Posted by Smokey Stover on July 05, 2006
In Reply to: 'You lot must take me for a mark'?? posted by RRC on July 05, 2006
: : Anyone know the meaning behind the expression 'You lot must take me for a mark'?? The term Save the mark is used in Othello as I think an insult??? Is that the link.
: In your quote, a mark is an easy target, someone gullible or easily fooled. From www.m-w.com: "an object of attack, ridicule, or abuse; specifically : a victim or prospective victim of a swindle" From www.etymonline.com: "The M.E. sense of "target" (c.1205) is the notion in marksman and slang sense "victim of a swindle" ."
: I think Shakespeare's use "save the mark" in Romeo and Juliet is the older simpler target sense. "Save the mark" in Henry IV part I and "God bless the mark" in Othello, I'm not quite so sure of, perhaps we have a Shakespeare scholar handy?
As RRC indicates, the two uses of mark in your question are worlds apart. I'm not expert, but I can find one for you, namely, the editors of the OED.
"11. (God) bless (also save) the mark and variants: an exclamatory phrase, prob. originally serving as a formula to avert an evil omen, and hence used by way of apology when something horrible, indecent, or profane has been mentioned. Now used chiefly in writing to apologize (freq. ironically) for a preceding or following word or phrase.
[The phrase was apparently formerly used by midwives at the birth of a child bearing a birthmark (see W. A. Henderson in N. & Q. 8th Ser. 7 373); and this may possibly be the original use (cf. quot. a1625). However, the meaning of mark in the expression may originally have been 'sign' or 'omen' (cf. sense 9a). There is no foundation in the statement of E. C. Brewer Dict. Phr. & Fable 790/2, copied in some dictionaries, that the phrase was originally used by archers.]
1593 T. CHURCHYARD Challenge 240 Browne and blacke I was God blesse the marke: Who cals me faire dooth scarce know Cheese from chalke. 1598 SHAKESPEARE Henry IV, Pt. 1 , I. iii. 55 To see him..talke so like a waiting gentlewoman, Of guns, and drums, and wounds, God saue the mark. a1616 SHAKESPEARE Two Gentlemen of Verona IV. iv. 19 Hee had not bin there (blesse the marke) a pissing while, but all the chamber smelt him. a1616 SHAKESPEARE Othello I. i. 32 He in good time, must his Leiutenant be, And I, God blesse the marke, his Worships Ancient."