May 23, 2011


Summary: Whether you've fought for freedom or just like military chic, you may have wondered why so many of your clothes have these little attachments on the shoulders .... Today's post has links to answers—and a lesson on just what to call those doo-hickeys and thing-a-ma-bobs.

You know those cool shoulder straps that look so good on military clothes? Whether it's fashion or function, what in the heck do you call them? The answer is epaulets. But can you pronounce that word? If you're like me, then the answer is no. So, click the pronunciation link below to learn!

(Note: Every week, I include a link like this to the WOW, or Word of the Week. The code that follows the link and the dash—and is also always listed in parentheses—stands for adjective, verb or in this case, noun.)

Epaulet (EP - uh - LET) - (n.) something that ornaments or protects the shoulder, often as a fringed pad or a loop that's buttoned or sewn.

The word is French, also spelled epaulette, a diminutive version of the word epaulé for shoulder. It was brought into English in the very late 1700s and is actually related to the word spatula, which once simply defined a flat piece of wood. (Originally, most militaries' shoulder-protecting epaulets were often made of wood.) Because of this relationship, epaulet is a many-generational descendant of the Greek word spathe, meaning a broad, flat sword. What appropriate battle roots!

Want to learn more about the actual item, itself, than just the word history? Check out these lengths for images (showing, among other things, that epaulets have migrated off the shoulders in contemporary civilian fashion) and multi-national military uniform history:

Google images
Wiki history

© KiKi Productions, Inc. 2011

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