Monday, 2 September 2013

To bowl a maiden over > Mijden?

Whilst playing cricket yesterday I spent some time scoring our first innings and chatting with one of the Flemish players. We mulled a little over the term 'Maiden' (a scoreless over) and I offered that the etymology is more to do with the older sense of being 'unproductive'. I quizzed him if there was a similar word in Dutch and he came up with the possibility of 'mijden' which means to avoid.

The etymology of maiden shows simply a root meaning of 'unmarried' but I can't link it to mijden whose etymology is more associated with the Anglo-Saxon 'mīðan', which also meant to avoid.

It seems my fancy research was all for nothing. It was unproductive: a maiden! I looked back into the etymology to find German, 'mädchen', Dutch 'meid/magd' and English 'maiden'  (ongehuwde, unmarried, unproductive…) to be most likely to have given the word to the cricket over.

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