Sunday 07 December 1997
In Latin rogare was to ask; with an ad- attached it meant to ask for, or stake, a legal claim. But the English "to arrogate" has always meant to make an unjustified claim, and even in Latin arrogans meant presumptuous. No doubt this reflects human nature - we assume people are more likely to make false claims than genuine ones.
Anyway to be arrogant is to have ideas above one's station, like lord chancellors claiming more political clout than they're entitled to; le Carre would justify his insult by saying Rushdie aspires to be a saint when he's not. Earl Spencer looks like the odd man out, having behaved worse than earls are supposed to, so his ideas are below his station, not above.
But what really outaged people was the difference between the earl's appearance in church and the evidence in court. Here arrogant gets fuzzy, which is rather a shame. You can now apply it to anyone who humiliates others, or is any sort of loudmouth or bully. In sport it can simply mean self-confidence. A Sunday Telegraph man recently wrote approvingly of the "arrogance" of the Springboks, and someone on the Mail praised the "skill and arrogance" of a New Zealand forward.
Meanwhile Jonathan Freedland may have got it right when he wrote in the Guardian that "the real problem with the Lord Chancellor is not the arrogance of the man, it's the arrogance of the job." Perhaps it's too much subservience that breeds arrogance.
Life & Style blogs
Astrological signs are almost all wrong, as movement of moon and sun throws out zodiac
Professional wine tasters putting teeth at risk, study finds
NHS property sale could raise £7.5bn to help pay off its growing deficit and free up space for housing
Clocks change: how to make sure iPhone and smartphones automatically ‘spring forward’
Gay marriage, one year on: Couples mark first anniversary of same-sex marriages
Ukip supporters are 55 or older, white and socially conservative, finds British Social Attitudes Report
JK Rowling responds to fan tweeting she 'can't see' Dumbledore being gay
Jeremy Clarkson sacked live: Alan Yentob 'wouldn't rule out' ex Top Gear host's BBC return
David Cameron calls Labour 'hopeless, sneering socialists' while announcing 7-day NHS plans
Revealed: Putin's army of pro-Kremlin bloggers
The West has it totally wrong on Lee Kuan Yew
- 1 Is this bridge haunted by the ghost of nu rave?
- 2 Woman filmed launching racist tirade against men on the Tube for speaking in 'own lingo'
- 3 The West has it totally wrong on Lee Kuan Yew
- 4 Scientists have discovered a simple way to cook rice that dramatically cuts the calories
- 5 Noel Gallagher: I lost sh*tloads of money, a few million, didn’t tell my wife
£6 per hour: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity to join a gro...
Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: A Service Delivery Manager is required to join...
£12000 - £24000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A opportunity has arisen for a ...
£32000 - £38000 per annum: Ashdown Group: A successful accountancy practice in...