Lord: It’s all about the bread

I’m Rich Lord, not a rich lord (sadly). It’s a surname, not a title. But I always wondered where the word ‘Lord’ came from.

I’ve always been fascinated by language and names, particularly my own (I’m not totally obsessed with myself, honest).

For people whose surnames are Miller or Smith, it’s not too difficult to find out what their ancestors did to understand where they got their family name from. Or take the name Tanner – not immediately obvious, but look into it a bit and it gives you an entertaining story to tell your friends.

Then there’s my surname – Lord. Seems pretty obvious that, at some point in my family tree, someone was very important. But where did the word ‘Lord’ come from? What does it actually mean?

I found the answer while reading an exceptionally good book. Not only did it answer my question, it accelerated my thirst for wanting to know more about names, etymology and the history of English language in general.

The book is called The Etymologicon by Mark Forsyth, and I’ll probably reference it again, many times.

It’s a compilation of work that he published on his blog, The Inky Fool, which means that I can share with you where the word ‘Lord’ came from, and how it developed, by providing this handy link.

But if you don’t want to click the link, here’s the all important text taken from Mr Forsyth’s fascinating blog:

The Old English word for bread was hlaf, from which we get loaf; and the old English division of labour was that women made bread and men guarded it. The woman was therefore the hlaf-dige and the man was the hlaf-ward.

Hlafward and Hlafdige
Hlaford and Hlafdi
Lavord and Lavedi
Lord and Lady

Got an interesting story about the history of your family name? I’d love to hear about it!