Another Toxophilite

Toxophilite became established in the language as the name for a late 18th-century English archery society. The word derives from Greek toxon, which referred to both a bow and arrow, and philos, meaning “loving.” Today, toxophilite is a rarely used word but often occurs in vocabulary games and puzzles and in spelling bees. A more ubiquitous descendant of toxon is “toxic.” Toxic is an anglicization of Latin’s word for “poison,” toxicum, which originally meant “poison for arrows” and is a borrowing from Greek toxikon, meaning “arrow.”  from https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/toxophilite

In episode six of season one of Victoria (on PBS Masterpiece theatre), archery shows up as a plot device. The boys are discussing Duchess Harriet and Prince Ernest calls her a toxophilite to his brother Prince Albert.

I would guess this episode takes place in the year 1841. In episode seven, Prince Albert rides a locomotive which was likely 1841. In 1840-1841, George Hagar Hansard released The Book of Archery in London.

Although Merriam associates toxophile with English shooting clubs, it was most likely introduced by Roger Ascham in his 1545 book named Toxophilus with this introduction/explanation/apology:

I trust no man will be offended with this little book, except it be some flet-
chers and bowyers, thinking hereby that many that love shooting shall be
taught to refuse such naughty wares as they would utter. Honest fletchers
and bowyers do not so, and they be unhonest, ought rather to amend
themselves for doing ill. than be angry with me for saying well…. And
this little book I trust, shall please and profit both parts: for good bows
and shafts shall be better known to the commodity of all shooters, and good
shooting may perchance be the more occupied to the profit of all
bowyers and fletchers. And thus I pray God that all fletchers get-
ing their living truly, and all archers using shooting
honestly, and all manner of men that favour artillery,
may live continually in health and merriness
obeying their Prince as they should,
and loving God as they ought, to
whom all things be all
honour and glory for
ever. Amen.


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