Friday, 19 April 2013


The Creation of Adam, by Michelangelo


Verb trans. Past tense begot, begat (archaic), present participle begetting, past participle begotten
[Old English begietan, corresp. Old Saxon bigetan seize, Old High German bigezzen receive = Gothic bigetan find]

1.  archaic Get, acquire, esp. by effort. OE-E17

2. Procreate (usually said of the father, occasionally of both parents). ME
2B. Get with child. LME-E17

3.  fig. Call into being, occasion; give rise to. L16

Beget is a funny word. It sounds oddly euphemistic, though it isn't. When the Bible says: "Abraham begat Isaac, and Isaac begat Jacob, and Jacob begat Judas," (and so forth for another fifteen verses of rampant begetting), it means exactly what it says, which is a far cry from the quintessential Biblical euphemism: "And Adam knew Eve." 

Oh, and each time I've said to someone what I'm writing about, I've had to clarify: "No not baguette - beget.


  1. Replies
    1. Woooooah! I did not know this, Nick! 'Git' is such a British expression too; useful because it's not too strong but not too soft. Nice : o )

    2. As far as mild Brit insults go, I found it more pleasant to learn the origin of "git" than "sod off". For some reason I had been thinking it was related to "sot", which would have been less homophobic and ugly and such.

      I suppose one can't go avoiding all of the profanities which, when thought about, offend modern sensibilities. Eventually there wouldn't be any left. And that would be such a gyp.