Ancient Word of the Day: Love-Drury


Love-Drury: n. A treasured token or keepsake given to a lover or partner.

Origin: French. Comes from the French word Drut meaning a friend or lover. Drury made its way to English in the Middle Ages.

In the 14th Century, a drury was a sweetheart or beloved person or a treasured object.

Vincent Van Gogh’s ear: The Ultimate Love-Drury

Post-Impressionist artist Vincent Van Gogh moved from Paris to Arles in the 19th Century, kick-starting an artists commune with fellow artist friend Paul Gauguin.

On the 23rd of December 1888, Van Gogh had a violent argument with Gauguin, where he threatened him with a knife before turning it on himself. Van Gogh sliced off his ear and sent it to a woman that had become besotted with named Rachel. It was the ultimate Love-Drury. Van Gogh was suffering from hallucinations and serious mental health issues at the time.

“Vincent took a razor and cut off a portion of his left ear. The police would find blood all over the house, with blood soaked rags in the studio and bloody hand prints along the wall leading upstairs. Vincent took the ear and wrapped it in newspaper. With a hat pulled down over his wound, he, with ear in hand, left the house to go to a “maison de tolerance”, a brothel close to the house. There he asked for a girl named Rachel who he gave the ear to saying “Guard this object carefully.” ~ Van Gogh’s Gallery.

Self portrait with bandaged ear and pipe – Vincent Van Gogh


Wordnik: Drury

Van Gogh’s Ear: Van Gogh Gallery Gallery

The Cabinet of Linguistic Curiosities : A Yearbook of Forgotten Words by Paul Anthony Jones

2 thoughts on “Ancient Word of the Day: Love-Drury

  1. That was indeed the ‘ultimate ‘love-drury’!! I always think it’s interesting how people (at least in the 18th century) were very found of giving each other locks of their hair as presents. It’s quite intimate as a gift, but it’s also very cheap haha – a win-win! I remember reading that George Washington was fond, in his later years, of giving locks of his hair as presents to admirers who were very excited to have a piece of the President with them.

    It’s so interesting how customs change and how to receive something like a lock of hair would be considered on the creepier side now by most people! Yet then it was totally normal and thoughtful gesture.

    Thanks for another interesting post! Hope you had a nice winter break 🙂

    1. Content Catnip – Catnip, The World. – Digital dawdler, foodie, bookworm, culture vulture, rainbow lorikeet perennially in love with the arts, history and science. Constantly seeking inspiring people, knowledge and places.
      Content Catnip says:

      Thanks for reading Carly. Yes it would make a cheap and meaningful gift hehe you are right.I had no idea about George Washington doing it, they possibly would be worth a lot now. You too Carly have a lovely winter

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