We walk on them all the time, but do we ever take the time to think of their etymologies?
The word carpet made its way into English in the 1200s, meaning coarse cloth, tablecloth or bedspread. It entered English from the Old French word carpite, which referred to heavy, decorated cloth. This came from the Medieval Latin word carpite, which began with the word carpere, to card or to pluck. This most likely had to do with the fact that wool, cotton, and other weaving materials required some sort of plucking before they could be wrassled into threads or yarn, and then woven into cloth.
It wasn’t until the 1400s that carpets clearly belonged on floors.
Oddly, rugs didn’t start on the floor either. The word rug entered English in the 1550s, from Norwegian rugga, meaning coarse fabric or coverlet to drape over furniture. It took until the 1800s for rugs to land soundly on the floor.
Some rug & carpet tidbits:
Though nobody’s sure when the term roll out the red carpetbecame popular, the custom of rolling out a red carpet to celebrate royalty or popularity appears to have begun in ancient Greek myth when Clytaemnestra rolled one out for Agamemnon.
1769 to be snug as a bug in a rug
1823 to be called on the carpet
1940 theatre slang labeled a toupee a rug
1942 to cut a rug
1953 to sweep something under the carpet
1968 the word rugrat was born
So, good followers, what rug- or carpet-related thoughts do you have?
My thanks go out to this week’s sources the OED, Wordnik & Etymonline,
I write for teens, narrate audio books, bake bread, play music, and ponder the wonder of words in a foggy little town on California's central coast.
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