Home Grammar The ‘it’ in ‘lording it over’

The ‘it’ in ‘lording it over’

The ‘it’ in ‘lording it over’


Q: I’ve at all times felt that you simply want “it” in a sentence like “He lorded it over them.” However I typically see the utilization with out it. Is that this permissible, or are folks simply not getting the idiomatic use of “it”?

A: The verb “lord” is utilized in three other ways when it means to behave in a superior or domineering method: (1) “He lorded over them,” (2) “He lorded it over them,” and (3) “He lorded himself over them.”

search with Google’s Ngram Viewer, which tracks utilization in digitized books, signifies that the primary two are about equally standard, whereas the third seems a lot much less typically..

The verb is intransitive in #1 and transitive in #2 and #3. A transitive verb is one with a direct object. In #2 the item is “it,” whereas in #3 the item is a reflexive pronoun.

The Oxford English Dictionary describes the usage of “it” right here as “a obscure or indefinite object of a transitive verb,” and provides that the transitive use has “the identical that means because the intransitive use.”

When “lord” first appeared as a verb within the 14th century, it meant “to have the standing of a lord; to govern, rule; to have a presiding authority or affect,” a way that’s now out of date, in response to the OED.

The dictionary’s first quotation is from Confessio Amantis (“The Lover’s Confession,” circa 1390), a protracted Center English poem by John Gower: “On [One] lordeth, and an different serveth.”

Within the sixteenth century, “lord” got here to imply “to behave within the supposed method of a lord; to behave in an conceited, disdainful, or dissipated method; to rule tyrannically; to dominate.” The verb was used on the time each with and with out “it” (however not with “over,” which didn’t seem within the utilization till a century later).

The primary OED instance for “lord” used with out “it” is from a sermon by Hugh Latimer, a Church of England reformer who was burned on the stake outdoors Balliol Faculty, Oxford, and is likely one of the three Oxford Martyrs of Anglicanism:

“For they [the Apostles] preached and lorded not. And nowe they lorde and preache not” (“A Nota­ble Sermō of Ye Re­uerende Father Maister Hughe Latemer, Whi­che He Preached in Ye Shrouds at Pau­les Churche in Londō, on the .XVIII. Daye of January. 1548”).

The dictionary’s earliest instance for the verb “lord” used with “it” is from a guide about Christian martyrs: “Suche Byshoppes as minister not, however lorde it” (Acts and Monuments, 1563, by the English historian John Foxe).

Within the seventeenth century, variations with “over” started showing, and the OED says it’s normally current as we speak. Listed here are the primary examples, each with and with out “it”:

  • “Lording it over the Consciences of the folks” (A Treatise of the Confession of Sinne, 1657, by the English theologian Thomas Aylesbury).
  • “Had Judah that day be a part of’d, or one complete Tribe, / They’d by this possess’d the Towers of Gath / And lorded over them whom now they serve.” (We’ve expanded this quotation from Milton’s poem Samson Agonistes, 1671. Gath was a significant Philistine metropolis.)

The earliest OED quotation for the verb “lord” used with a reflexive pronoun is from a spiritual tract responding to the writings of George Fox and different Quakers of the seventeenth century. Right here’s an expanded model:

“G F. hath remembred the Affliction of Joseph, and doth not Lord himself over the Gentle of God in others; that is false, and R. R. might need applyed it at residence” (from One thing in Reply to a E book Printed in 1678, Known as, The Hidden Issues Delivered to Gentle, 1679, by Robert Wealthy, a Quaker who typically challenged different Quakers).

Lastly, listed here are the newest OED citations for “lord over,” “lord it over,” and “lord oneself over”:

  • “The Manchus, from their very own separate world, lorded over and certainly lived off the Han” (Manchus & Han, 2000, by Edward J. M. Rhoads). We’ve expanded the quotation.
  • “Lording it over them was one of many pleasures of my father’s outdated age” (The Instances Literary Complement, London, March 11, 2005).
  • “It smacked of colonialism, patriarchy, unhealthy white males lording themselves over unvoiced minions” (The New York Instances, Oct. 9, 2011).

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