One of the mysteries of the English language finally explained.
1A person who ransoms someone or something, a person who pays a ransom; a redeemer, specifically (now frequently with capital initial) Christ.
2A person held as security for the payment of a ransom for a ship. Now historical.
3A member of the Order of Our Lady of Ransom (also called Our Lady of Mercy), founded in the 13th cent. to free Christians taken prisoner by the Muslims; = Mercedarian. Now historical.
4A member of the Guild of Our Lady of Ransom, founded in 1887 with the principal aim of converting England and Wales to the Roman Catholic faith.
Late Middle English; earliest use found in Cursor Mundi: a Northumbrian poem of the 14th century. From ransom + -er.
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