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Joe McWilliams

Pardon my ignorance...

I've just come across a term for the second time in recent reading that puzzles me. In both Middlemarch and Germinal, we read about somebody who has never been there, dreaming of being 'returned to Parliament.'

How can you return to some place you've never been?
Chibiabos83

I'd not thought of this before. To return someone to Parliament is to elect them. So the person is not returning to Parliament but, as you say, being returned (in the passive voice), regardless of whether they have been an MP before or not. I checked OED for this sense of the verb, and it says this:

Originally of a sheriff: to report (a person) as having been appointed to serve on a jury. Of a sheriff or (subsequently) returning officer: to report (a person) as having been appointed or elected to sit in Parliament or some other legislative or administrative body. In later use also of a constituency or electorate: to elect as a member of Parliament or other legislative or administrative body.  Freq. in pass.

I don't know if that makes things clearer or not...
Joe McWilliams

Thanks, Chib. It's obvious enough what's meant, just not why. I'll just chalk it up as a quirk of the lingo, one among thousands.
Apple

I always took it to mean that that person is being voted for to go to Parliament and stand as an MP as at an election the person who announces who has won for that constituency is called the returning officer, meaning he is proclaiming the victor and announcing that that person is to be returned to parliament.

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