Household Words

Household Words

In February 1850, Charles Dickens decided to join forces with his publisher, Bradbury & Evans, and his friend, John Forster, to publish the journal, Household Words . Dickens became editor and William Wills, a journalist he worked with on the Daily News, became his assistant. One colleague described Wills as "a very intelligent and industrious man... but rather too gentle and compliant always to enforce his own intentions effectually upon others." Dickens thought that Wills was the ideal man for the job. He commented that "Wills has no genius, and is, in literary matters, sufficiently commonplace to represent a very large proportion of our readers".

Dickens rented an office at 16 Wellington Street North, a small and narrow thoroughfare just off the Strand. Dickens described it as "exceedingly pretty with the bowed front, the bow reaching up for two stories, each giving a flood of light." Dickens announced that aim of the journal would be the "raising up of those that are down, and the general improvement of our social condition". He argued that it was necessary to reform a society where "infancy was made stunted, ugly, and full of pain; maturity made old, and old age imbecile; and pauperism made hopeless every day." He added that he wanted London to "set an example of humanity and justice to the whole Empire".

Dickens planned to serialise his new novels in the journal. Another project was the serialisation of A Child's History of England. He also wanted to promote the work of like-minded writers. The first person he contacted was Elizabeth Gaskell. Dickens had been very impressed with her first novel, Mary Barton: A Tale of Manchester Life (1848) and offered to take her future work. She sent him Lizzie Leigh , a story about a Manchester prostitute, which appeared in the first issue, on 30th March 1850.

After lengthy negotiations it was agreed that Charles Dickens would have half share in all profits of Household Words. Bradbury & Evans to have one quarter, John Forster and William Henry Wills, one eighth each. Whereas the publisher was to manage all the commercial details, Dickens was to be in sole charge of editorial policy and content. Dickens was also paid £40 a month for his services as editor and a fee was agreed for any articles and stories published by the journal. The first edition of the journal appeared on 30th March, 1850. It contained 24 pages and cost twopence and came out every Wednesday. On the top of each page were the words: "Conducted by Charles Dickens". All contributions were anonymous but when his friend, Douglas Jerrold, read it for the first time, he commented that it was "mononymous throughout". Elizabeth Gaskell described the content as "Dickensy".

On 12th April 1850 Dickens wrote to his close friend, Angela Burdett Coutts: "The Household Words I hope (and have every reason to hope) will become a good property. It is exceedingly well liked, and goes, in the trade phrase, admirably. I daresay I shall be able to tell you, by the end of the month, what the steady sale is. It is quite as high now, as I ever anticipated; and although the expenses of such a venture are necessarily very great, the circulation much more than pays them, so far. The labor, in conjunction with Copperfield, is something rather ponderous; but to establish it firmly would be to gain such an immense point for the future (I mean my future) that I think nothing of that."

Claire Tomalin wrote that with the journal: "He set out to raise standards of journalism in the crowded field of periodical publication and, by winning educated readers and speaking to their consciences, to exert some influence on public matters; and to this end he himself wrote on many social issues - housing, sanitation, education, accidents in factories, workhouses, and in defence of the right of the poor to enjoy Sundays as they chose."

The journal was a great success and it was soon selling 39,000 copies. Peter Ackroyd has argued: "It was nothing like such serious journals as The Edinburgh Review - it was not in any sense intellectual - but rather took its place among the magazines which heralded or exploited the growth of the reading public throughout this period... Since this was not the cleverest, the most scholarly or even the most imaginative audience in Britain, Household Words had to be cheerful, bright, informative and, above all, readable." In its first year Dickens earned an extra £1,700 from the journal and in the second year of trading, £2,000.

The leading article was usually written by John Forster. Other contributors included Wilkie Collins, Eliza Lynn Linton, Blanchard Jerrold, George Augustus Sala and Percy Fitzgerald. Sala later recalled meeting Dickens for the first time: "I was overcome with astonishment at the sight of the spare, wiry gentleman who, standing on the hearthrug, shook me cordially by the hand - both hands, if I remember alright... He was then, I should say, barely forty; yet to my eyes he seemed to be rapidly approaching fifty." Fitzgerald later commented on the way Dickens edited the journal: "the way he used to scatter his bright touches over the whole, the sparkling word of his own that he would insert here and there, gave a surprising point and light."

Elizabeth Gaskell continued to publish stories in Household Words including Traits and Stories of the Huguenots , Morton Hall , My French Master , The Squire's Story , Company Manners , An Accursed Race , Half a Lifetime Ago , The Poor Clare , My Lady Ludlow , The Sin of a Father and The Manchester Marriage . She also produced a series of stories that were published between 13th December 1851 and 21st May 1853, that eventually became the novel, Cranford. Her biographer, Jenny Uglow has suggested that the Cranford stories "make the dangerous safe, touching the tenderest spots of memory and bringing the single, the odd and the wanderer into the circle of family and community."

Jane W. Stedman has argued: "For this periodical, Wills performed the multitudinous tasks of a working editor, from proof-reading and dealing with an enormous amount of correspondence, to frequently settling both the contents and order of each number. He kept the office book, listing each contributor, his work, and payment (which he had a tendency to pare down). For all of this, Wills was paid £8 per week, his contributions included. And yet his role was pivotal—although Dickens was not an easy editor.

Margaret Dalziel has argued in her book, Popular Fiction 100 Years Ago (1957), that it was similar to Eliza Cook's Journal: "Both were weeklies a little more expensive than those designed for the very poor (Household Words cost twopence, Eliza Cook's Journal a penny-halfpenny); both were bent on exploiting a well known name in their struggle to attract readers; and there was considerable similarity in their contents. Both spurned the facile attractions of riddles, puzzles, illustrations, correspondence columns, and so on. Both were keenly interested in social problems, and in emigration as a solution for them. Both gave less space to fiction than to articles and sketches."

In May 1855 Charles Dickens joined with the Liberal Party MP, Austen Layard, to form the Association for Administrative Reform. He spoke at several public meetings for the organisation and it was suggested that Dickens should stand for the House of Commons. Dickens replied that he had no intention of entering politics himself: "literature is my profession - it is at once my business and my pleasure, and I shall never pass beyond it."

Dickens image as a social reformer was very important to him. After publishing an anti-woman's rights article by Eliza Lynn Linton he told William Wills: "it gets so near the sexual side of things as to be a little dangerous to us at times." He also got worried about an article by Wilkie Collins about the the behaviour of the wealthy in England. He told Wills that in future he must edit his work as "not to leave anything in it that may be sweeping, and unnecessarily offensive to the middle class".

Elizabeth Gaskell contributed a large number of short stories to Household Words. Her novel, North and South (1855), appeared in the journal between 2nd September 1854 and 27 January 1855. Peter Ackroyd, the author of Dickens (1990) has pointed out: "Mrs Gaskell's North and South, which was proving too long and too unwieldy for serial publication. Mrs Gaskell herself was also somewhat difficult, particularly in her inability or slowness to cut her text as Dickens desired; nothing irritated him more than unprofessional behaviour, especially in novelists whom he knew to be inferior to himself, and although he kept his own communications with Mrs Gaskell relatively courteous he was far from flattering about her to his deputy." Gaskell was also often late in delivering her manuscript. Dickens commented to William Henry Wills that if he was her husband, he would feel compelled to "beat her". Dickens eventually edited the serial and she regarded the abrupt ending of the serial version as "mutilated... like a pantomime figure with a great large head and a very small trunk".

In September, 1857, Dickens wrote to Angela Burdett Coutts, about his decision to write a novel about the French Revolution. "Sometimes of late, when I have been very much excited by the crying of two thousand people over the grave of Richard Wardour, new ideas for a story have come into my head as I lay on the ground, with surprising force and brilliancy". Wardour was the character he played in The Frozen Deep.

Charles Dickens research involved talking to his great friend, Thomas Carlyle, the author of the book, The French Revolution (1837). Peter Ackroyd, the author of Dickens (1990), has pointed out: "He (Dickens) had always admired Carlyle's History of the French Revolution, and asked him to recommend suitable books from which he could research the period; in reply Carlyle sent him a cartload of volumes from the London Library. Apparently Dickens read, or at least looked through, them all; it was his aim during the period of composition only to read books of the period itself."

Dickens decided he would not publish A Tale of Two Cities in Household Words. Jealous of the money that Bradbury & Evans had made out of the venture, he decided to start a new journal, All the Year Round. He had 300,000 handbills and posters printed, in order to advertise the new journal. When Bradbury & Evans heard the news they issued an injunction claiming that Dickens was still contracted to work for their journal.

