Bridgetymology – champion

what is a champion?

A CHAMPION BY DEFINITION IS:

  • AN ONGOING WINNER IN A GAME OR CONTEST.

  • SOMEONE WHO IS CHOSEN TO REPRESENT A GROUP OF PEOPLE IN A CONTEST.

  • SOMEONE WHO FIGHTS FOR A CAUSE OR STATUS.

  • SOMEONE WHO FIGHTS ON ANOTHER’S BEHALF.

the etymology of champion

THE ETYMOLOGY RUNDOWN TIES THE MEANING OF CHAMPION TO THE ORIGINAL ROOTS KAMP, WHICH EVOLVED TO MEAN A BATTLEFIELD FROM ITS FIRST MEANING AS JUST A FIELD. THIS MAKES SENSE WHEN YOU THINK ABOUT A CAMP, OR GOING CAMPING… YOU THINK ABOUT SLEEPING IN AN OPEN SPACE, CLOSE TO THE GROUND.

ANOTHER ENGLISH WORD THAT COMES FROM THIS SAME ROOT IS CAMPUS. THE FIRST THOUGHT THAT COMES TO MY MIND WHEN I HEAR CAMPUS IS ITS USE IN EDUCATIONAL SETTINGS, PARTICULARLY ON A COLLEGE CAMPUS. NOW HOW IS THAT TIED TO THE ORIGINAL MEANING OF CAMP AS A FIELD OF BATTLE? I CAN TELL YOU THAT SOME OF MY UCLA CLASSES GOT SO COMPETITIVE THEY SOMETIMES FELT LIKE A BATTLEFIELD, BUT THE ORIGINAL USES OF CAMPUS REFERRED TO FIELDS WHERE WARRIORS LEARNED MILITARY EXERCISES. EVENTUALLY, CAMPUSES BECAME TRAINING GROUNDS FOR SPORTING EVENTS, AND THEN PLACES WHERE PEOPLE TRAINED THEIR MINDS AMONG OTHERS.

 ANOTHER ENGLISH WORD THAT COMES FROM THAT KAMP- ROOT IS CAMPAIGN. THIS WORD WAS FIRST HEARD IN THE 1640S, REFERRING TO THE  “OPERATION OF AN ARMY IN THE FIELD,” DURING A SINGLE SEASON, IN A PARTICULAR REGION, OR IN A DEFINITE ENTERPRISE. THIS USAGE STEMMED FROM OLD FRENCH WORD CHAMPAGNE” COUNTRYSIDE, OPEN COUNTRY” (SUITED TO MILITARY MANEUVERS). WE WILL COME BACK TO THAT! OLD ARMIES SPENT WINTERS IN QUARTERS AND TOOK TO THE “OPEN FIELD” TO SEEK BATTLE IN SUMMER. GENERALIZED TO “CONTINUED OR SUSTAINED AGGRESSIVE OPERATIONS FOR THE ACCOMPLISHMENT OF SOME PURPOSE” (1790); IN THE U.S., ESPECIALLY “POLITICAL ACTIVITY BEFORE AN ELECTION, MARKED BY ORGANIZED ACTION IN INFLUENCING THE VOTERS” [DAE], ATTESTED FROM 1809. SO THE WORD CAMPAIGN GENERALLY REFERS TO A BURST OF EFFORT TOWARD A CAUSE.

THE NAME CHAMPAGNE IS PROBABLY DERIVED FROM THE LATIN CAMPANIA (“LAND OF PLAINS”); MENTIONS OF CAMPANIA APPEAR IN CHRONICLES FROM THE EARLY 6TH CENTURY AD. CHAMPAGNE CONSISTS MOSTLY OF FLAT PLAINS INTERRUPTED BY LOW HILLS AND BY THE VALLEY OF THE MARNE RIVER.

toast like a champion!

INDEED, CHAMPAGNE IS A DRINK FOR CHAMPIONS! WE WENT ON QUITE THE JOURNEY THERE EXPANDING ON OTHER WORDS THAT SHARE THIS KAMP- ROOT, BUT I WANT TO RETURN TO THE ROOT OF KAMP-… THE PROTO-INDO-EUROPEAN “KHEMP” MEANING “BEND OR CURVE”. YOU CAN SEE HOW THIS MEANING IS CONNECTED TO THE IDEA OF A VARIED LANDSCAPE OF A FIELD. BUT I LIKE THE CONNECTION THAT THE ROAD TO THE CHAMPIONSHIP IS NOT NECESSARILY FLAT OR CLEAR, BUT CAN CURVE AND BEND IN WAYS WE DON’T ALWAYS ANTICIPATE. WHATEVER CAUSES, GOALS, SPORTS, OR VISIONS YOU ARE WORKING TO CHAMPION, MAY YOU STAY THE COURSE AND WEATHER THE UPS AND DOWNS. AND MAYBE RAISE A CHAMPAGNE TOAST (IF YOU ARE OF LEGAL DRINKING AGE, OF COURSE) EVERY ONCE IN A WHILE TO CELEBRATE YOUR WINS!

Resources

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