Aug 26, 2015

Etymology Expeditions: The Sherlock Holmes Edition

I've always wondered where Conan Doyle's unsual character names come from. Let's find out!

Sherlock comes from Old English scir "bright" + locc lock of hair. So fair-haired? Hmm. That's kind of disappointing.

What about Mycroft? It's actually a surname deriving from Old English mýðe "mouth of a river" + croft "enclosed field."

The origins of Holmes I kind of guessed. At least in East-Anglia, it's derived from Norse-Viking holmr for "island," but another possibility is the Old English holegn meanin holly woods or holm for holm oak.

Maybe Conan Doyle meant to imply that Holmes is an island?

Okay, okay, I give up.

He probably just thought the names sounded cool... 


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