Dickens refused to back-down and the first edition of the journal was published on 30th April 1859. For the first time in his life he had sole control of a journal. "He owned it, he edited it, and only he could take the major decisions concerning it." This was reinforced by the masthead that said: "A weekly journal conducted by Charles Dickens."

He (Charles Dickens) set out to raise standards of journalism in the crowded field of periodical publication and, by winning educated readers and speaking to their consciences, to exert some influence on public matters; and to this end he himself wrote on many social issues - housing, sanitation, education, accidents in factories, workhouses, and in defence of the right of the poor to enjoy Sundays as they chose.

So it was by trial and error that Dickens was able to assemble a team of writers around him. Among the first of his regular contributors were Henry Morley, R. H. Horne, Dudley Costello and Blanchard Jerrold; some of them had worked with him on the Daily News and some of them were young aspiring writers who naturally tended to copy him and were for a while branded as "slavish imitators" of his style. In later years others joined this inner circle of regular writers, among them Percy Fitzgerald, G.A.H. Sala, and Wilkie Collins.

Both were weeklies a little more expensive than those designed for the very poor (Household Words cost twopence, Eliza Cook's Journal a penny-halfpenny); both were bent on exploiting a well known name in their struggle to attract readers; and there was considerable similarity in their contents. Both gave less space to fiction than to articles and sketches.

The Household Words I hope (and have every reason to hope) will become a good property. The labor, in conjunction with Copperfield, is something rather ponderous; but to establish it firmly would be to gain such an immense point for the future (I mean my future) that I think nothing of that.

Some domestic trouble of mine, of long-standing, on which I will make no further remark than that it claims to be respected, as being of a sacredly private nature, has lately been brought to an arrangement, which involves no anger or ill-will of any kind, and the whole origin, progress, and surrounding circumstances of which have been, throughout, within the knowledge of my children. It is amicably composed, and its details have now to be forgotten by those concerned in it... By some means, arising out of wickedness, or out of folly, or out of inconceivable wild chance, or out of all three, this trouble has been the occasion of misrepresentations, mostly grossly false, most monstrous, and most cruel - involving, not only me, but innocent persons dear to my heart... I most solemnly declare, then - and this I do both in my own name and in my wife's name - that all the lately whispered rumours touching the trouble, at which I have glanced, are abominably false. And whosoever repeats one of them after this denial, will lie as wilfully and as foully as it is possible for any false witness to lie, before heaven and earth.

When 'Mistress' Meant 'Mrs.' and 'Miss' Meant 'Prostitute'

In July composer Judith Weir was named as the first woman to hold the post of Master of the Queen’s Music, following in the footsteps of dozens of eminent male musicians with the same title. The Guardian reported that “the palace never even suggested ‘mistress’ of the Queen’s music and neither did she.”

When the role Master of the King’s Music was created in 1626, the words master and mistress were direct equivalents. Today mistress carries multiple connotations, one of which the Daily Mail alluded to in a headline before the announcement asking if Weir might be the Queen’s first Music Mistress.

Research by Cambridge University historian Dr. Amy Erickson, published in the autumn issue of History Workshop Journal, unravels the complex history of an extraordinarily slippery word and suggests that the title of Mrs, pronounced “mistress,” was for centuries applied to all adult women of higher social status, whether married or not.

Erickson’s inquiries into forms of female address emerged from her study of women’s employment before the advent of the national census in 1801. What she found in registers, records, and archives led her to question existing assumptions and track the changes that have taken place in the history of titles.

She says: “Few people realize that ‘Mistress’ is the root word of both of the abbreviations ‘Mrs,’ and ‘Miss,’ just as Mr is an abbreviation of ‘Master.’ The ways that words derived from Mistress have developed their own meanings is quite fascinating and shifts in these meanings can tell us a lot about the changing status of women in society, at home and in the workplace.”

Throughout history “mistress” was a term with a multiplicity of meanings, like so many forms of female address. In his Dictionary of 1755, Samuel Johnson defined mistress as: “1. A woman who governs correlative to subject or servant 2. A woman skilled in anything 3. A woman teacher 4. A woman beloved and courted 5. A term of contemptuous address 6. A whore or concubine.”

Neither “mistress” nor “Mrs” bore any marital connotation whatsoever for Dr. Johnson. When in 1784 he wrote about having dinner with his friends “Mrs Carter, Miss Hannah More, and Miss Fanny Burney,” all three women were unmarried. Elizabeth Carter, a distinguished scholar and lifelong friend of Johnson’s, was his own age and was invariably known as Mrs Carter Hannah More and Fanny Burney were much younger and used the new style Miss.

Erickson’s investigations have revealed that “Miss” was adopted by adult women for the first time in the middle of the 18th century. Before that, Miss was only used for girls, in the way that Master is only ever (today increasingly rarely) used for boys. To refer to an adult woman as a “Miss” was to imply she was a prostitute.

She explains: “Until the 19th century, most women did not have any prefix before their name. Mrs and, later, Miss were both restricted to those of higher social standing. Women on the bottom rungs of the social scale were addressed simply by their names. Thus, in a large household the housekeeper might be Mrs Green, while the scullery maid was simply Molly, and the woman who came in to do the laundry was Tom Black’s wife or Betty Black.

“Historians have long known that Mrs indicated social status, but they normally assume it also shows that the woman was married. So they have wrongly concluded that women like Johnson’s friend Elizabeth Carter were addressed as Mrs as an acknowledgement of distinction, to grant them the same status as a married woman.”

Erickson suggests that this interpretation is mistaken. “Mrs was the exact equivalent of Mr. Either term described a person who governed servants or apprentices, in Johnson’s terms—we might say a person with capital. Once we adopt Johnson’s understanding of the term (which was how it was used in the 18th century), it becomes clear that ‘Mrs’ was more likely to indicate a businesswoman than a married woman. So the women who took membership of the London Companies in the 18th century, all of whom were single and many of whom were involved in luxury trades, were invariably known as ‘Mrs,’ as the men were ‘Mr.’ Literally, they were masters and mistresses of their trades.”

Historians have often misidentified women as married because they were addressed as “Mrs”—when they were actually single. “It’s easy enough to identify the marital status of a prominent woman, or those taking the Freedom of the City of London (since they had to be single),” says Erickson. “But it’s much harder to identify whether those women described as Mrs in a parish listing of households were ever married—especially the ones with common names like Joan Smith.”

Erickson’s research into the 1793 parish listing for the Essex market town of Bocking shows that 25 heads of household were described as Mrs. She says: “Female household heads were by definition either single or widowed and, if Bocking was typical of other communities, around half of them would have been widows, and the other half single. But two thirds of these women in Bocking were specified as farmers or business proprietors. So Mrs is more reliably being used to identify women with capital, than to identify marital status. Only one woman was Miss: the schoolmistress.”

It seems that it was not society’s desire to mark either a woman’s availability for marriage (in the case of ‘Miss’), or to mark the socially superior status of marriage (‘Mrs’) which led to the use of titles to distinguish female marital status. Rather, socially ambitious young single women used ‘Miss’ as a means to identify their gentility, as distinct from the mere businesswoman or upper servant.

This trend was probably fuelled by the novels of the 1740s such as those by Samuel Richardson, Henry Fielding, and Sarah Fielding, which featured young gentry Misses and upper (single) servants titled Mrs. The boundaries between the old and new styles are blurred, but Mrs did not definitively signify a married woman until around 1900.

In the course of her research, Erickson has also looked at the way in which from the early 19th century married women acquired their husband’s full name—as in Mrs John Dashwood (Jane Austen’s Sense & Sensibility, 1811). Austen used this technique to establish seniority among women who shared the same surname. England in the early 19th century was the only place in Europe where a woman took her husband’s surname.

To many women in the late 20th century, the practice of replacing her first name by his first name added insult to injury. That’s why this form of address was satirized as “Mrs Man,” and why it has dropped out of use in all but the most socially conservative circles—except of course where a couple are addressed jointly. The introduction of Ms as a neutral alternative to “Miss” or “Mrs,” and the direct equivalent of “Mr,” was proposed as early as 1901.

“‘Those who objected to ‘Miss’ and ‘Mrs’ argue that they define a woman by which man she belongs to. If a woman is ‘Miss,’ it is her father if she is addressed as ‘Mrs,’ she belongs to her husband,” says Erickson. “It’s curious that the use of Ms is often criticized today as not ‘standing for’ anything. In fact, it has an impeccable historical pedigree since it was one of several abbreviations for Mistress in the 17th and 18th centuries, and effectively represents a return to the state which prevailed for some 300 years with the use of Mrs for adult women—only now it applies to everyone and not just the social elite.”

