Burke

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Dr. Goodword
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Burke

Postby Dr. Goodword » Sat Nov 30, 2019 6:24 pm

• burke •


Pronunciation: bêrk • Hear it!

Part of Speech: Verb, transitive

Meaning: 1. To cover up, to sweep under the rug, to quietly suppress, as politicians are wont to burke investigations into their wrong-doing. 2. To suffocate someone so as to leave the body intact for the killer's purposes.

Notes: Given the strong tendency in the US to hide indiscretion from public view, it is surprising that today's word is not as popular here as elsewhere in the English-speaking world. The verb is used without capitalization despite its origin (see History). Someone who burkes other people is a burker, engaged in burkism or burking.

In Play: The first definition of today's word has many applications outside the field of politics: "To make the film even more depressing, the director burked all the elements that might have even faintly curled the lips of the audience." Unfortunately, we still have room for the original meaning: "Dewey Trite burked a homeless hobo to put in his car when he faked his suicide."

Word History: The eponym of today's word was an Irishman, William Burke who, with his accomplice, William Hare, was executed in Edinburgh in 1830 for suffocating 16 people in order to sell their bodies to the Edinburgh Medical School for dissection. He received £7 10/- each for his wares, an excellent price even considering the extra work he performed. He was arrested with accomplices almost by accident, no suspicions having been raised by his seemingly limitless stock and overnight service. A bizarre memorial of Burke is kept in the Anatomy Museum of the Royal College of Surgeons in Edinburgh: a wallet purported to be made from his tanned skin.
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Re: Burke

Postby Dr. Goodword » Sun Dec 01, 2019 9:05 pm

I just learned something from Daphne Bell. She sent me a funny note in response with this word thatI think she might not mind my sharing with you lot:

"The most common English use of this word is within Cockney rhyming slang, and is not very nice, since it is rhyming from Berkshire Hunt and I will leave you to work out what that rhymes with. So if you call somebody a berk / burke, you are being very rude indeed!"

Daphne Belt
PS I do enjoy my daily word thank you."
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misterdoe
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Re: Burke

Postby misterdoe » Mon Jan 06, 2020 12:57 pm

I was about to say I've never heard of "Burke" but I know "berk," and now I see from your note that apparently it's the same term just a different spelling.

Audiendus
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burke/berk

Postby Audiendus » Tue Jan 07, 2020 12:53 pm

I don't understand how burke and berk can be regarded as versions of the same word. Burke is derived from William Burke and means 'cover up' or 'suffocate'; berk comes from 'Berkshire (or Berkeley?) Hunt' and means 'fool'. Different origin, different meaning.

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Re: Burke

Postby Dr. Goodword » Tue Jan 07, 2020 8:58 pm

Perhaps Dr. Goodword should do berk sometimes. As an American I'm unacquainted with this word.
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call_copse
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Re: Burke

Postby call_copse » Wed Jan 08, 2020 9:18 am

Very daring Dr G!

One thing I've never understood is why berk is pronounced like Burke but is derived from (so I've always understood) Berkeley Hunt (pronounced like Barclay Hunt).
Iain

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Re: Burke

Postby damoge » Wed Jan 08, 2020 12:06 pm

I am no poet, and slow to get the gist sometimes, but have been wondering since the note appeared what the rhyme would be.
Does it include a change of gender?
Everything works out, one way or another

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Re: Burke

Postby bnjtokyo » Thu Jan 09, 2020 8:51 am

Damoge, I'm no expert on Cockney rhyming slang, but I think sometimes it works like this:
First you have the word being avoided
Then you have a short phrase (usually two words, like "Berkeley hunt"?) the second of which rhymes with the intended word.
Then the slang term becomes the first word or a clipping of the first word, that is "berk".
For example, one of the Cockney terms for a person from the US is "Sepo"
It is derived like this: A person from the US is a "yank" (here, the word to be avoided)
"septic tank" rhymes with "yank"
"sepo" is a clipping of "septic tank"
Therefore if you and your friend wish to refer to an obnoxious American without said individual being aware of it, you could say "that sepo is rather annoying"

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Re: Burke

Postby LukeJavan8 » Thu Jan 09, 2020 12:26 pm

most curious, much thanks bnjtokyo
-----please, draw me a sheep-----


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