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bodgaoithe commented on the user bodgaoithe
In sum, the whiffler was a functionary who carried a big ax or halberd, a whiffle and his weapon used just for show and parade.
September 16, 2015
bodgaoithe commented on the word whiffler
The verb whiffler as ‘one who whiffles’ is a folk etymology. The old nouns in -er are denominative, that is, from nouns, not verbs. That noun is whiffle, in Old English wifel; wyfle ‘ax’ in Middle English. See the great halberds brandished by Swiss Guards or Tower of London Beefeaters or sergeants-at-arms (German Weibel) in court processions. Feldwebel is ‘corporal’. See George Borrow 1857 Romany Rye: “Nobody can use his fists without being taught the use of them,..no more than any one can ‘whiffle’ without being taught by a master of the art... The last of the whifflers hanged himself about a fortnight ago ... there being no demand for whiffling since the discontinuation of Guildhall banquets; … let any one take up the old chap’s sword and try to whiffle.” Borrow’s whiffler was a performer; a parading worthy is a swaggerer. Puny volcanoes that unlike Aetna & Vesuvius erupt without great violence were dubbed whifflers by George Borrow (Tin Trumpet); he likened them to stogie-flashing wannabes. Sometimes a cigar is not just a cigar.
December 2, 2009
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