The question of which titles are appropriate for which women is likely to remain hotly contested. In 2012 the mayor of Cesson-Sevigne, a town in France, banned the use of “mademoiselle” (the French equivalent of “Miss”), in favour of madame (the equivalent of “Mrs”), which would be applied to all women, whether married or not, and regardless of age. The proposal has not met with universal favour. Some women protested that calling an adult woman “mademoiselle” was a compliment.

Dr. Amy Erickson’s paper, “Mistresses and Marriage,” is published in the autumn 2014 issue of History Workshop Journal. Her research on this topic is one thread of a much larger University of Cambridge project that will eventually reconstruct the occupational structure of Britain from the late medieval period to the 19th century. This article originally appeared in the New Statesman.

Essay on World History of Advertising (2382 Words)

In ancient times the most common form of advertising was by word of mouth. The archaeologists have found Babylonian clay tablet dated 3000 BC having inscription of a shoemaker, a scribe and an ointment dealer. Commercial messages and political campaign displays have been found in the ruins of Pompeii, where little shops used to have inscriptions on walls near the entrance to inform the pedestrians about the products to be purchased.

Egyptians used papyrus to create sales messages and wall posters. Such one document found in the ruins of Thebes bears announcements offering rewards for the return of fugitive slaves. In Greece and Rome, lost-and-found advertising on papyrus was common. Wall or rock painting for commercial advertising is manifestation of ancient outdoor advertising form, which, is present to this day in many parts of Asia, Africa, and South America.

For instance, the tradition of wall paintings can be traced back to Indian rock-art paintings that goes back to 4000 BC. Phoenicians used to pain commercial messages on prominent rocks along the frequently travelled trade routes. The other mode of advertising was town crying that was used in Greece and India, where town criers were paid to go around town spreading news and making announcements in the streets.

As printing developed in the 15th and 16th century especially after the invention of movable type by Johann Gutenberg in 1438 AD, advertising flourished. The first known print advertisement in English appeared nearly 40 years after this inventions in the form of handbill of rules for the guidance of clergy at Easter released by William Caxton of London. In about 1525, one ad eulogising the virtues of mysterious drug printed on a circulated sheet appeared in German news pamphlets.

This was followed by a rapid spurt in the growth of newspapers the first of which in English came out in 1622 named Weekly News of London. The first advertisement appeared in an English newspaper in 1625. The first ad in America appeared in 1704 in Boston Newsletter offering a reward for the capture of a thief. In the 17th century, weekly newspapers called ‘mercuries’ started to be published in England, which used to feature many advertisements most of which were in the form of announcements made by the importers of products new to England like coffee in 1652, chocolate in 1657 and tea in the next year.

The other print ads were used mainly to promote books (which became increasingly affordable thanks to the printing press) and medicines (which were increasingly sought after as disease ravaged Europe). However, false advertising and so-called “quack” ads became a problem, which ushered in regulation of advertising content.

As the economy was expanding during the 19th century, the need for advertising grew at the same pace. In the United States, classified ads became popular, filling pages of newspapers with small print messages promoting all kinds of goods. The success of this advertising format led to the growth of mail-order advertising such as the Sears Catalog, at one time referred to as the “Farmer’s Bible”.

In 1843 Volney Palmer established the first advertising agency in Philadelphia, who worked as an agent for around 1400 newspapers. He only used to sell space to advertisers and did not provide any creative or account planning services to clients. But by the 20th century, agencies started to take over responsibility for the content also in addition to being just brokers for ad space in newspapers.

The Early years of Advertising in America:

1. 1843 – Volney B. Palmer opens the first American advertising agency, in Philadelphia.

2. 1852 – First advertisement for Smith Brother’s Cough Candy (drops) appears in a Poughkeepsie, New York paper – the two brothers in the illustration are named “Trade” and “Mark.”

3. 1856 – Mathew Brady advertises his services of “photographs, ambrotypes and daguerreotypes” in the New York Herald paper. His inventive use of type in the ad goes against the newspaper industry standard of all-agate and all same-size type used for advertisements in the papers.

4. 1856 – Robert Bonner is the first to run a full-page ad in a paper, advertising his own literary paper, the New York Ledger.

5. 1861 – There are twenty advertising agencies in New York City.

6. 1864 – William James Carlton begins selling advertising space in newspapers, founding the agency that later became the J. Walter Thompson Company, the oldest American advertising agency in continuous existence.

7. 1865 – George P. Rowell and his friend Horace Dodd open their advertising agency in Boston.

8. 1867 – Lord & Taylor is the first company to use double-column advertising in newspapers.

9. 1869 – N. W. Ayer and Sons advertising agency is founded in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, and the following year begins advertising its own agency in both general and trade publications.

10. 1869 – E. C. Allan starts the People’s Literary Companion, marking the beginning of the “mail­order” periodical.

11. 1869 – The first advertisement for Sapolio soap is published.

12. 1869 – George P. Rowell issues the first Rowell’s American Newspaper Directory, providing advertisers with information on the estimated circulation of papers and thus helping to standardize value for space in advertising.

13. 1860s – Advertising begins to appear in nationally distributed monthly magazines.

14. 1870 – 5,091 newspapers are in circulation, compared to 715 in 1830.

15. 1872 – Montgomery Ward begins mail order business with the issue of its first catalog.

16. 1879 – John Wanamaker places the first whole-page newspaper advertisement by an American department store.

17. 1870s – Charles E. Hires begins advertising Hires Root Beer in the Philadelphia Ledger, expanding over the next two decades into national magazines.

18. 1870s – $1 million dollars is spent annually advertising Lydia Pinkham’s Pink Pills.

19. 1870s – Louis Prang, a lithographer and printer, develops the idea of mass-producing small “trade cards” that could be adapted to the needs of individual advertisers at low cost. Thread companies, such as Clark’s O.N.T., are among the first to begin nationwide distribution of advertising trade cards.

20. 1870s – In response to the high volume of outdoor advertising (including posters and signs painted on rocks, buildings and barns) in cities and rural areas, several states begin to impose limitations to protect natural scenery from sign painters.

21. 1880 – John Wanamaker hires John E. Powers, who brings a fresh style to advertising – an honest, direct and fresh appeal emphasizing the style, elegance, comfort and luxury of products. Powers is later called “the father of honest advertising.”

22. 1886 – Sears, Roebuck & Company begins mail-order business.

23. 1880s – Illustrated trade cards reach the height of their popularity, not only with advertisers but also with the American public, which becomes remarkably interested in collecting them.

24. 1890 – J. Walter Thompson Company’s billings total over one million dollars.

25. 1891 – The precursor organization to the Outdoor Advertising Association of America (OAAA) is created under the name Associated Bill Posters Association of United States and Canada. OAAA is not used as the organizational name until 1925.

26. 1891 – Batten and Co. advertising agency is founded by George Batten in New York, merging with another agency in 1928 to form Batten, Barton, Durstine and Osborne (BBDO).

27. 1891 – Nathan Fowler, in Advertising Age, recommends that because women make most of the purchasing decisions of their household, manufacturers would do well to direct their advertising messages to them.

29. 1902 – Packard begins use of the long-lasting slogan “Ask the man who owns one.”

30. 1902 – Unilever hires the J. Walter Thompson Company for advertising Lifebuoy Soap and later Lux and other products in America. Unilever is still with J. Walter Thompson and represents the oldest client relationship in the advertising industry.

31. 1904 – Cigarette coupons are first used as a draw for a new chain of tobacco stores.

32. 1914 – The first full-length feature comedy motion picture, Tillie’s Punctured Romance, stars Marie Dresser, Mabel Normand, and newcomer Charlie Chaplin.

33. 1917 – A massive advertising campaign for Lucky Strike tobacco gets underway, employing the slogan “It’s Toasted.”

34. 1917 – The American Association of Advertising Agencies is formed.

The 1960s saw advertising transform into a modern, more scientific approach in which creativity was allowed to shine, producing unexpected messages that made advertisements more tempting to consumers’ eyes. The Volkswagen ad campaign featuring such headlines as “Think Small” and “Lemon” ushered in the era of modern advertising by promoting a “position” or “unique selling proposition’ designed to associate each brand with a specific idea in the reader or viewer’s mind.

The late 1980s and early 1990s saw the introduction of cable television and particularly MTV. Pioneering the concept of the music video, MTV ushered in a new type of advertising: the consumer tunes in for the advertisement, rather than it being a byproduct or afterthought. As cable (and later satellite) television became increasingly prevalent, “specialty” channels began to emerge, and eventually entire channels, such as QVC and Home Shopping Network and Shop TV, devoted to advertising merchandise, where again the consumer tuned in for the ads.

Marketing through the Internet opened new frontiers for advertisers and led to the “dot-com” boom of the 1990s. Entire corporations operated solely on advertising revenue, offering everything from coupons to free Internet access. At the turn of the 21st century, the search engine Google revolutionized online advertising by emphasizing contextually relevant, unobtrusive ads intended to help, rather than inundate, users. This has led to a plethora of similar efforts and an increasing trend of interactive advertising.

