Words XX: Adventurer

The word adventurer was initially synonymous with gambling. The gambler would yell out “Adventure!” for help at the roulette table much as a modern gambler might yell “Come on, Seven!” at craps.

Casino Royale (Campbell, 2006)

To be an adventurer was to be without responsibility or care. Quite often ‘adventurer’ was hurled as an insult.

Jonathan Swift’s Gulliver’s Travels (1726) spun adventure on its head, using the word to imply bravery and daring. Captain James Cook, sailing 40 years later, would become synonymous with the word, now often meaning one imbued with courage and class.

*Gleaned from Martin Dugard’s Farther Than Any Man: The Rise and Fall of Captain James Cook.

4 thoughts on “Words XX: Adventurer

  1. It is still used as an insult at times, or at least a suggestion of irresponsibility. I recall an editorial that opposed the proposed RBC – Bank of Montreal merger in the late 1990s. Proponents said that the merger would allow the bank to compete internationally. The editorial spoke against the idea that Canadian taxpayers would underwrite this kind of “adventuring”.

    See also the lyrics to Supertramp’s “Crime of the Century”:

    “Read all about their schemes and adventuring…”

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