Ransom - Ransome

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Do not confuse the two words ransom and Ransome.

  • The common noun ransom (without final '-e') means 'a sum of money paid to release a hostage [perhaps the victim of a kidnapping]'. Historically, it could be used in a legal context, where it meant 'the sum of money, or other consideration, required to repatriate a prisoner of war' - a motive for warfare in the feudal period. This became 'a sum of money or other form of payment to release someone convicted of a crime from a prison sentence', roughly equivalent to a modern fine.
    • In Christianity, it has been used to label the sacrifice of Jesus Christ to redeem mankind from the results of Original Sin.
  • The proper noun Ransome (with a final '-e', and an upper case R) is a surname.
    • The best known Ransome is probably Arthur Ransome, (Arthur Michell Ransome) (1884-1967) an English writer famous for his series of novels for children that began with Swallows and Amazons, first published in 1930. They revolve around boats and sailing. He was also a foreign correspondent, first for the Daily News and then for the Manchester Guardian, notably from revolutionary Russia from 1916 to 1919 - where he also worked for MI6. He eloped with Evgenia Shelepin, then Trotsky's secretary, marrying her in 1924. He wrote well for adults as well as for children, publishing, amongst others, Old Peter's Russian Tales, a collection of Russian folklore in 1916; Six Weeks in Russia in 1919, a fine journalistic summary, in 1919; Racundra's First Cruise, an account of sailing in the Baltic, in 1923; and Rod and Line, a collection of articles about fishing, in 1929.
    • Ransoms (plural in form, but collective in effect) is a traditional English name for what is more widely called 'wild garlic' - the name in botanical Latin is Allium ursinum. It is related to the cultivated herb Allium sativum, or true garlic. The name lies behind many place names in the British Isles (often giving rise to surnames), such as Ramsbottom (or Ramsbotham), 'bottom [of a valley] where wild garlic grows'; Ramsey, 'island of wild garlic'; and Ramsdale, 'the valley of wild garlic' - although this last, and other examples, may be derived from ram, or male sheep.