In an effort to keep writing creatively while I am also editing my very long next novel, which really needs serious chopping, reshaping, and in some places rewriting, I have also committed myself to the 750 words a day challenge; this is another on-line challenge with no prizes except the satisfaction of having completed 750 words a day for a month. have a look at the site here:
Frustratingly I have actually missed the target of twenty-nine consecutive days of 750 words; somehow I accidentally only write five hundred and something a week ago – not sure how I missed, but even so I am trying to maintain the momentum!
Coincidentally, as I was catching up on the news, having been in bed with a fluey cold for most of the day, I came across a little article about the word ‘target’. Originally it meant a thing you carried to protect you, then as something you aimed at, now it has changed to also being a very, and its the process of trying to reach a goal as well as the goal itself.
Originally, as I mentioned, target, came from targe which was a little round shield; that in turn might have come from an old Germanic word which meant a round rim or frame – and in this case the round rim or frame would be filled in with some strong centre to absorb the blow, or stop the arrow/spear etc. there are similar sounding words, although with completely different spellings in Spanish and Arabic; However, other scholars believe it came from Scandinavian and French.
Certainly there is a typically English confusion with pronunciation – think forge/forget, a ‘ge’ pronounced as hard and as soft in different words. if target came from targe with a soft g, why does it change to a hard g for the word meaning something to aim at?! The idea of a target/shield was certainly around in the 1500’s, but it was only a couple of hundred years later that it came to replace the old word for an aimed at target which was butts – butts is still used today; I’m not sure if the area in Cambridge is still called ‘the butts’, but I remember it from when I was a child, and in former times men would go there to for target practice.
So when did target become used in the modern sense? Probably in the beginning decades of the twentieth century, certainly it was in use by the 1940’s.
Here is the article which I read, and has much more information, and also links to other interesting words!