Crony, chum and comrade and Turkic en passant

Using the word “crony” in a recent blog post made me wonder about its etymology According to the Concise Oxford Dictionary, it originates from the Greek khronios, meaning long-lasting and came into English in the seventeenth century as Cambridge University slang. It has acquired pejorative connotations since then.

A completely different origin from the rather disgusting word for old woman “crone”, which derives from old northern French caroigne meaning carrion, clearly a male chauvinist and chronochauvinist word that one should never use.

Thinking about “crony” led me to  “chum” and “comrade”, whose origins have similarities. According to COD, chum also originates from seventeenth century slang and probably is short for chamberfellow; I have seen elsewhere on the net that it was also university slang, but this time Oxford rather than Cambridge. There is also a spatial dimension to “comrade” which COD states as having originated from the French camarade and from Spanish camarada, room mate.

The Russian for comrade “tovarich” (not sure that my transliteration is up to speed here) apparently originates from a Turkic language but I don’t know what it means in Turkic, my library resources being deficient when it comes to the etymology of Turkic languages. The Turkic language family is a bad gap in my formation. I need to know more about them (and possibly have to buy a book or two, although there will have to be a slight purge soon as my project of squeezing the Library of Congress into 45 square metres is running into difficulties). I will anyway dedicate a few days to learning about the Turkic family of languages soon (and try to resist the temptation of buying a pretty file and making a nice label “Turkic” and then thinking that the problem is almost solved).

Postscript: I’ve used “chronochauvinism” incorrectly – it’s prejudice about one period of time being superior to another rather than personal age. I rather like it but as malapropism is a cardinal sin for a word tinker, I have to explain myself. I suppose “ageism” would fit although I hanker for something Greek but can’t bend “geras” to my will. I am in increasing need of an epithet; too many twinkly-eyed and avuncular situations when this silvertop (pink top?) gets asked “you don’t mind waiting while I serve this person, do you”. And I need to be able to say “Yes, I do Xchauvinist (mutatis mutandis). I’m in a hurry and have a world to win”.

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