The word blackmail was first used by farmers living on the borders of England and Scotland. This word is derived from the Middle English word male, which itself is known to obtain from the old English word mal. In old English, the word mal means lawsuit, bargaining, agreement, and terms.
Over time, the old-English word came to be known as male in Middle English, which meant either Tribute or Rent. The rent paid by farmers living on the England and Scotland border was called Silver Rent/mail because it was spent in silver. This gave rise to word White Rent or White Money, and eventually “whitemail.”
When Scottish brigands and chieftains noticed all these wealthy farmers were doing their business without someone threatening them for money, they decided to start threatening those wealthy farmers for cash in return for not destroying their farm and their livestock. Those Scottish brigands and chieftains would also offer protection to the farmers from others who might try to threaten them.
Then farmers started to call this secondary rent that they were being forced to pay as black rent which later overtime became as blackmail.
Though historians aren’t much sure where the black part of blackmail came from. Seemingly the most known theory is simple due to the connection of word black with evil. But the most obvious answer isn’t always the correct one because it lacked direct valid evidence; there are many other stories too.
The most known of them is by Charles McKay, who claimed that in the Dictionary of Lowland Scots (1888), who claimed it derives from Gaelic blathaich (pronounced bla-ich), which means protect, so “protection rent.” Somewhat less possible theories include that it was because a farmer’s raided stock which would be sold off in the black market if he didn’t pay the raiders. Another method was that the farms were attacked at night by people dressed in black clothes. Or it was because all the invaders demanded their payments in the form of black cows.
Without saying it, we can, without any doubt, safely say that the latter three proposed theories can be rejected.
Whatever the case has been, in 1814, the Scottish playwright, Sir Walter Scott, provided the world with the proper explanation of the word blackmail. In the Waverley novel that is written by Scott, blackmail, which has been written as blackmail is discussed below.
In the novel, Scott also indicated that if a person pays the protection money came to harm or bore a loss from another raider. The people were giving money to attempted to cover all the damages. It was usually done by stealing substitutes from a person who didn’t pay them the protection money.
One thing that we want to imagine here is that a hilarious situation was created in the novel. The case constituted of the Scottish chiefs continually stealing and then substitute a farmer’s sheep.
Likewise, we want to presume while it happened, the farmers were playing the Benny Hill theme, also known as Yakety Sax (The reality that the song didn’t compose till the late 1960s and the Saxophone wasn’t invented till the 1840s.).
All this together comes up to another form of “-mail.” It was famous between 16th century through the 19th century. It is known for its engaging sound nature; we would love to bring back into usual usage in one form or another: buttock-mail.
If you thought “-mail” was a form of payment that was done to keep the stuff quiet about you having a good time with someone else’s buttock; you might not be wrong.