Be in a Rock Band

It has been an absolute age since I talked of etymology so I thought I’d give you some light reading whilst you are on the beach this weekend. When I say light I mean it’ll take you less than 5 minutes to read and educate yourself as well as having the hot topic of the summer. So while enjoying summer you can get a tan, maybe go fishing and end up in a rock band.

“Summer” is for us probably a word with an 18 century meaning but was around long before that with other similar meanings but more obvious to us it meant “hot season of the year” the root may be from Sanskrit (some time ago) “sama” meaning  “season, half of the year” It is easy to see how Old Norse and many others turned sama into sommer, summer, sumra for example.

Usually in summer we head to the beach for a relaxing day topping up the tan or getting a spot of food. “Beach” is a 15 century english word coming from the Old English”bece” meaning “loose water-worn pebbles of the sea shore.” You can see why they shortened it to bece. Speaking of which the first use of a “beach bum” was in the 1950’s I assume from the USA but it wasn’t listed.

The attraction for a day at the beach in summer is all too obvious whether you are a bum or not especially as these days most of us don’t go there daily to catch food like our ancestors we go for the fishing or the sun to get a tan. The “Sun” our star burning brightly, at least for next few billion years is via Old English sunne “the sun,” from Proto-Germanic sunno, source also of Old Norse, Old Saxon, Old High German sunna, Middle Dutch sonne, Dutch zon, German Sonne,  “the sun.” Pretty straight forward so far and as you get some sun you pick up a tan. This word is obvious if you think from late Old English tannian “to convert hide into leather” (by steeping it in tannin). This is from Medieval Latin tannare “tan, dye a tawny color” (c. 900), from tannum “crushed oak bark,” used in tanning leather, probably from a Celtic source (such as Breton tann “oak tree”). The meaning really was to “make brown by exposure to the sun.”

However lying there you will get hungry and need catch food namely from the sea by fishing. This word is  from the 1300’s, “fysschynge”, the verbal noun that is “the art or practice of trying to catch fish.” It is an art too I’ve never caught anything, actually that’s a lie I once caught a small barracuda in the Bay of Islands but I’d speared it through the side no doubt moving around in impatience.

Speaking of which “fishing” also gave way to “phishing” a fraudulent attempt to obtain sensitive information such as usernames, passwords and credit card details by disguising oneself as a trustworthy entity in an electronic communication. [Wikipedia] By 2000 this use was common and many sources cite usage from 1995 amongst hackers. It was  an alteration of fishing  perhaps by influence of the word phreak and the U.S. rock band Phish, which had been performing since 1983.

So there you go from summer to a rock band, etymologically speaking of course. Enjoy.