diaper

\ \ [14] The notion underlying diaper is of extreme whiteness. It comes ultimately from Byzantine Greek díaspros, which was a compound formed from the intensive prefix diaand ásproswhite’. (Aspros itself has an involved history: it started life as Latin asperrough’ – source of English asperity – which was applied particularly to bas-relief on carvings and coins; it was borrowed into Byzantine Greek and used as a noun to designate silver coins, and their brightness and shininess led to its reconversion into an adjective, meaning ‘white’.) Díaspros appears originally to have been applied to ecclesiastical vestments, and subsequently to any shiny fabric. When the word first entered English, via medieval Latin diasprum and Old French diapre, it referred to a rather rich silk fabric embellished with gold thread, but by the 16th century it was being used for less glamorous textiles, of white linen, with a small diamond-shaped pattern. The specific application to a piece of such cloth used as a baby’s nappy (still current in American English) seems to have developed in the 16th century.
\ \ Cf.ASPERITY

Word origins - 2ed. . 2005.

Look at other dictionaries:

  • diaper — [dī′pər, dī′ə pər] n. [ME < OFr diapre, diaspre, kind of ornamented cloth < ML diasprum, flowered cloth, altered (after dia , DIA , because of ML pronun. of initial j ) < jaspis < L iaspis, JASPER] 1. a) Archaic cloth or fabric with a …   English World dictionary

  • Diaper — Di a*per, v. t. 1. To ornament with figures, etc., arranged in the pattern called diaper, as cloth in weaving. Diapered light. H. Van Laun. [1913 Webster] Engarlanded and diapered With in wrought flowers. Tennyson. [1913 Webster] 2. To put a… …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • Diaper — Di a*per (d[imac] [.a]*p[ e]r), n. [OF. diaspre, diapre, diaspe, sort of figured cloth, It. diaspro jasper, diaspo figured cloth, from L. jaspis a green colored precious stone. See {Jasper}.] 1. Any textile fabric (esp. linen or cotton toweling)… …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • Diaper — Di a*per, v. i. To draw flowers or figures, as upon cloth. If you diaper on folds. Peacham. [1913 Webster] …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • Diaper — (Linen) A fine quality of linen fabric formerly manufactured in the city of Ypres. It was highly esteemed in England in the 13th century. The peculiarity of the cloth of Ypres was, like that of Damascus, in the pattern; as the term to diaper is… …   Dictionary of the English textile terms

  • Diaper — (engl., spr. Deiäper), geblümte, damastartige Linnen …   Pierer's Universal-Lexikon

  • Diaper — (engl. Deiäpr), geblümte, damastartige Leinwand …   Herders Conversations-Lexikon

  • diaper — mid 14c., fabric with a repeated pattern of figures, from O.Fr. diaspre ornamental cloth; flowered, patterned silk cloth, perhaps via M.L. diasprum from Medieval Gk. diaspros thoroughly white, or perhaps white interspersed with other colors, from …   Etymology dictionary

  • diaper — ► NOUN 1) N. Amer. a baby s nappy. 2) a fabric woven in a pattern of small diamonds. 3) a repeating geometrical pattern. ► VERB 1) N. Amer. put a nappy on (a baby). 2) decorate with a repeating geometrical pattern …   English terms dictionary

  • Diaper — Nappy redirects here. For other uses, see Nappy (disambiguation) and Diaper (disambiguation). For the geological term, see diapir. Disposable baby diaper with resealable tapes and elasticated leg cuffs …   Wikipedia

  • diaper — 01. When my daughter was a baby, my husband and I always took turns changing her [diapers]. 02. We don t use disposable [diapers] because they re too wasteful; we use cotton ones. 03. When I have kids, I will help my wife change our babies… …   Grammatical examples in English

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