Anyone who has ever been a sidewalk engineer—an ogler at workers erecting a building—has seen a crane lifting and moving steel beams and other heavy objects. This crane is called a derrick. Today a derrick is used in the construction of something useful to mankind. Many years ago, however, a derrick was used solely for the destruction of mankind; it was a device to hang people. And only the common people at that. Nobility was accorded the courtesy of beheading. This gruesome word was named after Godfrey Derrick. Whether he actually invented the gallows that bear his name is unclear but as the official executioner for Queen Elizabeth I and James I, his qualifications assured him a place in the dictionary. Derrick (or Derick) was said to have hanged or beheaded at least three thousand persons.
   Derrick came to his job in an odd way. According to a story during Elizabeth's reign, Derrick was convicted of rape while serving under the provost marshal in the expedition to Cadiz headed by the second Earl of Essex, Robert Devereaux. For this crime he was sentenced to death. But the earl pardoned him when he agreed to become the executioner in London. Ironically, when Essex himself, a onetime favorite of the queen, was condemned to death in 1601, Derrick was his executioner. As a nobleman, Essex was not to be subjected to the indignity of hanging, He was entitled to be beheaded, which was Derrick's responsibility. But Derrick botched the job on the block. He hacked three times at Essex's neck before he severed the head. Essex's friends were so incensed that they rushed Derrick to give him the same treatment he had given Essex. Fortunately for Derrick, guards reached him in time to rescue him.
He rides circuit with the devil,
and Derrick must be his host,
And Tyborne the inn at which he
will light.
Dekker, Bellman of London (1608)

Dictionary of eponyms. . 2013.

Look at other dictionaries:

  • derrick — [ derik ] n. m. • 1861; mot angl., d un nom propre ♦ Anglic. Bâti métallique supportant le trépan qui sert à forer les puits de pétrole. Les derricks. Recomm. offic. tour de forage. ● derrick nom masculin (anglais derrick, potence, de Derrick,… …   Encyclopédie Universelle

  • Derrick — Saltar a navegación, búsqueda El término inglés Derrick tiene significados múltiples: Torre de armazón metálica, que soporta la maquinaria de perforación de un pozo de petróleo. Especie de grúa usada en obras públicas. En personas, Derrick puede… …   Wikipedia Español

  • Derrick — Der rick, n. [Orig., a gallows, from a hangman named Derrick. The name is of Dutch origin; D. Diederik, Dierryk, prop. meaning, chief of the people; cf. AS. pe[ o]dric, E. Theodoric, G. Dietrich. See {Dutch}, and {Rich}.] 1. A mast, spar, or tall …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • derrick — DÉRRICK s.n. Şarpantă de metal care suportă aparatul de foraj al unui puţ petrolier. [< engl. derrick]. Trimis de LauraGellner, 18.02.2005. Sursa: DN  DÉRRICK s. n. şarpantă de metal care suportă aparatul de foraj al unui puţ petrolier; turla …   Dicționar Român

  • Derrick Ng — (* 21. September 1987) ist ein kanadischer Badmintonspieler. Karriere Derrick Ng wurde 2011 kanadischer Meister im Herrendoppel mit Adrian Liu. 2010 hatten beide bereits die Guatemala International und die Peru International gewonnen. Ng nahm des …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • derrick — der‧rick [ˈderɪk] noun [countable] 1. a type of crane, used especially for loading and unloading ships 2. a tall tower built over an oil well, used to raise and lower the drill: • a massive oil derrick * * * derrick UK US /ˈderɪk/ noun [C] …   Financial and business terms

  • derrick — ► NOUN 1) a kind of crane with a movable pivoted arm. 2) the framework over an oil well, holding the drilling machinery. ORIGIN originally denoting a hangman, also the gallows: from Derrick, the surname of a 17th century London hangman …   English terms dictionary

  • derrick — [der′ik] n. [after Thos. Derrick, London hangman of the early 17th c.: first applied to a gallows] 1. a large apparatus for lifting and moving heavy objects: it consists of a long beam pivoted at the base of a vertical, stationary beam and moved… …   English World dictionary

  • Derrick — m English: variant spelling of DEREK (SEE Derek). This is the usual American spelling of the given name, but in Britain it is more common as a surname than as a given name …   First names dictionary

  • derrick — c.1600, originally hangman, then a gallows, then hoist, crane (1727), from surname of a hangman at Tyburn gallows, London, c.1606 1608, often referred to in contemporary theater. The name represents a late borrowing from the Low Countries (Cf. Du …   Etymology dictionary

  • derrick — /ingl. ˈdɛrɪk/ [vc. ingl., verso il 1600 «forca, patibolo», dal n. originario ol. (Dierryk, equivalente a «Teodorico») di un boia ingl.] s. m. inv. (per ricerche petrolifere, per sondaggi) torre di perforazione, castello, traliccio, armatura …   Sinonimi e Contrari. Terza edizione

Share the article and excerpts

Direct link
Do a right-click on the link above
and select “Copy Link”

We are using cookies for the best presentation of our site. Continuing to use this site, you agree with this.