Where the hell did “furlough” suddenly spring from?

OK. Rant time. It was a rhetorical question. I mean, why is everyone suddenly using that word? Do they know what it means or are they just copying what they have seen on TV? And how many of those using it have only just heard of the word since this bloody coronavirus crap started?


Furlong, yes. I know what that is. It is 220 yards (old money for 200 metres). That’s an eighth of a mile. I knew that one. Anyone who watches horse racing would also know that. But FURLOUGH? I am struggling to recall hearing of it before this coronavirus crap. I am not the most verbose but I have usually come across words like this one. In this case though, nope!  

Come on. Hands up! Who knew what it meant? Really?

One dictionary definition states its use as a noun thus: Leave of absence, especially that granted to a member of the services or a missionary.

It is defined as being used as a verb in the United States, meaning : Grant leave of absence to. E.g. “furloughed workers”.

Oh no…. Ex-footballers using it!?

What caught my attention was not that it was being used in news reports (for over a month now). But that ex-footballers were using it. Yes that’s right. I am not saying all footballers, or ex-footballers are thick, but the ones I read of using the word actually are thick. (Not mentioning any names though). So I thought, wait a moment; what the hell is going on and why don’t I know what it means? Of course, I do now. Right after I saw one of those ex-footie players using it in fact I made sure I knew. 

Then I thought, how is it pronounced? ‘Fur’ as in animal skin. ‘Lough’ as in low (not high). It could just as easily be Fur-luff (‘lough’ as in rough) right?

Furlough House

Then I saw this place last weekend. Where did they get that name from then?

Furlough House?

Towards the end of the First World War, this building (opposite Narrabeen beach) was called Furlough House. It had evolved into a home providing permanent accommodation for ex-servicemen and their dependants. This is consistent with use of the word as a noun (see above)


Well truth be told, I kind of did know what it meant. At least I got it from the context but still wondered why it had popped up in normal conversation all of a sudden.

I think the word ‘furlough’ as a verb is far more widely used in America than the UK (see above). I also believe President Trump has been using it a lot, so now when anyone talks about letting workers go or laying off employees, they are using the word too.

Another one…

It’s like “flattening the curve”. All those dopey presenters on TV who don’t really know anything about the statistical mathematics of that curve just throw it into a piece like they seriously know what it means. They don’t! Really they don’t. Otherwise they would question its use by dumb politicians.

OK. Rant over… Just needed to get that one off my chest.


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