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tontine - Word of the Day - Thu Nov 24, 2022




tontine - (noun) - a joint financial arrangement whereby the participants contribute equally to a prize that is awarded entirely to the participant who survives all the others

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It might be a good reality show to force a billionaire's heirs into a tontine.


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I can't believe it!  I actually know this word!  I don't remember the author or story, but I am sure it was here on GA that I learned it this year. 😁

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Tontines have been a popular plot  device in fiction. Robert Louis Stevenson's The Wrong Box is one example.

Since Lorenzo Tonti came up with the idea in 1593, it has fueled imaginations and governments. In his concept, investors were paid dividends, as members died they were redistributed until the last died and the principal went to the state.

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According to Marine legend, a platoon assaulting Tarawa in 1943 created a tontine with a kitty of over two thousand dollars. That was cold comfort for the four survivors from the first wave to hit the pier. Of that group, they were awarded a Navy Cross, three Silver Stars, and four Purple Hearts.


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Any of you that watched M.A.S.H., either in its original run or in reruns, might be familiar with this word.  Colonel Potter was the last surviving member of his WW I unit and shared his prize, a bottle of booze they'd recover from a French Chateau, with those under him at the MASH unit.  He saluted his old comrades first, and then drank a toast to his current friends.  It was a very touching episode. 

Edited by Bill W
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