The share of advertising spending relative to total economic output (GDP) has changed little across large changes in media. For example, in the U.S. in 1925, the main advertising media were newspapers, magazines, signs on streetcars, and outdoor posters. Advertising spending as a share of U.S. GDP was about 2.6% in 1925. By 1998, television and radio had become major advertising media. Nonetheless, advertising spending as a share of GDP was slightly lower — about 2.4%.

A recent advertising innovation is “guerrilla promotions”, which involve unusual approaches such as staged encounters in public places, giveaways of products such as cars that are covered with brand messages, and interactive advertising where the viewer can respond to become part of the advertising message. This reflects an increasing trend of interactive and “embedded” ads, such as via product placement, having consumers vote through text messages, and various innovations utilizing social networking sites such as MySpace and Orkut.

An early advertising success story is that of Pears Soap. Thomas Barratt married into the famous soap making family and realised that they needed to be more aggressive about pushing their products if they were to survive. He launched the series of ads featuring cherubic children which firmly welded the brand to the values it still holds today, he took images considered as “fine art” and used them to connote his brand’s quality, purity (ie untainted by commercialism) and simplicity (cherubic children). He is often referred to as the father of modern advertising.

However, it was not until the emergence of advertising agencies in the latter part of the nineteenth century that advertising became a fully-fledged institution, with its own ways of working, and with its own creative values. These agencies were a response to an increasingly crowded marketplace, where manufacturers were realising that promotion of their products was vital if they were to survive. They sold themselves as experts in communication to their clients – who were then left to get on with the business of manufacturing.

World War 1 saw some important advances in advertising as governments on all sides used ads as propaganda. The British used advertising as propaganda to convince its own citizens to fight, and also to persuade the Americans to join. No less a political commentator than Hitler concluded (in Mein Kampf) that Germany lost the war because it lost the propaganda battle: he did not make the same mistake when it was his turn. One of the other consequences of World War I was the increased mechanisation of industry – and hence increased costs which had to be paid for somehow: hence the desire to create need in the consumer which begins to dominate advertising from the 1920s onward.

Advertising quickly took advantage of the new mass media of the first part of the twentieth century, using cinema, and to a much greater extent, radio, to transmit commercial messages. You can listen to some early radio advertising here (RealPlayer req’d). This was beginning to show signs of working effectively in the 1920s but the Wall St crash put an end to widespread affluence, and the Great Depression and World War Two meant that it was not really until the 1950s that consumers had enough disposable income to really respond to the need creation message of advertisers.

The 1950s not only brought postwar affluence to the average citizen but whole new glut of material goods for which need had to be created. Not least of these was the television set. In America it quickly became the hottest consumer property – no home could be without one. And where the sets went, the advertisers followed, spilling fantasies about better living through buying across the hearthrug in millions of American homes.

The UK and Europe, with government controlled broadcasting, were a decade or so behind America in allowing commercial TV stations to take to the air, and still have tighter controls on sponsorship and the amount of editorial control advertisers can have in a programme. This is the result of some notable scandals in the US, where sponsors interfered in the content and outcome of quiz shows in order to make their product seem, by association, sexier.

Unhappy with the ethical compromise of the single-sponsor show, NBC executive Sylvester Weaver came up with the idea of selling not whole shows to advertisers, but separate, small blocks of broadcast time. Several different advertisers could buy time within one show, and therefore the content of the show would move out of the control of a single advertiser – rather like a print magazine. This became known as the magazine concept, or participation advertising, as it allowed a whole variety of advertisers to access.

“The Great Exhibition and the Little One,” from Household Words

It was seen by a few philosophers long since, that the abstract faculties of man could not be increased in number, neither could they be enlarged and refined beyond a given extent and it was therefore concluded that the advances of mankind in their practical social condition were limited to the ordinary characteristics of a high condition of civilisation. This belief was generally entertained down to a comparatively recent period. It has been reserved, not merely for our modern times, but we may fairly say for our own day, to perceive the truth, and to announce a belief in the gradual advances of the human family to a condition very superior to anything conveyed by mere “civilisation,” in the common acceptation of the word, and in the common characteristics which it displays. In brief, we consider that our present period recognises the progress of humanity, step by step, towards a social condition in which nobler feelings, thoughts, and actions, in concert for the good of all, instead of in general antagonism, producing a more refined and fixed condition of happiness, may be the common inheritance of great and small communities, and of all those nations of the earth who recognise and aspire to fulfil their law of human progression.

There may be — for a free will, and a perverse one, too, appear to be allowed by Providence to nations as well as individuals — there may be an odd, barbarous, or eccentric nation, here and there, upon the face of the globe, who may see fit to exercise its free will, in the negative form of will-not, and who may seclude itself from the rest of the world, resolved not to move on with it. For the rest of the earth's inhabitants, the shades, and steps, and gradations of the ascending scale will be various, and no doubt numerous but, what we are moving in a right direction towards some superior condition of society — politically, morally, intellectually, and religiously — that newly turned-up furrows of the earth are being sown with larger, nobler, and more healthy seed than the earth has ever yet received, we humbly yet proudly and with heartfelt joy that partakes of solemnity, do fully recognise as a great fact — the greatest and grandest, by far, of all the facts that crowdingly display themselves at the present time, because it indicates the ultimate combination of all our noblest efforts.

Let us glance at a few of the special signs and tokens of the struggle that is no going on in the world, and we shall clearly see that the period of revolutionary excitement has in a great measure subsided into an industrial excitement. It looks as though England had said to the continental nations — “Pause awhile to take breath after your barricades, and the putting to flight of your kings, and consider whether a good round of industrious work will not show us all whereabouts we are whether it will not give time to reflect upon the best means of gaining greater strength by means of the knowledge of things, and of each other, than can possibly be acquired by the sword. Who can tell but the political rights of nations may be more easily and permanently attained by works of peace, by studious observation, and by steady persevering resolution, than by any number of emeutes, however, successful at the time?” Far from thinking that such a course is likely to merge energies in abstract speculation, or that it can supersede the ever-present necessity for practical action and direct effort, we are of opinion that such a speech from the mouth of sturdy Old England is very worthy of careful consideration, by many of those nations who have contributed to the present Exhibition of Industry.

Of these special signs and tokens of the peaceful progress of the world, how numerous, how diversified are they! — and — let us honestly add — how impossible to be thoroughly singled out and examined amidst the crowding masses of men and things, raw materials and manufactured articles, machines and engines that surround you on every side! Where to begin, and how to advance with any prospect of concluding in a reasonable number of daily visits — is the difficulty. It is not much diminished by the great official Catalogue, (to say nothing of the “Synopsis,” the “Popular Guide,” &c), to which no index is attached, nor any compass-box — which is almost equally needed by the persevering navigator of all the “bays” and other intricacies below and above. Suppose, therefore, we lay aside the Catalogue, and turning over Porter's “Progress of the Nation,” adopt his divisions to guide us in our examination.

Mr Porter begins with “Population.” We cannot do much with this question, as it is not at all represented or representable by an exhibition of this kind. Yet the question is too important in any consideration of national progress to be entirely passed over.
It appears that England doubles its population in fifty-two years France, in one hundred and twenty-five years Russia, in forty-two years the United States of America, in twenty-two and-a-half years Sweden doubles its population in one hundred years and all Europe in fifty-seven years. What are we to say of China? We believe the figures are not known and, even if they were, the practice of infanticide would in a great measure perplex, if not defeat, our judgement and deductions. Here, however, we find all other countries doubling their populations in a comparatively short period of years, and England, Russia, and the United States of America, in alarmingly short periods of years — the latter, more especially.

Are there any corresponding means of increasing the power of producing food, so as to meet this constantly progressive demand for it? The great number of ploughs, and the exercise of so much thought and mechanical ingenuity in their varieties of invention, has been the subject of some good-natured merriment among other nations but, when we look forward twenty-two years, and behold the American States with double their present population, the contemplation of these ploughs and other agricultural implements, must induce very serious reflections — reflections which do not end with the thought of America. It is not our present business to consider the causes of this extraordinary difference in the numerical advances of our species in different countries, curious and intricately interesting as that examination would be but to look at such means of meeting the increase as now present themselves before us. In England, we may regard our machinery and workshops as so many means of obtaining corn, and other food-productions of the earth. Our machinery and engines are our ploughs, by an indirect process, since we manufacture for those countries whose agricultural produce is far more abundant than our own.

