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payment for having killed a man (Anglo-Sax, wer). To
return to moneta, we have a third form of the word
in moidore

"And fair rose-nobles and broad moidores
The waiter pulls out of their pockets by scores."

(INGOLDSBY, The Hand of Glory.')

from Port, moeda de ouro, money of gold.

Sometimes the same word reaches us through
different languages. Thus charge is French and cargo
is Spanish, both belonging to a Vulgar Lat *carricare,
from carrus, vehicle. In old commercial records we often
find the Anglo-Norman form cark, a load, burden, which
survives now only in a metaphorical sense, e.g. carking,
i.e. burdensome, care. Lat. domina has given us through
French both dame and dam, 1 and through Spanish
duenna; while Ital. donna occurs in the compound
madonna and the donah of the East End costermonger.
Lat datum, given, becomes Fr. d and Eng. die
(plural dice). Its Italian doublet is dado, now used in
English of a pattern which was originally cubical.
Scrimmage and skirmish are variant spellings of Fr.
escarmouche, from Ital. scaramuccia, of German origin
(see p. 64, .). But we have also, more immediately from
Italian, the form scaramouch. Blount's Glossographia

1 See p. 120. The aristocracy of the horse is still testified to by the use
of sire and dam for his parents.



FROM FRENCH DIALECTS 143

(1674) mentions Scaramoche, "a famous Italian Zani
(see p. 45), or mimick, who acted here in England,
1673." Scaramouch was one of the stock characters of
the old Italian comedy, which still exists as the
harlequinade of the Christmas pantomime, and of which
some traces survive in the Punch and Judy show. He
was represented as a cowardly braggart dressed in black.
The golfer's stance is a doublet of the poet's stanza,
both of them belonging to Lat. stare, to stand. Stance
is Old French and stanza is Italian, " a stance or staffe
of verses or songs " (Florio). A stanza is then properly
a pause or resting place, just as a verse, Lat. versus, is a
" turning " to the beginning of the next line.

Different French dialects have supplied us with many
doublets. Old Fr. charier (chasser), Vulgar Lat *captiare,
for captare, a frequentative of capere, to take, was in
Picard cachier. This has given Eng. catch, which is
thus a doublet of chase. In cater (see p. 63) we have
the Picard form of Fr. acheter, but the true French
form survives in the family name Chafer)- In late
Latin the neuter adjective capitale, capital, was used
of property. This has given, through Old Fr. chatel,
our chattel, while the doublet catel has given cattle,
now limited to what was once the most important
form of property. Fr. cheptel is still used of cattle
farmed out on a kind of profit-sharing system. This
restriction of the meaning of cattle is paralleled by Scot.
avers, farm beasts, from Old Fr. aver* (avoir], property,
goods. The history of the word fee, Anglo-Sax, feoh,
cattle, cognate with Lat. pecus, whence pecunia, money,
also takes us back to the times when a man's wealth was
estimated by his flocks and herds ; but, in this case, the
sense development is exactly reversed.

1 Sometimes this name is for cheater, escheatour (p. 84).

a Cf. avoirdupois, earlier avers dt pois (poids), goods sold by weight.



144 DOUBLETS

Fr. jumeau, twin, was earlier gemeau, still used by
Corneille, and earlier still gemel, \^..gemellus, diminutive
of geminus, twin. From one form we have the gimbals,
or twin pivots, which keep the compass horizontal.
Shakespeare uses it of clockwork

" I think, by some odd gimmals, or device,
Their arms are set like clocks, still to strike on."

(i Henry VI., \. 2.)

and also speaks of a gimmal bit (Henry V., iv. 2). In
the 1 7th century we find numerous allusions to gimmal
rings (variously spelt). The toothsome jumble, known
to the Midlands as " brandy-snap," is the same word,
this delicacy having apparently at one time been made
in links. We may compare the obsolete ItaL stortelli,
lit " little twists," explained by Torriano as " winding
stmnels, wreathed jumbals''

An accident of spelling may disguise the origin and
meaning of a word. Tret is Fr. trait, in Old French also
tret, Lat. tractus, pull (of the scale). It was usually an
allowance of four pounds in a hundred and four, which
was supposed to be equal to the sum of the "turns
of the scale," which would be in the purchaser's favour
if the goods were weighed in small quantities. Trait
is still so used in modern French.

