Eileen asked about a
word that she saw in a financial management ad: stewardship. Today, it refers to the duties of a trained advisor,
especially in managing the property of clients, their financial affairs, their
estates, and so on. Originally, a steward ran the household for a master,
overseeing the planning and preparation of meals, directing the domestic staff,
regulating household expenditures, etc.
The word stewardship breaks into three sections.
The –ward in steward meant a keeper
or guardian; the stew- element may
have come from the Old English stig,
a house. In this case, the –ship
suffix denotes the office or rank assigned to a designated person.
Used in other words, -ship can denote the state of being
expressed by the noun (friendship, authorship, partnership), or it can
designate the qualities associated with a person (lordship, craftsmanship,
The suffix –ward can also refer to direction, as in
toward, homeward, inward, outward, and backward. But –ward in the managerial sense of keeper has a long and colorful
history. One could be a bearward, beeward, boatward, bridgeward, castleward,
churchward, fireward, gateward, hogward, or millward. I’m content to be a
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