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Word of the day – Ostracise!

Are you aware of the link between oysters and the word ostracise? It is one of those little curiosities of life that pop up occasionally, so let’s have a look.

The word Oyster - where does it come from?

So, first things first, what about the word oyster?  

oyster (n.)

"edible bivalve mollusk of the family Ostreidæ," late 13c., oistre, from Old French oistreuistre (Modern French huître) and directly from Latin ostrea, plural or fem. of ostreum "oyster," from Greek ostreon, from PIE root *ost- "bone". It is thus related to Greek ostrakon "a hard shell" and to osteon "a bone".

And so, the root of the word Oyster is from the Latin ostrea, and from this is found in the Latin species name of the European Flat (Native) Oyster – Ostrea edulis.

I am no expert in Latin but this means Ostrea edulis translates as ‘edible oyster’. This makes sense because until very recently the European Flat (Native) Oyster – Ostrea edulis was the main, if not only, oyster used by Europeans as a food source.

We shall leave aside the Rock Oyster - Crassostrea gigas, it is a story for another day!

To Ostracise

In our world, to ‘ostracise’ is to expel or socially shun an individual, however the root, as shown above, links to the humble oyster!

Ostracise — from the Greek "ostrakon" meaning oyster-shell or potsherd (pieces of broken pots). The Ancient Greeks would vote on whether to banish a citizen by writing the name on a potsherd or shell, hence the term "ostrakizein" — ostracise.

Further detail from Wikipedia:

Ostracism was an Athenian democratic procedure in which any citizen could be expelled from the city-state of Athens for ten years. While some instances clearly expressed popular anger at the citizen, ostracism was often used pre-emptively. It was used as a way of neutralizing someone thought to be a threat to the state or potential tyrant, though in many cases popular opinion often informed the choice regardless.

And so there you have it, a little learning gem. As they say, everyday is a school day.

Native Oyster Availability

The Native Oyster season is now open, but we have not yet put any of our oysters up for sale. This year we have, and continue to be, very busy with Native Oyster restoration activities and so we have had limited time to prepare ours for sale.

So, this year we have decided that what we shall do is release our Natives in small batches. They shall be available on a first come first served basis.

Please sign up to our newsletter (sign up link at the bottom of the page), email us directly or follow us on the usual social media channels to be notified of when they become available.


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