Origin of the word Loophole
27-07-2017    2077 times

Origin of the Word Loophole

Sometimes it seems easy to guess the origin of a particular word, while others are a bit of a puzzle. For example, let us take the word, “loophole”. Literally, it means a hole in a loop, while technically it stands for a way out to escape a contractual commitment. People in the tight corner always try to find out a loophole in a contract or article about a particular law to avoid problems. But originally, the word meant something else.

Initially, the slit-like openings in castle walls were known as loopholes that were used by archers and later by musketeers, who used to guard the castle. Those slits were the only openings in a seemingly impenetrable wall were these slits. The strategy behind such openings was that it was easy to launch arrows and projectiles from them without having similar objects coming back through the slits. It could also be used by children or small adults to squeeze through and escape. Thus, a loophole is a small opening, a means of escape or a narrow hole in a seemingly airtight law or contract.

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Loop Hole 02
Loop Hole 02

It should be mentioned in the context that, the Dutch word “loopen”, meaning “to run”, is still reflected in the English words “lope”and “ leap ”. Another Dutch word “lupen”, meaning “ to watch, peer ”, is also a likely origin of the castle loophole, the word “lupenhole” meaning window hole.

Loop Hole 02
Loopholes In A Fort

The word loophole in the sense of contractual loophole, allowing evasion, was first used by the poet Andrew Marvell in 1663. Figurative sense of "outlet, means of escape" is from 1660s.

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Dibyendu Banerjee
Ex student of Scottish Church College. Served a Nationalised Bank for nearly 35 years. Authored novels in Bengali. Translated into Bengali novels/short stories of Leo Tolstoy, Eric Maria Remarque, D.H.Lawrence, Harold Robbins, Guy de Maupassant, Somerset Maugham and others. Also compiled collections of short stories from Africa and Third World. Interested in literature, history, music, sports and international films.
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