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  • Paul Anthony Jones


(n.) someone who keeps working while everyone else goes to lunch

In 1669, Edward Chamberlayne published The Present State of England, a grand survey of what he described as “the better part of the best island in the whole world.”

While the first half of Chamberlayne’s book operated as a guide to the history, geography, law, and society of England, the second half essentially comprised a census-like survey of all those currently employed in the English government, military, church, and civil service. Among them, he noted, were “sixteen noon-tenders” employed in London’s dockyards, whose job it was to “attend the goods … whilst the other officers go to dinner.”

These diligent seventeenth-century dockworkers today provide the earliest known record of the term noon-tender, a long-forgotten word for an employee who continues to work while everyone else goes to lunch. So if you find yourself the most put-upon member of your office, whose lunch break seems to come later and later in the day each week, then you are the noon-tender of your workplace.

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