I set this aside a few weeks ago and never wrote it up. From a New York Times story about the origins of some of the torture techniques recently used by the CIA:
“Jim believed that people of this ilk would confess for only one reason: sheer terror,” said one C.I.A. official.
We know ilk means "type or kind," but I wondered where the word came from. The American Heritage Dictionary has a lengthy and interesting etymology:
When one uses ilk, as in the phrase men of his ilk, one is using a word with an ancient pedigree even though the sense of ilk, “kind or sort,” is actually quite recent, having been first recorded at the end of the 18th century. This sense grew out of an older use of ilk in the phrase of that ilk, meaning “of the same place, territorial designation, or name.” This phrase was used chiefly in names of landed families, Guthrie of that ilk meaning “Guthrie of Guthrie.” “Same” is the fundamental meaning of the word. The ancestors of ilk, Old English ilca and Middle English ilke, were common words, usually appearing with such words as the or that, but the word hardly survived the Middle Ages in those uses.
Merriam-Webster's Dictionary of English Usage adds that the old meaning of ilk persisted among the Scots. Follow that link for an even longer entry on ilk, if you're interested in reading more.
I've actually got another post from the NYT story, and I'll post it second tomorrow.