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Potter’s field

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  • Potter’s field is a term that has a rather ancient origin. We will look at the meaning of the term potter’s field, where it comes from and some example of its use in sentences.

    A potter’s field is a burying ground for indigent people, it is a graveyard for paupers. Contrary to what many may think, the word potter in potter’s field is not a proper name and it is not capitalized, according to the Oxford English Dictionary. The original potter’s field takes its name from the Bible, specifically the book of Matthew in the New Testament. In chapter twenty-seven, Judas Isacariot returns the thirty pieces of silver the high priests gave him in exchange for betraying Jesus. The priests did not return the silver to the temple coffers, as it was blood money. They used that money to buy a field to bury paupers in. As the story goes, the field they bought was the area in which potters dug their clay. On an interesting side note, during the 1500s the word potter was used to mean an itinerant peddler or a vagrant. By the 1700s the term potter’s field was used to mean any plot of land put aside to bury indigents. Note that the word potter’s in potter’s field is the singular possessive, as the apostrophe is placed before the s.

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    Examples

    The remains of the person described in court documents as Unidentified Hispanic Male found its final resting place in the potter’s field section of Old City Cemetery in the spring of 2015. (The News & Advance)

    That graveyard, known as a potter’s field or the Youngstown Township Cemetery, served as the final resting place for hundreds of poor and unidentifiable residents who died between 1911 and 1933. (The Youngstown Vindicator)

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