July 7, 2011

"A jilted husband built an electric chair in his garage in an attempt to kill his wife after she shocked him by asking for a divorce."

The old jilt → jolt sequence.
Andrew Castle, 61, was so furious at the crumbling of his 18 year marriage he planned to rig a metal armchair to the mains - and invited wife Margaret in ''for a chat.''

Castle asked unwitting Margaret to sit in the chair so he could knock her her out with a cosh and throw on the switch.

But Margaret, 61, got up out of the seat and the couple then got caught up in a violent struggle. Castle landed several blows on his wife's head with the rubber cosh but she escaped through a side door.
A cosh, eh? It's a blackjack. The word I want to talk about is "jilted." Look at the etymology:
"to deceive after holding out hopes," 1670s, from jilt (n.) "loose, unchaste woman; harlot," perhaps ultimately from M.E. gille "lass, wench," a familiar or contemptuous term for a woman or girl (mid-15c.), originally a shortened form of woman's name Gillian, popular form of Juliana.
But if a man does it to a woman, we don't masculinize it and say he jacked her. Although this Castle guy did react with a blackjack....
used in many senses since 16c., earliest is possibly "tar-coated leather jug for beer" (1590s), from black + jack in any of its many slang senses. The weapon so called from 1889; the card game by 1910.
Castle is an interesting name for a man who couldn't say his home was his castle.
"Teach him that his home is his castle, and his sovereignty rests beneath his hat."
He had to go out to the garage and rig up a chair with electricity and invite his wife to sit down and chat in an evil but ineffectual attempt to regain control over his domain. He couldn't avoid the jilt, but — by simply getting up — she avoided the jolt...
1590s, perhaps from M.E. jollen, chollen "to knock, to batter" (early 15c.), or an alteration of obsolete jot (v.) "to jostle" (1520s). Perhaps related to earlier jolt head "a big, stupid head" (1530s). Figurative sense of "to startle, surprise" is from 1872.
A big, stupid head. Thinking about a man named Castle who didn't rule his house or even his garage, you may wonder — in the etymological atmosphere of this post — whether "castle" and "castration" have the same root. The answer is... I'm not sure. "Castle" goes back to a word that means "fort," and "castration" goes back to a word that means "knife," but that word in both cases is the same: "castrum."

Blogger gets up out of her blogging chair and escapes through a side door.

26 comments:

Shouting Thomas said...

I hope that the electricity was produced in a green sustainable fashion.

JAL said...

Wow. And so early in the morning, Professor.

Meade make the coffeee too strong?

Fred4Pres said...

Are you sure he was not propositioning her in an elevator at 4:00 a.m.?

MikeR said...

Choke. This post was a shock, says this jock. Shucks, it was chockfull of jokes.

"Blogger gets up out of her blogging seat and escapes through a side door." Hit the road, (black)Jack.

Curious George said...

The electrical work was not done by a licensed union electrician.

That's a serious code violation.

Scott M said...

220...221...whatever it takes.

EDH said...

The word I want to talk about is "jilted." Look at the etymology: "to deceive after holding out hopes"...

Or, one who leaves him feeling like a "sap"?

Close cousin to the blackjack is the "sap".

A sap is a flat-profiled, leather-covered lead rod, fitted with a spring handle. It is also the name for a weapon of similar design (also called a slapper, slap jack or beavertail sap). A sap has a flat profile as opposed to a cylindrical profile of a blackjack, and spreads its impact out over a broader area, making it less likely to break bone. It was primarily used for head strikes, intended to stun an opponent or render him unconscious.

Bob Ellison said...

Modern linguistic theory teaches that both castle and castration derive from LW kas-pen, which itself comes from the BS root pe*vi, a descendant (via OEFG) of garm. So yes, they're really the same word.

Fred4Pres said...

curious george, very nice!

mythusmage said...

WV: Blerrit

The relevance to the post is left as an exercise for the reader.

Tyrone Slothrop said...

If Jill jilted Jack, then I think it would be Jack jacketed Jill.

Ann Althouse said...

@Tyrone Maybe "jilt" was originally past tense and then people forgot that, the way the forget with words like "broadcast" and "hoist."

The Crack Emcee said...

I don't know about any of that - but what'll you give me for 'em?

Curious George said...

Plus the NEC requires a GFIC receptacle in garages.

Patrick said...

"Blogger gets up out of her blogging chair and escapes through a side door."

The door which presumably leads to Althou.se?

Shanna said...

Wouldn't poison have been easier?

rhhardin said...

Castrum (n) is only a fortified settlement.

The verb castrare (pp castratum) is to castrate or spay; emasculate; to remove honey (from hives); dock (a tail); reduce or diminish (other things).

Oxford Latin Dictionary p.283

Perhaps castrum is cut out from the surrounding region, then transferred to what is built there to get castle.

E.M. Davis said...

Is this guy in the running for Mad Scientist of the year?

What an oblique way of killing someone. Also, who else could be found guilty of the murder?

WineSlob said...

Sparky's Shocking Plan hit a Glitch
When the Bitch Executed a Switch
From the Chair She Rose
Sparky's Plot was Exposed
Now it's Sparky's Turn to be the Bitch.

John said...

Too bad he was not a royal like that douchebag in Monaco that just got hitched.

His fiance was OK with 2 bastard children but when she found out there were 3, she tried to flee.

He had the police nab her at the airport, confiscate her passport and force her to the altar.

It's great to be king!! Or even just a prince.

John Henry

WV- "Noses" Really? Noses? That's the best you can come up with Google?

edutcher said...

You can lead a woman to a homemade electric chair, but you can't make her sit still for it.

As they say in the RN section of MI5, "Shocking, simply shocking".

David R. Graham said...

A castrum/castle/fortification/defensive area is an artificially made-strong excision (to cut out from) from a self-integrated whole, the general landscape. As artificial (not able to stand on its own), it is inherently weak and therefore a temporary device in a defensive matrix generated by more or less knowledge, skill and wisdom in numerous areas of endeavor.

As is often remarked, the days of the fixed defensive posture are long gone and probably never existed with any fortitude (long-term self-sufficiency).

No man has a fixed abode, much less one he can defend self-sufficiently, and every home is a castle only, a mere pretense of permanency and strength, cut out from and exposed to the exigencies of the general landscape. And while a castle is an artificial strong point (and never as strong as wished), it weakens the general landscape by creating a dis-integration in it that must eventually be subdued by and reintegrated in that generality.

Bubble on ocean, dust on dirt.

For this complex of reasons the castle/castrum/castration has colossal symbolic power among humans. Thanks for the wonderful etymological interest and pursuit.

VanderDouchen said...

Was this a guest post by Carol_Herman?

WV: nestra:

Castle was about to kicked out of his nestra.

raptros-v76 said...

Jolt - alternate name of jerk, the third derivative of position with respect to time.

traditionalguy said...

Maybe he was testing out a new light bulb design for the castle.

He was jilted, but she came close to being jolted.

Clyde said...

I guess the sharks with lasers were busy that day...