The word "ilk" and its abuses

Doug Henwood dhenwood at
Thu Aug 31 09:24:22 PDT 2000

JKSCHW at wrote:

>Doesn't the wrong version become the right version if it is
>embedded? "Specious" meant "plausible" in Hume's English, but it
>acquired the meaning of " . . . but false: in ours. So Ilk means
>"same" in Scotland but"kind" in America. --jks

Says the American Heritage Dictionary, via Microsoft Bookshelf 98:

>ilk (îlk) noun
>Type or kind: can't trust people of that ilk. See synonyms at type.
>The same. Used following a name to indicate that the one named
>resides in an area bearing the same name: Duncan of that ilk.
>[Middle English, same, from Old English ilca.]
>Word History: When one uses ilk, as in the phrase men of his ilk,
>one is using a word with an ancient pedigree even though the sense
>of ilk, "kind or sort," is actually quite recent, having been
>recorded no earlier than the end of the 18th century. This sense
>grew out of an older use of ilk in the phrase of that ilk, meaning
>"of the same place, territorial designation, or name." This phrase
>was used chiefly in names of landed families, Guthrie of that ilk
>meaning "Guthrie of Guthrie." "Same" is the fundamental meaning of
>the word. The ancestors of ilk, Old English ilca and Middle English
>ilke, were common words, usually appearing with such words as the or
>that, but the word hardly survived the Middle Ages in those uses.

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