A difference in spelling, originally accidental, but per-
petuated by an apparent difference of meaning, is seen
in flour, flower ; metal, mettle. Flour is the flower, i.e.
the finest part, of meal, Fr. fleur de Jarine, "flower, or
the finest meale" (Cotgrave). In the Nottingham
Guardian (29th Aug. 1911) I read that

" Mrs Kernahan is among the increasing number of persons
who do not discriminate between metal and mettle, and writes
'Margaret was on her metal,'"



METTLE GLAMOUR 145

It might be added that this author is in the excellent
company of Shakespeare

" See whe'r their basest metal be not mov'd."

(Julius Ctzsar, i. i.)

There is no more etymological difference between metal
and mettle than between the "temper" of a cook and
that of a sword-blade.

Parson is a doublet of person, the priest perhaps
being taken as "representing" the Church, for Lat.
persona, an actor's mask, from per, through, and sonare,
to sound, was also used of a costumed character or
dramatis persona. Mask, which ultimately belongs to
an Arabic word meaning buffoon, has had a sense
development exactly opposite to that of person, its
modern meaning corresponding to the Lat persona
from which the latter started. Parson shows the
popular pronunciation of er, now modified by the influence
of traditional spelling. We still have it in Berkeley,
clerk, 1 Derby, sergeant, as we formerly did in merchant.
Proper names, in which the orthography depends on
the "taste and fancy of the speller," or the phonetic
theories of the old parish clerk, are often more in
accordance with the pronunciation, e.g., Barclay, Clark,
Darby, Sargent, Marchant. Posy, in both its senses, is
a contraction of poesy, the flowers of a nosegay express-
ing by their arrangement a sentiment like that engraved
on a ring. The latter use is perhaps obsolete

" A hoop of goldj a paltry ring
That she did give me ; whose posy was
For all the world like cutler's poetry
Upon a knife : ' Love me and leave me not.'"

(Merchant of Venice, v. i.)

The poetic word glamour is the same as grammar,

1 Pronounced clurk by uneducated English people and educated
Americans.



146 DOUBLETS

which had in the Middle Ages the sense of mysterious
learning. From the same source we have the French
corruption grimoire, "a booke of conjuring" (Cotgrave).
Glamour and gramarye were both revived by Scott

"A moment then the volume spread,
And one short spell therein he read ;
It had much of glamour might."

(Lay of the Last Minstrel, iii. 9.)

"And how he sought her castle high,
That morn, by help of gramarye."

(Ibid.) v. 27.)

For the change of r to / we have the parallel of flounce
for older frounce (p. 60). Quire is the same word
as quair, in the " King's Quair" i.e. book. Its Mid.
English form is quayer, Old Fr. quaer, caer (cahier),
Vulgar Lat. *quaternum for quaternio, " a quier with foure
sheetes" (Cooper).

Oriental words have sometimes come into the
language by very diverse routes. Sirup, or syrup,
sherbet, and (rum}-shrub are of identical origin, ulti-
mately Arabic. Sirup, which comes through Spanish
and French, was once used, like treacle (p. 75), of
medicinal compounds

" Not poppy, nor mandragora,
Nor all the drowsy syrups of the world,
Shall ever medicine thee to that sweet sleep
Which thou ow'dst yesterday."

(Othello, iii. 3.)

Sherbet and shrub are directly borrowed through the
medium of travellers

" ' I smoke on srub and water, myself,' said Mr Omer."

(David Copperfield, Ch. 30.)

Sepoy, used of Indian soldiers in the English service, is
the same as spahi, the French name for the Algerian



EASTERN DOUBLETS 147

cavalry. Both come ultimately from a Persian adjective
meaning " military," and the French form was at one
time used also in English in speaking of Oriental
soldiery

"The Janizaries and Spahies came in a tumultuary manner to
the Seraglio." (HOWELL, familiar Letters, 1623.)

