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View Full Version : Where does the name "Ku Klux Klan" come from?


Don Draper
08-02-2005, 05:28 PM
It certainly doesn't sound like english. What language do the words originate from, and what (if any) is the literal translation? For that matter, when exactly did this group get together? Sometime after the Civil War I know, but who founded it, and why did / do they parade around in those ridiculous white sheet costumes (apart from masking their identities that is)?

lno
08-02-2005, 05:41 PM
Wikipedia's entry (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ku_Klux_Klan) is quite thorough about the origins and evolution of the Klan, along with an answers.com (http://answers.com/topic/ku-klux-klan) article. In sum, it was founded by several Confederate veterans immediately after the Civil War, the name is based on the Greek word κυκλος, or "circle", and the robes have various explanations, ranging from representing the avenging spirits of Confederate ghosts to simple anonyminity and intimidation. It doesn't look like the name has a literal translation, though.

Loopus
08-02-2005, 05:42 PM
Cecil addressed the question in Why does the Ku Klux Klan burn crosses? (https://academicpursuits.us/classics/a4_196.html)
Where does the name Ku Klux Klan come from? It seems the men who founded the original Klan were tossing out ideas for a name when somebody came up with kukloi, plural of the Greek kuklos, circle. Somebody else had the bright idea of twisting kuklos into Ku Klux. Klan was added later for alliteration, and they spelled it with a K rather than a C so as not to confuse the rank and file.

Blake
08-02-2005, 05:50 PM
http://google.com/search?hl=en&q=%22ku+klux+klan%22+history&btnG=Google+Search

There is limitless information available on the history of the KKK.


Precisely where the name comes from seems to be one of those things that has never been precisely detemrined. Some suggest that it is a corruption of the Greek "kyclos" meaing circle. Some suggest that it is meant to be onamoatipoeia for the sound of a rifle being cocked and fired. I've heard everal other less plausible origins as well. Even the KKK itself doesn't seem to know for sure. The OED has "said to be made out of Gr. kylklos circle + klan", so even it reticient about attributing a specific etymology with to support the suggestion.

saoirse
08-02-2005, 06:16 PM
So the Circle K is actually... Oh My God.

Mr. Blue Sky
08-02-2005, 06:25 PM
Because Karl's Kwazy Kwiminals sounded funny.

PoorYorick
08-02-2005, 06:32 PM
Sir Arthur Conan Doyle messed me up as a kid with his story The Five Orange Pips. In it, if I remember right, Sherlock Holmes explains that the name comes from the sound of a rifle being cocked.

I knew that was lame when I read it, but I was impressionable, and hey, it was Sherlock Holmes who said it (http://sherlock-holmes.classic-literature.co.uk/the-five-orange-pips/ebook-page-08.asp). :)

ouryL
08-02-2005, 09:31 PM
It certainly doesn't sound like english. What language do the words originate from, and what (if any) is the literal translation? For that matter, when exactly did this group get together? Sometime after the Civil War I know, but who founded it, and why did / do they parade around in those ridiculous white sheet costumes (apart from masking their identities that is)?


They are all descendants from this satanic creature (http://chicagohistory.org/kfo/gif/kukla.jpg).

Colibri
08-02-2005, 09:37 PM
They are all descendants from this satanic creature (http://chicagohistory.org/kfo/gif/kukla.jpg).

OK, I get how Kukla and Fran figure into it, but what about Ollie?

lhovis73
08-02-2005, 09:42 PM
Sherlock Holmes explains that the name comes from the sound of a rifle being cocked.

I think I've spread this misinformation myself, believing it to be historical fact (or believing that the Klan, at least, thought that a rifle being cocked sounded like Ku Klux)...but I didn't know that it came from a Sherlock Holmes story...live and learn...

ouryL
08-02-2005, 10:16 PM
OK, I get how Kukla and Fran figure into it, but what about Ollie?

He was the first Grand Dragon, of course.

Balle_M
08-02-2005, 10:44 PM
http://google.com/search?hl=en&q=%22ku+klux+klan%22+history&btnG=Google+Search

There is limitless information available on the history of the KKK.


Precisely where the name comes from seems to be one of those things that has never been precisely detemrined. Some suggest that it is a corruption of the Greek "kyclos" meaing circle. Some suggest that it is meant to be onamoatipoeia for the sound of a rifle being cocked and fired. I've heard everal other less plausible origins as well. Even the KKK itself doesn't seem to know for sure. The OED has "said to be made out of Gr. kylklos circle + klan", so even it reticient about attributing a specific etymology with to support the suggestion.

Have you ever had the privilege(?) of meeting an Honest-To-Og Ku Kluxer?

Those peckerheads get stymied by zip codes, let alone etymology.

FWIW I heard the rifle-cocking story, too.

Triskadecamus
08-02-2005, 10:51 PM
I gotta say, the only real free range Kluxers I ever met did not speak Greek. English was a serious challenge for them, as well.

Tris

Colibri
08-02-2005, 11:15 PM
He was the first Grand Dragon, of course.

:smack:

:D

tomndebb
08-03-2005, 12:37 AM
I gotta say, the only real free range Kluxers I ever met did not speak Greek. English was a serious challenge for them, as well.The original Klan was composed of former college guys--think of it as the first college Greeks alumni--(probably disenchanted landholders who longed for the income generated by their now lost slaves). What may have started out as a group of high-spirited pranksters soon became a terrorist outfit, expanding well beyond their original college boy roots. Finally, they were suppressed due to their increasing lawlessness.

In the early 20th century, the name was resurrected for commercial reasons and the new group became an enormous, politically motivated "fraternal" organization (with a tendency to spin off groups of thugs). When the larger fraternal group was finally laughed out of existence in Indiana, Illinois, Michigan, Iowa, and other places in the 1930s, the thugs were the only ones left and, following the civil rights movements of the 1960s, the KKK's appeal was limited to the lower stratum of "white" society.

Blake
08-03-2005, 02:43 AM
I didn't think it was appropriate to call members of a legal organisation peckerheads in GQ. (Not that I dispute the assessment, but, you know, in the interests of fairness...)

Johnny L.A.
08-03-2005, 08:39 AM
I didn't think it was appropriate to call members of a legal organisation peckerheads in GQ. (Not that I dispute the assessment, but, you know, in the interests of fairness...)
Well, you see... Their hoods are triagular so they somewhat resemble a bird's beak, or 'pecker'.

I got nothin'.

Balle_M
08-03-2005, 08:43 AM
I didn't think it was appropriate to call members of a legal organisation peckerheads in GQ. (Not that I dispute the assessment, but, you know, in the interests of fairness...)

I'll be more than happy to apologize to any Dopers who identify themselves as Klansmen.

Anyone?

Hello?

bonzer
08-03-2005, 09:49 AM
I think I've spread this misinformation myself, believing it to be historical fact (or believing that the Klan, at least, thought that a rifle being cocked sounded like Ku Klux)...but I didn't know that it came from a Sherlock Holmes story...live and learn...

The rifle explanation actually predates 1891 and "The Five Orange Pips". In his notes to it in the OUP edition of The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes, Richard Lancelyn Green suggested that Doyle based the "American Encyclopedia" entry about the Klan that Holmes consults on that in Alvin J. Johnson's New Universal Cyclopaedia of 1875-7 and quotes this explanation of the name from it. Green goes on to mention the "circle" alternative.

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