THROGMORTON STREET

The English center of finance and business — Throgmorton Street — was named for Sir Nicholas Throgmorton (1515-1571), head of the Warwickshire family and ambassador to France and Scotland in the reign of Elizabeth I. The stock exchange is situated there, making it for England what Wall Street is to the United States.
No one knew when the street was named that it would become a hallmark of finance and that the character of the operations on Throgmorton Street would be of the highest legitimate order. If crystal balls could have predicted its legitimacy, another name might have been selected because Mr. Throgmorton was not free from criminal intrigue. He was a devious character who served two stretches in the Tower, once for alleged complicity in the Wyatt Rebellion, and the second for a spirited plot to become a matchmaker — to marry Mary, Queen of Scots, to the Duke of Norfolk.
The center of finance in the United States had no such aristocratic inheritance. Wall Street was named after an old wall built in 1653 by Peter Stuyvesant across lower Manhattan to protect the Dutch colonists. At that time the wall was the most northern boundary of the city.

THUG

The only thing that the words thief and thug have in common, aside from their first two letters, is that they suggest the felonious taking of what is not theirs. A thief may steal secretly or slyly — a sneak thief. He might pick a pocket. A thug is a different breed of animal; he is a hoodlum, a ruffian, a violent criminal.
The word thug is said to have been derived from the Indian cult known as Thuggee, derived from the Sanskrit sthag, meaning «to conceal». But it might have come from the Hindustani word thag, «a cheat». Then again, the British euphemistically called thugs the religious fanatics who were members of an Indian sect called Phansigars (noose operators) from the method employed. They worshiped Kali, the Hindu goddess of destruction, and, using scarves, they strangled people, usually wealthy persons, and robbed them. Then, in a ceremony in accordance with the sect’s religious belief, they buried their victims and divided the loot among the cult members.
Lord William Bentniclc began the suppression of these terrorists in 1828, when the British hanged 412 of them and sentenced a few thousand to prison. It took more than fifty years to extinguish this blot on human dignity. Their brutality has given us the word thug, which in common parlance means any violent «tough».

THESPIAN

Thespis was a writer of Greek choral poetry in the sixth century B.C. A chorus recited poems in unison at festivals of the gods. The festival leader would ask a question, and the entire chorus would give a poetic answer. Under Thespis’s direction, one member of the cast was given the sole responsibility of answering the questions. Thus theatrical dialogue was created between the leader and the responder, and — presto — spoken drama had an auspicious start. Since Thespis is believed to have spoken these parts, this Attic poet has been considered the first actor. His name has provided the language with thespian both as a
noun meaning «actor», and as an adjective to describe a relationship with drama.
Thespis is called the father of Greek tragedy. For his winning performance in a competition in Athens in 534 B.C., he won a prize: a goat. The source for our word tragedy is Greek tragoidia, a compound from tragoa, «goat», and aeidein, «to sing». The reason that the Greeks called this dramatic form goat song is obscure.

TEDDY BEAR

Theodore Roosevelt (1858-1919) was president of the United States 1901-1909. He was a soldier, an explorer, and a politician, and he was celebrated for his «Rough Riders», who fought in the Spanish-American War. As vice president of the United States, he became the twenty-sixth president upon the assassination of President William McKinley in 1901. In 1904, Roosevelt ran for the presidency and was elected.
While bear hunting around Sunflower River in 1902, Roosevelt was led to a bear cub tied to a tree by his hosts to make it easy for him to shoot. Teddy, as the president was affectionately called, refused to shoot the small bear, insisting that it be released and freed. Newspapers throughout the country carried the story, and Clifford K. Berryman, a cartoonist for the Washington Post, drew a cartoon titled «Drawing the Line in Mississippi», a pun on the border dispute between Mississippi and Louisiana. The incident enhanced Roosevelt’s popularity with the people as well as his reputation as a conservationist.
A stuffed bear to commemorate this act of kindness was manufactured, after receiving the presidents’s permission to use his name. A Brooklynite, Morris Michton, and his wife, Rose, sewed and put together many bears, and a distinctive business was born when the bears were placed on the commercial market. This business, under the name Ideal Toy Company, started in the back room of a corner candy store and grew into one of the largest toy companies in America.
Even today, teddy bears, more popular than ever, are in every toy store and in almost every home.

TAWDRY

Some words evolve in an odd way. Consider tawdry, which evolved from the name of St. Audrey, a person once revered in Great Britain.
The story began in the seventh century with a princess named Etheldrida (spelled several different ways) who valued chastity so much, as a personal religious vow, that she decided she should not surrender her virginity even if married. She became the wife of the Prince of Gyrwinas, who graciously and considerately died in three years without having sullied her marital bed. She then became the queen of Egfrid, the king of Northumbria, with whom she did not engage in connubial bliss either, despite his impassioned pleadings. Audrey, as she came to be called, entered a convent with her husband’s consent. However, he had second thoughts and realized that he was entitled to wifely sexual companionship. Learning of his change of mind, Audrey disguised herself as an old woman and, together with two older nuns, fled to the Isle of Ely, which her first husband had left her, and ruled over it until her death in 679.
Audrey engaged in frequent prayers but infrequent baths. She bathed only four times a year, each bath preceding one of the four great feasts. A few years after arriving on Ely, she developed a tumor in her throat, which she took to be divine punishment for the youthful follies of decorating her neck with worldly ornaments. Audrey did not die of cancer, however; she became a victim of the plague.
Etheldrida, under her anglicized name Audrey, was sainted. In her
memory a fair called St. Audrey’s Day was held annually on October 17 until it petered out in the seventeenth century. At these festivities cheap, gaudy trinkets were sold as mementoes, and the item called «St. Audrey’s lace», a showy scarf, was in great demand. These neckpieces were of poor quality to start with. They became shabbier and cheaper as time went on until finally the word to describe them, and ultimately any showy and worthless piece of finery, was tawdry, a shortened corrupted form of St. Audrey.

