Home Grammar The Grammarphobia Weblog: When ‘pomp’ met ‘circumstance’

The Grammarphobia Weblog: When ‘pomp’ met ‘circumstance’

The Grammarphobia Weblog: When ‘pomp’ met ‘circumstance’


Q: An article concerning the ceremonies following Queen Elizabeth’s loss of life referred to the “pomp and circumstance” concerned. “Pomp” I get, however what’s with “circumstance”? It doesn’t have the standard which means (reality, situation, occasion).

A: An archaic which means of “circumstance” refers to a ceremony or public show at an essential occasion, a utilization that survives within the phrase “pomp and circumstance.”

The Oxford English Dictionary defines that sense of “circumstance” as “the ‘ado’ made about something; formality, ceremony, about any essential occasion or motion.”

The dictionary’s earliest quotation, which we’ve expanded, is from the “The Knight’s Story,” the primary of The Canterbury Tales (1386) of Chaucer: “His sacrifice he dide and that anon fful pitously with alle circumstance.”

The OED says the expression “pomp and circumstance” echoes Othello’s farewell to “Satisfaction, pompe, and circumstance of superb warre” (from Shakespeare’s Othello, written within the early 1600s and first printed in 1623).

The dictionary’s earliest instance for the precise wording “pomp and circumstance” is from The Bashful Lover, a play by Philip Massinger written someday earlier than 1640: “The Minion of his Prince and Court docket, set off / With all of the pomp and circumstance of greatness.”

The dictionary provides that “the prevalence of the actual kind pomp and circumstance might be because of the standard navy marches composed (from 1901) by Edward Elgar with this subtitle.”

As for the sooner etymology, the noun “circumstance” in the end comes from the Classical Latin circumstantia (standing round, surrounding situation). The Latin time period is the current participle of circumstare (to face round), which mixes circum (round) and stare (to face).

When the phrase confirmed up in Center English, it was used within the plural to imply the environment or situations by which an motion takes place. The earliest Oxford instance is from Ancrene Riwle, an nameless information for monastic ladies, written someday earlier than 1200:

“Abute sunne liggeð six þinges. þet hit hulieð. o latin circumstances. on englis totagges muȝe beon icleoped. Persone. stude. time. Manere. story. trigger” (“About sin there lie six issues that conceal it: particular person, place, time, method, telling, trigger—in Latin circumstances, in English, they could be known as trappings that obscure”).

Many different senses have appeared through the years, together with “circumstances” that make an act kind of felony (1580), an incident or “circumstance” in a story (1592), dwelling in straightforward or lowered “circumstances” (earlier than 1704), and one thing that’s a mere “circumstance” (1838).

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