Tulip is from Fr. tulipe, formerly tulipan, " the delicate
flower called a tulipa, tulipie, or Dalmatian cap"
(Cotgrave). It is a doublet of turban. The German
Tulpe was also earlier Tulipan.

The humblest of medieval coins was the maravedi,
which came from Spain at an early date, though not
early enough for Robin Hood to have said to Isaac of
York

" I will strip thee of every maravedi thou hast in the world."

(Ivanhoe, Ch. 33.)

The name is due to the Moorish dynasty of the Al-
moravides or Marabouts. This Arabic name, which
means hermit, was given also to a kind of stork, the
marabout, on account of the solitary and sober habits
which have earned for him in India the name adjutant

(P- 34).

Cipher and zero do not look like doublets, but both
of them come from the same Arabic word. The
medieval Lat zephyrum connects the two forms.
Crimson and carmine, the first French and the second
Spanish, are not quite doublets, but both belong to
kermes, the cochineal insect, of Arabic origin.

The relationship between cipher and zero is perhaps
better disguised than that between furnish and veneer,
though this is by no means obvious. Veneer, spelt
Jineerby Smollett, is Ger. fournieren, borrowed from Fr.



148 DOUBLETS

fournir^- and specialised in meaning. Ebers' German
Diet. (1796) has furnieren, "to inlay with several sorts
of wood, to veneer?

The doublets selected for discussion among the
hundreds which exist in the language reveal many
etymological relationships which would hardly be
suspected at first sight. Many other words might be
quoted which are almost doublets. Thus sergeant,
Fr. sergent, Lat. serviens, servient-, is almost a doublet of
servant, the present participle of Fr. servir. The fabric
called drill or drilling is from Ger. Drillich, "tick,
linnen-cloth woven of three threads" (Ludwig). This
is an adaptation of Lat. trilix, trilic-, which, through
Fr. treillis, has given Eng. trellis. We may compare
the older twill, of Anglo-Saxon origin, cognate with
Ger. Zwilch or Zwillich, " linnen woven with a double
thread " (Ludwig). Robe, from French, is cognate with
rob, and with Ger. Raub, booty, the conqueror decking
himself in the spoils of the conquered. Musk is a
doublet of meg in nutmeg, Fr. noix muscade. In Mid.
English we find note-mugge, and Cotgrave has the
diminutive muguette, "a nutmeg"; cf. modern Fr.
muguet, the lily of the valley. Fr. diner and dtjeuner
both represent Vulgar Lat *dis-junare, to break fast,
(romjej'unus, fasting. The difference of form is due to
the shifting of the accent in the Latin conjugation, e.g.,
dis-jundre gives Old Fr. disner (diner}, while dis-junat
gives Old Fr. desjune (dejeune).

Admiral, earlier amiral, comes through French from
the Arab, amir, an emir. Its Old French forms are
numerous, and the one which has survived in English
may be taken as an abbreviation of Arab, amir al balir,
emir on the sea. Greco-Lat. pandura, a stringed instru-

1 Our verbs in -isA are from the -iss- stem of French verbs in -;>. This
-iss-, as mfcntrnissant, represents the -isc of Latin inchoative verbs.



BANJO SAMITE 149

ment, has produced an extraordinary number of cor-
ruptions, among which some philologists rank mandoline.
Eng. bandore, now obsolete, was once a fairly common
word, and from it, or from some cognate Romance form,
comes the negro corruption banjo

"'What is this, mamma? it is not a guitar, is it?' 'No, my
dear, it is called a banjore ; it is an African instrument, of which
the negroes are particularly fond.'" (Miss EDGEWORTH, Belinda,
Ch. 1 8.)

Florio has pandora, pandura, "a musical instrument
with three strings, a kit, a croude, 1 a rebecke." Kit,
used by Dickens

" He had a little fiddle, which at school we used to call a kit,
under his left arm." (Bleak House, Ch. 14.)

seems to be a clipped form from Old French dialect
quiterne, for guiterne, Greco -Lat cithara. Cotgrave
explains mandore as a " kttt, small gitterne." The
doublet guitar is from Spanish.

