Playwright

First of all, if you want to know about why today is called Boxing Day, I wrote about that here last year. If you didn’t read it then, I encourage you to do so. Even if you did read it last year, why not read it again? You might have forgotten all of the details. I know I have.

If you’re looking for something new though, how about a few brief lines about that curious word playwright?

If you already know something about how people used to get surnames, then you might have guessed that the -wright part has nothing to do with writing. Rather, wright is an archaic term for anyone who made anything. A shipwright made ships, a cartwright made carts, and a playwright makes plays. That’s all fairly logical, but why use -wright in this case, when a playwright isn’t involved in actual, physical production?

Well, we have a playwright to thank for that, specifically the 16th/17th century playwright Ben Jonson. In his “Epigram 49,” he coined the term playwright as a derogatory one, to insinuate that the average writer of plays was a mere, uninspired craftsman, while he, in comparison, was a true poet and artist.

Yet, what began as a cheap insult has gone on to become the standard term for a writer of plays, probably mostly due to people making the assumption that the word is actually playwrite, or believing that wright was an old spelling of write.

Right (wright?), let’s leave it at that for today, you’ve got to start that turkey curry. Enjoy!

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