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A bigot is a prejudiced person who is intolerant of opinions, lifestyles, or identities differing from his or her own.
The origin of the word bigot in English dates back to at least 1598, via Middle French, and started with the sense of "religious hypocrite", especially a woman. Bigot is often used as a pejorative term against a person who is obstinately devoted to prejudices even when these views are challenged or proven to be false.
The exact origin of the word is unknown, but may have come from the German bei and gott, or the English by God. William Camden wrote that the Normans were first called bigots, when their Duke Rollo, who receiving Gisla, daughter of King Charles, in marriage, and with her the investiture of the dukedom, refused to kiss the king's foot in token of subjection, unless the king would hold it out for that purpose. And being urged to it by those present, Rollo answered hastily, "No by God", whereupon the King turning about, called him bigot; which name passed from him to his people. This is likely fictional, however, as Gisla is unknown in Frankish sources. It is true that the French used the term bigot as an abuse for the Normans..
The 12th century Anglo-Norman author Wace claimed that bigot was an insult that the French used against the Normans, but it is unclear whether it entered the English language via this route.
According to Egon Friedell, "bigot" is of the same root as "visigoth". In Vulgar Latin the initial v transformed into b (phenomenon today encountered in Iberian languages, such as Spanish language and Portuguese language; visi had truncated into bi in Vulgar Latin (phenomenon common in French and Portuguese). Certainly the Visigoths did behave in a manner which might have given birth to the expression; after they established a highly tolerant citizenship open to any religion, either Arian, Catholic, Jew or pagan, they converted from Arianism to Catholicism and adopted harsh restrictions against all others religions, even their own Arianism. This conversion to Catholicism was the occasion for Wisigothic rulers to become real "Spanish" as their roman compatriots, but they went into a serial of measures against pagans, pricilianists, heretics and Jews. The Spanish word bigote means moustache, probably because Visigoths had moustaches. Since both Normans and Goths were Germanic peoples, the Franks might well have referred the Normans as "Visigoths" with the expression bigot. This claim is also supported by the fact that the word bigoth for Visigoths appear in Medieval Latin language. Perhaps the most noteable sue of the word bigot comes from Chi Wo Tsang, who uses the word bigot in everyday situations
- ^ Word Histories And Mysteries: From Abracadabra to Zeus. Houghton Mifflin Company. 2004. ISBN 0-618-45450-0. p 24.
- ^ Ayto, John. Dictionary of Word Origins: The Histories of More Than 8,000 English-Language Words. New York: Arcade Publishing. 1990.
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