The two pretty words dimity and samite

" An arm

Rose up from out the bosom of the lake,
Clothed in white samite, mystic, wonderful,
Holding the sword."

(TENNYSON, Morte <f Arthur, 1. 29.)

are both connected with Gk. /i/ro9, thread. Dimity is
the plural, dimiti, of Ital. dimito, " a kind of course cotton
or flanell " (Florio), from Greco -Lat. dimitus, double
thread (cf. twill, p. 148). Samite, Old Fr. samit, whence
Ger. Samt, velvet, is in medieval Latin hexamitus,
six-thread ; but this may be a popular corruption of an
Arabic original. The Italian form is sciamito, " a kind
of sleave, feret, or filosello silke" (Florio). The word
feret used here by Florio is from Ital. fi&retto, little

1 See Cr mother, p. 176,

K2



150 DOUBLETS

flower. It was also called floret silk. Florio explains
the plural fioretti as "a kind of course silke called
f\l~\oret or ferret silke," and Cotgrave hasfauret, " course
silke, floret silke." This doublet of floweret is not
obsolete in the sense of tape

"Twas so fram'd and express'd no tribunal could shake it,
And firm as red wax and black/erref could make it."

(INGOLDSBY, The Housetvarming.}

Parish and diocese are closely related, parish, Fr.
paroisse, representing Greco-Lat. par-oikia (ooco?, a
house), and diocese coming through Old French from
Greco-Lat di-oikesis. Skirt is the Scandinavian doublet
of shirt, from Vulgar Lat ex-curtus, which has also given
us short. The form without the prefix appears in Fr.
court, Ger. kurz, and the English diminutive kirtle

" What stuff wilt have a kirtle of?"

(2 Henry IV., ii. 4.)

These are all very early loan words.

A new drawing-room game for amateur philologists
would be to trace relationships between words which
have no apparent connection. In discussing, a few
years ago, a lurid book on the " Mysteries of Modern
London," Punch remarked that the existence of a villa
seemed to be proof presumptive of that of a villain.
This is etymologically true. An Old French vilain, " a
villaine, slave, bondman, servile tenant " (Cotgrave), was
a peasant attached to his lord's ville or domain, Lat.
villa. For the degeneration in meaning we may com-
pare Eng. boor and churl (p. 84), and Fr. manant, a
clodhopper, lit. a dweller (see manor, p. 9). A butcher,
Fr. boucher, must originally have dealt in goat's flesh,
Fr. bouc, goat ; cf. Ital. beccaio, butcher, and becco, goat.
Hence butcher and buck are related. The extension of
meaning of broker, an Anglo-Norman form of brockeur y



BROKER WALNUT 151

shows the importance of the wine trade in the Middle
Ages. A broker was at first x one who " broached " casks
with a broche, which means in modern French both brooch
and spit. The essential part of a brooch is the pin or spike.
When Kent says that Cornwall and Regan

" Summon'd up their met'ny, straight took horse."

(Lear, ii. 4.)

he is using a common Mid. English and Tudor
word which comes, through Old Fr. maisniee, from
Vulgar Lat *mansionata, a houseful. A menial is a
member of such a body. An Italian cognate is
masnadiere, " a ruffler, a swashbuckler, a swaggerer,
a high way theefe, a hackster " (Florio). Those inclined
to moralise may see in these words a proof that the
arrogance of the great man's flunkey was curbed in
England earlier than in Italy. Old Fr. maisniee is now
replaced by menage, Vulgar Lat. *mansionaticum. A
derivative of this word is menagerie, first applied to the
collection of household animals, but now to a "wild
beast show."

A bonfire was formerly a bone-fire. We find bane-
fire, " ignis ossium," in a Latin dictionary of 1483, and
Cooper explains pyra by "bone-fire, wherein men's
bodyes were burned." Apparently the word is due to
the practice of burning the dead after a victory.
Hexham has bone-fire, "een been-vier, dat is, als men
victorie brandt." Walnut is related to Wafes, Cormvatt,
the Walloons, WW/achia and Sir William Walla.cz. It
means " foreign " nut. This very wide spread wal is
supposed to represent the Celtic tribal name Voices. It
was applied by the English to the Celts, and by the
Germans to the French and Italians, especially the

1 But the early use of the word in the sense of middle-man points to
contamination with some other word of different meaning.



