What's in a Word | All Blogs

Something to consider

By Debra Dobbins

“Aught” is an archaic word that means “something.” According to the Online Etymology Dictionary, it comes from the “Old English awiht ‘aught, anything, something,’ literally ‘e'er a whit.’"

This excerpt is from a Christmas hymn written by Sir John Bowring. Bowring was an English political economist and Britain’s fourth governor of Hong Kong. According to Wikipedia, he “allowed the Chinese citizens in Hong Kong to serve as jurors in trials and become lawyers.” The dictionary adds that he is given credit for “establishing Hong Kong's first commercial public water supply system."  Wikipedia notes, too, that Bowring enjoyed learning different languages and trying his hand at writing. 

The full lyrics of this hymn may be found at http://www.hymntime.com/tch/htm/w/a/t/watchman.htm.

Sir John Bowring in 1826 by John King
Photo of painting courtesy of Wikipedia



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