Thursday, August 9, 2007

A noisy little "privilege"

One more thing I learned on my summer vacation: in Great Barrington, Massachusetts, a historical marker at the birthplace of Laura Ingersoll Secord notes that her father Thomas Ingersoll had privilege on the nearby Housatonic River. Meaning? The Oxford English Dictionary explains:

A (section of) river capable of powering machinery, as for a mill, factory, etc.; = water-privilege.
This watery meaning is American in origin and now considered obsolete.

The OED gives three sample sentences. This one's my favorite, from C.M. Kirkland's Western Clearings (1845):
He paced the bank of the noisy little ‘privilege’ that turned the gristmill.

Tenuously related post
Things I learned on my summer vacation (2007)

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