origin of ‘bonfire’: a fire in which bones were burnt

In A Dictionary of the English Language (1755), the English lexicographer Samuel Johnson (1709-84) thus defined bonfire: [from bon, good, French, and fire.] A fire made for some publick cause of triumph or exultation. In support of this etymology, bonfire in several languages is, literally, fire of joy. For example: – French feu de joie – Italian fuoco d’allegrezza – German Freudefeuer – Dutch vreugdevuur. But […]

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