Codpiece, of course, is the first to come to mind. Most of us know what it is - the OED Online defines it as
A bagged appendage to the front of close fitting hose or breeches worn by men of the 15th to 17th c.: often conspicuous or ornamented.
|Codpiece-Antonio Navagero (1565), from Wikipedia|
The word codpiece is, etymologically, "a piece for the scrotum or testicles," as cod is the Old English word for "testicle" by transference from its previous meaning, "scrotum." The "scrotum" meaning arose from the word's earlier, broader sense of "pouch." Codpiece dates from the late 15th century, while cod turns up in the written record around 1000. One could say that a codpiece is a "piece for the pouch"!
The word doublet was mentioned in the discussion of codpiece above (and again in the discussion of bodice, but that is a different doublet). Why was the men's jacket of the Renaissance called a doublet? English borrowed it from French (same spelling) in the early 14th century, and the French had so named it because it was made of fabric that was doubled or folded and quilted. The -et suffix of doublet makes it a diminutive of double.
If you've ever read Stellar and Yeatman's 1066 and All That, a humorous look at British history, you may recall that everyone seemed to die from eating a surfeit of something. Was a surfeit a bowl, or a plate? Or a particular method of food preparation? No, it was an "excessive consumption of food or drink" per the OED. That meaning is considered obsolete now, but it was more common during the Renaissance. It also refers to an excessive quantity of anything. It derives ultimately from French sur- which is equivalent to Latin super- + faire "to do, act," with the combined meaning "do something excessively." The association with food and drink appears to have been attached to the word when it came to English in the late 14th century.
|Privies - http://www.dmrenfaire.com/|
What about deprive and privation, you may ask? These are also related, but they took a different route from Latin to English. While private and privy came from the past participle of privare, privatus, deprive and privation came directly from privare. Privare originally meant "isolate," but its meaning evolved from "isolate" (and you can see how that derived from the "individual" meaning of its parent, privus) to that which can come from isolation, deprivation, and that is whence privation and deprive came to English. Yet another priv- word, privelege, means, etymologically, "law regarding the individual," where the -lege element derives from Latin lex "law".
You are now reasonably well-equipped to attend a Renaissance Faire. However, if you want the full lingo experience, here is one site that delves more deeply into "Faire Speak".
Recommended Link: With each new blog entry we will endeavor to provide you an interesting link to an article or a site related to etymology or language in general. This week we offer you Stan Carey's MacMillan Dictionary blog entry on the fallacious belief that etymology provides the true or most correct meaning of words. We have fought this fallacy at TOWFI since TOWFI's inception many years ago. (If you follow us on Twitter you will have seen this link already, and we apologize for the repetition.)