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"Distaff" is a metonymy for the female side of a family (or society, I guess.)  What is the equivalent metonymy for the male side?


Oct. 26th, 2014 12:55 am (UTC)
That would be my guess as well. Likewise, since the younger male line of descent isn't the default, there's a special name for that one: the cadet branch.

FWIW, Wikipedia says the antonym of distaff is "agnate" so if one were looking for a term to use, that might work.

Edited at 2014-10-26 01:02 am (UTC)
Oct. 26th, 2014 01:27 am (UTC)
Phony etymology I just thought of: "agnate" has something to do with sheep ("agnus") as does distaff (staff for winding wool.)

But I would be wrong to think it. Just looked it up and it does mean "descended only in the male line".
Oct. 26th, 2014 05:10 am (UTC)
False cognates!

And by the way, a cognate in Roman Law is one "descended from the same ancestor, whether through males or females. Thus distinguished from agnate, which was limited to legal relationship through the father only, though including relationship by adoption."

In Scottish Law, however, a cognate is "a relative on the mother's side as opposed to an agnate.

That nose? I got it from agnates.

Oct. 26th, 2014 11:49 am (UTC)
So maybe "natus"? My Oxford Universal just gives the meaninings in Latin, same as English (but not the Scots variant).