Definitions

Bigotry

Bigotry

[big-uh-tree]
A bigot is a person who is intolerant of opinions, lifestyles, or identities differing from his or her own, and bigotry is the corresponding state of mind. Bigot is often used as a pejorative term against a person who is obstinately devoted to prejudices even when these views are challenged or proven to be false or not universally applicable or acceptable.

The origin of the word bigot and bigoterie in English dates back to at least 1598, via Middle French, and started with the sense of "religious hypocrite", especially a woman.

Forms of bigotry may have a related ideology or world views.

Etymology

The exact origin of the word is unknown, but may have come from the German bei and gott, or the English by God. William Camden wrote that the Normans were first called bigots, when their Duke Rollo, who receiving Gisla, daughter of King Charles, in marriage, and with her the investiture of the dukedom, refused to kiss the king's foot in token of subjection, unless the king would hold it out for that purpose. And being urged to it by those present, Rollo answered hastily, "No by God", whereupon the King turning about, called him bigot; which name passed from him to his people. This is likely fictional, however, as Gisla is unknown in Frankish sources. It is true that the French used the term bigot as an abuse for the Normans..

The 12th century Anglo-Norman author Wace claimed that bigot was an insult that the French used against the Normans, but it is unclear whether it entered the English language via this route.

According to Egon Friedell, "bigot" is of the same root as "visigoth". In Vulgar Latin the initial v transformed into b (phenomenon today encountered in Iberian languages, such as Spanish language and Portuguese language; visi had truncated into bi in Vulgar Latin (phenomenon common in French and Portuguese). Certainly the Visigoths did behave in a manner which might have given birth to the expression, as they adopted harsh policies against all other religions after their conversion to Catholicism.

Both the Spanish word bigote and the Portuguese word bigode mean moustache, probably because Visigoths had moustaches. Since both Normans and Goths were Germanic peoples, the Franks might well have referred to the Normans as "Visigoths" with the expression bigot. This claim is also supported by the fact that the word bigoth for Visigoths appear in Medieval Latin language.

Notes

  1. Word Histories And Mysteries: From Abracadabra to Zeus. Houghton Mifflin Company. 2004. ISBN 0-618-45450-0. p 24.
  2. Ayto, John. Dictionary of Word Origins: The Histories of More Than 8,000 English-Language Words. New York: Arcade Publishing. 1990.

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