Page 1 of 1


Posted: Mon Jan 13, 2020 7:47 pm
by Dr. Goodword

• drove •

Pronunciation: drowv • Hear it!

Part of Speech: Noun

Meaning: 1. Horde, multitude, mob, throng of animals or humans moving or capable of movement. 2. A herd or flock of animals being driven somewhere.

Notes: This noun has an only child, drover "someone who drives animals somewhere". Today's word is used most often in the idiomatic phrase in droves, which means "a very large crowd", as in "People came in droves."

In Play: This word originally referred only to animals: "Droves of blackbirds swarm into the trees in his back yard every spring." Today, however, it may also refer to people: "High housing prices are driving Californians out of their home state in droves."

Word History: The ancestor of today's Good Word was Old English draf from drifan "to drive". Drifan came through English's Germanic ancestors from Proto-Indo-European dhreibh- "to drive, push", origin also of German treiben "to drive, push", Dutch drijven "to float, drift, drive", and Swedish driva "drive, drift, push". Evidence from other Indo-European languages includes Lithuanian drìbti "fall, drop". English drift also derived from this word. 'Snow drift' came from the sense of drove, droves of snow(flakes) driven somewhere by the wind. In Dutch drift means, among other things, "herd".

Re: Drove

Posted: Tue Jan 14, 2020 6:20 am
by David Myer
Very interesting.

Based on the history I think it is probably a modern corruption to say the people came in droves. There is no sense of being driven as sand or snowflakes are when they form a drift.

Having said that, if someone drifts about, they are manifestly un-driven! Perhaps we should change it to “he is an indolent fellow, just undrifts about with no purpose”


Re: Drove

Posted: Tue Jan 14, 2020 1:44 pm
by damoge
Couldn't the people be "driven" by circumstances?
Just as the snow flakes may be driven by a high wind or gentle breeze, surely the speed at which they travel is not the salient factor?
Besides, if the group driven is large enough there could often be impediments to travel that would slow progress.
I'm making the assumption that rate of travel seems to be what bothers. Please correct me if I have missed the point.

Re: Drove

Posted: Tue Jan 14, 2020 6:23 pm
by David Myer
You make an excellent point, damoge. I suppose you can always drive slowly. It's just that a driven person is focussed, determined and perhaps compelled. Not the sort of person who drives slowly!

Droves of people coming over the hill (or whatever) conjures a picture of large numbers. If there were three people being chased by a tiger, that might more appropriately be considered a drove. I think what I am saying is that I don't like the use of 'droves' for a horde or mass (however motivated or driven). But that's just me.

I do take your point though.

Re: Drove

Posted: Wed Jan 15, 2020 6:48 pm
by Pattie
Drover isn't quite the only child of drove. Here in Australia, where the grazing of mobs of cattle or flocks of sheep in the 'long paddock' ie, the road, was a reasonably common practice in the past, people used to 'go a'droving', as in the Banjo Patterson poem, Clancy of the Overflow: `Clancy's gone to Queensland droving, and we don't know where he are.'

Re: Drove

Posted: Wed Jan 15, 2020 8:29 pm
by Dr. Goodword
I was focused on the noun drove; a-droving is a daughter of the verb drove.

By the way, we still used the prefix a- in the southern US states when I was a boy. "I'm a-gonna gitchu" was common, but many southerners back then added it to present participles: "I was a-waitin' fer somebody", "I was a-cuttin' the grass", still sound natural if ungrammatical to me. I'm not sure if anybody talks like that now down there because the southern accent has vanished among the educated.