crony

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crony

Post by juliank » Thu Oct 13, 2005 3:02 am

Current political discussion (USA) prompts my interest in the origin of the word.
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Post by haro » Thu Oct 13, 2005 8:53 pm

Julian, most dictionaries say it possibly comes from Greek 'chrónios,' which means long lasting, long-term, derived from 'chrónos' = time, as in 'chronology,' 'chronograph,' 'synchronous,' etc..
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Post by podictionary » Fri Oct 14, 2005 2:01 pm

I posted a two minute audio "word of the day" on "crony" on October 4th. You can listen to it at
http://podictionary.libsyn.com/index.php?post_id=25019
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Post by dalehileman » Fri Oct 14, 2005 3:43 pm

Pod: Welcome to WW

Forgive an old non-geek, but when I evoked podictionary I couldn't figure out how to get the audio
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Post by Phil White » Fri Oct 14, 2005 5:16 pm

Nice site, Charles (I even corrected your misspelling of it on the "crony" thread ;-o ).

Dale,
It all depends... There's any number of ways to play audio if you have the hardware to do it. If your hardware is set up right (sound card, speakers etc. - ask no. 1 son the next time you see IT), it's probably easiest in Internet Explorer. Click the Media button in the Toolbar, then go to the Settings at the bottom of the page. But your hardware must be audio-capable and set up correctly!
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Post by juliank » Fri Oct 14, 2005 10:12 pm

Thank you for the responses. I was aware of the association with "chronios" cited in various dictionaries - some with certainty - others with a more tentative phrasing. The latter prompted my question - wonderment whether other possibilities had been given consideration. Is this forum the appropriate venue to inquire about the process whereby an origin is established "beyond reasonable doubt"?
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Post by Phil White » Fri Oct 14, 2005 10:17 pm

Could be a nice, inconclusive discussion. Feel free to start it in a different thread, just to keep our ducks in a row. Hmmm, "ducks in a row".
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Post by Ken Greenwald » Sat Oct 15, 2005 4:58 am

Charles, Very nice job. You’re probably not interested in extra work, but it would be great if you had the transcripts of your etymologies available for reference. Using a speech recognition program such as Dragon’s Plainly Speaking would reduce the amount of work considerably. Just a thought.

Ken G – October 14, 2005
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Post by dalehileman » Sun Oct 16, 2005 6:24 pm

Phil: Thank you again most kindly. As it turns out I don't have a media button in my Explorer toolbar but I will invoke the good offices of my friendly local IT

Actually Son 1 is not so local (nor that friendly, come to think of it), residing in another county, but he will be up here soon for his birthday

For this celebration we'll be staging a beer tasting and I wish you could be here for the event
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Post by podictionary » Mon Oct 17, 2005 1:04 am

Hi All (I was away for the weekend)
WRT certainty of Chronios, my impression was that it was some etymologyists' impression, by no means certain (but makes sense).
WRT transcripts of podictionary.com; here's the thing. I have a book on word origins coming out next year, pocitionary.com is my humble attempt to start building a following. If people like it, and end up also buying the book, this will likely secure a second book contract for me in the future, and guess what, the scripts (I am writing scripts for the episodes) could be part of a subsequent publication. So for the moment I am holding the scripts tight to my chest.
WRT spelling...one of my many failings, sorry
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Post by Ken Greenwald » Mon Oct 17, 2005 4:06 am

Julian et al, Since CRONY and CRONYISM have been hot topics on the political front in the U.S. lately, as you noted, I decided to look in to these a bit further and add some hard copy to what Charles has provided on his podcast and to Hans Joerg's above comments.
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CRONY:

1) beginning in the 17th century meant a close friend, associate, companion, chum. B.E.’s Dictionary of the Canting Crew (1698-9) defined it as “A comerade or intimate friend” and gave the date of appearance as 1650. The fact that the expression was originally university slang is agreed upon by many sources and ‘chrony’ (later changed to ‘crony’) is said to be the Cambridge University slang for close friend, with the equivalent Oxford University slang being CHUM – probably (some say certainly) short for ‘chamber fellow.’

