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Raffle

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Raffle

Postby Dr. Goodword » Sun May 12, 2013 11:16 pm

• raffle •


Pronunciation: ræ-fêl • Hear it!

Part of Speech: Noun

Meaning: 1. A lottery in which people purchase numbered tickets that go into a container. If your ticket number is selected in a random drawing from that container, you win a prize. 2. A kind of dice game or the roll of three or two of a kind in a game of dice. 3. Debris, rubbish, trash.

Notes: Today's Good Word is a bit of a mystery. No one really knows where it comes from, hence who its relatives are. For sure there are nouns raffler and raffling. It may also be used as a verb, to raffle (off) something. Beyond these few obvious relatives, it is difficult to make connections with other seemingly related words for reasons laid out in the Word History.

In Play: Some wag suggested that raffles might be a faster, less expensive, and equally effective way of choosing political leaders. Today's word contains features that commend it to metaphorical speech. Dexter Petley wrote in White Lies (2003): "I closed my mind like it was a box of raffle tickets in the Easter Prize Draw." Don't forget today's Good Word may be used as a verb: "Which is likely to bring in more money: should I raffle my rifle collection or auction it off?"

Word History: Today's Good Word seems to have come from Old French rafle "a dice game", but Middle French also had an expression sans y laisser rifle ou rafle "without leaving anything whatsoever behind", which suggests a connection with "plunder, prize, booty". Obviously, English pinched riff-raff from the French, and some English speakers even extended it to riffle-raffle. It could have been that the name of the dice game was carried over to contemporary raffles because the dice game had winnings based on luck. Since raffles often have multiple prizes, this would fit in with the French expression. So, we have a host of words that fit together phonetically, but they offer only hints of a semantic trail. (Today we thank Gail Rallen, Grand Panjandrum in the Alpha Agora, for today's mysterious Good Word. )
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Re: Raffle

Postby MTC » Mon May 13, 2013 12:43 am

About raffle Dr. G "suggests a connection with 'plunder, prize, booty'." Interesting because at least one author, E.W. Hornung, may have made the same connection in naming his leading character "A.J. Raffles," a gentleman thief.

Raffles hotel in Singapore, the "grand lady of the Far East," and home of the Singapore Sling should not be overlooked in a discussion of raffle. The hotel was named after Englishman, Stamford Raffles. There may be only a chance connection between Raffles and raffle.
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Re: Raffle

Postby Perry Lassiter » Mon May 13, 2013 1:00 pm

Do you suppose a man named Raffles held the first lottery and called it after himself? Or was there an ADA kid whose parents drew names to see who he had to marry? More seriously, did the word evolve as an eponym, or where did the name come from?
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Re: Raffle

Postby MTC » Mon May 13, 2013 2:00 pm

In reply to Perry's question about the origin of the name of the Raffles hotel, Wikipedia states: " the firm built the hotel into Singapore's best known icon. It was named after Stamford Raffles, the founder of modern Singapore, whose statue had been unveiled in 1887."
(http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Raffles_Hotel)

As for the origin of the family name Raffles, see:
(http://www.surnamedb.com/Surname/Raffles)

As for the origin of the common noun raffle, see
(viewtopic.php?f=1&t=6287&p=38910#p38910)

Nothing left to chance!
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Re: Raffle

Postby gailr » Mon May 13, 2013 8:52 pm

It's like winning a literary raffle of sorts, getting my word suggestion drawn from the Good Word suggestions sweepstakes pool!

A member on another board had mentioned watching a German film featuring a 'Raffke' (money-grubber, reckless profiteer). This piqued my curiosity to go searching for cognates and lexical relatives. But did a German root show up in etymonline? Nope. It was those French again. :D
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Re: Raffle

Postby Philip Hudson » Mon May 13, 2013 10:51 pm

It is little wonder that my old linguistics professor, of Bavarian birth, always spat on the floor after saying a French word while muttering, “Bastard Latin!”
It is dark at night, but the Sun will come up and then we can see.
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Re: Raffle

Postby MTC » Tue May 14, 2013 6:15 am

I hope there was a spittoon to capture his contempt.
Last edited by MTC on Tue May 14, 2013 12:13 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: WRENCH

Postby MTC » Tue May 14, 2013 12:12 pm

• wrench •
Printable VersionPronunciation: rench • Hear it!
Part of Speech: Verb
Meaning: 1. To twist suddenly and forcibly, as to wrench a bolt. 2. To cause a sudden rush of anxiety or distress, as a wrenching experience. 3. To sprain or pull a muscle, as to wrench a knee or ankle.
Notes: We will all, of course, immediately think of the tool for wrenching, a wrench, which the British call a spanner. The English word can also be used to refer to the act of wrenching, as the news gave him a hard wrench. The relatives of this word are all purely English: wrenched (back) and wrenching (experience). Don't forget the silent W at the beginning of these words.
In Play: The basic sense of today's Good Word is to twist violently: "The tornado wrenched the old chinaberry tree in Forrest Glade's back yard out of the ground by the roots." The next meaning is a figurative extension of that basic meaning: "When Barnaby heard the voice of Celia Feight behind him, he turned his head so fast he wrenched his neck something awful." The final step in the semantic journey of today's word is its abstract psychological sense: "The most wrenching experience in Gooden Small's career was the time when Hugh Jeego threw a wrench in Gooden's chances for a promotion."
Word History: Most of the words beginning on WR come from a single source. Old English wrencan "to twist" (today's wrench) comes from the same source as Old English wringan "to wring". English writhe, wrestle, wrap, wreck, wriggle, wrist—even wrong go back to Proto-Indo-European wer- "to turn, twist" with various suffixes and the normal changes accompanying them. They are all still connected by the sense of "to twist". This root emerged in Latin as vertere "to turn", seen in the English borrowings invert, convert, pervert. The past participle of vertere is versus, another word English picked off. We see evidence of this PIE root in many Indo-European languages: Russian vertet' "to turn" and German werden "to become" from the sense of "turn into". (Lest we give Gianni Tamburini a wrench, we should thank him for such an interesting Good Word today.)
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Re: Raffle

Postby MTC » Tue May 14, 2013 12:27 pm

"English writhe, wrestle, wrap, wreck, wriggle, wrist—even wrong go back to Proto-Indo-European wer- "to turn, twist" with various suffixes and the normal changes accompanying them."

This is just excellent, stringing these words together on a common thread of meaning. Now I understand the "twist" in "wrist." All the time hiding in plain view as it were.
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