This brings us to the second division of Porter's examination of the “Progress of the Nation,” namely, agricultural and manufacturing production. Under this head, we have to point, first, to the great quantity and variety of raw materials — mining and mineral products — chemical and pharmaceutical productions — substances used as food — and vegetable and animal substances used in manufactures and secondly, to the extraordinary display of enginery and machinery. Under this latter head are to be included all the improvements in railway travelling, no less than in farming and in manufacturing.

As it is impossible in any allowable space to “go through” the whole Exhibition, or tough upon a tithe of its Catalogue, let us suggest as curious subjects of comparison, those two countries which display (on the whole) the greatest degree of progress, and the least — say England and China. England, maintaining commercial intercourse with the whole world China, shutting itself up, as far as possible, within itself. The true Tory spirit would have made a China of England, if it could. Behold its results in the curious little Exhibition now established close beside the great one. It is very curious to have the Exhibition of a people who came to a dead stop, Heaven knows how many hundred years ago, side by side with the Exhibition of the moving world. It points the moral in a surprising manner.

Consider our English raw materials, and our engines and machinery. We do not pause to particularise there they are, and may be seen. Enormous blocks of coal, great masses of stone, and timber, and marble, and mineral and vegetable substances.

Consider the material employed at the great Teacup Works of Kiang-tiht-Chin (or Tight-Chin) the “bedaubing powder, ready mixed,” and the “bedaubing material” — pith of stick, to make rice-paper medicine-roots, hemp-seed, vegetable paints, varnishes, dyes, raw silk, oils, white and yellow arsenic, saffron, camphor, green tea dyes, &c. Consider the greatness of the English results, and the extraordinary littleness of the Chinese. Go from the silk-weaving and cotton-spinning of us outer barbarians, to the laboriously-carved ivory balls of the flowery Empire, ball within ball and circle within circle, which have made no advance and been of no earthly use for thousands of years. Well may the three Chinese divinities of the Past, the Present, and the Future be represented with the same heavy face. Well may the dull, immovable, respectable triad sit so amicably, side by side, in a glory of yellow jaundice, with a strong family likeness among them! As the Past was, so the Present is, and so the Future shall be, saith the Emperor. And all the Mandarins prostrate themselves, and cry Amen.

The railway engines, and agricultural engines, and machines the locomotives, in all their variety the farm-engines, such as the compound plough, the harrow, the clod-crusher, the revolving sub-soiler (some of them looking not a little alarming, like instruments of torture for the Titans), the draining-plough, the centrifugal pump, the sowing-machine, the reaping, the thrashing, and the winnowing machines, the chaff-cutter, the barley-hummeller, the straw-shaker, the combined thrashing, shaking, and blowing machine the “machine to sow and hoe an acre of turnips in five minutes” — how can we possible describe these, so as to be understood! Then, there are sawing-machines of great power machines for planing others by which a large hurdle can be cut from the solid timber, and put together in nine minutes, and a fifty-six gallon beer-barrel made in five minutes. As for the machinery of our manufactures, with all their complex powers, their wonderful stringed, velocity, and minutely precise manipulations, one's head whizzes with the recollection of them. But among all these wonders, nothing exceeds, and but few approach, the printing machinery of the “Illustrated London News,” which is the same as that used by the “Times.”

After contemplating this extraordinary piece of mechanism, and its ordinary practical results, take a walk across, and along, “hither and thither,” to the Little Exhibition, and look at the means of printing which is there exhibited.

“The operation is very quick,” says the Chinese Catalogue, “and from two thousand to three thousand may be taken off in a day by a single workman.” This rude expedient has never been improved from the hours of its first construction. It is an illustration of the true doctrine of Finality the gospel according to which would have been taught us (under heavy pains and penalties) to print for ever, as Caxton prints upon the Royal Academy walls, in Mr. Macalise's wonderful picture, and to keep the stupendous machinery which produces our daily newspapers with the regularity of the sun, through all eternity, in the limbo of things waiting to be born.

There are some stupendous anchors lying in the outer part of the Great Exhibition. Their enormous size and weight naturally suggest the present advanced state of naval architecture in England and America we may turn from sailing-ships to the models of our steam-navy, and of the magnificent stream-boats on the lakes and rivers of the Untied States.

Compare these with the models of junks and boats in the Chinese Exhibition. Compare these with the Junk itself, lying in the Thames hard by the Temple-stairs. As a bamboo palanquin is, beside a Railway-train, so is an English or American ship, beside this ridiculous abortion Aboard of which, the sailors decline to enter until “a considerable amount of tin-foil, silver paper, and joss stick,” has been purchased for their worship. Where they make offerings of tea, sweet-cake, and pork, to the compass, on the voyage, to induce it to be true and faithful. Where the best that seamanship can do for the ship is to paint two immense eyes on her bows, in order that she may see her way, (do the Chinese do this to their blind?) and to hang out bits of red rag in stormy weather to mollify the wrath of the ocean. Where the crew live in china closets, wearing crape petticoats and wooden clogs. Where the cabinet is fitted up with every sort of small scented object that is utterly irreconcilable with water or motion. Where nobody thinks of going aloft, or could possibly carry out his wild intention if he did. Where the crew ought to be armed with sticks of cinnamon, and the captain with a lantern at the end of a pole. Where the whole is under the protection of an ornithological phenomenon on the stern, who crows with all his might and main, “I was the representation of a cock a thousand years ago, and the man who says I could possibly be made more like one, shall immediately be sawn in half, according to law!”

Return to the Great Exhibition. In the department (Class 7) of Civil Engineering, architecture, and building contrivances, we find the revolving, dioptric, and catadioptric apparatus of lighthouses models of railways, of iron bridges, of self-supporting suspension-bridges, of submarine steam-propellers, of the great tubular bridge, and of the proposed “grand ship canal through the Isthmus of Suez.”
Step over to the Little Exhibition, and consider how the Chinese Lanthorns would look on the North or South Foreland, or the Long Ships, or the Eddystone, in heavy weather, and what capital floating lights they would make on the Goodwin Sands.
The Chinese self-supporting bridges, houses, pagodas, and little islands, on their porcelain, all standing upon nothing, are equally curious with the models of their actual structure.

In the Great Exhibition, among the philosophical, musical, horological, and surgical instruments, we find, first, the great Electric Clock and next we notice clocks that will go for four hundred days with once winding up watches that are so accurate from injury by damp, that they are exhibited suspended in water, and performing with regularity a money-calculating machine, suited to the currency of all nations an instrument for the solution of difficult problems in spherical trigonometry (obviously a great comfort) clocks showing the days of the month, months of the year, motions of the sun and moon, and the state of the tide at the principal sea-ports of Great Britain, Ireland, France, America, Spain, Portugal, Holland and Germany — and showing all this for a whole year with only one winding up oxyhydrogen microscopes daguerreotype and calotype apparatus and, above all, the electric telegraphs.
In competition with these, the Little Exhibition presents us with “a very curious porcelain box in the form of a crab, with movable eyes and foot,” and with no clock or watch at all. In the absence of public clocks to strike the hours, a Chinese watchman hits a large bell with a mallet first ascertaining the time by an European watch, or from the burning of a candle, or the running of sand, or the descent of some liquid in a vessel.

We ought not to omit the mention of a few of the ingenious surgical inventions (and here our French exhibiters are most skilful) such as the artificial leech apparatus and tools to meet the loss of the right hand the artificial leg, to enable those who have lost that limb above the knee, to ride, walk, sit gracefully, or even dance an illuminative instrument for inspecting the inside of the ear, and another for the eye the guard razor, which shaves off hair, and will not cut flesh the ostracide (grand and killing terms for the easy oyster-opener) the masticating knife and fork, for dyspeptic persons artificial arms, hands, feet, legs, eyes the artificial silver nose, warranted and so on.

Chinese philosophical instruments we have neither seen, nor heard of, with very few exceptions. A maritime compass-box, however, is exhibited, and is considered efficient, notwithstanding that the needle points due south. The Chinese say it always does — one end of it. Of their surgical instruments we know very little but, if we may judge of them from their knives and razors, and carpenters' tools, they must be sufficiently primitive and curious.

