On the oddness of loopholes

23 Aug

I just wanted to flag this excellent entry on loopholes from Michael Quinion’s always brilliant ‘World Wide Words’.  It had never occurred to me until I read it that ‘loophole’ is a mighty strange word – that ‘loop’ and ‘hole’ now mean broadly similar things.

Michael explains that the origins of ‘loop’, long before  any connotation relating to string, might lie in the Old Dutch ‘lupen’ – to watch – as ‘loops’ were holes in a castle through which soldiers could watch the encroaching enemy or archers could let arrows fly. 

The word expanded to become ‘loophole’ – and it is from there, we get our modern sense of finding an escape route in the legislation. 

Thanks Michael!


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