GEN-MEDIEVAL-L ArchivesArchiver > GEN-MEDIEVAL > 2006-09 > 1159108191
From: "Diana Gale Matthiesen" <>
Subject: RE: use of word, "pretender"
Date: Sun, 24 Sep 2006 10:29:51 -0400
Actually, definition 3 is pretty close (the Oxford definitions are more helpful
than those in my Webster's unabridged). Thank you for sharing them.
The context here is contemporary. I didn't want to "name names" because it
would undoubtedly shift the discussion to the validity of the claim, which would
be off topic for GEN-MEDIEVAL. But I figured if there was any group that
understood the meaning of the word, "pretender," it would be the subscribers to
this list, so I very much appreciate everyone's input.
And the bottom line appears to be that I will go with "usurper." Pretender is
too "mild" for the situation.
> -----Original Message-----
> From: Matt Tompkins [mailto:]
> Sent: Sunday, September 24, 2006 6:22 AM
> Subject: Re: use of word, "pretender"
> "Diana Gale Matthiesen" wrote:
> > I have a question about the meaning, especially the
> connotations, of the word,
> > "pretender." I know what my dictionary says, but I'd like
> to have a better feel
> > for how it's used and what it implies. To me, one
> connotation is derogatory and
> > the other is not. For example,
> > If a person would have been the next monarch, had their
> monarchy had not been
> > overthrown, I see no reason to necessarily hold the person
> in contempt, but if
> > someone affects a position or title -- or usurps such a
> title -- to which they
> > were never rightfully eligible, I view that as contemptible.
> > Would the term, "pretender," apply to both, or to only the former?
> It depends on the context, whether the word is found in a historical
> document or in modern writing, because the meaning of the word has
> changed. Its original meaning was just 'claimant', with no moral
> associations, but it later came to mean only a claimant whose
> claim was
> Here are some of the definitions given in the Oxford English
> 2. One who puts forth a claim, or who aspires to or aims at something;
> a claimant, candidate, or aspirant; now, one who makes baseless
> 2.c. A claimant to a throne or the office of a ruler; orig. in a
> neutral sense, but now always applied to a claimant who is
> held to have
> no just title
> 3. One who pretends or lays claim to something; one who makes a
> profession, show, or assertion, esp. without adequate
> grounds, falsely,
> or with intent to deceive; a dissembler, deceiver, charlatan,
> Matt Tompkins