2) in the 18th and early 19th century ‘crony’ took on an additional sinister aspect and in ‘cant and low slang’ meant an accomplice in a robbery.

3) continuing with the opprobrious connotations, in the 19th-century U.S. it came to also mean a close associate, a partner in wrong doing, especially a political one (POLITICAL CRONY, see 1851 quote).
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The Oxford English Dictionary (OED) provides the following slender etymology for CRONY: “Found first after 1660. According to Skinner 1671 ‘vox academica’, i.e. a term of university or college slang. No connexion with ‘crone’ [[old hag]] has been traced.]” – Well, I’m certainly glad the OED settled the old hag question, but what about from whence the university or college crowd dug up ‘crony’? (<:) .

The New Shorter Oxford English Dictionary [NSOED], which is of 1993, vintage often provides etymologies which are updates of the 1989 OED 2nd edition. The NSOED says that ‘crony’ derives from:
<“Greek ‘khronios,’ long-lasting, long-continued [[from ‘khronos’ / ‘chronos,’ time, as in ‘chronic,’ ‘chronology,’ ‘chronicle’]]. Originally university slang, the Greek word being perverted to the sense ‘contemporary.’”>
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Ayto’s Dictionary of Word Origins makes the comment that the Greek derivation, “seems to have been intended to mean ‘friend of long standing’ or PERHAPS ‘contemporary.’” So ‘long-lasting’ here does not necessarily mean ‘long-lasting friend’ as one might suppose, but the meaning may have been corrupted to mean a ‘contemporary,’ as in ‘person of the same age.’ But according to most of the reliable references that I checked (in agreement with Hans Joerg above) – the derivation only MIGHT be connected to the Greek ‘khronios’ or ‘chronios’ (e.g. American Heritage Dictionary says ‘possibly,’ Merriam-Webster Unabridged, Random House Unabridged, and Barnhart Concise Dictionary of Etymology all say ‘perhaps’). Cassell’s Dictionary of Slang states emphatically ‘origin unknown,’ which, of course, is what ‘perhaps’ and ‘possibly’ imply. So I must differ with Charles’ list of dictionaries that he says give agreement with the Greek origin. American Heritage Dictionary and Webster’s Unabridged most certainly do not, although, of course, there are many that do. But I don’t think that one should walk away with the impression that the Greek origin is overwhelmingly accepted, although Pepys’ spelling of CHRONY in the above 1665 quote certainly does add weight to that view.
<1663 “He beat his Breast, and tore his Hair, For loss of his dear CRONY Bear.”—‘Hudibras’ by Samuel Butler, I. iii. page 188>

<1665 “30 May, Jack Cole, my old school-fellow . . . who was a great CHRONY of mine.”—‘Diary’ of Samuel Pepys>

<1710 “This is from Mrs. Furbish . . . an old School-Fellow and great CRONY of her Ladyship's.”—in ‘The Tatler’ by Steele, No. 266, 2>

<1851 “. . . our County Clerk’s Office, (which is said to be occupied by an Irish alien, who, under Mr. Matsell’s supervision, counts our sacred votes as to his own ejection and POLITICAL CRONIES . . .”—‘New York Times,’ 12 October, page 3> [[negative connotation}}

<1864 “My schoolfellow . . . became a great CRONY of mine.”—‘Denis Duval’ (1869) by Thackeray, page 85>

<1965 “On U.S. Highway 80, 400 yards beyond the bridge, was a phalanx of 60 state cops, headed by Colonel Al Lingo, an old CRONY of George Wallace's and a segregationist of the Governor's own stripe. —‘Time Magazine,’ 19 March> [[friend, but in this instance with negative connotation]]

<1988 “I wouldn’t mind getting back to Joisey and seeing some of my old CRONIES,” the old teacher said.”—‘New York Times,’ 20 March, page 452> [[the positive sense is still with us in spite of the proliferation of negatives]]

