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Sporting Vernacular 25. TESTIMONIAL

AS AN Englishman at Chelsea, Dennis Wise may be an endangered species, but Saturday's testimonial against Bologna, which brought him around pounds 500,000, should compensate.

"Testimonial" is one of a range of words that go back to the Latin testis, or "witness" (from the Indo-European tris-, or three - i.e. a third person who witnesses an agreement between two others). From here we reach (via "testicle", which "bears witness" to the owner's virility), "testimonial", in which witness is borne to the subject's good qualities.

In 1838, Lord Cockburn wrote, "The growth of the modern things called testimonials is very curious. It has come of late to denote a sort of homage," while in 1851, "Bat" in Cricketer's Man reported a Kent v England testimonial for a player called Mynn.