Tuesday, December 09, 2014

2368 Roget's Trove

From time to time a word will get stuck in my mind and the resulting backup and blockage to my stream of consciousness forces me to discover it's mysterious origins and how it ended up getting buried in our language.

I encountered such a word the other day. It was "trove." What snagged on the splintery mizzenmast of my brain was the fact the we apparently never see the word "trove" used with anything other than its companion word "treasure." It's rare that we see a trove of oranges, or weasels. It's always a trove of treasure or a treasure trove. 

So I turned to the etymology dictionary to see what I could dig up. Turns out trove means "found." It comes from the French trove' which is the past participle of trover meaning "to find." 

So treasure trove means treasure found, as in a hiding place, or unburied from a hole. As such treasure was often found in quantities, events eventually retro-morphed the word into meaning something like "hoard." We now use it to mean that. A treasure trove is a hoard of treasure, and often, of course, with piratical and redundant connotations. "Yarr, matey, it's good to finds me a treasure trove." "Finding a trove" being a bit repetitive, even for a pirate. Yarr.

Speaking of treasure, as is often the case when I look up one word, I discover and learn something about a bonus word. In this case the word "thesaurus." Apparently it's the Latin word for treasure. So when you pick up a copy of the famous Roget's Thesaurus you are actually getting Roget's Treasure. 

I wonder if on his travels in the sea of language looking for that trove of words he flew a flag called the Jolly Roget. 

America, ya gotta love it. 

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