Posted by Word Camel on December 09, 2003
In Reply to: Re: Waving my flag... posted by Lateral Thinker on December 08, 2003
: : : : : Can you please help me figure out what this means and how it came about? Thank you - SAx
: : : : From Merriam-Webster online:
: : : : HOLD -- 9 a : to maintain occupation, control, or defense of. The troops held the ridge.; also : to resist the offensive efforts or advance of. Held the opposing team to just two points.
: : : : FORT -- 1 : a strong or fortified place; especially : a fortified place occupied only by troops and surrounded with such works as a ditch, rampart, and parapet : FORTIFICATION
: : : : 2 : a permanent army post -- often used in place names
: : : : Origin: white settlers and soldiers in the Old West fighting to keep Indians from overwhelming them and taking over the fort.
: : :
: : : Yes, I know that a lot of online resources are dominated by the USA, but again - think about it!
: : : A 'fort' is the abbreviation for 'fortress' that has been used for centuries and has come to mean a defended position (with living quarters) of modest size and importance. For goodness sake, Roman legions occupied 'forts' which in the Forbidden Tongue they called 'castra' which may have derived from 'cedra' meaning seat or established place. English placenames ending "caster" or "chester" derive from such names - e.g. Doncaster, Lancaster, Winchester, Porchester, Rochester and of course, Chester itself.
: : : It's like the Welsh word 'caer', I think (as in Caernavon or (bastardised?) Caedr Idris.
: : : (May my ancestors forgive my spelling of Welsh place-names). The other closely derived word is Cathedral, a bishop's seat.
: : : Fort or fortress, of course, derive from another fobidden word 'forte' meaning 'strong' - I may be able to claim they are Italian rather than the earlier Late-In and so not get banned from here.
: : : Pre-historic sites of encampment are often called 'forts' e.g. Iron Age Fort. No Native Americans looking to take people into Custer-dy there!
: : : A fort is a small strong-hold, pre-dating the American West by - what 4 millennia?
: : We said "hold the fort" first (but we weren't fighting Indians):
: : HOLD THE FORT - "Keep things going while I'm away. The literal meaning was to defend a position at all costs, and it appears to have originated with General William Tecumseh Sherman who signaled 'Hold the fort!' to another general from the top of Kennesaw Mountain during a Civil War battle in 1864." From "The Dictionary of Cliches" by James Rogers (Ballantine Books, New York, 1985).
: Methinks this saying may be a corruption of the old English expression "Holed the Forte" which was to have knobbled the expertise of a rival in love or business. During the anti-French period leading up the Napoleonic wars the 'e' was dropped from both 'Holed' and 'Forte' but for some unexplained reason retained in 'the', hence we have the expression 'Hold the Fort' which has nothing whatever to do with those Romans or indeed Native Americans who were so hard done by at the hands of an over-zealous and youthful USA.
That's an extraordinary explanation which puts me in mind of "dressed to the "neins", another famous discussion in the archives. Was the 'e' dropped in the French, or by English speakers? If you could tease out the evolution a bit more, I'd be fascinated.