John Howe’s Journal: BEWILDERED AND BEMUSED
BEWILDERED AND BEMUSED
Or the True Nature of Glamour
Today, the word “glamour” is more closely associated with ’50’s film starlets and glossy magazines than with its original meaning.
Here is what the dictionaries say:
1720, “magic, enchantment” (especially in phrase to cast the glamour), a variant of Scot. gramarye “magic, enchantment, spell,” alt. of Eng. grammar (q.v.) with a medieval sense of “any sort of scholarship, especially occult learning.” Popularized by the writings of Sir Walter Scott (1771-1832). Sense of “magical beauty, alluring charm” first recorded 1840. Glamorous can be dated to 1882 (slang shortening glam first attested 1936); glamorize is dated 1936.
The etymology is intriguing and a little frustrating. “Gammayre” is almost systematically listed as a Sottish variant on “grammar” (14th century), which is of course from Greek grammatike tekhne ‘art of letters’, from gramma ‘letter of the alphabet’. Not much to do with spells, but more with spelling. Hmmm… spells and spelling… it’s tempting, but a bit of a long-jump of faith, casting spells is not really like spelling correctly, despite the magic of putting names to things. [More]Posted in John Howe, Old Special Reports on August 3, 2007 by xoanon