Posted by: Jack Henry | November 4, 2016

Editor’s Corner: Pound

My fabulous coworker Donna and I were chatting the other day about the local animal shelters and our own “pound puppies.” The second I said pound, I asked myself (since Donna was no longer listening to me), “I wonder why it’s called the pound?” Days later, Ben saw the note I wrote to myself and he said he had a guess. “I bet it’s related to the word impounded.” What a smart man our dear Ben is. He was on the right track, but pound actually came before impound. Here’s what I discovered:

From Wikipedia:

An animal pound was a place where stray livestock such as pigs were impounded in a dedicated enclosure until claimed by their owners or sold to cover the costs of impounding. The terms pinfold and pound are Saxon in origin. Pundfald and pund both mean an enclosure. There appears to be no difference between a pinfold and a village pound. The term pinfold seems to be more popular in the north and east of England, whilst in the south and west the term pound is more popular.

The village pound was a feature of most English medieval villages, and they were also found in the English colonies of North America and in Ireland.

A high-walled and lockable structure served several purposes; the most common use was to hold stray sheep, pigs, and cattle until they were claimed by the owners, usually for the payment of a fine or levy. Early pounds had just briar hedges, but most were built in stone or brick, making them more stock-proof.

From my friends at the Online Etymology Dictionary:

· pound: "enclosed place for animals," late 14c., from a late Old English word attested in compounds (such as pundfald "penfold, pound"), related to pyndan "to dam up, enclose (water)," and thus from the same root as pond. Ultimate origin unknown; some sources indicate a possible root *bend meaning "protruding point" found only in Celtic and Germanic.

· pond: c. 1300 (mid-13c. in compounds), "artificially banked body of water," variant of pound "enclosed place.” Applied locally to natural pools and small lakes from late 15c. Jocular reference to "the Atlantic Ocean" dates from 1640s.

· impound (v.): early 15c., "to shut up in a pen or pound," from assimilated form of in- "into, in" (see in-) + pound (n.). Originally of cattle seized by law.

The town pound of Glocester, Rhode Island, c. 1748

Kara Church

Technical Editor, Advisory

Symitar Documentation Services

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