Online Encyclopedia

MUSTER (Mid. Eng. mostre, moustre, ad...

Online Encyclopedia
Originally appearing in Volume V19, Page 98 of the 1911 Encyclopedia Britannica.
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MUSTER (Mid. Eng. mostre, moustre, adapted from the similar O. Fr. forms; Lat. monstrare), originally an exhibition, show, review, an exhibition of strength, prowess or power. One of the meanings of this common Romanic word, viz. pattern, sample, is only used in commercial usage in English. (e.g. in the cutlery trade), but it has passed into Teutonic languages, Ger. Muster, Du. mousier. The most general meaning is for the assembling of soldiers and sailors for inspection and review, and more particularly for the ascertainment and verification of the numbers on the roll. This use is seen in the Med. Lat. monstrum and monstratio, "recensio militum" (Du Cange, Gloss. s.v.). In the "enlistment" system of army organization during the 16th and 17th centuries, and later in certain special survivals, each regiment was " enlisted " by its colonel and reviewed by special officers, muster-masters," who vouched for the members on the pay roll of the regiment representing its actual strength. This was a necessary precaution in the days when it was in the power of the commander of a unit to fill the muster roll with the names of fictitious men, known in the military slang of France and England as passe-volants and "faggots" respectively. The chief officer at headquarters was the muster-master-general, later commissary general of musters. In the United States the term is still commonly used, and a soldier is " mustered out " when he is officially discharged from military service.
End of Article: MUSTER (Mid. Eng. mostre, moustre, adapted from the similar O. Fr. forms; Lat. monstrare)
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