Etymology 2 “Trust”

If you knew someone with a red hand would you trust them? In our second dip into the etymological waters we find out what a red hand has to do with a Pope and why you might trust them.

“Red hand” is an old Scottish term from the 15th century it was a label for poachers or murderers that were caught with blood still on their hands from the deed. All for the sake of a decent wash after the deed, being caught “Red Handed” thus entered the language and to this day it is in common use around the english speaking world. More than the hands there is another appendage that is employed in the act when being caught “in flagrante delicto”. This legal term meaning “in blazing offence” has set many a relationship afire whenever said offence has been found; ongoing.

Such displays of “infidelity” are chronicled through history and it’s gossip columns from Kings, Queens, paupers and dare I say it Popes? Even Saint Peter himself was of course married before his calling. Though subsequent Popes have proven less virtuous having their cake and eaten it, often before taking Holy Orders, but in some cases even after taking the Papal seat. A decent soap opera would run into several series if all the twists and turns were revealed. Such infidelity after the 16th century lessened as the following Popes largely took the opposite route of “fidelity” siding with their faith and faithfulness.

Their faithfulness of course kept their virtues intact and the faithful gathered daily or weekly to be told not to succumb to such pleasures of either flesh, liquid libation or crime. The “faithful” as they were known during the 14th century due to their sincerely religious, pious and devout behaviour morphed into a general meaning of truth, especially of facts. Accuracy and reliability were all down the faith you had in the person relating the tale.

This kind of faith, both solid and unwavering meant that some people became confidants because you trusted them.

“Trust” from the Old Norse ‘treyesta’ meaning to rely on came into use in the 12th century by the 13th century it related to trustworthiness and something; “that on which one relies.” In a legal sense from the 15th century onwards it also came to mean a sense of “confidence placed in one who holds the use of a property entrusted to them by the legal owner.”

This was a condition of being legally entrusted meaning “businesses organised to reduce competition” recorded as such in 1877. It so it was that you can get, etymologically of course from being a bloody handed murderer to being completely pious and trusted. It just takes about 8 centuries of cleansing.

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