Boccaccio and Chaucer had both done the story earlier, and the word pander, variously spelt, was already in use when Shakespeare made his prophecy about it, so he was placing his bet with the winner already past the post. But it was always about pimping, even though Chaucer's version is mainly to do with romantic love. Panderess was aname for a madam, or bawd. Today the verb "to pander" can be used of anyone who indulges other peoples' prejudices or inclinations, of whatever sort. We have pretty well forgotten the tale that inspired our two best poets.
We should not be too unhappy about this. It is idle to say that such- and-such a word is being used "wrongly" because at one time it meant something different Those who take this line should be reminded that the modern sense of pander was used by Dr Johnson in one of his essays ("... a place where there are no pandars to folly and extravagance"). Johnson, as a lexicographer, knew all about changes in meaning. He had never even heard of our word maverick, also applied to Mr Clark last week, which now means a person of independent views, but originally meant an unbranded calf, in memory of a careless Texan rancher called Maverick. If he had, would Johnson have defined it as "an unbranded calf"? Of course not.Reuse content