Sunday 29 March 2020
Furlough. It's become a verb - doesn't everything, eventually? - but originally was a noun used when military personnel were granted time away from their work, often to attend to important personal matters. Usage spread to missionaries, prisoners and government workers before reaching everyone else. The English word first appeared in the 17th century, having migrated from the Dutch verlof. Until recent months, the contemporary meaning usually referred to organisations temporarily sending their staff home without pay until economic conditions improved. Now it's a key word in the UK government's support package for businesses that have been badly affected by the current coronavirus outbreak.