Printable Version
Pronunciation: tor-ree Hear it!

Part of Speech: Noun, proper

Meaning: 1. (Colloquial) A member of the British Conservative Party. (Antonym: Whig "member of British Liberal Party"). 2. An American supporting the British Crown during the American Revolution. 3. (Historical) An outlaw, dispossessed by English settlers, living by robbing the English. 4. (Scottish and Irish English) A scoundrel, rascal, dishonest or mischievous person.

Notes: This word was thrust in world news recently by three Tory prime ministers in six weeks. It has two adjectives: Toryish and Toryistic. The realm of Tory politics is the Torydom and the political views of Tories is Toryism. The verb is Toryize "convert to Toryism".

In Play: Tory is generally replaced by Conservative in the UK today, but today's word still survives: "The British people now seem to believe that the hard Brexit that the Tories negotiated only exacerbated the UK's current economic crisis." It only has a historical sense in the US: "The current insurrectionists in the US are just a reification of the Tories during the Revolutionary War."

Word History: English borrowed this word from Irish tórai "(fortune-)hunter; bandit; Tory", a reduction of Old Irish toirighim "I pursue, chase, hunt". This word was based on an unattested verb to-fo-reith, derived from Celtic to-wo-ret "run up to", based on PIE ret-/rot- "to run, roll". We find evidence of this word in Sanskrit rathah "cart", Latin and Albanian rota "wheel", Irish roth "wheel", Welsh rhod "wheel", German Rad "wheel", Dutch rad "wheel", Latvian ritenis "wheel", and Lithuanian ratas "wheel".

Dr. Goodword,

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