In the arts of sculpture and modelling, the progress many by all nations (we do not include Italy, because she has so long been famous for her excellence) is sufficiently apparent. With regard to English sculpture, we have only to call the attention of the visitor of the Great Exhibition to Mr. MacDowell's model of “Eve,” to Mr. Lough's “Titania,” to Mr. Bell's “Andromeda,” and “Eagle Slayer,” to the two figures by Mr. Baily, to the group in bronze by Mr. Wyatt, and to the colossal groups by Messrs Lough and MacDowell, to establish the fact of our having attained a high position in the art. The models in plaster, clay, and terracotta, and other works of plastic art, are also very numerous, and many of them display great excellence.
In the Little Exhibition, we find the old and never-to-be-surpassed ugly lion-monsters, with the mouth stretched until the head is half off, and the eye-balls rolling out of their sockets we have figures of the same mandarins and the same ladies, who have sat on the same teapots and screens from time immemorial we have carved chessmen, and caddies, and cabinets, and richly painted lanterns and teapots, and tea-cups, and soap-stone josses, and other stout gentlemen, very much in déshabillle, and with an unpleasant habit of putting out their tongues we have slim young ladies, standing askew, with long-legged umbrellas, or some incomprehensible knick-knack, in one hand we have models of the common people, looking very dirty and half-starved we have more teapots and a revolving lantern (not exactly meant to rival our catadriotripc one) and elaborately insignificant designs carved on mother-of-pearl and ivory and more teapots, and ivory balls, with twenty other balls each a size less than the other, inside, and all movable, and no joints visible, if any exist and diminutive boxes carved from peach-stones and hand-screens made from the gelatine of the heads of fish and more lanthorns and the Goddess Chin-Te with no end of arms and all sorts of horrible old grinners who are to be devoutly worshipped and the God of War, who is by far the finest fellow in the party, for he really does mean something, and it is by no meaning fighting. He is considering, with a very cunning face, “Now, let me see. What will be the best way out of this? Shall I arrange to pay so many sacks of silver and afterwards fill them with lead, or how, otherwise, shall I circumvent the Barbarians and restore peace to the dominions of my Emperor, whose official name is Reason's Glory?”

The construction of musical instruments has always been a marked sign of the progress of nations, in refinement of taste and skill of [p. 359] hand. Frankly admitting that the great improvements (more particularly the cornopeans, sax-horns, opheclides, the sostenente, the many-keyed flutes, the corno-musa, and other fine inventions) are originally derived from Germany, we have yet claim credit for our sense and skill in adopting and manufacturing them and this applies to one grand instrument, the grandest of them all, wherein, we believe it may not be said that we have attained a superiority to all other nations. The great organ in the gallery, by Willis, of London, may be adduced in proof of this while the pianofortes, also, of Broadwood, and of Collard, are without superiors in any part of the world. We have made great efforts to arrive at the highest excellence in all the nice and intricate mechanisms of musical instruments, and with complete success, being now upon an equality with nearly all the finest productions of Germany, Italy, and France.
But what has the Celestial Empire been doing in this way during the last twenty yeas, or the last fifty, or the last five hundred years, of the last thousand years? See the Chinese harp — the flute — the horn — guitar, or mandolin. The only real instruments worthy of the name as “things capable,” though not to be called “most musical,” are the gong, and the brass pan and kettle inventions, wherewith that Dragon who attacks the Sun (when Barbarians suppose there is an eclipse) is scared away. The Celestial people have “a sort of a kind of a” flute, guitar, fiddle, bagpipe, horn, and drum. They have no idea of sounding boards, strings of catgut, semitones, counterpoint, or parts in music. the very tree on which their instruments are made, is such a Chinese tree in the essential of always doing the same thing,
that the movement it sheds a leaf, the autumn is sure to have set it.

One of the indications of the progress of a nation is “interchange,” including internal communication and trade, and external communication and commerce, currency, and wages. What the first and second of these are, with respect to Europe generally, both in extent and quality, the Great Exhibition fully attests.

The internal communication of China is chiefly an affair of official pigtails — a series of Mandarins of different sizes, buttons, and feathers, sending letters to each other of various tints, and varying from two feet to six feet in length while the trade is limited entirely to articles of home produce the Celestial disdaining all trade and commerce with “outside people,” except at certain sea-ports, which are so remote from the Emperor and his capital that their doings are scarcely known, and are not recognised as part and parcel of the transactions of the empire.

The following division of Mr. Porter's work — public revenue and expenditure — consumption — and accumulation — but which last he means the increase of national works and buildings, of commercial and agricultural stock, and of articles that minister to the comfort and convenience of individuals — are well illustrated by the numerous models of large public edifices and works, projected, or already existing, in the United Kingdom.

In China, there are the Great Wall, and the Imperial Place at Pekin, and the pagodas with their turned-up corners and their bells, and the temple and bridges, and the various teapot works, with few additions, if any, and probably none, all just as they were centuries ago, suggesting the idea of the same Emperor having sat upon the same enamelled porcelain throne during the whole time, with the same thin-arched pair of elevated eyebrows, admiring and wondering, with the same inanity, at the same inanimate perfection of himself and all around him.

To complete the contrast, it is worth while to glance at the real Police associated with the Great Exhibition, and the mimic police in the Little One — to say nothing of the sweltering robber in the tub, at the latter place, or the other culprit in the bamboo cage. It is worth while to compare the work-people in the Machinery Courts of the Great Exhibition, with the models of the Chinese workpeople at their various trades. It is worth while to contemplate the Chinese Lady with her lotus feet, two inches and a half in length, and to consider how many other things are crippled by conceited absolutism and distrust. You are quite surprised, in the Little Exhibition, to find Chinese fish gasping like other fish, or a Chinese frog without very oval eyes, until you recollect that neither species are the natural-born subjects of Reason's Glory, but that they happy privilege is reserved for men and women.

Reader, in the comparison between the Great and Little Exhibition, you have the comparison between Stoppages and Progress, between the exclusive principle and all other principles, between the good old times and the bad new times, between perfect Toryism and imperfect advancement. Who can doubt that you will be led to conclusions, unhappily a little at a discount in this degenerate age, and that you will mentally take suit and service in the favoured Chinese Empire, with Reason's Glory!

First ad pages

In the mid 19th century readers were not only the rich ones and magazines become available to the middle class. This was beginning for the first family magazines, such as, Dickens Household Words. During the 19th century, increasing attempts was made to cut the price of the magazines. At this time the first ads appeared, but not much because the ads were loaded with special tax, all up to 1853.

After the repeal of the tax, number of ads did not increase since many publishers avoided this type of income (Readers Digest magazine did not publish ads until 1955). In the late 19th century and with the invention of the rotary press, the number of printed copies increases, and the price of the issue is reduced and thus we enter the century, that will mark the development of the magazines as one of the world’s leading media.

With technological progress, increased circulation, and increasing use of images, magazines are becoming increasingly attractive to advertisers. The first advertising agency was established in 1890 and from that point on advertising started to flourish.

Good Housekeeping is one of the most iconic American magazines, more than a hundred years old.

National Geographic Magazine is the most famous scientific magazine, and is one of the oldest in the world, dating from 1889.

In crazy twenties Henry Luce publishes Time magazine, one of the most important political weeklies.

Word Stories

The following are some of the interesting etymologies found in the history of English words. Below they are classified by the modern meaning rather than the meanings of the source words.

Color words

azure From Persian Lazheward, the name of a place in northeastern Afghanistan that in ancient times was the main source for lapis lazuli, a semi-precious rock with a vivid blue color. The word was adopted into French as l'azur the initial /l/ meaning 'the') by the twelfth century. The word was adopted into English from French. First recorded use of it in English as possibly a color name was in 1374 in Geoffrey Chaucer's Troilus and Criseyde where he refers to "a broche, gold and asure" ('a brooch, gold and azure'). This could mean 'a brooch make of gold and lapis lazuli' OR a 'gold and blue brooch', or both simultaneously since the materials have their characteristic colors.

purple O.E. purpul, dissimilation from purpure 'purple garment, purple dye, purple color (from dye)', from L. purpura 'purple-dyed cloak, purple dye', also 'shellfish from which purple dye was made' from Gk. porphyra, of Semitic origin, originally the name for the genus of shellfish (murex)) from which it was obtained. Tyrian purple, produced around Tyre, was prized as dye for royal garments. As a color name, attested from late 14c.

vermilion 'bright red'. First appeared late 13c. as a noun from the 1580s, also as an adjective. Originally meant a type of red dye and its color, and then also the red color of another dye. From Anglo-Fr. and O.Fr. vermeillon, from vermeil 'bright-red' from Late Latin vermiculus 'a little worm', specifically, the cochineal insect from which crimson dyes were obtained (see cochineal). In classical Latin vermiculus meant 'larva of an insect, grub, maggot', diminutive of vermis 'worm'.

carmine from Fr. carmin, from Medieval Latin carminium, from Arabic qirmiz "crimson," from Skt. krimiga 'insect-produced' from krmi 'worm, insect.' The dye comes from crushed cochineal insects. Influenced in Latin by minium 'red lead, cinnabar'. Possibly of Iberian origin.

