I still haven’t gotten around to updating my Etymology page. I keep saying I’m going to do it tomorrow and it keeps not happening.
Anyway. Today’s word is guise.
Guise showed up in the late thirteenth century meaning a fashion style—I’m totally serious, that’s what it meant. It comes from the Old French guise which meant fashion or manner, which I guess morphed into just fashion in English, and then turned into a particular appearance in the mid-seventeenth century. Old French took guise from one of the Germanic languages—which one isn’t definite—but back then, guise was wisa. Yes, with a W, and yes, that’s where the word wise comes from.
Disguise showed up a little after guise in the early fourteenth century, meaning pretty much what we use it as. The dis- prefix means away, making it an appearance “away” from your normal one—a disguise.
And that’s not all! There’s one more word that can be traced to guise, and I think you’ll laugh when you read what it is: geezer. Seriously. It showed up recently enough that we know the specific year, 1885. It’s a Cockney English word, also written as guiser, which literally meant a “mummer”. I had no idea what mummer meant before this, but apparently it’s a person who wears a mask and costume (a guise) to take part in pantomime (the reason it’s called mummer is because “mum” means silent, like pantomime). So geezer is a variation of a dialect’s word for a slang word meaning mime. And it somehow now means an old person. No, I have no idea why.
I wonder if the term "Gussied up" came from guise?ReplyDelete
Under the guise of an energetic blogger, I'm leaving my comment. :PReplyDelete
Every New Year's Day, there's a Mummers' Parade in downtown Philadelphia. People get dressed up in crazy, elaborate costumes and strut around to the music of marching bands.ReplyDelete
I have heard the word mummer before, through a folk singer's album title.ReplyDelete
For some reason, this made me think of glamour and its original meaning.ReplyDelete
It's interesting that guise started out meaning a fashion style. I also think it's funny that guise was the base word for geezer. That just made me laugh.ReplyDelete
When you consider some of the strange attire worn by old geezers, maybe it makes sense?ReplyDelete
See. Even a "disguise" can be trendy. :)ReplyDelete