November 30th, 2008 at 3:06 pm (Articles)
So often when I am doing genealogy I run across words that I am unfamiliar with. Everything depends upon what time period you are researching and the location you are working on. You must always put yourself in the place you are investigating.
Example: If you are searching for a grandfather in the South, meanings may vary from where you live now, such as the West. Slang and everyday terms may through you a bit, but try to look at it for the overall terminology. It really helps.
The thing is you may not always know where to look for these meanings. I start with a regular dictionary and thesaurus. These are good sources for the common words used in our modern day conversation and writing. You might need to look back in time. So it is necessary to branch out to other sources.
Cassell’s dictionary of Slang by Jonathan Green
The Macmillan Dictionary of Historical Slang by Eric Partridge.
How we Talk: American Regional English Today by Allan Metcalf
NTC’s Dictionary of American Slang and Colloquial Expressions by Richard A. Spears, Ph. D.
With today’s technology you might also try the web. Online there are glossaries and sites that provide a “theme specific” dictionary.
Cyndi’s List (www.cyndislist.com/) is always a great place to start. Throughout her site, you will see several places in which she and her staff provide words meanings and helpful hints for information from other countries.
Rootsweb (http://www.rootsweb.ancestry.com/~nsdigby/lists/glossary.htm) also has a great glossary that provides many of the most common and uncommon terms and their meanings.
Here are few that I find interesting:
ANTE – Latin prefix meaning before, such as in ante-bellum South,
“The South before the war”
BANNS - Public announcement of intended marriage.
COLLATERAL ANCESTOR – Belong to the same ancestral stock but
not in direct line of descent; opposed to lineal such as aunts, uncles & cousins.
DISSENTER - One who did not belong to the established church, especially the Church of England in the American colonies.
DOWER - Legal right or share which a wife acquired by marriage in the real estate of her husband, allotted to her after his death for her lifetime.
ESCHEAT – The reversion of property to the state when there are no qualified heirs.
ET AL – Latin for “and others”.
ET UX – Latin for “and wife”.
Please check out their website for more words and meanings.