Down with filibusters!

carolyn: Where did the word filibuster come from and how can we make it go away?

Neil Horlock: The dictionary has it as derived from the Spanish filibustero, literally, freebooter and was a term used in the mid 19th century to refer to Americans mercenaries participating in insureections in South America. One assumes that as a spanish word it derives from Latin but I have no reference to the root of filibustero. As for getting rid of it, well I think we'd be better off if we got rid of the filibusters themselves (and all related war types) then the word could become redundant as you desire.

Terry O'Connor: That's all very well -- and certainly we should rid ourselves of freebooters -- but how did filibuster gain the meaning "obstructionist politician", as in one who gains the floor of the Congress and refuses to yield to anyone? Does anyone else remember the movie "Mr Smith Goes to Washington" or somesuch in which a politician puts on a monumental filibuster until he gets his way?


Return to the Archive Index
Return to the Word for Word articles
Return to the BrisMail Home page