With many of us making final preparations for our holidays, you might make sure that you pack the sunblock, your swimwear, and an emergency first aid kit. However, you won’t get very far without today’s word – reservation. Trying to enjoy a restful getaway without anything that requires a reservation, such as flights, trains, or any other accommodation, can often be worse and more stressful than staying at home in the first place. Other than knowing that you need one if you want to go anywhere, what about the word itself, where does it come from and why do we use it?
Initially, the word “reservation” is of Latin origin, from the word reservare (to reserve), and came to us via the Old French reservation in the late 1300s. Like many of our words, the arrival of today’s word can be traced to the Normans, who arrived in Anglo-Saxon England without any reservation at all. Though we do still use the word as it was primarily used- meaning the action of reserving an some right or interest in a property- it has also been used in a religious sense by various Christian Churches as well as in a general sense, when defining certain aspects of use.
Considering that people are currently more willing to travel further from home on vacation and looking at the modern British holidaymakers, reservation have become close to essential. According to the Association of British Travel Agents, approximately 80% of us will take a holiday this year. Furthermore, of the estimated 3 holidays that we take a year, almost 7 in 10 of us will visit somewhere in the UK, while just over half of us will decide to travel abroad.
The first recorded use of our word occurs in John Wycliffe’s Last Age of the Church circa 1400, where it is written, “They [sc. priests] make reservation the which been called dimes [10%], first fruits, other pensions.” Used in a more political/church-based sense several decades later, The Brut Chronicle, circa 1425, writes, “The King sent certain ambassadors to the Pope, telling them that he should leave of and meddle not in his court of the keepings & reservations of benefices in England.” Finally, speaking in a more generalized sense, we see in Shakespeare’s King Lear (1608) the line, “I gave you all..But kept a reservation to be followed With such a number.” Ending on that note, as you travel over the coming summer months, here is hoping that your reservation will be kept with a number, and not a speech about being over-booked.