Discussions about eggcorns and related topics
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Chris -- 2011-03-08
A recent post by David Bird inspired me to look into the Online Etymology Dictionary. Unlike people with last names like White, Miller, Hill, or Bird, figuring out the derivation of my last name is a challenge. There are competing explanations, most of which involve Vikings, so apparently I need to add Norwegian, or possibly Danish, to my lifelong answer of German/English/Irish/Scottish/Dutch when asked my nationality.
Many years ago I looked up Wragg in a reference book which said it’s a spelling variation of Ragg, which appeared in the Domesday Book (1086) as a Yorkshire County surname, and supposedly came from an Old English word meaning “judgment”. More recently, some online research turned up a story that Wragg came from Wraghi, an archaic Danish given name. Another story says it means “sons of Ragni” (Ragni being a Viking who viked in the Northern England area).
Still another story says that Wragg comes from a very old word that refers to the look on a dog’s face just before it bites! When I read that, I wondered if there could be some connection with the word “rage”. Looking up “rage” in the Online Etymological Dictionary, I get “c.1300, from O.Fr. raige (11c.), from M.L. rabia, from L. rabies “madness, rage, fury,” related to rabere “be mad, rave.” Related to rabies, of which this is the original sense. Similarly, Welsh (cynddaredd) and Breton (kounnar) words for “rage, fury” originally meant “hydrophobia” and are compounds based on the word for “dog” (Welsh ci, plural cwn; Breton ki)...”
So, it looks like I may have had some ancestor(s) who were mean enough to be called “Mad Dog”, or words to that effect! I love etymology!
If anyone here has any hot tips as to where I can find more info about the derivation of my last name, please clue me in.