• Luddite •
Pronunciation: lêd-ait • Hear it!
Part of Speech: Noun, proper
Meaning: 1. An English workman toward the end of the Industrial Revolution who was a member of a movement that sabotaged innovative machinery that it thought threatened jobs. 2. An opponent of technological progress.
Notes: The Luddites made up a movement that opposed the technological innovation that had come to the textile industry as a result of the Industrial Revolution. They resorted to actual sabotage, rendering inoperable as much of the new machinery as they could. Their movement and attitude was known as Luddism or Ludditism.
In Play: Today's Good Word is used mostly in the metaphorical sense of someone opposed to anything new: "Andy Belham is a luddite who opposes any innovation at the company." However, it still applies to those who would sabotage new equipment: "Security is still looking for the Luddite who hacked our database and changed everyone's password."
Word History: According to George Pellew's Life of Lord Sidmouth (1847), Ned Lud was a person of weak intellect who lived in a Leicestershire village about 1779. In a fit of rage he rushed into a weaver's house and completely destroyed two modern stocking looms. The saying "Lud must have been here" came to be used throughout the hosiery districts when a modern loom had undergone extraordinary damage. This story lacks confirmation, though. The nicknames 'Captain Ludd' and 'King Lud' were commonly given to the ringleaders of the Luddites from 1811 to 1813. (Jeremy Busch proved himself no Luddite by his long-standing participation in our web-based Alpha Agora and his electronic suggestion of today's Good Word.)