Wednesday, November 26, 2008
Iron Rite Mangle
"This is a ironing machine (Mangle) from the 1940s or 1950s it still works"
If you're like us (and we know you are), you find this intriguing. You don't have use for this enormous, obsolete laundry tool, but you think "mangle? Never heard of that. I wonder if the word 'mangle', as in 'to do some calamitous physical harm' originated with laundry workers using this thing and getting caught in the mechanism. That would be cool. Etymology works that way sometimes, right?"
Well, prepare to be disappointed. The Vintage Microwave Library is fortunate to contain a compact OED, and research has been done. The "mangle" we're all familiar with, the verb meaning "to leave you wishing you were dead," dates to at least the late 14th Century. The nominal form, for a "wringer," doesn't appear until the late 16th Century. More important, they seem to derive from different languages; no common root is shared. True homonymy.