What did the word "leisure" mean in the name of a Cornish tinmine. It has not been possible for me to find any definition of this term other than in connection with "free time" and suchlike. What could it have signified at the end of the eighteenth century?

  • 5
    Is there a certain quotation you are trying to interpret? Including it here would help.
    – Brian Z
    Apr 1 '19 at 13:45
  • 3
    As already mentioned, the term was used in the business name of a Cornish tin mine. Pieter Geerkens has now explained the usage, but thank you! Apr 1 '19 at 13:49
  • 1
    I don't personally consider this off-topic here. I know ELU sometimes fields historical usage questions, but they are really much better with contemporary usage. However, I'll look into migration if its what the author wants. Is it?
    – T.E.D.
    Apr 1 '19 at 13:53
  • @BrianZ odds are asker has been reading/watching Poldark.
    – AllInOne
    Apr 1 '19 at 17:46
  • @AllInOne: Yes indeed. That is evident from inspecting the edit history back to the original pair of questions that have now been separated. Apr 1 '19 at 20:27

Although marked as obsolete in the O.E.D. (1928), this oldest meaning for the word leisure is attested as late as 1640:


a. Freedom or opportunity to do something specified or implied

b. opportunity

  • 6
    Click that little arrow and green thing for maximum thanksgiving @MalcolmNorman
    – Dr. Shmuel
    Apr 1 '19 at 13:32
  • 2
    Note that this anachronism still exists in modern English; albeit as a part of a commonly used expression "at your leisure". e.g. "You need to do the dishes at your leisure".
    – Stephen
    Apr 2 '19 at 6:33

The etymology of the word leisure traces it back to "license," permission to do something. In the context of a mine, it would mean permission to extract the ore.

Later, the connotation of the term changed to "take it easy," or permission to not do anything.The source opines that it may have developed in tandem with, or along the lines of, "pleasure," including becoming a rhyme (in British English).

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.