Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Wondrous Words Wednesday - A Tricky One


I just finished reading "Glamorous Illusions" by Lisa T. Bergen. I will be doing a review on it soon. (FTC disclosure: I was given a copy of this book by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.)

As I was reading, I was on the look out for words to use in Wondrous Words Wednesday...but, there weren't any! It was a good book about a young woman living in Montana in 1913 who gets swept away on a Grand Tour of Europe. I was lamenting fact that there were no hard words, when I realized there actually WAS a word that was throwing me off! But, it was so simple...or was it...?

The word is Bear. Don't laugh! Let me tell you how they are using it. They are referring to their Grand Tour guide as their "Bear." It is not like a simile or metaphor, meaning that the man is big or hairy or something! In fact, all Grand Tour guides are being called Bears.

I looked up bear in the dictionary and did NOT find a definition where a bear is a tour guide.

So, I googled "Grand Tour Bear," and found this from Wiki:

A bear-leader was formerly a man who led bears about the country. In the Middle Ages and Tudor times these animals were chiefly used in the brutal sport of bear-baiting and were led from village to village. Performing bears were also common; their keepers were generally Frenchmen or Italians.

In the 18th and 19th centuries, a bear-leader was a colloquialism for a man who escorted young men of rank or wealth on their travels, such as young gentlemen on the Grand Tour. The role of bear-leader blended elements of tutor, guardian, chaperon and companion. A late example in literature can be seen in the ambitious Oxford tutor hired to keep an increasingly alcoholic young man out of harm's way -- and out of the way -- in Brideshead Revisited.

So, a bear-leader originally took actual BEARS around, but over time he become someone who led tours!!


If you are following, or interested in, the 2012 Book Pilgrimage, Parolediscribacchina has an AMAZING post on a recent trip to Lisbon! Check it out!


I prepared this as part of Wondrous Words Wednesday at bermudaonion.net.

26 comments:

  1. Fabulous - thanks for digging into the research. what fun.

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    1. Thanks, bk! I was curious as to why on Earth they were calling this man the Bear!

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  2. I like the detective work you did on Bear. I love it when I find interesting etymology like this one. Very interesting.

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    1. Margot - thanks! When there was not a dictionary definition I had to keep digging because then I was even more curious :)

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  3. This is a great find! Thanks for sharing it!
    Also thanks for the link ;-) (I'm afraid you misspelled my name...)

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    1. oops - that was lame of me(!) I will go fix it :)

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  4. How interesting! I would think it would take some guts to lead bears around.

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    1. I know! The picture cracks me up!

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  5. Fascinating. The resident bears didn't know about any of this and thank you for the great info :).

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    1. LOL! You are the perfect person to read this post! So, glad you came by!

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  6. Thanks for dropping by and commenting!!
    Isn't it crazy how things happen? You mentioned Name of the Rose and then find it in my blog! I call that serendipity!!

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    1. I know! I love it when that happens. I am going to do the Atlantic/Twitter read-along.

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  7. Very interesting! :) And thanks for the idea about the lightning stone. I will look for it!

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    1. I just looked it up. Its called fulgurite. That would be so cool if you found one...and of course it would make a great blog post!!

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  8. Very interesting! :) And thanks for the idea about the lightning stone. I will look for it!

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  9. That wins as the most interesting word of the day. Thanks for sharing the history details.

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    1. Yay!

      I am thinking that our generation got ripped off on this whole Grand Tour thing...

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  10. Well, I've learned something this morning - I like this very much!

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    1. Thanks, Deborah! And, thanks for coming by!

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  11. Ha! Who would have thought. My little brother was just asking about the etymology of words (he's 15) and I think he'd really like this story. Can you imagine leading bears around?!

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    1. LOL! I like that old picture that I got from Wiki of the civilized little bear in clothes ;)

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  12. that's really interesting, I had never come across that before!

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  13. It's always great to find a new use of a common word. This one is fascinating.

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