'red or crystalline form of mercuric sulphide', also applied to other ores of mercury, originally with reference to its use as a pigment from O.Fr. cinabre, from Late Latin cinnabaris from Gk. kinnabari, of oriental origin (cf. Persian zanjifrah in the same sense). Also used 14c.-17c. of red resinous juice of a certain Eastern tree, which was believed to be a mixture of dragon's and elephant's blood.

magenta Now 'deep saturated reddish pink', earlier bright crimson. Name given in 1860 to a brilliant crimson aniline dye (and its color) developed shortly after the battle of Magenta, in Italy, where the French and Sardinians defeated the Austrians in 1859. The color was named in honor of the battle, whose outcome advanced the cause of Italian independence and inspired the hopes and imagination of European political reformers.

Body and Brain

amygdala One of a pair of brain structures on the underside of the temporal lobe of the human brain. From Greek amygdala 'almond', a metaphor based on resemblance of size and shape. (To find the amygdala, hover your mouse around the brain on Whalen Amygdala Site until you see it and can click to enter the lab site.)


alligator A new-world Spanish loan, from el lagarto 'the lizard'. The definite article el was not understood as a morpheme, but taken as an unanalyzed part of a monomorphemic root. Oddly, a similar process happened in loans from Arabic to Spanish during the Islamic period in Spain. Words like alcoba 'alcove, bedroom' and azucar 'sugar' which had the Arabic definite article al or a- were taken as monomorphemic and borrowed whole. English has a number of such Arabic words too, most of them via Spanish and/or the other Romance languages (algebra, admiral, alcohol, azimuth. )

anaconda Probably a modification of Sinhalese henakandaya 'a slender green snake' (WNC)

armadillo from Spanish armadillo, 'little armored thing'. So called after its protective shell which looks something like a coat of mail.

Food and drink

ketchup The name of this most American of condiments originates from the Malay word koetsiap, which literally means 'seafood sauce.'

cappuccino 'milky coffee drink, originating in Italy'
Named after the color of the robes of the Capuchin monks, which, like the drink, are light chocolaty brown. The word is from Italian Cappuccino, which is the Italian name for the monks' order. The Capuchins themselves got their name from the hooded robe they wear cappuccio means 'hood' (a diminutive form of Late Latin cappa 'head covering, cloak')

vermicelli Italian for 'little worms', from the resemblance of the pasta to wriggly worms. Ultimately derives from Latin vermiculae 'little worms'.


arrive from ad + rip 'shore, riverbank'. The Latin prefix ad- assimilated completely to the following /r/ and later, in early French, the root rip shifted its consonant to a fricative, yielding arriver, with a French verb suffix. It was borrowed into English as arrive. In terms of meaning, once it became a verb it meant 'to come to the shore', i.e to land from a boat. Because boats that landed ashore were arriving at a destination, the word was understood as the broader meaning 'arrive at a destination', so that it included cases where there was no shore and no boat. This is the modern meaning. Generally some reference point is assumed -- one arrives at a given place -- and when no particular place can be inferred from the context, it means 'arrive at where the speaker is' as in she arrived at 10:30 which sounds like the traveler arrived at the speaker's house or party or city.

brainwash Although now associated mainly with spy movies, to brainwash originated as a military term during the Korean War. The word is a literal translation of the Chinese phrase HSI NAO, 'to wash the brain.' We call such cases of native word forms put together with a borrowed meaning "loan translations" or "calques". Another pair of loan translations is to save face/ lose face, both of which literally translate Chinese expressions.

caliber and calibrate From Arabic qalibr 'shoe last'. In English and other European languages, the word was spelled with an initial "c", the closest people could get to the Arabic stop q which is pronounced much further back in the mouth. Calibre, from its use as a measure of size for shoes, came to mean a general measure for artillery, applying to both the ballistic device and the long hollow tube containing it (an artillery barrel). When smaller guns evolved from large artillery, the word for the measure was kept for the bullets and the corresponding diameter of the gun barrel. Then a further generalization occurred, in which the word calibre could apply as a measure of quality. When we talk about the calibre of students or faculty, we in effect are using a word for a physical, quantitative measure for a qualitative judgement. This is a metaphor.

Calibrate arose in modern European languages by putting the verb-forming suffix -ate onto a root that did not exist in Latin. The word was coined specifically to refer to adjusting scientific instruments to take into account differences in size or weight. We can calibrate a scale for a particular range of weights, for example.

catalyze 'to induce a chemical reaction to engender a change'
Comes from cata 'down' + lyze 'loosen, break'. A catalyst (the noun form of the word) causes things to break down chemically this breaking down causes further chemical reactions, and this aspect of the process is represented by the modern meaning.

Everyday things, older and modern

sky from Old Norse sky 'cloud'. An example of metonymy, the shift of meaning of a thing to a thing closely associated with it in time and/or space. Clouds are located in the sky, so the word for 'cloud' came to mean 'sky'. Probably the frequently cloudy skies of northern England helped strengthen this metonymic shift.

cloak From Middle English cloke, from Old French cloque 'bell'. This is a case of a metaphorical extension: the garment was named after the word for 'bell', because of the bell-like shape of the garment around the body.

clock From Middle Dutch clocke, meaning 'bell, clock', from Old French cloche or cloque 'bell', from Late Latin clocca (imitative of the sound of a bell).

It was apparently in Dutch that the crucial semantic shift occurred in the history of this borrowed word: the word that was used to describe the time-keeping noisemaker in the churchtower (bong, bong) began to be applied to the newfangled timekeeper with hands and numbers on a round display 'face', located in the same tower (tick, tick). When the English imported these new timekeepers, often made in Holland and Germany, they imported the word for them: clock. But they had their own word for the more traditional bell (namely bell, which goes back to Proto-Germanic), so the word clock was never polysemous like in Dutch.

The semantic extension of the word clock from the meaning 'bell' to the meaning 'clock' is a classic example of metonymy.


gamut This word comes from the history of music. Guido d'Arezzo, an 11th century musician and former monk, devised a system of musical notation that was a precursor to our modern system of notes and staffs.

D'Arezzo's system had a six-note scale, represented on a higher and lower staff. The first line on the lower staff he called by the Greek letter 'gamma'. The lowest note in the scale was called 'ut' and was placed on gamma. This first note was soon called 'gamma ut', which contracted to 'gamut'. At some point, French musicians began referring to the whole scale (by then an octave) as the 'gamut', a typical example of metonymy. The term was next extended to refer to the musical range of an instrument or voice. By the seventeenth century 'gamut' was further generalized to mean an entire range of any kind.

The story of GAMUT also relates to the syllables commonly sung to the tones of the musical scale (do, re, mi. ). D'Arezzo named the six notes in his scale after the first syllables of six lines of a hymn sung to John the Baptist:

Ut queant laxis
re sonare fibris
Mi ra gestorum
fa muli tuorum
Sol ve polluti
la bii reatum
Sancte Iohannes

"That with full voices your servants may be able to sing the wonders of your deeds, purge the sin from their unclean lips, O holy John."

In the seventeenth century ut was replaced by the more singable do. With the introduction of octaves a new note name was needed and si, was added, probably formed from the initial letters in sancte Iohannes . The seventh note is now more usually sung as ti. (MWE, AHD)

Social and institutional words

hoosegow 'jail'. From Spanish juzgado 'justice', used to refermetonymically to the institutions for administering justice, specifically to the place of confinement for lawbreakers. Comes from the old west, from areas that had been under the jurisdiction of Mexico. American settlers simply pronounced the word as it sounded to them. It spread, and became a slangy or jocular American term for jail even outside the southwest.

catholic 'universal' when capitalized, the name of the church of Rome.
From cata 'down, entirely'' + hol 'whole' + ic 'ADJ'. The church, emphasizing the all-embracing nature of the religion, called itself catholic in the sense of entirely universal. Something of this sense survives in the phrase catholic tastes, meaning eclectic or non-parochial tastes. But the word stuck to the church most strongly, and became essentially its proper name, distinguishing the Catholic religion from other religions.

money n. From Old French monee, literally 'coined', from Latin moneta, from the honorific name of Juno Moneta, 'Juno the Guardian, Juno the Warning Goddess'. From the metonymic association of Juno with her temple, which was the place where money was coined. Similar etymology for mint in the sense of 'place where money is coined'.


lord A native word, going back to an ancient compound hlaf weard, literally 'loaf ward'--the guardian of the stock of bread in a household. Since this was usually the master of the household, the word came to mean specifically that in Anglo-Saxon (in the somewhat reduced form hlaford). Hlaford was used by Christian missionaries to translate the Latin word for 'master', Dominus, when referring to God. Lord in its ordinary social sense became a respectful term of address for a householder of means, then a title for a major landowner, and finally a hereditary title independent of land ownership. Unlike its counterpart German Herr 'lord, master', it never became an ordinary form of address prefixed to mens' last names that role was taken on by Mister, from Latin magister 'great one'.

paparazzi, n. pl., singular paparazzo. Paparazzi are reporters or photographers, especially free-lance, who doggedly search for sensational stories about and/or take candid pictures of celebrities for magazines and newspapers

This word is an example of eponymy, or naming a concept after a person associated with that concept. In this case the person is a fictional character, one Signor Paparazzo, a character in the movie La Dolce Vita by Federico Fellini (b. 1920), in the 1960s. In the movie, Paparazzo was a street photographer. The name was apparently taken from the dialectal Italian word paparazzo, a kind of buzzing insect.

