October 17, 2021
The Grammarphobia Blog: Mortgage interest

The Grammarphobia Weblog: Mortgage curiosity

Q: Hardly every week passes with out one thing within the information about mortgage hanky-panky. After studying one of many tales, I appeared up the phrase “mortgage” and realized that it comes from outdated phrases for “lifeless” and “pledge.” Is that as a result of a borrower’s pledge of reimbursement survives his loss of life?

A: “Mortgage” is now such a standard time period that almost all of us are unaware that it was as soon as a compound with a literal that means: lifeless pledge. the phrases “mort” and “gage” are uncommon or defunct English phrases for “lifeless” and “pledge.”

Why was a secured mortgage considered a lifeless pledge? There are differing explanations, however none should do with the loss of life of the borrower, as you counsel.

The Chambers Dictionary of Etymology explains the that means of “mortgage” this manner: “so referred to as as a result of the debt turns into void or ‘lifeless’ when the pledge was redeemed.”

John Ayto’s Dictionary of Phrase Origins says, “The notion behind the phrase is supposedly that if the mortgagor fails to repay the mortgage, the property pledged as safety is misplaced, or turns into ‘lifeless,’ to her or him.”

Which rationalization is true? Each of them, it seems, although they take a look at the transaction from totally different factors of view.

Due to the Oxford English Dictionary, we all know what legal professionals within the 1600s thought concerning the notion of a “mortgage.”

For an “rationalization of the etymological that means of the time period present amongst Seventeenth-cent. legal professionals,” the OED directs the reader to a citation from Sir Edward Coke’s The First A part of the Institutes of the Lawes of England:

“It seemeth that the trigger why it’s referred to as mortgage is, for that it’s uncertain whether or not the Feoffor pays on the day restricted such summe or not, & if he doth not pay, then the Land which is put in pledge vpon situation for the cost of the cash, is taken from him for euer, and so lifeless to him vpon situation, &c. And if he doth pay the cash, then the pledge is lifeless as to the Tenant, &c.”

The time period was first used within the 1300s in a common slightly than a authorized sense, nonetheless. It initially meant an association for buying a profit on the expense of a danger or constraint.

Actually, the primary recorded use is a slightly romantic one. It’s from John Gower’s lengthy poem Confessio Amantis, written someday earlier than 1398: “In mariage His trouthe plight lith in morgage, Which if he breke, it’s falshode.” (In marriage, his troth plight lies in mortgage, which is falsehood to interrupt.)

And right here’s one other instance of the final use, from William Hazlitt’s Desk Discuss: Or, Unique Essays on Males and Manners (1822): “They are going to buy the hole happiness of the subsequent 5 minutes, by a mortgage on the independance and luxury of years.”

The authorized time period “mortgage,” by which a debtor borrows cash in trade for an curiosity in actual or private property, developed within the mid-Fifteenth century.

Now for a more in-depth take a look at the elements of this venerable compound.

The outdated adjective “mort,” now very uncommon, was as soon as utilized in English to imply “lifeless.” And the noun “mort” meant “loss of life.” Each are derived from Latin and got here into English from Anglo-Norman and Outdated French someday within the 14th century, however have since died out.

A associated phrase, the now defunct “morth,” is a a lot older time period for “loss of life.” It got here into Outdated English by way of Germanic sources.

Each the Germanic and Latinate variations—“morth” and “mort”—in the end come from the identical prehistoric Indo-European base, which has been reconstructed as mer- (to die).

This phrase component (mer-) was additionally part of the Outdated English morthor, now “homicide.”

The second a part of the compound, “gage,” was as soon as a extra frequent English phrase than it’s at the moment.

It got here into the language within the 14th century from Outdated French (guage or gage), however the French bought the phrase from Germanic sources, in accordance with the OED.

The ancestor is a prehistoric Outdated Germanic phrase reconstructed as wadjo, which can be the supply of our phrases “wage” and “wed” (initially a pledge).

The English time period initially meant a pledge or problem to do battle. The “gage” was often a glove thrown to the bottom.

Within the Fifteenth century, the OED says, “gage” got here to imply “one thing of worth deposited to make sure the overall performance of some motion, and liable to forfeiture in case of non-performance; a pawn, pledge, safety.”

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