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Tie the knot

Posted by Victoria S Dennis on November 05, 2008 at 22:43

In Reply to: Tie the knot posted by RRC on November 05, 2008 at 14:05:

: : I think 'tie the knot' originated from British troops and merchants stationed in India centuries ago. South Indian Hindu weddings have an auspicious time calculated by the astrologers for "tieing the knot" ie, the time when the groom ties the knot of the wedding pendant of the bride. Invitations to Hindu weddings even specify the time for this part of the ceremony. Since the English were in India from at least the 1600's this would allow for ample time to enter into the English language. What do you think?

: says of knot "Symbolic of the bond of wedlock, c.1225." This doesn't prove that the phrase is that old, but the concept pre-exists colonial India.

So does the phrase - it was already in everyday common use by 1707 (see the Phrase Dictionary on this site), at which time the number of "British troops and merchants stationed in India" was tiny. (And very few of those would ever have been invited to a Hindu wedding.) In any case, the metaphor of marriage as a "tie that binds" two people together is near-universal. Knots and knot-tying feature symbolically in marriage ceremonies and customs in many cultures, including ours: in both the Catholic and the Orthodox wedding service the priest symbolically binds the bride's and bridegroom's hands together with his stole. So there's absolutely no need to look halfway round the globe for an origin in Indian culture - the idea has been here all the time. (VSD)