Printable Version
Pronunciation: bi-gêt Hear it!

Part of Speech: Noun

Meaning: 1. A hypocrite, especially a superstitious or religious hypocrite. 2. An extremely prejudiced fanatic, obstinately wedded to a particular opinion or attitude and passionately intolerant of those who disagree.

Notes: A bigot is bigoted (the adjective), and the nature of a bigot lies in his or her bigotry (the abstract noun).

In Play: We generally associate bigotry with socially incorrect behavior: "His divorces do not surprise me. Rollo is such a sexist bigot, I'm astonished that he found five women willing to marry him." Today's word does, however, fit correct types of prejudicial social behavior: "Charles is a bangers-and-mash bigot who won't let anything else be served for breakfast, though he might accept a toad in the hole on special occasion." (Bangers are what Australians call "snags" and Americans call "sausages". A toad in the hole is a banger baked in dough or an egg cooked in a slice of bread.)

Word History: The origin of today's word is obscured by thick veils of history. We know it first emerged in the romantic biography of Girart de Roussillon written in the 12th century. It has no apparent connection with Spanish bigote "moustache." There is a story that the first Duke of Normandy, Rollo (Hrolf) the Walker (so called because he was too large for a horse), was ceded Normandy by Charles III, The Simple, on the condition that Rollo's fellow Vikings be kept out. To seal the deal, Rollo supposedly kissed the boot of Charles, muttering, "Ne se, bi got," which was taken to mean "No, by God!" in a combination of French and broken English. This curious story is too silly to even be called apocryphal. More interesting is the claim that the term Visigoth "West Goth" survived in the South of France and emerged as bigot. It is true that the Northern Franks did not like the Visigoths of Toulouse and used several racial slurs in referring to them. However, the phonetic changes required for this derivation are none of those we know took place in other words, preventing any provable connection. (We are also not sure how Lyn Laboriel keeps coming up with such interesting words to suggest for our series, but we are happy that she does.)

Dr. Goodword,

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