Wednesday, December 27, 2006


Quarry is an interesting word with many meanings. Originally, it referred to scraps given as a reward to successful hunting hounds or to a trained hawk. Eventually, the meaning turned to the victim of the bird of prey or to the animal pursued by a hunter. The base for this word was the Latin corium, skin. This word was also applied to a heap of deer piled together at the end of a hunt--the equivalent of our modern deer pole--and to a pile of human bodies. The verb form could refer to training a hawk or hound or to the actions required to track down the prey.

Another word with the same spelling owes its origin to the Latin quadrare, to square. It was applied to the open pit from which stones and other building materials were extracted. Obsolete meanings of this word included the hard granular part of a pear, a square-headed arrow, a pane of glass, and a square candle. In all cases, the “fourness” of the original Latin can be discerned. The verb form involves the actions needed to extract building materials.

Sidebar:  Virtual Quarry

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