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anchor

Anchor, a verb, is the act of trying and succeeding to get a married king to get his current marriage annulled so he can and does marry you and then, as queen, trying (whether you fail or succeed) at not getting beheaded when your husband, the king, orders that you stand trial for high treason.

The history of King Henry VIII and his second wife, Anne Boleyn, is obviously the source of the verb anchor.

At first, this sequence of actions was known as Anne Boleyn’s chore. Then, because that was too cumbersome to say every time it was called for, it was shortened to Anne’s chore. Then, the capitalization was dropped and it was concatenated to anne’schore to make it more of a normal verb. Finally, after a few more iterations of abbreviation, because most people are lazy bastards, it was shortened to its current form, anchor.

(Note to grammarians: Yes, there should be a few apostrophes to indicate both the possessive and the missing letters in the contraction of Anne’s chore, i.e., it should be an’’chor’. At one point that is how the word was spelled, but did we mention that humans are lazy bastards?)

Originally, under the correct usage of the word, only women could anchor because, after all, Ann Boleyn was a woman. However, in the late twentieth century, this usage was deemed to be sexist and, therefore, politically incorrect, which couldn’t be allowed to stand. Consequently, lexicographers accepted a reinterpretation of the word that allows it to be used for actions undertaken by either a man or a woman. Now, the only requirements are the involvement of a king or, now, a queen, the annulment of the existing marriage of that king or queen, the later betrothal to the anchorer, and the subsequent beheading or acquittal of the anchorer facing a sentence of beheading. This neutered usage of anchor became still more widespread after same sex marriages became legal in some places because the spouse of a king could then be a man. 

Some people argue that, to be lexicographically accurate, the anchorer should fail at not being beheaded because Anne Boleyn was beheaded, not acquitted. However, because it’s doubtful that she wanted to be beheaded, many lexicographers accept that the anchorer could be acquitted, as long as there was a trial of the anchorer and the sentence in the event of a conviction would have been beheading. Their argument is that Anne’s chore was to avoid getting beheaded, but she failed at that chore. However, they argue, her failure is not part of the action described by the verb anchor. A vigorous and sometimes rancorous debate among lexicographers about this issue continues to this day

Because it incapsulates so many actions in a single verb, anchor is probably the most productive word in the English language. Unfortunately (or, considering the potential consequences, fortunately), there is little need for the word anchor in everyday conversations today.

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