We depend upon records to reveal the “truth” about our pasts.
Yet sometimes records have anomalies.
Some are amusing or humorous.
Some are interesting or weird.
Some are peculiar or suspicious.
Some are infuriating, even downright laughable.
Yes, “Records Say the Darnedest Things.”
Records Say the Darnedest Things: Soil? Inconceivable!
Sometimes words don’t mean what you think they mean. Keep that in mind when reading old records. I find it especially interesting when words turn a full 180.
Consider “soil.” According to Webster it means to stain, defile, blacken, or taint.1 But when it comes to milk, it means the opposite.2
“To Soil milk, to cleanse it”
Here’s a weird one. Cover your eyes if you blush easy. Don’t misunderstand pre-reformation wedding vows. When the wife pledged to be “buxom in bed and at board” she was only promising obedience.3
Yes, records say the darnedest things.
1. Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary (http://www.m-w.com : accessed 4 June 2011), s.v. “soil.”
2. John Ray, A Collection of English Words (London: H. Bruges, 1674), 44; images online, Google Books (http://books.google.com : accessed 4 June 2011), id=njdWAAAAYAAJ.
3. Samuel Johnson, A Dictionary of the English Language in Which the Words are Deduced from Their Originals, 9th ed., vol. 1 (London: 1805), s.v. “buxom;” images online, Google Books (http://books.google.com : accessed 4 June 2011), id=RaQRAAAAIAAJ.
I acknowledge Jeffrey Kacirk’s Forgotten English daily calendar for these examples.