By ANNE DONNELL
I expect this is “out of your bailiwick,” so to speak, but it’s about words so I thought I’d see if you’d look into this. I’m wondering about the history of the term password. I know passwords have been around a long time, but we need them constantly now in “The Electronic Age.” Thank you,
-Trying to Remember All My Passwords
Oh, my. Just when I’m getting old and forgetful I need to remember passwords. And from time to time I have to change some of them and remember the new ones. And if I write them down I have to hide them so a home invader won’t steal them, and then I have to remember where I hid them.
This on top of remembering what day it is, what month, what year, what time, my name, address, social security number, and phone number. And area code and zip code with four new numbers slapped on the end. And my husband’s name, my son’s names, their wives’ names, the grandchildren’s names, the extended family total of six dog names, six cat names. Oh, my. Well, the neighbors’ names, other relatives’ names, a preacher or two’s names. (It’s nice to have one willing to “do” your funeral.)
This is why older brains falter; they become too full and burst.
[ATA (According to Anne – that’s burst, not bust. This is a verb people love to abuse. Pipes burst, not bust. In the winter you call for help when you have burst pipes, not busted pipes. Well, maybe if you smashed them busted sounds accurate because you’re such a rough type. And if you’re smashed you can say you’ve been on a beer bust.]
ONLINE DEPARTMENT WITH JOKE PERTAINING TO OUR SUBJECT, AND HOW OFTEN DOES THAT HAPPEN? – A blonde joke (I know, blonde jokes are politically incorrect and insensitive, but I was a blonde child and a “bottle blonde” at various times in my adult life, and I’m all right with this.) “Password Audit” (Thanks, PW) During a recent password audit, it was found that a blonde was using the following password: MickeyMinniePlutoHueyLouieDeweyDonaldGoofy. When asked why such a big password, she said that it had to be at least 8 characters long. Before we move on to the subject, something always to be postponed as far as I’m concerned, let’s look at bailiwick. Bailiff is defined as an assistant to a British sheriff. The bailiff serves writes and makes arrests. His territory is the bailiwick. It can mean a steward or agent of a landlord. In the United States some courts use bailiffs to begin proceedings and keep order or look after prisoners. Bailiff was a surname in the 1200’s; by 1300’s it meant something close to its modern meaning. It originates in Latin, then shows up in Old French, then English. Bailiwick is a combination of bailiff and wick (village) and was found written by the 1400’s. Bailey, lest you jump to conclusions, is the courtyard of a medieval castle.
Passwords have been around since ancient time, often called watchwords or, currently, access codes. Roman soldiers used passwords.
Children know in order to have a really good “club” with special membership a secret password is needed. Anything secret guaranteed greatness in clubs. Not just the fun of naming it (“The Scary, Secret Society of Ghosts, Pets, and Second Graders in Mrs. Blatcher’s Class – No Boys Allowed Except Dogs or Cats”), but the fun of excluding people. (“Meany Mary Alice Not Allowed.”)
Those of us who have never served as government spies have been exposed to TV, movies, and novels and understand a password can be the difference between life and death. Media has also instructed about sentries and pikestaffs. “In the name of the king, who goes there?” No electronics here, just a simple identifying password. You know it, you’re in; you don’t, you’re out. Or maybe the pikestaff’s run through your liver.
Passwords don’t have to be words; computer access codes may be completely numeric, like PINs (Personal Identification Numbers – so don’t say, “PIN number,” because that would be saying, “Personal Identification Number Number.” Makes one sound stupid, stupid.)
The easier a password is for you to remember, the easier a hacker can break it. So “they” say. Systems with passwords have often been replaced by encrypted data for top secret material (as in wartime transmissions).
A recommendation for inventing a password suggests bypassing relatives and pets. Instead use a phrase, giving numbers to the beginning letters of each word in your phrase. Or use a mix of the letters and numbers.
I’d need that tattooed on my wrist to remember it, though. Maybe with a little butterfly around it.
LET WE FORGET DEPARTMENT -- Password was an American television game show, originally hosted by Allen Ludden. It aired for 1,555 daytime telecasts from 1961 to 1967 on CBS, along with weekly prime time airings from 1962 to 1965 and in 1967. An additional 1,099 daytime shows ran from 1971 to 1975 on ABC with two revivals on NBC, 1979-1982 and 1984-1989. Whew. Two teams, each consisting of one celebrity player and one regular contestant, competed. The “password” was given to one player on each team who gave a one-word clue from which the partner attempted to guess the password.
BW (Bigtime Word) presentiment – a feeling that something will happen. Students used to have those; knowing the date of an exam, they knew they would be sick that day.