152 DOUBLETS

latter, whence the earlier Ger. welsche Nuss, for Walnuss.
The German Swiss use it of the French Swiss, hence the
canton Wallis or Valais. The Old French name for the
walnut is noix gauge, Lat Gallica. The relation of umbrella
to umber is pretty obvious. The former is Italian

"A little shadow, a little round thing that women bare in their
hands to shadow them. Also a broad brimd hat to keepe off
heate and rayne. Also a kinde of round thing like a round
skreene that gentlemen use in Italic in time of sommer or when
it is very hole, to keepe the sunne from them when they are
riding by the way." (Florio.)

Umber is Fr. terre cFombre, shadow earth

" I'll put myself in poor and mean attire,
And with a kind of umber smirch my face."

(As. You Like It, i. 3.)

Ballad, originally a dancing song, Prov. ballada, is a
doublet of ballet, and thus related to ball. We find a
late Lat ballare, to dance, in Saint Augustine, but the
history of this group of words is obscure. The sense
development of carol is very like that of ballad. It is
from Old Fr. carolle, " a kinde of dance wherein many
may dance together ; also, a carroll, or Christmas song "
(Cotgrave). The form corolla is found in Provencal, and
carolle in Old French is commonly used, like Ger. Kranz,
garland, and Lat. corona, of a social or festive ring of
people. Hence there can be little doubt that the
origin of the word is Lat. corolla, a little garland.

Many " chapel " people would be shocked to know
that chapel means properly the sanctuary in which a
saint's relics are deposited. The name was first applied
to the chapel in which was preserved the cape or cloak
of St Martin of Tours. The doublet capel survives
in Capel Court, near the Exchange. Ger. Kapelle also
means orchestra or military band. Tocsin is literally



TOCSIN MERINO 153

"touch sign." Fr. toquer, to tap, beat, cognate with
touch, survives in " tuck of drum " and tucket

" Then let the trumpets sound
The tucket sonance and the note to mount."

(Henry V., iv. 2.)

while sinet, the diminutive of Old Fr. sin, sign, has given
sennet, common in the stage directions of Elizabethan
plays in a sense very similar to that of tucket.

Junket is from Old Fr. joncade, " a certaine spoone-
meat, made of creame, rose-water, and sugar" (Cotgrave),
Ital. giuncata, " a kinde of fresh cheese and creame, so
called bicause it is brought to market upon rushes ;
also a junket" (Florio). It is thus related to jonquil,
which comes, through French, from Span, junquillo, a
diminutive from Lat. juncus, rush. The plant is
named from its rush-like leaves. Ditto, Italian, lit.
" said," and ditty, Old Fr. dite, are both past participles, 1
from the Latin verbs dico and dicto respectively. The
nave of a church is from Fr. nef, still occasionally used
in poetry in its original sense of ship, LaL navis. It is
thus related to navy, Old Fr. navie, a derivative of
navis. Similarly Ger. Schiff is used in the sense of
nave, though the metaphor is variously explained.

The old word cole, cabbage, its north country and
Scottish equivalent kail, Fr. chou (Old Fr. chof), and
Ger. Kohl, are all from Lat caulis, cabbage ; cf. cauli-
flovver. We have the Dutch form in colza, which comes,
through French, from Du. kool-zaad, cabbage seed.
Cabbage itself is Fr. caboche, a Picard derivative of Lat.
caput, head. In modern French caboche corresponds to
our vulgar "chump." A goshawk is a goose hawk, so
called from its preying on poultry. Merino is related to
mayor, which comes, through French, from Lat. maior,

1 But the usual Italian past participle of dire is detto.



154 DOUBLETS

greater. Span, merino, Vulgar Lat. * majorinus, means
both a magistrate and a superintendent of sheep-walks.
From the latter meaning comes that of " sheepe driven
from the winter pastures to the sommer pastures, or the
wooll of those sheepe " (Percy vail). Portcullis is from
Old Fr. porte coulisse, sliding door. Fr. coulisse is still
used of many sliding contrivances, especially in connec-
tion with stage scenery, but in the portcullis sense it is
replaced by /terse (see p. 75), except in the language of
heraldry. The masculine form coulis means a clear
broth, or cullis, as it was called in English up to the
1 8th century. This suggests colander, which, like port-
cullis, belongs to Lat colare, "to streine" (Cooper),
whence Fr. couler, to flow.

