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A Maverick Etymology

October 9, 2008

maverick290.jpgI love learning where words originate. Studying Old and Middle English at Uni was therefore a complete distraction wrapped up in a complete distraction! Sticking with the Shawnee Trail for the moment (see other entries) the city of Frisco here is building, expanding, flourishing (and otherwise ignoring the madness on Wall Street) and every piece of ground is earmarked for development. But they have preserved their history in a dramatic way, with these bronze cattle everywhere, with the occasional bronze cowboy in the shade of a tree watching over them. There is an even more dramatic series of towering obelisks which mark part of the trail through a sprawling mall and soon to be completed array of apartment housing. It is an impressive effort to preserve their local history but I think the lengths they have gone to have the added benefit of creating a sense of place and a conviction of community identity. Few established communities, let alone emerging ones, understand their roots and I admire the effort here to capture something of those.

On one of those obelisks I read this evening that during the Civil War cattle were unattended and roamed free and eventually wild. In 1865, the returned farmers proceeded to round them up, brand them and sell them. A certain Samuel Maverick refused to brand his cattle and soon these unbranded beasts became known by the cowboys as “Mavericks”. That Maverick himself refused to be as community minded as he might have otherwise been also meant “maverick” came to be associated with non conformist behaviour. There you go, something new every day – don’t you just enjoy that sort of discovery?!

Now, Goose has no such etymology. And if you missed that leap (from maverick) then you need to expand your education, get down to Video Ezy and hire “Top Gun”.

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