The Boston Diaries

The ongoing saga of a programmer who doesn't live in Boston, nor does he even like Boston, but yet named his weblog/journal “The Boston Diaries.”

Go figure.

Wednesday, May 12, 2021

What's in a name?

I was watching this video on a 400 year old recipe for buttered beere when a word was used in an unusual context: “conner.” Or rather, “ale conner,” in the context of an official checking the purity of the beer. Curious, I decided to break out my copy of the Oxford English Dictionary (the compact edition, two oversized 2,000 page tomes) and sure enough:

Conner1 … [OE. cunnere, agent-n. from cunninan, ME. CUN to prove, try, examine. … ] One who tries, tests, or examines; an examiner, inspector; esp. in ALE-CONNER. q.v.

Huh. Well, let's q.v. then …

Aleconner … [f. ALE + CONNER, OE. cunnere a trier.] An examiner or inspector of ale: ‘An officer appointed in every court-leet, and sworn to look to the assize and goodness of bread, ale, and beer, sold within the jurisdiction of the leet.’ Philips 1706. ‘Four of them are chosen annually by the common-hall of the city; and whatever might be their use formerly, their places are now regarded only as sinecures for decayed citizens.’ Johnson 1755. Still a titular office in some burghs.

And there are usages going back to 1350.

1350!

Interesting … I come from a family of bureaucratic inspectors. Or maybe not … there's this definition:

Conner2 … One who cons or diligently studies. 1809 W. Irving … A great conner of indexes.

A conman or a scholar. Huh … given the current science replication crisis both meanings could equally apply here. I guess my choice of domain is more appropriate than I thought.

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