"Bloke" etymology (speculative at best)

Mark A. Mandel mamandel at LDC.UPENN.EDU
Thu Jul 8 22:36:13 UTC 2004

Douglas Wilson writes:
(2) "bloke" < Dutch "blok" or Celtic "ploc"/"bloc", with more-or-less the
sense "blockish person". Of course these Dutch and Celtic words are
equivalent to English "block" (the Dutch word a cousin or ancestor, the
Celtic words apparently taken from English), and "blockish" can mean
"stubborn", "stupid", etc. (the distinction does not seem critical in the
etymological-speculation context). This derivation does not seem
implausible, but why not derive "bloke" directly from English "block" =
"blockish person" (in OED with a 16th century example) instead of from
analogous external sources? In the old expression "chip of the old block",
isn't the old block really the old bloke?


It's a lot easier to get a literal chip off an old block (of stone) than to
get one off an old bloke. The block is also less likely to complain.

-- Mark A. Mandel
[This text prepared with Dragon NaturallySpeaking.]

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