SAUNTER, to loiter, lounge, walk idly or lazily. The derivation of the word has given rise to some curiously far-fetched guesses; thus it has been referred to the Holy Land, La Sainte Terre, where pilgrims lingered and loitered, or to the supposed tendency to idle propensities of those who possess no landed property. The most probable suggestions are:
(2) That supported by Skeat, and first propounded by Blackley (Word Gossip, 1869), which connects it with the Middle Engish aunter, adventure; it may represent the French saventurer, to go out on an adventure, and the sense-development would be from the idle and apparently objectless expeditions of knights-errant in search of adventure. —This unsigned comment was added by Dangherous (talk • contribs) at 11:53, 13 April 2006.
- In addition to the three Scandinavian cognates you mentioned there is also German schlendern. Bogorm 15:03, 17 January 2009 (UTC)
Thanks! I’ve incorporated it into the etymology. (Above quote is from 1911 Britannica.)
What Thoreau Said
From Walking by Henry David Thoreau (Gutenberg eText #1022):
- "I have met with but one or two persons in the course of my life who understood the art of Walking, that is, of taking walks — who had a genius, so to speak, for SAUNTERING, which word is beautifully derived "from idle people who roved about the country, in the Middle Ages, and asked charity, under pretense of going a la Sainte Terre," to the Holy Land, till the children exclaimed, "There goes a Sainte-Terrer," a Saunterer, a Holy-Lander. They who never go to the Holy Land in their walks, as they pretend, are indeed mere idlers and vagabonds; but they who do go there are saunterers in the good sense, such as I mean."
By the way, the OED pooh-poohs this etymology. — Sam Wilson (Australia) 05:46, 9 March 2007 (UTC)
- Perhaps this etymology may be no good, but I like it for an illustrative quotation. Is it too long or otherwise inappropriate? Also, I read the OED, and it doesn't seem to provide much of an alternative, nor does it seem to directly attack or even address Thoreau's quote (either of them... we mustn't omit the following etymology he provides in the same paragraph of the same document: "Some, however, would derive the word from sans terre without land or a home, which, therefore, in the good sense, will mean, having no particular home, but equally at home everywhere.") Jxn 01:04, 29 January 2008 (UTC)
This etymology appears to be roundly dismissed as fanciful, hence not appropriate for main page, but this talk page seems a good home. I’ve mentioned the etymology in a footnote, and linked to a page that discusses it further.