A Few More Genealogy Words You Don’t Know

dictionary It can be interesting to find out the meanings of obscure, rarely used, genealogy terms, words, and phrases. If you are someone who likes to play with language, or who loves doing crossword puzzles, then you probably find it fun to learn new words.

I thought that every genealogy dictionary would hold pretty much the same words. To my surprise, this assumption is not true at all!

So far I have wandered through the Genealogy Glossary on the Family Tree Magazine website, the ROOTS Genealogical Dictionary, and the Glossary of Terminology at Genealogy Quest. This time, I decided to see what mysterious words the Genealogical Glossary of Terms from FamilySearch would have.

The first thing I noticed was that this genealogical glossary contains words in English, Spanish, Polish Latin, French, Italian, German, and possibly a few more languages. This could be helpful for genealogists who are searching through documents that are not written in English.

Just scanning through the letter A portion of the glossary reveals that “abuela paterna” is Spanish for “paternal grandmother”. The word “achterkleinzoon” is German for “great -grandson”. The Portuguese word “adotado” means “adopted”. The word “akatolicki” is Polish for “non-Catholic”. These are just a few examples of words that are in languages other than English that genealogists can find in this glossary by FamilySearch.

There are some interesting phrases to be found here, too. An “Allowance docket” is “a list of court-ordered payments”. A “Reverted lottery land” was “land that was returned to the state when the lottery receiver did not claim it”.

Have you ever heard of a “Marriage return”? Although it sounds as though a couple got married, then divorced, and then married again, this is not what the phrase means. A “Marriage return” is “a record of marriages, usually returned by a justice of the peace, minister, or cleric, to a civil record clerk to record in county or town records.”

The word “tuition” used to mean “guardianship over a child who is not old enough to marry”. Today, it means the amount of money that a person must pay in order to attend a semester of school at at college or university. A “pauper register” was “a list of individuals who cannot support themselves financially, and thus depend on public support”. Today, instead of this phrase, we have a list of people who are receiving unemployment insurance benefits.

I was very surprised to see this glossary contain a definition for “Chicago, Illinois”. It is defined as “A city in Cook County, Illinois”. Directly above this definition is a description of what “Chicago fire, USA”, was. Below “Chicago, Illinois”, is a listing for “Chicago Road”, which is defined as “The military highway that ran between Detroit and Fort Dearborn, now Chicago, after the 1820s. It was a major route for settlers moving to the Northwest”.

Image by Caleb Roenigk on Flickr