Tuesday, November 21, 2006

The Daily Hump: Corduroy

Corduroy is from the French corde du roi, "the king's cord." If it were only that easy. Depending on which source you want to believe corde du roi may be a great example of a false etymology.

The word corduroy has never been used in French; they refer to the fabric as velours côtelé. The AHD reports that corduroy comes from cord + duroy, duroy being an obsolete term referring to a course woolen fabric. However, the OED disputes this:
Duroy occurs with serge and drugget as a coarse woollen fabric manufactured in Somersetshire in the 18th c....it has no apparent connexion with corduroy.
Alas, the OED doesn't offer much of an alternative theory feebly noting that Corderoy is an English surname. Interestingly, the OED states that although the etymology of duroy is uncertain it could be from du roi, "of the king". Thus, if we accept AHD's contention that the etymology of corduroy is cord + duroy, then the supposedly false etymology, "the king's cord", may actually be correct!

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:: posted by David, 8:13 AM


Cursed fabric!
Blogger Loocite, at 9:34 AM  

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