Q From Pieter Bosman: We have a digital Babel of main langueras in South Africa, elalso of them, through English the de facto language of interaction. I am frequently asked to describe the definition and also beginning of seemingly evident expressions and discover myself stumped, as I tfinish to be satisfied through discovering the meaning without thinking of their etymology. Therefore it was newly with footloose and sophisticated free. Searching the internet gave some answers, however they seem also glib to be true.

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A That’s definitely true. I’ve discovered one story which clintends that it’s from the forea lot of member of a prichild chain gang in the American southern, that had one ankle left cost-free so he can move more conveniently and lead the others. Another has actually it that the expression derives from one-time Thames river barges, which didn’t have a boom to which the lower edge of the mainsail can be lamelted, which therefore hung cost-free and also was said to be loose-footed. We might safely overlook both of these.

The idiom indicates that a perchild is without duties of any type of kind and have the right to go wherever before he wants. Its initially part, footloose, likewise has actually this definition. It’s American, dating from the 1840s:

The Senate declared this connection unlawful, and also instantly divorced this great financier from the revenue bill, sent out the bill earlier to the Housage without its defilement, leaving the good financier aget foot loose in the people.

Indianapolis Journal (Indiana), 16 Jan. 1843.

It didn’t become prevalent in Britain till the 1940s, previously appearances being in despatches from the US, for example in reports of presidential speeches or as here:

You see, I was deffinishing one of the worst horsethieves in Western Texas this afternoon, and I cleared him. He is foot-loose currently, and I’m afrassist he will come approximately to-night and also steal my horses. Nobody’s steeds will certainly be safe until that double dyed scoundrel is out of town.

Hampshire Telegraph and Sussex Chronicle, 19 Jun. 1886. In a column headed American Cuttings.

Fancy initially had actually the interpretation of a fantasy, a gorganize or a hallucination. It concerned suppose a whim or caprice and an inclicountry towards love, a feeling that was taken over right into fancy-free. This is natively British and means to be unconstrained by amorous entanglements, having actually no sweetheart to tie one down. Shakespeare is the initially taped user, in A Midsummer Night’s Dream of around 1600.

The proof suggests that the 2 words were put together about 1880 in the US to make a nicely balanced alliterative phrase. This is the first I’ve been able to find:

All of which, fellow citizens, indicates that the world are footloose and elaborate free.

Jackboy Sentinel (Maquoketa, Iowa), 19 Oct. 1882.

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The combined expression footloose and also fancy-free isn’t tape-recorded in the UK till the 1950s, presumably a wartime import by US equipped pressures. The initially appearance in the Times is in 1954 and refers to a revue via that title. It only becomes widespread in the 1960s.