TARTAR

The Tatars were part of the Asiatic hordes of Genghis Khan, which, in the thirteenth century, swept into Eastern Europe by way of Tatary, in Siberia. These tribes overran Asia and much of Europe, as far west as Poland. The tribes were ruthless and massacred anyone who opposed them. They caused devastation wherever they went. Legend has it that a Tatar would bite the hand of anyone holding him and devour anyone who let him loose.
The Tatars came to be called Tartars by the Romans, after Tartarus, the ancient word for hell, and there was no doubt that the Tartars made life hell on earth for the Europeans. Today, a savage, irritable or excessively severe person is called a tartar. The expression «to catch a Tartar» is to bite off more than you can chew, or to take on more than you have bargained for, or to struggle with an opponent who is extremely hard to handle.

TANTALIZE

To tantalize is to tease or disappoint by promising something desirable and then withholding it or, as Dr. Johnson put it, «to torment by the show of pleasures that cannot be reached».
The legendary King Tantalus divulged to mortals the secrets of the gods, which had been entrusted to him by Zeus. In another version, he cooked his son Pelops and served him to the gods. He was thereupon condemned to an eternal and peculiar punishment. Forced to stand in the underworld in a pool of clear water, Tantalus was forbidden to drink
or to eat. Every time he bent down to slake his thirst, the waters of Hades receded from him. A tree with clusters of luscious fruit hung just above his head. But every time he extended his hand, he found that the fruit was just out of reach. Tantalus suffered agony from thirst, hunger, and unfulfilled anticipation.

TAM-O'-SHANTER

The tam, the standard headgear of Scots ploughmen, was a shortened form of tam-o’-shanter. This cap was usually made of wool or cloth, and while fitting snugly to the head and around the brow, it was wider than the headband. Its distinctive mark was a pompom or a tassel in the center.
Its name derives from Tam O’Shanter, the hero of a Robert Burns poem (1789). The cap must have been a favorite of the poet, for in cartoons and other renderings, he is frequently seen wearing one.
Burns reportedly wrote the poem while walking along the banks of the River Nith. In the poem Tam O’Shanter had disturbed a witch revel and was pursued by the demon Cutty Sark to the bridge over the River Doon. The demon had to stop because it could not cross running water, but it plucked off the tail of Tam O’Shanter’s mare, Maggie.

TAMMANY, TAMMANY HALL

Tammanend or Tammanund, a pre-Revolutionary Indian chief of the Delaware tribe, was supposed to have signed the document of friendly relations with William Penn. Not much is known about him except that his name meant «affable». Patriots of the Revolution borrowed his name when they organized Tammany societies, all of which died out except Tammany Hall.
This society was designated a social club for New Yorkers, but it became politically oriented and attracted prominent politicians, including Aaron Burr. During the presidency of Andrew Jackson, the organization dominated New York politics, and it continued that domination until the first half of the twentieth century.
Tammany Hall was investigated many times on charges of political corruption, including bribery. It received a great deal of unfavorable publicity from the press, especially in the 1870s when led by W. M. Tweed, known as Boss Tweed, who fleeced the city of New York of over $100 million. The continued widespread corruption and specific nefarious incidents led to the figurative use of the name Tammany Hall for wholesale political or municipal malpractice.

3YBARITE

Around 720 B.C. a group of Greeks immigrated to Lucania, a region in southern Italy, and founded a city that they named Sybaris. Its inhabitants followed such a liberal policy of admitting people from all lands that the city flourished and was soon noted for its wealth and luxury. In fact, no other Hellenic city could compare with Sybaris in prosperity and splendor.
According to legend, a war arose between Sybaris and its neighbor, Crotona. Although the Crotonian forces were inferior, they leveled Sybaris to the ground. The Crotonians were victorious because they exploited a weakness in the opposing army: The horses of the Sybarites had been trained to dance to the pipes. The Crotonians marched in to battle playing pipes. The horses of the Sybarites began to dance, the Sybarites themselves became confused, and the Crotonians vanquished their enemy.
The Sybarites were given to such wanton luxury and sensual pleasures that they became effeminate. Seneca told a tale of a Sybarite who com
plained he had not rested comfortably at night. Asked why, he replied that a rose leaf had been doubled under him, and it hurt him.
The conspicuous consumption, the love of luxury and pleasure displayed by the citizens of Sybaris, led to the English word sybarite, a person devoted to opulence and sumptuousness; in brief, a voluptuary.

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