A term used to describe an individual offering their skills or services on their own behalf. The business world uses the English language as its vehicle for cross continental communications so most people are familiar with this title but what are its origins?
It’s difficult to pin it down to a specific period but some time in the Middle Ages of Europe circa 500 – 1500 AD, when armies were charging about on horseback killing each other with great skill.
A whole range of weaponry was designed specifically for mounted warriors including swords, bows and arrows, spears and God knows what else, all designed to put an end to their opponents as effectively as possible.
They were a bloodthirsty lot our ancestors and if the daily images of warfare currently pouring from our TV screens from Syria and most of the middle east, not to mention Africa and Israel, (have I missed anywhere?) are anything to go by, this generation are not showing any signs of giving it a rest.
Pardon me for running away with myself on this issue.
Back to the original intention of this post:
Wars would come and go and the cavalry would disband at the end of hostilities then canter off to look for more work. Lancers were a common sight and they would put the word out that they were available for employment:
I am a lancer who is free to join another army – a free lance.
An interesting conundrum here: Working on the basis that the pen is mightier than the sword, a freelance journalist is actually an oxymoron. One of my favourite words meaning: a compressed paradox; a figure of speech in which seemingly contradictory terms appear side by side.
Tune in next Friday to share another Meaning Lost in Time with more juicy titbits thrown in for good measure