Cannon to right of them,
Cannon to left of them,
Cannon in front of them
Volleyed and thundered….
The 1913 Webster’s offered these definitions of the English word volley as a noun:
A flight of missiles, as arrows, bullets, or the like; the simultaneous discharge of a number of small arms.
A burst or emission of many things at once; as, a volley of words.
(Tennis) A return of the ball before it touches the ground. (Cricket) A sending of the ball full to the top of the wicket.
Used as a verb, the way Tennyson did, volley means:
To be thrown out, or discharged, at once; to be discharged in a volley, or as if in a volley.
(Tennis) To return the ball before it touches the ground. (Cricket) To send the ball full to the top of the wicket.
Although that dictionary mentioned tennis and cricket, it omitted volleyball
, a game that had come into being in 1895 and apparently still wasn’t well-known in 1913.
English borrowed volley
from French volée
, a feminine past participle used as a noun. The infinitive of the verb was voler
‘to fly,’ from the Latin volāre
that had also given rise to Spanish volar
and Italian volare
(which people of a certain age remember from the hit song
of 1958). We note that Spanish has borrowed English volleyball
directly as voleibol
and also less directly (and never, in my experience) as balonvolea
Where volley is an uncommon verb in English, Spanish volar ‘to fly’ is quite common. It has produced various derivatives, a few of which are:
vuelo ‘flight’ (also volada, the cognate of French volée);
voladizo ‘projecting’ (in architecture);
volador ‘flying’ (and as a noun ‘flying fish’ and ‘a type of rocket’);
, whose various meanings are listed here
volear ‘to volley’ (in sports).
© 2015 Steven Schwartzman