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date: 20 April 2024

blackmail [M16th] 

Oxford Dictionary of Word Origins

Julia Cresswell

Blackmail was originally a form of protection racket. Scottish chiefs in the 16th century exacted a tribute from farmers and small landowners in the border counties of England and Scotland, and along the Highland border. The money was in return for protection or immunity from plunder. The second part of the word means ‘tribute, rent’ and comes from an old Scandinavian word ... ...

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