Thursday, August 28, 2008
1569, of uncertain origin; apparently the word and the first specimen were brought to London by Capt. John Hawkins's second expedition (landed 1565; see Hakluyt).
"There is no proper name for it that I knowe, but that sertayne men of Captayne Haukinses doth call it a 'sharke' " [handbill advertising an exhibition of the specimen, 1569]The meaning "dishonest person who preys on others," though only attested from 1599 (sharker in this sense is from 1594), may be the original sense, later applied to the large, voracious marine fish. It is possibly from Ger. Schorck, a variant of Schurke "scoundrel, villain," agent noun of M.H.G. schürgen (Ger. schüren) "to poke, stir." The Eng. word was applied to voracious or predatory persons, on the image of the fish, from 1707 (originally of pick-pockets); loan shark is attested from 1905. Sharkskin was used for binding books, etc. As the name of a type of fabric held to resemble it, it is recorded from 1932.
- Spiritus-temporis, however, claims:
Until the late 16th century sharks were usually referred to in the English language as sea-dogs. The name "Shark" first came into use around the late 1560s to refer to the large sharks of the Caribbean Sea, and later to all sharks in general. The name may have been derived from the Mayan word for shark, xoc, pronounced "shock" or "shawk".Take Our Word For It has more, languagehat, much, much more.