One of the mysteries of the English language finally explained.
Used as a term of address for a man or boy, especially one younger or of lower status than the speaker.‘you are foolish as well as insolent, sirrah’
- ‘She drew herself up, pulled at the lapels of her tattered jacket as though it were an evening coat, flicked at an invisible cape, harrumphed a few times, and pronounced: ‘After you, sirrah.’’
- ‘Pardon my cheek, sirrah, but I am the master craftsman of this room, and I'll have no advice from the novice.’
- ‘I'm a proud village idiot seven years running, sirrah!’
- ‘‘Just standard procedure, sirrah,’ the guard said, shrugging.’
Early 16th century: probably from sire, when still two syllables in Middle English, with the second syllable assimilated to ah.
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