Thursday, October 10, 2013


Dan asked about the origin of the word sandwich. I can’t help it, but every time that I hear the word sandwich, I think of the old elementary school joke:

            Q. Why can’t you starve in the desert?
            A.  Because of the sand which is there.

Sorry about that. The standard story is that the sandwich was named after John Montagu, the 4th Earl of Sandwich, England. One version says that he was an inveterate card player who was loath to leave the gaming table even when hungry. He would ask his servant to bring him some meat between two chunks of bread, a meal that would keep greasy fingers off the cards

Another version elevates his reputation above the status of a glassy-eyed gambler. He was actually a statesman who served in various capacities: Postmaster General, First Lord of the Admiralty, Secretary of State for the Northern Department, British Ambassador to the Dutch Republic, and so on. The suggestion is that as a dedicated public servant, he often ate at his desk.

In his capacity as Lord of the Admiralty, Montagu approved funds for the expeditions of Captain James Cook. Cook returned the favor by naming the Sandwich Islands (Pacific) after him, as well as the South Sandwich Islands (Atlantic). In addition, he named two Montague Islands after him, one off the southeast coast of Australia, and the other in the Gulf of Alaska.

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

Nook edition

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