Solder, formerly spelt sowder or sodder, and still so
pronounced by the plumber, represents Fr. soudure,
from the verb souder ; cf. batter from Old Fr. bat fn re,
fritter from Fr. friture, and tenter (hooks) 1 from Fr.
tenture. Fr. souder is from Lat. solidare, to consolidate.
Fr. sou, formerly sol, a halfpenny, is said to come
from Lat solidus, the meaning of which appears also
in the Italian participle soldato, a soldier, lit. a paid
man. This Italian word has passed into French and
German, displacing the older cognates soudard and
Sbldner, which now have a depreciatory sense. Eng.
soldier is of Old French origin. It is represented in
medieval Latin by sol\i]darius, glossed sowdeor in a
vocabulary of the I5th century. As in solder, the /
has been re-introduced by learned influence, but the
vulgar sodger is nearer the original pronunciation.

1 Hooks used for stretching cloth.



CHAPTER XI

HOMONYMS

MODERN English contains some six or seven hundred
pairs or sets of homonyms, i.e., of words identical in
sound and spelling but differing in meaning and origin.
The New English Dictionary recognises provisionally
nine separate nouns rack. The subject is a difficult
one to deal with, because one word sometimes develops
such apparently different meanings that the original
identity becomes obscured, and even, as we have seen
in the case of flour and mettle (p. 144), a difference of
spelling may result. When Denys of Burgundy said
to the physician

" Go to ! He was no fool who first called you leeches}' 1

(Cloister and Hearth, Ch. 26.)

he was unaware that both leeches represent Anglo-Sax.
lace, healer. On the other hand, a resemblance of form
may bring about a contamination of meaning. The
verb to gloss, or gloze, means simply to explain or
translate, Greco-Lat. glossa, tongue, etc. ; but, under
the influence of the unrelated gloss, superficial lustre,
it has acquired the sense of specious interpretation.
That part of a helmet called the beaver

" I saw young Harry, with his beaver on,
His cuisses on his thigh, gallantly arm'd,
Rise from the ground like feather'd Mercury."

(i Henry IV., iv. i.)

166



156 HOMONYMS

has, of course, no connection with the animal whose
fur has been used for some centuries for expensive
hats. It comes from Old Fr. baviere, a child's bib, now
replaced by bavette, from baver, to slobber.

It may be noted en passant that many of the
revived medieval words which sound so picturesque
in Scott are of very prosaic origin. Thus the basnet

" My basnet to a prentice cap,
Lord Surrey's o'er the Till."

(Marmion, vi. 21.)

or close-fitting steel cap worn under the ornamental
helmet, is Fr. bassinet, a little basin. It was also called
a kettle hat, or pot. Another obsolete name given to
a steel cap was a privy pallet, from Fr. palette, a barber's
bowl, a "helmet of Mambrino." To a brilliant living
monarch we owe the phrase " mailed fist," a translation
of Ger. gepanzerte Faust. Panzer, a cuirass, is etymo-
logically a pauncher, or defence for the paunch. We
may compare an article of female apparel, which took
its name from a more polite name for this part of
the anatomy, and which Shakespeare uses even in the
sense of Panzer. Imogen, taking the papers from her
bosom, says

"What is here?

The scriptures of the loyal Leonatus,

All turn'd to heresy ? Away, away,

Corrupters of my faith ! You shall no more

Be stomachers to my heart."

(Cymbeline, iii. 4.)

Sometimes homonyms seem to be due to the lowest
type of folk-etymology, the instinct for making an
unfamiliar word "look like something" (see p. 128, .).


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