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An etymology for campshed

Coates, Richard



The Oxford English Dictionary [OED] defines this word as follows: ‘[a] facing of piles and boarding along the bank of a river, or at the side of an embankment, to protect the bank from the action of the current, or to resist the out-thrust of the embankment.’1 It is recorded from 1471 onwards, and from the late seventeenth century is also found in the form campshot and similar. An older instance may be one noted by Laura Wright: le Campete kaij, recorded in 1333,2 but if this is relevant its form is in need of elucidation. Rather than its being a defective spelling for campshed, Wright suggests it is a ‘spelling for “the campt key”, where <campt> represents the devoicing of “camped”, a back-formation from camp-shide [see below, RC], where -shide was still transparent in meaning and so could be elided, giving a meaning of “the campshed/campshot quay”’. This would evidently make it a relative, not an ancestor, of campshed.


Coates, R. (2023). An etymology for campshed. Notes and Queries, 70(1), 1-2.

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Dec 22, 2022
Online Publication Date Jan 13, 2023
Publication Date Mar 1, 2023
Deposit Date Feb 1, 2023
Publicly Available Date Jan 14, 2025
Journal Notes and Queries
Print ISSN 0029-3970
Electronic ISSN 1471-6941
Publisher Oxford University Press (OUP)
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 70
Issue 1
Pages 1-2
Keywords Library and Information Sciences, Literature and Literary Theory, Linguistics and Language, Language and Linguistics
Public URL
Publisher URL


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