Tangram (?) (1819)

Stephen Goranson goranson at DUKE.EDU
Mon Sep 10 10:55:16 UTC 2007

Quoting "Douglas G. Wilson" <douglas at NB.NET>:

> From Google Books:
> ----------
> J. Walker, _A Rhyming Dictionary_ (London, 1819): p. 267:
> <<.... / _Ep'i-gram_ A kind of short poem, pointed, s. / _Tan'gram_
> An intricately contrived thing, s. / _Par-al-lel'o-gram_ A right
> lined square figure, s. / ....>>
> ----------
> This book has a lot of obscure words. They are hard to find by search
> because they are all syllabified as above.
> Is the "tan" really from Chinese? One might consider the alternative
> possibility of "tan-" from Latin "tam" as in "tandem", or from
> "tandem" itself: perhaps "tangram" was conceived as "one figure after
> another" or so. If the word was invented arbitrarily, it might be
> hard to be sure. Or maybe "tan-" is from "tantalizing".
> -- Doug Wilson

Here's an 1822 use (19th C US Newspapers):
Daily National Intelligencer, (Washington, DC) Monday, February 04,
1822; Issue
2827; page 1, col B     Multiple Classified Advertisements
Category: Classified ads


.... Also, Superior India Ink, a few setts of pearl Loo Counters, tortoise and
ivory Memorandum Books, Boxes, carved ivory, Netting Needles, Chinese Tangrams
or Puzzles, large size door Mats at $1.50b each.

Stephen Goranson

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

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