Abram Smythe Palmer.

Leaves from a word-hunter's note-book online

. (page 13 of 21)
Online LibraryAbram Smythe PalmerLeaves from a word-hunter's note-book → online text (page 13 of 21)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook


gallan, a youth, meant originally a branch, Port.
galho, a shoot or sprig.

Irish ogdn, a branch or twig, is also a young
man. Pictet identifies this word with the Sanskrit
uhani, a broom. 1 Irish geug, a branch, also a girl.

Irish gas, gasan, a stalk or bough, is commonly
used for a boy, the Anglo-Irish c gossoon.' In
Welsh grcas, gwassan is a youth, a servant, and
thence comes the Middle Lat. vassus, a retainer,
our ' vassal,' 0. Fr. vaslet and varlet, a boy, our
; varlet ' and ' valet.'

Fr. gargon, 0. Fr. gars, a boy, garce, a girl, Sp.
garzon, It. garzone, Diez has shown to be from



1 Langues Celtiques, p. 66.

N



194 CHIT, LACKEY, LAD.

the Lat. cardials (a thistle), used in the general
sense of a bud or stalk. Compare the Milanese
garzon, a thistle, also a boy, garzoeu, the bud of a
vine [It. garzatore = cardatore, a wool-carder].

The Greek moschos and koros denote both a
branch and a boy, and the Italian toso, a boy, 0.
Fr. tosel, is a corrupted form of torso, a bud or
stem. Compare Fr. petit trognon, a term of en-
dearment for a child.

' Chit,' a contemptuous term for the same,
originally signified a shoot or sprig. Compare
chit, a provincial term for a sprout, chat} a twig,
A. -Sax. ci%, a shoot or sprig. It. cita is a girl,
cito a little boy. These words may perhaps be
connected with It. cica, Sp. chico, anything small,
Fr. ckicot, a sprig or stump.

6 Lackey/ Fr. laqicais, Sp. and Port, lacayo,
Prov. laccai, which also means a branch (Diez).

Gaelic clann, children, our 'clan,' corresponds
to the Welsh plant, offspring, children. Compare
planu, to shoot, to plant, Lat. planta, a plant.

6 Lad,' Welsh llarcd, what shoots out, a lad, Goth.
-lauths is from liudan, to grow (deduced by Benfey
from the Sanskrit ruh, to grow), and so probably is
akin to Ger. lode, a sprig or shoot, lath, a rod or
young tree, Welsh Hath, a rod or yard, our i lath,'
Sans, lata, a branch. Compare the Old English

1 Cumberland chats, small branches, metaphorically applied to
Btripling youtbs (Ferguson).



195

word springald for a youth, the original meaning of
which was probably a shoot or branch (Wedgwood).

The Latin pellex, Gk. pdllax, a youth, pallake,
a girl, according to Pictet, meant originally a
branch or shoot, from a Sanskrit form, pallaka,
the same as pallava, a branch. 1

The Welsh llanc, a youth, llances, a girl, are
akin to the Sanskrit lanka, a branch, Lat. lancea.

The Icelandic grdr, a poetical word for a man,
seems to have signified primarily a twig, from
groa, to grow (Cleasby, Icelandic Dictionary, s.v.)

Yet one other point remains to be noticed in
which man has sometimes been regarded as the
fantastic counterpart of a tree. When he is dry
and shrivelled with age, and stiffened in his
joints, he becomes suggestive of the gnarled and
sapless trunk of i the gouty oak,' ' with scir-
rhous root and tendons.' And so a person well
stricken in years is called by Greek and Roman
authors ' an oak' (' drusj i arida quercus'), 'an
aged oak ' (gerdndryori) ; by the French, tayon,
which denotes, as Cotgrave informs us, ' a grand-
father, also an oak of 60 years' growth.' A
female of advanced age is disrespectfully styled by
the Scotch ' an auld runt,' this being also the
term for the trunk of a tree, or any hardened stalk
or stem. 2 In vulgar parlance, 6 an old rampike ' is

1 Orig. Indo-Europ., vol. i. p. 199.

2 ' Hunt,' being also applied to an old cow (cf. Ger. rinde), it must
be admitted that the above identification is open to some doubt.



190 DOTARD.

an expression that may frequently be heard with a
similarly opprobrious significance. It seems to have
been originally and properly applied to a tree
which has begun to decay at the top from age,
being so used frequently by Drayton in the form
6 ranpike ' and ' ranpick tree/ and then in a
secondary sense to a crazy hag.

