If I kept the most exciting find of the day from you? That’s right, the worst sort! The very worst. And so, enough bombast. Onwards–
I was on Wikipedia. I blame Ralfast. And the fact that I had a quick jot of research to do for a plot point.
Then I fell into what I will now term a “Wiki Hole.” Namely, one second I was looking up astronomical awareness in the mid 1500s, and the next, BOOM, I was shot at warp speed into other realms of information. Landing in the vicinity of Cheapside.
Ever wondered about Cheapside, London? Well, I have. Why? Because I’m American.
And more specifically, when Pride and Prejudice heroine Elizabeth Bennet’s relatives are snubbed for their Cheapside address by the rich Miss Bingley, pretender to Mr Darcy’s affections (or affectations), well…the name struck me as odd. Was this the rich naming streets to “put people in their place,” so to speak, or was Ms Austen being a mite creative and overdoing it? (Yes, I had that uncharitable and ignorant a thought. I own it.)
Well, today, world, I have the answer to not just this, but a million other questions I never thought to ask.
In Olde English–extra “e” added courtesy of me–céapmann meant “dealer” or “seller.” Especially the itinerant kind. Céap meant “deal” or “barter” or “business” or “market.”
Today’s “cheap” comes from this, or as Wiki informs, from the olde phrase “a good cheap,” which meant “a good deal.” Cheapside, by inference, stems from what the neighborhood was known for. Trade. John Milton was born there, Chaucer nearby. Who knew, other than every Brit, probably? Not me. 🙂
And the word “chap” which we still use today? Just as “goodbye” became “bye,” so did “chapman” become just “chap.” A buyer or a seller. Chap. Someone one might do business with.
If your last name is Chapman, somewhere along the line, one of your ancestors was a trader. Kauffman is apparently the German equivalent.
I swear, I feel breathless learning this! 🙂 Another lovely Wiki Stroll.
Now I must repair to the 16th century again. A history of astronomy and magic await. (For yes, universities offered degrees in this subject back then. Oh, joyousness!)