Though these days the term wordmonger refers to "a writer or speaker who uses language pretentiously or carelessly," please join me in proposing a new meaning. A fishmonger appreciates and promotes fish, therefore, a wordmonger does the same for words.

Thursday, March 19, 2015

Foster vs. rescue


Foster vs. rescue

Meet Amigo. He moved in about a month ago as the latest in a long line of my wife Ellen’s foster dogs (100+ & counting). Those involved in the Big World of Dog Care wouldn't yet apply to word rescue to Amigo just yet, though others often use the words interchangeably.

Foster came into English so early it was Old English, meaning food, nourishment, bringing up. It appears to have come from the Proto-Indo European word, pa, meaning to protect and feed. Pa also appears to be the source of the word food. In English, as early as the 1200s, foster meant to bring up a child with parental care. By the 1300s, foster added the meaning to encourage or help grow. These meanings apply pretty well to Amigo. He’s definitely getting nourishment, both edible and emotional. He’s getting some parenting he hadn’t previously received, & he is definitely receiving encouragement. Though the dictionary doesn’t label fostering as temporary, it is considered temporary in the Big World of Dog Care. A foster dog is being nourished and encouraged by its foster family until a life-long home can be found. This doesn’t always work out (a story that can be better told by the three “failed” foster dogs asleep in our house as I type).

On the other hand, the verb rescue came to English from the French word rescorre in the 1200s, meaning to protect, keep safe, free, or deliver. The French word came from Latin, & is related to the word quash, (in simplified terms, rescue means ex-quash). The associated noun showed up in English about a century after the verb. Though it could be informally said that Ellen rescued Amigo from the pound, those in the Big World of Dog Care save the word rescue for the 501c3 non-profit groups that pull critters out of pounds and shelters, house them & promote them to those who might eventually adopt them. Sounds a lot like fostering, but to all those hardworking people shuffling animals around, there’s a big difference.

Any thoughts about rescuing, fostering, or quashing? Leave them in the comments section.


Big thanks to this week’s sources: Merriam Webster, Wordnik, Etymonline, & the OED.

9 comments:

  1. Ahoy Chester
    Love today's topic. Amigo looks great. Perhaps he will find a rescuer among your blog fans. You just never know. ypt

    ReplyDelete
  2. Ahoy Chester
    Love today's topic. Amigo looks great. Perhaps he will find a rescuer among your blog fans. You just never know. ypt

    ReplyDelete
  3. Ahoy back to you T,
    Thanks for thinking of me (& Amigo). Twice!

    ReplyDelete
  4. Amigo has been ex-quashed for sure. Either by your lovely and dedicated wife or by who ever comes next but, bless his little furry heart, he has been ex-quashed. Love that term. And just look at that face!

    ReplyDelete
  5. Hi Christine,
    I have always had a fondness for the word quash, whether preceded by ex- or standing alone.

    ReplyDelete
  6. Lovely to see Amigo's smiling, ex-quashed face. I had no idea rescue and quash had similar roots. Enlightening as always!

    ReplyDelete
  7. Hi Anne,
    I'm glad you've joined the Quash Appreciation Club.

    ReplyDelete
  8. Interesting as always, Charlie. This made me wonder about the origins of "squash," the crushing and sporting kind, as well as the edible kind. I learned the former is directly related to "quash" and the latter is from the Narragansett word "askutasquash." Rhode Island settlers shortened the word to the last syllable. There's a blog or book waiting to be written about different etymologies of homonyms, Charlie, but it ain't gonna be written be either of us. ;-)

    ReplyDelete
  9. Hey Vickie - I'm pleased you did some word sleuthing inspired by this post. I've got the title for the book -- Don't Quash the Squash!

    ReplyDelete