Similarly, c dotard,' which in standard Eng-
lish means only a stupid or imbecile old man, in
provincial English is used of an aged tree that
has begun to show symptoms of decadence, and a
tree of this sort is said to be ' doatecV This
word is either from the Scotch dottar, to become
stupid, doited, stupid, dutt, to doze, be sleepy (just
as I have heard the word ' sleepy ' itself applied
to an over-ripe pear verging towards decay), and
so a doddered oak is a lifeless oak, while doddi-
poll is a blockhead, and the Frisian dodd is a
simpleton; or else, as Mr Wedgwood is inclined
to think, it is akin to the Icelandic daud/ir, Dan.
dod } dead, dull, Goth, daut/is, ' dead.'

i In vain doth any man in forrests poak, that
takes a dotard for a timber oake,' says Cotgrave
under the word marrein. The following quota-
tions are from that excellent old divine Thomas
Adams —

' Oaks and cedars are good for building, poplars for pales,
very bushes for hedging, doted wood for firing ; but the fruit-
less vine is good for nothing.' Vol. ii. p. 184 (NiclioPs ed.)



DOTARD. 197

1 Go into your grounds in the dead of winter, and of two
naked and destitute trees you know not which is the sound,
which the doted.' Ibid., p. 239.

And this from Howell —

'With the Bark they make Tents, and the dotard Trees
serve for firing.' Fam. Letters, Bk. II. p. 54 (1634).

When a man or a tree begins to dote, in both
alike the first symptoms of failing of the vital
powers will frequently be observed to manifest
themselves in the head. Everybody will remember,
as an interesting parallel, the pathetic observation
of Dean Swift, when under a presentiment of his
own melancholy fate he pointed out a blasted elm
to a friend — c I shall be like that tree, and die first
at the top.' The tree was a c dotard,' and the
great wit's foreboding fears were but too truly
fulfilled ; he was such himself before he died.

A similar comparison is suggested in the second
eclogue of the ' Shepheards Calender,' already re-
ferred to. Cuddie, the herdsman's boy, pours
contempt on the aged Shepherd Thenot for his
feebleness and unlustiness —

' I deeme thy braine emperished bee
Through rusty elde, that hath rotted thee.'

Thereupon the wise old shepherd reproves the
forward youngster by the apologue of the Oak and
the Briar, in the course of which, however, he
tacitly admits that the proper resemblance to him-
self is to be found in the aged tree, whose

' Toppe was bald, and wasted with wormes,
His honor decayed, his braunches sere.'



( 198 )



CHAPTER VIII.

THE WORDS ' CHIGNON ' — ' NODDLE ' — 'PATE' —
1 SKULL ' — ' COCO-NUT ' — ' FOOL ' — ' BOAST ' —
1 BUFFOON ' — ' FA TUOUS,' ETC,

6 Chignon.' — This, like most other of our c out-
landish' fashions (I use the term in its good old
English sense of foreign, without, at the same
time, discarding its modern innuendo), came to us
from the land of milliners, and brought its native
name along with it. Everybody knows what a
chignon is, at least outwardly, an abnormal pro-
tuberance, sometimes of monstrous proportions,
composed of hair and other materials unknown,
and erected by ladies for the adornment of their
polls, — but everybody perhaps does not know why
it is called so.

Chignon in French is defined to be c les cheveux
que les femmes frisent sur la derriere de la tete,'
but originally it was ' la derriere de la tete ' itself.
Just as the word ' head/ in the Georgian era,
meant the elaborate and cumbrous structure of
the coiffeur? which was, in his estimation, the head

1 Some idea of the heavy burdens which the tyranny of the hair-



CHIGNON. 199

par excellence^ the raison d'etre, and final cause
that skulls were made at all; so the French chignon,
the poll, came to mean the hair that grew thereon,
especially when dressed d la mode. Now chignon,
in Old French ckaignon, chaignon, means the nape
of the neck, but it also meant the link or ring of
a chain, and comes from chaine, which again comes
from the Latin catena, a chain. So chainon du col,
(Languedoc) cadena daou col, is the vertebra, or,
to use a pure English word, the 6 whirl-bone ' 2 of
the neck, the pivot on which the head turns, being
the last link, as it were, of the knotted chain of
bones which forms the spine. We find in Cotgrave
(1660), ' Chainon, a linke of a chaine ; chainon du col,
the naupe, or (more properly) the chine bone, of
the neck ; chignon, the chine, or chinepiece of the
neck.'