In its current sense, the word is usually found in the plural, since such photographers are often found in insect-like clusters around celebrities. Paparazzi became a household word after the tragic death of Princess Diana while she was being pursued by paparazzi in Paris. (AWAD)

skipper from Dutch skip 'ship' + English and Dutch -er 'agentive suffix', 'ship captain'. Dutch skip is cognate with English ship. It has the old Germanic cluster sk which changed to sh in English before e and i.

sheriff from Middle English scirgerefa, in modern form 'shire reeve', an official who administered a large political region, the shire, as a representative of the crown. A reeve was a government administrator the shire reeve in Anglo-Saxon England was a senior royal official of one of the largest sized territories below the level of the kingdom. After the Norman Conquest these large territories were given the name county instead of shire, and the sheriffe (in one of its Middle English spellings) became a keeper of law and order at a more local level. (Some of the old Anglo-Saxon shires still exist as counties although many have kept the ancient English word shire in their names, for example Yorkshire, Lancashire, Shropshire, Cheshire, Wiltshire, Warwickshire, Worcestershire, and Lincolnshire.)

More words with interesting etymologies:


Some eponyms

silhouette guillotine

Also: many technical words including names for units of measure of various things: like Watt, Volt, Ohm, Celsius, Fahrenheit


American Heritage Dictionary (AHD)
Etymology Online website
Dictionary of Word Origins by John Ayto (DWO)
Oxford English Dictionary Online (OED Online)
Merriam Webster's Book of Etymologies (MWE)
A-Word-A-Day email list and website (AWAD)

History of Swear Words

Nicolas Cage hosts this proudly profane series that explores the history and impact of some of the most notorious bad words in the English language.

The silly putty of the English language, our most malleable swear word can refer to sex, rage, confusion, excitement and a whole lot more.

With medieval roots as a term for excrement, this filthy vulgarity evolved over time into something much more versatile — and sometimes even positive.


Though it literally means "female dog," in recent years, some women have started to reclaim the "B word" as a term of strength and solidarity.

You can have one or you can be one. But how did an unassuming nickname for "Richard" become one of our most popular swear words?

From its feline origins to its modern slang uses describing genitalia or insulting manhood, learn how "pu**y" has stood the test of time.

Though quite mild when compared with its profane brethren, "damn" has maintained its meaning from biblical times and can still pack a punch even today.

The Roman Daily Life

Daily life in Ancient Rome often began with a light breakfast.

Bread and water (or wine) would be served at home, or a wheat pancake could have been purchased on the way to work or school.

Sometimes meat, fish, fruit, and other items may have been served, but not each day.

Men and boys wore togas and then later tunics, which were slightly larger than a shirt typically worn today.

Women and girls also wore tunics however, these reached their ankles and tied near the waist.

While many girls stayed home with their mothers to take care of the home, some girls were allowed to attend schools with the boys.

Schools often consisted of only one room and might have resembled a small Roman shop, like a bakery.


Schoolmasters (or teachers) were often strict, especially those who followed the words of Aristotle, who once said, “Young people are not playing when they are learning.”

Education was taken very seriously in these schoolhouses. Students studied many of the same subjects learned in school today.

In school, math was difficult, as six Roman letters (I, V, X, L, C, and M) were used to create all numbers.

Students also learned

How to speak
How to write
How to tell time
How to use and count money
They had other lessons designed to help them in everyday life.

Weights and measurements, history, philosophy, and public speaking were also taught, among other subjects.

Household Chores

While the kids were in school and the mothers and daughters tended to the household chores, the fathers spent a few hours working each day.

Below are some of the typical jobs:

  • Farming
  • Baking
  • Building
  • Selling and trading goods
  • Making clothing

Some became doctors, lawyers, writers, or teachers.

Many others joined the military, which provided a decent salary for a man supporting a family.

Unlike today, though, most men worked six hours or fewer each day, usually stopping around mid-day.

Roman Baths

After work and school ended each day, most men and boys headed to the baths, which required only a very small fee to enter.

Here people gathered, not only to wash, but also to sit and talk among friends.

The bathhouses usually included gardens, gymnasiums, libraries, and other forms of recreation.

A typical cold bath resembled something like a swimming pool, while other rooms were available for hot baths.

Dinner Time

After spending some time at the baths, most would head home for their biggest meal of the day, eaten somewhere between our lunch time and dinner time.

This meal usually consisted of wheatmeal porridge. When hosting a dinner party or celebrating a special occasion, though, a Roman dinner could consist of as many as six or seven courses.

In addition to salads, eggs, garden vegetables, and fresh breads, a variety of Mediterranean seafood would have been available, including: mackerel, mullets, eels, and oysters.

Meat dishes consisted of lambs, pigs, chickens, geese, ducks, and even peacocks, among others. For dessert, they ate fruit and honey-sweetened cakes.


Romans valued their leisure time. Following dinner, adults and children were able to pursue other interests, such as music, art, dancing, reading, and sports.

Many attended plays, while others enjoyed chariot races. There were many options for entertainment. Gladiator fights, for example, always drew large crowds.

Many Romans spent their time in gardens and fields, assuring their families of fresh foods.

Children helped and would often use this time to learn about both family and Roman history from their parents.


Religion was a big part of daily Roman life.

Although some families did not visit temples often, many had small shrines in the home dedicated to specific gods and goddesses.

Like the Greeks, early Romans believed the gods and goddesses lived on top of Mount Olympus.

Families would pray to these gods to ask for protection and guidance.


At night, Romans used lamps that burned olive oil. Most families could afford to burn just one lamp, which provided only a fraction of the light from one of our electric bulbs.

Most Romans went to bed early, leaving them able to rise easily in the morning to begin a new day.

Lady (n.)

c. 1200, lafdi , lavede , from Old English hlæfdige (Northumbrian hlafdia , Mercian hlafdie ), "mistress of a household, wife of a lord," apparently literally "one who kneads bread," from hlaf "bread" (see loaf (n.)) + -dige "maid," which is related to dæge "maker of dough" (which is the first element in dairy see dey (n.1)). Also compare lord (n.)). Century Dictionary finds this etymology "improbable," and OED rates it "not very plausible with regard to sense," but no one seems to have a better explanation.

The medial -f- disappeared 14c. The word is not found outside English except where borrowed from it. Sense of "woman of superior position in society" is c. 1200 that of "woman whose manners and sensibilities befit her for high rank in society" is from 1861 (ladylike suggesting this sense is attested from 1580s, and ladily from c. 1400). Meaning "woman chosen as an object of chivalrous love" is from early 14c. Used commonly as an address to any woman since 1890s.

Applied since Old English to the Holy Virgin, hence many extended usages in plant names, place names, etc., from genitive singular hlæfdigan , which in Middle English merged with the nominative, so that lady- often represents (Our) Lady's , as in ladybug. Lady Day (late 13c.) was the festival of the Annunciation of the Virgin Mary (March 25). Ladies' man first recorded 1784 lady-killer "man supposed to be dangerously fascinating to women" is from 1811. Lady of pleasure recorded from 1640s. Lady's slipper as a type of orchid is from 1590s.

Eating on a bare table was once something only a peasant would do.

Medieval diners would be horrified at our casual attitude toward table linens. For knights and their ladies, good linen was a sign of good breeding. If you could afford it (and maybe even if you couldn’t), the table would be covered by a white tablecloth, pleated for a little extra oompf. A colored cloth was thought to impair the appetite. (The exception to the white-only rule was in rural areas where the top cloth might be woven with colorful stripes, plaids or checks.) Diners sat along one side of the table and the tablecloth hung to the floor only on that side to protect guests from drafts and keep the animals from walking over their feet.

The Elements of a Home

The Elements of a Home reveals the fascinating stories behind more than 60 everyday household objects and furnishings. Brimming with amusing anecdotes and absorbing trivia, this captivating collection is a treasure trove of curiosities.

Amy Azzarito is a writer, a design historian, and an expert on decorative arts. Her design work has been featured in a wide range of publications, including the New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, Whole Living magazine, the Wall Street Journal, Architectural Digest and Design Milk. Chronicle Books just released her new book, The Elements of a Home.