<2005 “There are reasons to oppose this President -- arrogance abroad, CRONY CAPITALISM at home.”—Time Magazine,’ 14 February> [[used negatively as an adjective, CRONY CAPITALISM appeared in NYTimes 132 times since 1984]]

<2005 “Imagine, then, watching what came next, as she [[Supreme Court nominee Harriet Miers]] was declared a mediocrity, a CRONY, "the least qualified choice since Caligula named his horse to the Senate." ‘Time Magazine,’ 17 October> [[negative connotation]]
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CRONYISM, is the preferential treatment of one’s friends and colleagues, and especially the awarding of political posts through friendship rather than on ability. It is a close relative of the political word de jure [in the U.S. at least] ‘crony’ and has been widely used in charges against the Bush administration (e.g. FEMA director Mike Brown, Supreme Court nominee Harriet Miers, . . .). The expression first appeared in print in and 1840 and like 'crony' it began its life with positive connotations simply meaning “friendship; the ability or desire to make friends.” But in 1950 it was first used in a negative political context and the floodgates opened for its massive use in the 1952 political campaigns, especially with respect to the Truman administration. I noted in searching through the archives of the New York Times (~ 1000 hits) that ‘cronyism’ has been in fairly continuous use in its pages since 1952 (as it as been in other major news publications), with occasional spikes such as the present one with regard to the Bush administration.
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<1840 “It ‘must’ end in my going to Khokund, probably via Khiva with the Envoy thence, Yakoob Bai, with whom I have established great CRONEYISM [‘sic’].”—‘Letter’ (July) by A. Conolly in ‘Person from England (1958) by F. MaxLean, page 43> [[positive: friendship]]

<1950 “[He] sets a heap of store by the solemn vows of CRONYISM.”—‘Collier’s Magazine,’ 24 June, page 78/1> [[negative]]

<1951 “Expectation here is that the Democrats are going to make a desperate effort to unseat GOP Sen. Butler of Maryland in an attempt to offset the scandalous revelations of ‘CRONYISM’ in the activities of the Reconstruction Finance Corp.”—‘Los Angles Times,’ 5 March, page A1

<1952 “The results [[of New Hampshire primary]] confirm the tremendous personal popularity of General Eisenhower and the people’s disgust with the graft-ridden CRONYISM of the Truman Administration.”—‘New York Times,’ 13 March, page 18>

<1952 “If Mr. Truman is regarded as guilty of ‘CRONYISM’ and of winking at shoddy practices, on the Republican side are Senator Mc Carthy and his backers.”— ‘International Affairs,’ Vol. 28, No. 2. April, page 144>

<1955 “Last month in the St. Thomas market place, hundreds of islanders demonstrated against Alexander [[governor of the Virgins Islands]], accusing him of incompetence, CRONYISM, and overriding their wishes. Soon after, he suffered a heart attack. Last week President Eisenhower accepted Alexander's resignation.”— ‘Time Magazine,’ 29 August>

<1956 “CRONYISM, noun The appointment of close friends to political posts to government posts.”—‘Among the New Words’ in ‘American Speech,’ Vol. 31, No. 1, February, page 62>

<2005 “The Bush Administration didn't invent CRONY ISM; John F. Kennedy turned the Justice Department over to his brother, while Bill Clinton gave his most ambitious domestic policy initiative to his wife.”— Time Magazine, 3 October>
(Oxford English Dictionary, New Shorter Oxford English Dictionary, Random House and Merriam-Webster’s Unabridged Dictionaries, Erik Partridge’s A Dictionary of Slang, Historical Dictionary of American Slang, Barnhart Concise Dictionary of Etymology, Brewer’s Dictionary of Phrase & Fable, Ayto’s Dictionary of Word Origins, Facts on File Encyclopedia of Word and Phrase Origins)
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Ken G – October 16, 2005
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