Curiously similar is the derivation of the
word ' noddle,' Old English < nodyle.' It is now
used ludicrously for the entire head, but pro-
perly and originally it meant the projecting part
at the back of the head (occiput), the nape of
the neck, and corresponds to the Italian nodello,



dresser imposed on our great grandmothers may be obtained from
the illustrations in Wright's Caricature History of the Georges, p.
255 seq.

1 Similarly, the toupee of 1775, a high detached tuft of hair, like
a cockatoo's crest, Horace Walpole mentions in his Letters, was
called la physiognomic

2 ' Whyrlebone, or hole of a joynt, vertebra' (Prompt. Parvulorum).
' fatelle, the whirle-bone of the knee ' (Cotgrave).



200 NODDLE.

from nodo, a knot, also l the turning joynt in the
chine or backe-bone ' (Florio) ; nodo del collo, the
nape of the neck, (Dut.) knod, (0. Norse) /mod,
(Lat.) nodus, a knot, also a vertebra or back-bone, 1
{e.g., in Pliny, i cervix articulorum nodis jungitur).
The word cer-vix, the neck, which we have here
lighted on incidentally, is itself illustrative,
meaning, as it does, c the head-binder,' what ties
on the head; cer- corresponding to cava, (Gk.)
Kcipa, (Zend.) cava, (Sans.) ciras, the head, and
-vix (vies), being the root of vincire, to bind.
Another Sanskrit word for neck is cirodhard,
literally < the head-bearer,' from ciras, the head,
and dkri, to bear, which reminds us of the poeti-
cal term which the Latin anatomists devised for
the first and topmost vertebra of the neck, ' atten-
tion,' the Atlas bone, because like that Titan of
old it supported the globe. ' This joint (of the
ridge-bone) or knot abouesaid they call Atlantion,
and it is the very first spondyle of them all '
(Pliny xxviii. 8, Holland Trans, ii. 310, 1634).
Hamlet, it may be remembered, calls the head
the globe —

' Kemember thee !
Ay, thou poor ghost, while memory holds a seat
In this distracted globe. Act i. sc. 5.

If we examine some of the different names



1 Perhaps ' nott-pated,' (Shakspere) * nott-headed,' A.-Sax. Jinot,
are connected.



PATE, MAZZARD. 201

which have been given to the head, it will be
found that most of them, e.g., ' pate/ 'mazzard/
6 skull,' ' sconce/ i nut/ * fc?te/ &c, have been de-
rived from various common articles which are
round and hollow, such as a cup, a bowl, a shell,
a gourd, or a coco-nut, which the skull was
thought to resemble.

' Pate/ for instance, means the hmm-pan, and is
akin to the French pate (a plate), (Lat.) patina (a
plate or pan), cf. (Ger.) platte (a plate, and pate),
(Irish) plaitin (a little plate, a skull). 1 This word,
like noddle, and most of the others I have men-
tioned, has now acquired a ludicrous or burlesque
signification which it had not formerly, witness
the use of it in the Prayer-Book version of the
Psalms (vii. 17). In Old English, i pan/ i panne/
means the skull, and is equivalent to the word
' brain-pan/ which occurs in Shakspere —

' Many a time, but for a sallet, my brain-pan had been cleft
with a brown bill.' 2d Pt. Henry VI., iv. 10.

(Friesic) breinpanne, (prov. Eng.) ham-pan (from
A. -Sax. hcernes — brain). Compare the Italian
bacinetto, 'a little bason, also a skull' (Florio),
and 'poll/ (Old Eng.) 'boll' and 'ball/ (Dut.)
pol and bol, the head, which is another form of
(Icel.) bolli, (Fr.) boule, a c bowl.'

6 Mazzard/ another Shaksperian word —

1 Wedgwood, s.v.



202 NAPE, TESTY.

' Let me go, sir,
Or I'll knock you o'er the mazzard,'

Othello ii. 3.

anciently ' mazer,' has been identified 1 with the Old
English word * mazer,' which means a cup, bowl, or
goblet. So the German kopf (the head) in Old
German means a cup ; 2 ' nape ' (originally the
back of the head), (A. -Sax.) cncep, answers to the
Welsh cnap, a knob, boss, (Ger.) knop/ and nap/,
(Lang.) nap, a bowl or porringer.

