Monday, August 3, 2015
Word of the Week - You're Fired! (or sacked)
No, not in honor of Donald Trump. ;-) The question arose this past week with my hubby and son, as to where "fired" and "sacked" come from. So naturally, I ran out to my computer to answer it.
Fire, as in to terminate employment, is an Americanism from about 1885 that's right up my alley, since it's a total play on words. Before then, "discharge" had been the word used in this context. But "discharge" is also what a weapon does when it...fires. Which, yes, was another word for that early on. So people thought, "Ha! Since discharge has two meanings, and one of those meanings is 'to fire,' let's apply 'fire' to its other meaning too!" So they did. I love it. =) (Not that I love getting fired...well, not that I've ever been fired per se, but...you know.)
Another word that means the same thing is sack. This one dates from about 1825. It was originally a noun--"to give someone the sack." This appealed to the visual idea of handing them their sack full of tools when they were done a job. It then just became used as a verb as things are wont to do in English. =)