Monday, September 27, 2004

Etymology Today from M-W: morganatic \mor-guh-NAT-ik\

: of, relating to, or being a marriage between a member of a royal or noble family and a person of inferior rank, in which the rank of the inferior partner remains unchanged and the children of the marriage do not succeed to the titles, fiefs, or entailed property of the partner of higher rank

The deprivations imposed on the lower-ranking spouse by a morganatic marriage may seem like a royal pain in the neck, and yet the word "morganatic" comes from a word for a marriage benefit. New Latin "morganatica," a term based on Middle High German's "morgen" ("morning"), means "morning gift." It refers to a gift that a new husband traditionally gave to his bride on the morning after the consummation of their marriage. So why was the New Latin phrase "matrimonium ad morganaticam," which means literally "marriage with morning gift," the term for a morganatic marriage? Because it was just that — the wife got the morning gift, but that's all she was entitled to of her husband's possessions.

Previous E.T.

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