which seems to leap, and translates L. punctum saliens, going back to Aristotle's writings. Hence, the "starting point" of anything.


Speaking of Greate Leaps ...

And finally, I did find a reference to the Sault Ste. Marie Lions Club, so there you have a REAL Sault of Lions!

[Stargzer is awaiting a sault of batteries to keep his flashlights in fine fettle.]
Regards//Larry

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Postby Slava » Thu May 06, 2010 7:40 pm

Here's another new one for lions: sowse.

The places I've seen it spell it with the "w."

I'm assuming it's because of the archaic use of souse:

–verb (used without object)
1. to swoop down.
–verb (used with object)
2. to swoop or pounce upon.
–noun Falconry.
3. a rising while in flight.
4. a swooping or pouncing.
Origin: 1480–90; by-form of source in its earlier literal sense “rising”
Dictionary.com Unabridged
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Postby skinem » Mon May 10, 2010 10:30 am

Perhaps "a sault of lions" isn't used, but I believe "an assault of lions" could be accurate...perhaps "by lions" would be more so.
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Postby Slava » Mon May 10, 2010 10:21 pm

skinem wrote:Perhaps "a sault of lions" isn't used, but I believe "an assault of lions" could be accurate...perhaps "by lions" would be more so.
Oddly, there are websites that list "sault" as the term. In fact, looking up "an assault of lions" on the big G, turns up only skinem's post.
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Postby skinem » Tue May 11, 2010 9:06 am

I would think it would be the only reference to turn up on that search engine as it was simply a weak attempt at word play.

Very weak.

So weak it obviously wasn't seen as play at all.

Please forgive my assault upon the English language and feed me to a sault of lions.
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Postby Perry » Tue May 11, 2010 11:02 am

It was fine word play.

So are lions the sault of the earth?
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Postby Slava » Tue May 11, 2010 12:03 pm

I've been wondering if sault might not be a corruption of French saut, which means leap. That would make sense for lions, n-est ce pas?
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Postby Perry » Thu May 13, 2010 3:44 pm

Except that when they aren't hunting, lions are prone to just layin' around.
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Postby skinem » Fri May 14, 2010 12:59 pm

Slava wrote:I've been wondering if sault might not be a corruption of French saut, which means leap. That would make sense for lions, n-est ce pas?


Isn't a group of lions called a leap?
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