EKTENG, adj. The native representation of the official designation ‘acting’ applied to a substitute, especially in the Civil Service. The manner in which the natives used to explain the expression to themselves is shown in the quotation.

1883.—“Lawrence had been only ‘acting’ there; a term which has suggested to the minds of the natives, in accordance with their pronunciation of it, and with that striving after meaning in syllables which leads to so many etymological fallacies, the interpretation ek-tang, ‘one-leg,’ as if the temporary incumbent had but one leg in the official stirrup.”—H. Y. in Quarterly Review (on Bosworth Smith’s Life of Lord Lawrence), April, page 297.

ELCHEE, s. An ambassador. Turk. ilchi, from il, a (nomad) tribe, hence the representative of the il. It is a title that has attached itself particularly to Sir John Malcolm, and to Sir Stratford Canning, probably because they were personally more familiar to the Orientals among whom they served than diplomatists usually are. 1404.—“And the people who saw them approaching, and knew them for people of the Emperor’s, being aware that they were come with some order from the great Lord, took to flight as if the devil were after them; and those who were in their tents selling their wares, shut them up and also took to flight, and shut themselves up in their houses, calling out to one another, Elchi! which is as much as to say ‘Ambassadors!’ For they knew that with ambassadors coming they would have a black day of it; and so they fled as if the devil had got among them.”—Clavijo, xcvii. Comp. Markham, page 111.

[1599.—“I came to the court to see a Morris dance, and a play of his Elchies.”—Hakluyt, Voyages, II. ii. 67 (Stanf. Dict.).]

1885.—“No historian of the Crimean War could overlook the officer (Sir Hugh Rose) who, at a difficult crisis, filled the post of the famous diplomatist called the great Elchi by writers who have adopted a tiresome trick from a brilliant man of letters.”—Sat. Review, Oct. 24.

ELEPHANT, s. This article will be confined to notes connected with the various suggestions which have been put forward as to the origin of the word—a sufficiently ample subject.

The oldest occurrence of the word ( [Greek Text] elefaV— [Greek Text] fantoV) is in Homer. With him, and so with Hesiod and Pindar, the word means ‘ivory.’ Herodotus first uses it as the name of the animal (iv. 191). Hence an occasional, probably an erroneous, assumption that the word [Greek Text] elefaV originally meant only the material, and not the beast that bears it.

In Persian the usual term for the beast is pil, with which agree the Aramaic pil (already found in the Chaldee and Syriac versions of the O. T.), and the Arabic fil. Old etymologists tried to develop elephant out of fil; and it is natural to connect with it the Spanish for ‘ivory’ (marfil, Port. marfim), but no satisfactory explanation has yet been given of the first syllable of that word. More certain is the fact that in early Swedish and Danish the word for ‘elephant’ is fil, in Icelandic fill; a term supposed to have been introduced by old traders from the East viâ Russia. The old Swedish for ‘ivory’ is filsben.1

The oldest Hebrew mention of ivory is in the notice of the products brought to Solomon from Ophir, or India. Among these are ivory tusks—shen-habbim, i.e. ‘teeth of habbim,’ a word which has been interpreted as from Skt. ibha, elephant.2 But it is entirely doubtful what this habbim, occurring here only, really means.3 We know from other evidence that ivory was known in Egypt and Western Asia for ages before Solomon. And in other cases the Hebrew word for ivory is simply shen, corresponding to dens Indus in Ovid and other Latin writers. In Ezekiel (xxvii. 15) we find karnoth shen=‘cornua dentis.’ The use of the word ‘horns’ does not necessarily imply a confusion of these great curved tusks with horns; it has many parallels, as in Pliny’s, “cum arbore exacuant limentque cornua elephanti” (xviii. 7); in Martial’s “Indicoque cornu” (i. 73); in Aelian’s story, as alleged by the Mauritanians, that the elephants there shed their horns every ten years ( [Greek Text] “dekatw etei pantwV ta kerata ekpesein”—xiv. 5); whilst Cleasby quotes from an Icelandic saga ‘olifant-horni’ for ‘ivory.’

We have mentioned Skt. ibha, from which Lassen assumes a compound ibhadanta for ivory, suggesting that this, combined by early traders with the Arabic article, formed al-ibha-danta, and so originated [Greek Text] elefantoV. Pott, besides other doubts, objects that ibhadanta, though the name of a plant (Tiaridium indicum, Lehm.), is never actually a name of ivory.

Pott’s own etymology is alaf-hindi, ‘Indian ox,’ from a word existing in sundry resembling forms, in Hebrew and in Assyrian (alif, alap).4 This has met with favour; though it is a little hard to accept any form like Hindi as earlier than Homer.

Other suggested origins are Pictet’s from airavata (lit. ‘proceeding from water’), the proper name of the elephant of Indra, or Elephant of the Eastern Quarter in the Hindu Cosmology.5 This is felt to be only too ingenious, but as improbable. It is,

  By PanEris using Melati.

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