Friday, August 11, 2006


We debauch people when we corrupt their morals or principles. We lead them astray from their duties or proper allegiances. Often, impurity or unchaste actions are involved. Ethical erosion is at the heart of the matter.

That’s why it’s interesting to learn that the word arose from carpenters and masons chipping away at building materials.

The carpenter would rough-hew a timber, as opposed to building fine furniture with perfectly smooth surfaces. In other words, he would hack away at the timber just enough to produce a relatively flat surface; you could still see the adze marks when he was finished. Such timbers often acted as roof supports, and to this day, that rough-hewn aspect is a prized feature. In Germanic, bauch at one time meant a beam.

In the case of the stonemason, he would hack away at a row or course of stones in order to make them serviceably flat. At one point in history, a bauche was a hut built of stones. So, just as a builder would change materials from their original, pristine state, so would the debaucher hack away at the soul of the innocent.

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