Compare also the Greek skuphion (aKvcjylov),
a cup, also a skull. Lith. kiausza, the skull,
from kauszas, cup, goblet, Sans, koska, cup,
vessel. Sp. colodrillo, c the noddle or hinder
part of the head ' (Minsheu), from colodra, a
pail, vessel. It. coppa, ' any cup, bowle, mazer or
goblet — also the nape of the head ' (Florio).

The French tete, anciently teste, testa in Italian,
Spanish, Portuguese, and Provencal, is the Latin
testa, an earthen pot, also the skull. Compare the
French tet, a potsherd, It., Sp., Port, testo, from
Lat. testum.

Hence our words c testy,' Fr. testu, heady, head-
strong, irascible; ' a tester,' i.e., a sixpenny-piece,
anciently testerne, teston, so called from the mon-



1 Fares, Glossary, s.v.

1 Cf. Gk. kube {kv{3t)), the head, kum.be, a cup, (Ger. humpe), kum-
bachos (KVfi^axos), headforemost. Heb. gulgoleth, a skull (compare
Golgotha), gvJMh, a bowl (compare Eccles. xii. 6, where this word
seems to be used figuratively for the skull), Gk. gaMos, from the
root gulal, to roll. Gk. kotta, head (It. cottula), Tcotulc, a cup, Lat.
Cvlula.



SKULL. 203

arch's head stamped upon it, just as < penny,'

according to some, is from the Celtic pen, a head ;

6 tester,' Fr. tetiere, the head of a bed, a word

which Sylvester absurdly enough applies to the

canopy of heaven —

' He th' Azure Tester trinim'd with golden marks
And richly spangled with bright glistering sparks.'

Du Bartas, Div. Weekes, p. 74.

The French and Italians, on the other hand, call
the canopy or tester of a bedstead its sh/, del,
cielo. ( Himmel ' in German has both meanings.

< Skull' is Scotch 'skull' (a bowl ordrinking-cup), 1
0. Eng. sc/ialj 0. Norse skal, Swed. skull, skoll (a
bowl), skalle (a skull), and skal (a shell), Dan.
skal (a shell), Irish sgala, a bowl or goblet, Sans.
caluka, a vessel. 2 So the Sanskrit gankka, a shell or
conch, means also the temporal bone, Lat. concha,
Gk. kongche (kojxv) &n& kongckos (/coy^o?), a shell,
also the upper part of the skull, the i sconce. '(?).



1 The once generally received notion that our northern ancestors
used to drink at their banquets out of the skulls of their enemies,
appears to have arisen from not understanding that sJcidl was a
genuine old Teutonic word for a cup. The belief that the heroes of
Valhalla drank their ale out of literal skulls, or as Southey puts it —

■ Thought
One day from Ella's skull to quaff the mead
Their labour's guerdon ' —

is equally erroneous. In the death-song of King Ragnar Lodbrok,
he consoles himself with the prospect of drinking beer in Odin's
palace ' out of curved horns.' This Professor Rask has shown to be
the true rendering, and not c out of the skulls of our enemies,' as it
used formerly to be translated. Mallet, N". Antiq., p. 105; D'Israeli,
Amenities of Literature, i. 36.

2 Pictet, Langues Celtiques, p. 43.



204 coco.

From the Lat. concha (a shell) just mentioned
comes the Sardinian conca, the head, 0. Sp. coca,
Sp. cogotc, Prov. cogot (back of the head); 1 and
through the adjectival form concheus, the It. coccio
(potsherd) ,coccia (the head), Sp. cuezo, whence with
j)0st prefixed comes Sp. pescuezo, Port, pescoco, the
nape of the neck, literally ' hind-cask.' 2

At a first glance it might be supposed that the Old
Spanish word coca, for the head, was derived from
the coco-nut, just as the French nnque, in the other
Romance languages nuca, the nape of the neck, is
probably identical with the Latin nux (nuc-s) a nut,
just as in English slang ' nut ' is used for the head. 3
But the reverse is really the case. It is the coco-
nut that derives its name from coca ; c Children call
the head by this name — so in Old Spanish,' says
Stevens in his Dictionary (1706), and cocar, he tells
us, is ' to make mouths or gestures like a monkey.'
When the Portuguese made settlements in the
Indies, they were struck by the resemblance which
the brown nuts of the palm-tree, with their hairy
covering and three black marks not unlike to
features, bore to the head and wizzened face of
the monkeys which they saw gambolling around



