Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Origin of BUTCHER

Butcher; Boucher (French); Beccaio (old Italian)
These terms date from the thirteenth century as a term denoting the person who prepared and cut up any kind of meat. Previously it meant a specialist in goat's meat (see bucolic), often salted because it was tough--this fact indicates how low the consumption of beef had been in the Middle Ages. Previously the French word maiselier, masselier or macellier, from the Italian macellaio--a term which never entered into English--was used for the person who slaughtered and cut up creatures of any species as required, and who often kept a kind of tavern. Around the thirteenth century, as the term boucher was starting to be used in the more general sense, the term maiselier came to mean only "innkeeper."

Incidentally did you know that, in French, the original occupation of the boucher seems to have been the slaying of he-goats. An old French ordinance states that the bocher “shall not cast the blood of goats in public ways, nor slaughter the goats in the streets.”

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