pseudo-etymology of "news"

Joel S. Berson Berson at ATT.NET
Sun Dec 16 16:31:51 UTC 2007

At 12/15/2007 10:40 PM, George Thompson wrote:
>do we collect historic false etymologies here?  they are quite as
>fascinating as eggcorns, really.  Some time ago I gave you the
>etymology of "humbug" from a fraud named Homberg, if I recall.
>Well, wanted or not, here's another:
>Origin of the word "NEWS"  [it's not connected with "news" -- it
>refers to the four compass points, North, East West and South, from
>an emblem carried by early newspapers.]  This last point isn't true,
>either, I don't think, at least of NYC and Boston papers.

Certainly not true of the earliest (18th c) Boston newspapers;
masthead emblems I've seen are ships, a post rider, and a tree.

The subhead of the New-York Weekly Journal, from its origin in 1733,
was "Containing the freshest Advices, Foreign, and
Domestick."  Newspapers sometimes used the phrase "freshest advices"
to refer to what arriving ships had brought, or within
articles.  (EAN is not very forthcoming, however.)  Surely a hint as
to what "news" meant.


The American Dialect Society -

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