Online Encyclopedia

BEGGAR

Online Encyclopedia
Originally appearing in Volume V03, Page 652 of the 1911 Encyclopedia Britannica.
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BEGGAR, one who begs, particularly one who gains his living by asking the charitable contributions of others. The word, with the verbal forrn " to beg," in Middle English beggen, is of obscure history. The words appear first in English in the 13th century, and were early connected with " bag," with reference to the receptacle for alms carried by the beggars. The most probable derivation of the word, and that now generally accepted, is that it is a corruption of the name of the lay communities known as Beguines and Beghards, which, shortly after their establishment, followed the friars in the practice of mendicancy (see BEGUINES). It has been suggested, however, that the origin of " beg " and " beggars " is to be found in a rare Old English word, bedecian, of the same meaning, which is apparently connected with the Gothic bidjan, cf. German betteln; but between the occurrence of bedecian at the end of the 9th century and the appearance of " beggar " and " beg " in the 13th, there is a blank, and no explanation can be given of the great change in form. For the English law relating to begging and its history, see CHARITY, POOR LAw and VAGRANCY. BEGGAR-MY-NEIGHBOUR, a simple card-game. An ordinary pack is divided equally between two .players, and the cards are held with the backs upwards. The first player lays down his top card face up, and the opponent plays his top card on it, and this goes on alternately as long as no court-card appears; but if either player turns up a court-card, his opponent has to play four ordinary cards to an ace, three to a king, two to a queen, one to a knave, and when he has done so the other player takes all the cards on the table and places them under his pack; if, however, in the course of this playing to a court-card, another court-card turns up, the adversary has in turn to play to this, and as long as neither has played a full number of ordinary cards to any court-card the trick continues. The player who gets all the cards into his hand is the winner.
End of Article: BEGGAR
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