1 Also Fr. coque (egg-shell), cocon, e cocoon,' It. cocca, Sp. coca,
0. Fr. coque, Eng. ' cock '-(boat).

2 So Sp. casco, (1) an earthen pot, cup, or cask; (2) a head, a
pate, a sconce (Minsheu).

3 The Greek Mruon (icdipvov), a nut, seems to contain the root of
kiira (icdpa), the head, Sans, ciras.



COCO-NUT. 205

them, and so they styled them * monkey-heads/
coca or coco, the original meaning of that word
being an ugly face or mash, a bugbear. 1 This
comparison seems to have been made in the very
earliest times, for in Sanskrit munda-pkala, ' skull-
producer ' (from tminda, a bald pate), is a name
for the coco-nut tree, the fruit being regarded as
one step towards the human head made by Visva-
mitra when he proposed attempting a creation in
opposition to that of Brahma (M. Williams).

According to a Polynesian legend, the coco-nut
was created from a man's head, 2 the chestnuts from
his kidneys, and the yams from his legs (Tylor,
Prim. Culture, i. 367).

The old traveller Evlia affirms that the cocoa-
tree, or kullserr, as he calls it, was formed by
the Creator, according to the opinion of the old
historians and the commentators of the Koran,
from the remainder of the clay of which Adam
was made. It produces, he says, a round black
nut, on which [for this reason, apparently] c all
the parts of a man's head may be seen, mouth,
nose, eyebrows, eyes, hair, and whiskers. A
wonderful sight ! ' (Sou they, C.-P. Book, vol. ii.
p. 434).



1 Philolog. Soc. Trans., 1862-63, p. 162. Marsh, Lectures on
English (ed. Smith), p. 100.

2 In Parisian slang coco is still a popular term for the head,
and a contemptuous one for an inconsiderable and mean person,
while its diminutive, coccdes, denotes a ridiculous young dandy.



200 PUMPKIN HEADS, SUMPH.

c Honour your paternal aunt, the date-palm,' says
Mohammed, ' for she was created in Paradise of
the same earth from which Adam was made.'

Other vegetable products, generally those of a
round form, and filled with soft pulp of a watery
and insipid nature, have furnished ludicrous and
uncomplimentary names for the human skull, es-
pecially those skulls of overgrown dimensions
which are considered to contain brains more re-
markable for their quantity than quality. For
instance, in Italian, ' zucca, any kind of Gourd or
Pumpion, used also metaphorically for a mans
head, sconce, nob, pate, or scull ' (Florio) ; *
cocuzza, a gourd, cocuzzolo, the crown of the
head. 2 Cucozzone (gourd-head) was the nickname
by which Cardinal Patrizi was popularly known
in Rome some years ago ; cf. Latin, ( cucurbitce
caput.''

Sumpk, a Scotch term for a dull and stupid
fellow (it may be met in Black's ' Daughter of
Heth,' vol. i.), denotes originally a blockhead,
whose brain is as soft and spongy as a toacl-

1 The French gourd (numb, senseless, dull, heavy) has no con-
nection, however, with gourde (a gourd). It is from the Latin
gurdus, stupid, (Sp.) gordo, while gourde, gouhourde, gougourde is
from cucurbita, (It.) cucuzza.

2 Genin (Re'creations Philolos:. vol. i. p. 295) remarks that the words
melon, concombre, cornichon, citronille, coloquinte, are similarly used
in French. He also quotes the popular saying Bete comme un chou.
Cf. Latin bliteus, insipid, foolish, from blitum (p\irov), a pot-herb,
orache, and the Italian too, bizzocco, bizzoccone, a blockhead, which
appears to be the modern representative of bliteus.



TARTUFE, COSTARD. 207

stool. Cf. Cumberland sap-head, a simpleton.
It is the same word as the Danish and Swedish
svamp, (Goth.) swamms, (Ger.) schwamm, (Dut.)
zwam, (A. -Sax.) swamm, (Icel.) svampr, all of
which mean a sponge or fungus, and so is near
akin to the German sump/, soft plashy ground,
a bog, our 6 swamp,' Greek somphos, spongy, loose,
porous. In a similar manner the Italian tartufo,
a fungus or truffle, is used to designate a base and
worthless fellow. Genin remarks that it was from
that language that Moliere adopted the name of
Tartufe for the hypocrite in his celebrated comedy,
citing in confirmation Plautus' use of fungus for a
dolt or idiot —

' Adeem' me fuisse fungum ut qui illi crederem.'

Bacchid. II. 3, 49.

