Friday, July 3, 2009

Origin of the word Budget; It actually means a bag

The origin of our word 'budget' is the Latin bulga,meaning a little pouch or knapsack. The word turned up in English in the fifteenth century, having travelled via the French bougette, a diminutive form of bouge, “leather bag”. Its first meaning in English indeed was “pouch, wallet, bag”, and followed its French original in usually implying something made of leather.

By the end of the sixteenth century, the word could refer to the contents of one’s budget as well as to the container itself. People frequently used this in the figurative sense of a bundle of news, or of a long letter full of news, and the word formed part of the name of several defunct British newspapers, such as the Pall Mall Budget.

The connection with finance appeared first only in 1733, as the result of a scurrilous pamphlet entitled The Budget Opened, an attack directed at Sir Robert Walpole, The allusion was that the government minister responsible for financial affairs opened his budget, or wallet, to reveal his proposals. It probably also echoed the idiom to open one’s budget, “to speak one’s mind”, which was current then and continued to be so down into Victorian times. By the 1760s, it was clearly well established, and has been the standard term ever since. But it was only in the 1880s that it began to be used as a verb in the sense of planning one’s expenditure, and the attributive meaning of “inexpensive; suitable for someone of limited means” is first recorded only in 1958.

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