Saturday, August 17, 2013

Show Me the Way to Go Home

Bob from Glen Arbor asked about saloons, bars, taverns, and pubs. These days—in America, at least—the words are usually interchangeable.
  • Saloon came from French, Spanish, and Portuguese words that meant a hall. It is place where alcoholic beverages are bought and consumed.
  • Bar came from the  Latin barra, a barrier. Essentially a long piece of material used as a support, it was a short step to the name of a counter on which drink was served.
  • Tavern developed from the Latin taberna, a shed constructed of boards, then a stall or shop.
  • Pub is a shortened version of public house. Public came from a Latin word that meant “adult men.”
Originally, a pub was open to the general public, as opposed to a members-only establishment. A saloon was a second bar in a pub offering more comfort and services than the pub bar. Early taverns served wine only and were not open to the general public, whereas a bar served every type of alcoholic beverage to anyone who walked in.

Available from McFarland & Co.: Word Parts Dictionary, 2nd edition

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