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Thursday, January 9, 2014

Word of the Day plastron

Word of the Day

  • plastron
  • audio pronunciation
  • \PLASS-trun\
a : a metal breastplate formerly worn under the hauberkb : a quilted pad worn in fencing practice to protect the chest, waist, and the side on which the weapon is held
: the ventral part of the shell of a tortoise or turtle
a : a trimming like a bib for a woman's dressb : a man's separate or detachable shirtfront
"History buffs would recognise the jacket for its trademark 'British Empire of the late 1800s' features including the royal blue fabric, gold rope embellishments and gilded brass buttons, while fashion lovers would be drawn to its Michael Jackson-like rich red plastron and Sergeant Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club-style glitzy epaulettes." — From an article by Jenna Clarke in theCanberra Times (Australia), October 6, 2012

"A hinged plastron … allows the animal to pull its head, legs and tail completely inside, away from hungry raccoons, skunks, minks and, in urban environments, cats and dogs." — From an article by Dave Taft in The New York Times, August 4, 2013
English speakers first borrowed French's word for a breastplate, "plastron," as the name for the protective plate worn under a tunic of chain mail by knights. In the 17th century, "plastron" was extended to the pad used to protect the torso of a fencer. Two centuries later, herpetologists appropriated the word for a slightly different type of protection: the underside of a turtle's shell, which consists typically of nine bones overlaid by horny plates. That was followed by the word's application in the world of fashion to coverings that adorn the front of a woman's bodice, such as a lacy bib, as well as to a man's separate or detachable starched shirtfront (which is typically worn under a jacket).


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