Firm

Discuss word origins and meanings.
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Firm

Post by Bobinwales » Mon May 12, 2014 2:11 pm

I need some fresh lateral thinking.

In Swansea there is a road called North Hill Road. It transpires that its original name was Gibbet Hill Road. The site of Swansea gallows has been forgotten, but when you find a road called Gibbet Hill I think you can reasonably take that as a clue! Hangings, as I understand it, usually happened on crossroads, and a 19th century map shows a road crossing Gibbet Hill that still exists.

Now why am I bringing the Wizards into this? That street is called Firm Street. I know firm as being steady or compact or otherwise a company, but why would a street with not many houses, indeed it still does not have many, be called Firm Street? Is it a corruption of something else. I don’t know.

It is possible that there is a Welsh Language connection of course, but I doubt that and it is a line of thought I have taken elsewhere.

Anyone got any ideas?
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Signature: All those years gone to waist!
Bob in Wales

Re: Firm

Post by zmjezhd » Mon May 12, 2014 3:20 pm

All that came to mind, Bob, is that the English word farm derives (via French) from Medieval Latin firma meaning a 'fixed payment'. Not sure what gibbets and firmae have to do with one another.
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Re: Firm

Post by Shelley » Mon May 12, 2014 4:16 pm

Those who end up hanging from a gibbet have "bought the farm" (a American idiom for dying, like "kicked the bucket"). After zmjezhd's contribution, this is the only connection I can make . . .

No, that's wrong. Death and taxes, which cannot be avoided, are fixed payments (firmae). Therefore, the junction of Gibbet Hill and Firm was reserved for the execution and subsequent display of those who failed to pay the duty owed to their feudal lord. Um . . .

By the way, in searching for an image to link to the word gibbet, I found a restaurant in Connecticut called the Gibbet Hill Grill. Yummy.
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Re: Firm

Post by Phil White » Mon May 12, 2014 11:00 pm

Without putting too fine a point on it, being atop a hill, perhaps the road was less soggy than the one in the valley.

In my town, we have a Zig Zag Road. Guess what! It ain't straight. (Well, it has a couple of kinks in it - indeed, Straight Lane in Ilkley is far more kinky...)

There are at least 4 Wet Lanes in the UK.

Steep Road in Rotherfield.

Boggy Lane in Richmond, Swaledale is, unsurprisingly, next to the river.

Firm Street. Why not?

Edit: Indeed, the surrounding roads:
Short Street
Pleasant View Terrace
Hill Street
North Hill Road

do not suggest that a huge amount of creativity went into the naming of roads in that part of Swansea...
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Signature: Phil White
Non sum felix lepus

Re: Firm

Post by Erik_Kowal » Tue May 13, 2014 6:08 am

Not an answer to your question, Bob, but I found some snippets of information (including maps) that may supplement what you already know, including information about a forthcoming history website based on Swansea's 'City Witness' exhibition.

(The exhibition opens on 21 June 2014.)
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End of topic.
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