Those fungi, which, like puff-balls, are round in
shape, and filled with dust or corruption, would
afford an apt comparison for the empty-headed,
addle-pated fool — ' The mouldy chambers of the
dull idiot's brain.' Cf Milan., tartuffol, (1) a
truffle, (2) a dotard; Neapol. taratufolo, a simple-
ton. See also Spelman, Glossary, s.v. Arga,
where he attempts to identify ' cuckold ' with Fr.
coucourd.

6 Costard,' a species of large apple, 1 is frequently
employed by the Elizabethan dramatists for a

1 Hence : costermonger, ' originally an apple-seller.



208

man's head, and it is one of Shakspere's jests that
the character who bears that name in ' Love's
Labour's Lost' (v. 2), when enacting the part of
Pompey in the interlude of the Nine Worthies,
imagines that he is standing for ' Pompion the
Great,' i.e., the Great Pumpkin. Our word
' bumpkin,' for a stupid country lout, seems to be
only another form of this pompion, pumpion, or
pumpkin. 1 In the ' Merry Wives of Windsor,'
Mistress Ford styles FalstafT, ' This gross watery
pumpion,' though the special reference there is to
the phlegmatic corpulence of the unwieldy knight.
It is the French pompon, (It.) popo?ie, pepone,
(Lat.) pepo(n), (Gk.) pepon (Tre-ircov), a gourd. In
later Latin pepo(?i) came to denote a foolish or
stupid person, 2 and in Greek, likewise, it was a
term of reproach and contempt.

The sounding hollowness of the gourd when
dry was also a point of comparison in this con-
nection. i Cascos de Calabaga (calabash- skull), that
is, rattle-headed or empty skull ' (Stevens, Sp.
Diet., 1706), It. zucca at vento (gourd full of



1 Cf. The form 'tainkin,' from 'tampion.'

2 E.g., ' Cur non magis et pepo tarn insulsus, et chamaeleon tam
inflatus?'(Tertullian, De Anima, xxxii., ed.Semler, vo . iv. p. 240).
Etrc un melon, is to be as soft-headed as a squash, to be 'green ' or
stupid. Dr Brewer remarks that melon in the school-slaug of St
Cyr denotes a new-comer fresh from home, a ' molly-coddle ' (Diet.
Phrase and Fable, s.v.), while cocons is the corresponding term for
the first-year students at L'ficole Polytechnique. The Persian
hdlak denotes a fool as well as an unripe melon.



FOOL. 209

air), c a witlesse-scull, an addle-head, or shallow-
braine ' (Florio).

It was an appropriate title, therefore, that was
conferred on the foolish braggart Oliver Proudfute
in the ' Fair Maid of Perth,' when he fell in with
the band of mummers on Fastern's E'en, and was
dubbed a Knight of the Calabash, with the salu-
tation, ' Eise up, sweet Sir Oliver Thatchpate,
Knight of the Honourable Order of the Pumpkin
— rise up, in the name of Nonsense ' (ch. xvi.)

Almost identical is the conception which lies at
the bottom of the word ' fool.' Let us examine it
at length, and we shall find that Jacques was not
so far wrong in affirming that such < strange beasts'
as Touchstone and Audrey — the professional jester
and the mere simplician — c in all tongues are
called fools ' (As You Like It, v. 4) ; and that
the learned Southey was clearly mistaken when
he said that 6 the name for fool seems to be
original in every language' (Common- Place
Book, vol. iv. p. 577).

'Fool' is the French fou, folle; Corn. fol 9
Welsh ffol, Armor, foil, It. folle, Prov. and 0.
Sp. fol, Mid. Lat. follus. 1 All these words
are cognate with the Latin follis (= Gk. 6v\-
\t?), ' an inflated bladder, a bellows' — which,
in later times, from the notion of tumid



1 Hence, also, (Fr.) affoler, to make a fool of, (Eng. ) ' to foil.





210 FOOL.

inflation inseparable from the term, came to
be applied in a reproachful sense to persons
6 purled up, light and empty-headed, foolish.' 1
Thus the primary meaning of i fool ' would be
' blown up with self-conceit, vacant, witless ; ' or
to define it exactly by a provincial word, still
used, I believe, in some parts of England, ' blad-
der-headed.' We find similar forms of expression
in other languages ; in Italian, sacco di vento, l a
bag of winde, also an idle boaster, a vaunting
gull ' (Florio) ; in German, windbeutel (a braggart
or idle talker), which Carlyle imitates in his ' pru-


1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 13 15 16 17 18 19 20 21

Online LibraryAbram Smythe PalmerLeaves from a word-hunter's note-book → online text (page 13 of 21)