puncheon 'made of puncheons' 1689

Joel S. Berson Berson at ATT.NET
Fri May 2 16:39:52 UTC 2008

Oops -- I missed "puncheon 2"!  But on the other hand, that type of
cask seems intended for liquidy or loose commodities (wine, fish.
tallow, salt) -- at least, from *all* the OED2 quotations.

Sewall was bringing home books and cordage in his puncheons, not
things that would conform to a cask.  Might his kind of puncheon have
been a case constructed specifically to contain his quantity of books
and cordage?  Puncheon 1. is "5. a. A piece of timber with one face
roughly dressed, or a split trunk, used for flooring and *rough
building*. U.S." [Emphasis added.  And the "U.S." is suggestive.]


At 5/2/2008 12:07 PM, Michael Quinion wrote:
>Joel S. Berson wrote:
> > In his diary, Samuel Sewall lists the various containers and other
> > individual items he lades aboard the ship taking him back from
> > England to New England.  1689 Aug. 13:
> >
> > "Number S.S. 2 Punchin Books: No. 3 Punchin Cordage; 4 Barrel Cheese;
> > 5. Barrel Pease; 6. 7. 8 Three small Trunks ..."
> >
> > puncheon OED3 n.1 sense 5.b 'made of puncheons' [split logs with one
> > smoothed surface] antedates 1754-.
>Might not Samuel Sewall have been putting his possessions in puncheons, in
>the sense of large casks of somewhere between 70 and 120 imperial gallons?
>It would be a sensible method of safely transporting any sorts of goods at
>this period.
>Michael Quinion
>Editor, World Wide Words
>E-mail: wordseditor at worldwidewords.org
>Web: http://www.worldwidewords.org

The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org

More information about the Ads-l mailing list