Tuesday, September 6, 2011


TileHead’s Word of the Day for 6 September 2011

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LINKBOY  (n. pl. -S)

  1. (n.) an attendant formerly employed to carry a torch to light the way along dark streets

Useful information for game players:
  • Front hooks: (none)
  • Back hooks: -S
  • Anagrams: (none)
  • Longer extensions: (none)
  • Wraparounds: (none)
  • Other Spellings: (none)
  • Related Forms: LINKMAN, LINKMEN

In the days before streetlights, LINKBOYS or LINKMEN were employed to light the way along the streets of London and some other large cities, at least throughout the seventeenth to nineteenth centuries.  Several famous authors of that era referred to them in their writings, as when Charles Dickens wrote of “the red glare of the link-boy's torch” in Pickwick Papers.  The “link” in the word refers an obsolete sense meaning “a torch made of cotton tow and pitch.”

LINKMAN was also the name given to “an attendant (as at a theater) who summons vehicles and shows passengers to and from them” (W3) or to any “person serving as a link between groups of people” (OED).  These words are not to be confused with LINKSMAN, a term for a golfer — a devotee of the “links” of a golf course.

This week’s theme: in honor of yesterday’s Labor Day holiday, the rest of this week we’ll examine words related to unusual occupations.

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