Save the Northern European Ilk! (Re: tree hugging nazis)

Carrol Cox cbcox at
Wed Mar 8 14:23:25 PST 2000


> And these are just the two latest. I've bit my tongue on this one for a
> while, but as a founder member of the "Society for the Preservation of the
> Word 'Ilk'" (SWP'I'), I have to speak out now.
> "Ilk" is not a posh way of saying "Sort" or "Bunch" or "Kind". It's an Old
> Scots word meaning "same". So Laird Moncrieff of that Ilk is Moncrieff of
> that same, ie (the) Moncrieff of Moncrieff, the chieftain of the clan. It
> used to be a common way of referring to clan chiefs, but is now archaic and
> only the Moncreiffs style themselves that way. It is possible to use the
> word "ilk" correctly when the context is not the Moncrieff family (the
> construction "of an ilk with" is wrong but bearable; the SPW'I' had a
> contest for the best correct use which I never won). But it is difficult,
> and in general, a Saxon word is best.
> Sorry about that. Do feel free to tell me where to go, as ever.

Daniel is almost but correct but a trifle narrow in his argument. The OED gives as an erroneous usage, *that ilk*: That family, class, set or 'lot.' Also, by further extension, = kind, sort. Citations are from 1790 to 1973. 1969: *Times* 8 May 8/6 This habit is confined to Tory backbenchers like ...Rear-Admiral Morgan Giles and others of that ilk.

Its correct use, however, is broader than Daniel allows. The first citation under "Same, identical" is 805-31 "Of thaeam ilcan londe." Sense 3: *of that ilk*, of the same place, territorial designation, or name: chiefly in names of landed families, as *Guthrie of that ilk*, *Wemyss of that ilk* = Guthrie of Guthrie, Wemyss of Wemyss. Citations are given for 1473, 1536, 1542, 1596, 1806, and 1860. Family names in the citations are Guthere, Wemyss, Elphinstoun, Lwndy, King James [the fyfte of that ilk], Knockwinnocks, a hospital [A canon and two choristers sent from St. George's to the hospital of that ilk" ]

My apologies for offending Daniel's essentially valid sensibility, and only to make a point about the likes of the Singers, et al. One should save one's transgressions for grander occasions.


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