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?

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    Is there a certain quotation you are trying to interpret? Including it here would help.
    – Brian Z
    Apr 1, 2019 at 13:45
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    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, 2019 at 13:49
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    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, 2019 at 13:53
  • @BrianZ odds are asker has been reading/watching Poldark.
    – AllInOne
    Apr 1, 2019 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, 2019 at 20:27

2 Answers 2


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

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    Click that little arrow and green thing for maximum thanksgiving @MalcolmNorman
    – Dr. Shmuel
    Apr 1, 2019 at 13:32
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    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, 2019 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).

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