Ginned up

Laurence Horn laurence.horn at YALE.EDU
Thu Nov 16 06:10:08 UTC 2000

At 7:25 PM +0100 11/16/00, Grant Barrett wrote:
>On jeudi 16 novembre 2000 16:46, James Smith
><jsmithjamessmith at YAHOO.COM> wrote:
>>Most of us are introduced to Eli Whitney and his
>>cotton gin in elementary school.  The name "cotton
>>gin" puzzled me because the only "gin" I knew of was
>>the drink.  I finally connected "gin" with "engine"
>>after several years.
>I always thought it was somehow connected to the spinning jenny (jinny? ginny?
>genny?) which in turn was related name-wise to a ginny mule which
>might have powered the
>thing or its predecessor. But that's all old memories and
>half-thoughts so I dunno.

The OED has a whole bunch of "gin"s, all representing an aphetic form
of "engine" or of the Old French "engin"; many senses relate to
machines, devices, or contrivances of various sorts, including the
cotton gin.  The "jenny" of "spinning jenny" is not taken to be
related to "gin", but to derive directly from the girl's name,
although "the reason for this use of the personal name is uncertain".
If your scoring at home, the spinning jenny was patented by
Hargreaves in 1770, the cotton gin in 1796.


More information about the Ads-l mailing list