Fisher revival

Herb Stahlke hfwstahlke at GMAIL.COM
Tue Jan 10 14:32:15 UTC 2012

On the Bruce Peninsula, between Georgian Bay and Lake Huron, I've
heard "fisher" used only in reference to the largest member of the
weasel family, a beautiful and fierce predator that is fairly common
there.  In the local papers, "fisherman" seems to be used, especially
in articles on fishing competitions, in a gender neutral way.  Fishers
are sometimes confused with martens, but they're bigger.  Tip to tail
they may reach four feet.  Folk etymology claims that they eat fish,
but they very rarely do so.  Their habitat tends to be arborial, and
they're much more likely to eat pets than fish.  The OED assumes
"fish+er" as the etymology, but the Wikipedia entry
suggests a Dutch origin:

"The name implies a diet of fish yet it seldom dines on aquatic
organisms. Early Dutch settlers noted its similarity to the European
polecat (Mustela putorius). Fitchet is a name derived from the Dutch
word visse, meaning 'nasty'. In the French language, the pelt of a
polecat is called fiche or fichet.[3]"


On Tue, Jan 10, 2012 at 12:03 AM, Benjamin Barrett <gogaku at> wrote:
> ---------------------- Information from the mail header -----------------------
> Sender:       American Dialect Society <ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU>
> Poster:       Benjamin Barrett <gogaku at IX.NETCOM.COM>
> Subject:      Fisher revival
> -------------------------------------------------------------------------------
> About the word "fisher," the OED says: "One who is employed in catching fish. Now arch.; superseded in ordinary use by fisherman."
> But there are women who fish, making it difficult to talk about people who fish. I personally use the word "fisher" when I need to. Two examples of "fisher" can be found at:
> Benjamin Barrett
> Seattle,
> ------------------------------------------------------------
> The American Dialect Society -

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