Further origins of the word 'dole'

Tony Gosling tony at cultureshop.org.uk
Thu Jan 10 22:23:09 GMT 2013

>I consulted the masssive tome called the OED that sits on my 
>shelves. The word and derivates warrant almost two pages, dating 
>back to Early Middle English usage. Dole is much used to embrace 
>sorrow, mourning,.misery and so forth hence doleful for one example. 
>But here's an interesting entry pp 586.'The state of being divided, 
>a part or a division of a whole, a portion: era 1000, 1175, 1275: it 
>is a parallel derivate - dael - from which we get 'deal.'
>Another cites ' a portion of a common or undidvided field (1523) and 
>another derivate of that is 'vale' which means sheltered grassland.
>1880 a qustioner asks a tenant 'what dole do you pay?'  an easy 
>intro to 'doling' something out. And how about this: common use from 1225 1871
>'a part allotted or apportioned to one, or belonging to one by 
>right: share: portion: lot: 1676 "Oure measure and dole is given 
>unto us". Nice one from Tennyson 1871 (Last Tournament); 'Hath not 
>our great Queen my dole of beauty trebled.'
>But this really interesting: from 1205 onwards the word is 
>associated with dealing (doling) out, giving or charity, then 1306 
>that which is distributed or doled out, esp. a gift of food or money 
>made in charity. Later 1640 we find 'dolesman' a man or woman who 
>receives a dole, and the earliest social security office, a 
>dole-window whence the dole is handed out.

>So the word enjoys a complex etymology: it is associated 
>specifically with land and with deals and ownership thereof: the 
>impression of tenants paying rents or allowed to use common land by 
>right: deprivation of rights to land: recipients of charity: and 
>sorrow or mourning associated with loss, with the implication that 
>land or land rights are involved.
>That was fun

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