Sporting Vernacular 16: Umpire

Click to follow
The Independent Online
WITH cricket's World Cup taking place on the island where it developed it's appropriate that the very word reflects its Anglo Saxon origins. As with the empire that spawned the game, there was a certain French input, too.

Edward I's wardrobe bill in March 1300 included pounds 6 for young Prince Edward's school "Creag" expenses, and the root is the Anglo Saxon "Cryce" or "Stick', and there is evidence the game was played on the Sussex Weald before the Normans' innings began. To this day, the cricket pitch is 66 feet long, the width of a farmer's holding under the medieval agriculture system.

In 1540, the Catholic Stony and Hurst School fled to Rouen to escape persecution, taking cricket with them. It was there the word "umpire" entered the game, from "non pair" - not equal, and therefore neutral. From there it became "Noumpere" later dropping the N to become the umpire we have today.