Wednesday, 25 November 2009


According to the Guardian the boxing promoter Don King manages a fighter known as Kali "Checkmate" Meehan. Checkmate comes from the Persian Shah mat meaning King is dead. I am sure Mr King, who is a keen etymologist, delights in the suicidal connotations of his pugilist's nickname.

Incidentally, a nickname is a metanalysis from an ekename meaning an extra name, in the same way that an apron was originally a napron.

Someday I shall do a long and extraordinarily dull post on every word that derives from chess (even cheque does).

A keen etymologist


  1. Dogberry, you are about to have that wonderful feeling of being more right than even you yourself have realized up until now:

    "King read his way through the prison library, absorbing ideas from history’s heavyweight thinkers...In a 1988 Playboy Interview, King recalled:

    “On my first day in prison, a guy gave me a book, The Meditations of Marcus Aurelius, and I lay there on my bed in a four-man cell, and I just went deep into this book. Reading about Rome gave me the appetite to read whatever I could get my hands on.”

    Often when King quoted the great writers he mangled their names, calling them “Kneeis-itch” (Nietzsche) and “Jean- Paul Shar-tay”....

    Needless to say I teach King as part of my Western Civ introductory course to freshmen.

  2. Actually it's probably from the Persian for "the king is helpless".

  3. I stand (odd construction) corrected. It actually makes the derivation more apposite as the article was about King's impotence in trying to arrange for Mr Meehan to hit a chap called David Haye.
    It also explains the hedging I found here