[Ads-l] Q: "removeal"[1630] = "remove all"?

Laurence Horn laurence.horn at YALE.EDU
Wed Oct 5 20:41:39 EDT 2016

> On Oct 5, 2016, at 8:30 PM, Joel Berson <berson at ATT.NET> wrote:
> An historian claims:
> “[John Cotton writes,1630,] ‘But how shall I know, if I be well where I am, what may warrant myremoveal?’ (That archaic spelling of “removal”--to remove all--underscores thedrama of the decision to migrate.)”
> Is there any validity to her equating "removeal" to "remove all"?  Or is it rather a case of retention (or addition) of a terminal "e", which I think was common in the 17th century?  (I vote for the latter.)
> Joel

I agree; that claim seems pretty etymythological to me barring any actual evidence for it.  The OED's entry on "removal" does have the variant orthography in one of its cites:

1661   A. Cowley Vision Cromwell 29   Without disputing..the causes, either of the removeal of the one, or the preferment of the other.

This is one of the more compositional occurrences of the nominal, despite the irregular spelling; a bit more piquant is the euphemistic sense 2, 'murder, assassination', as in

1877   V. Fane Anthony Babington i. i. 5,   I have in my mind her removal by poison, to be administered in her food by those of her creatures whom we may convert for the glory of God.

(when you want to make sure the removee stays removed)

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