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Sunday, February 16, 2014

Word of the Daycoffle

Word of the Day

  • coffle
  • audio pronunciation
  • \KAW-ful\
    : a line of slaves or animals fastened together
    "The abolitionists understood the effect that depictions of an auction block, a slave coffle, and the tearing apart of families had upon their audience." — From Steven Deyle's 2005 book Carry Me Back

    "There was the very real possibility that, if captured, families would be broken up, children separated from mothers, brothers from sisters, loved ones sold and marched south in slavecoffles." — From an article by John Kelly in The Washington Post, April 16, 2013
    "Coffle" comes from the Arabic "qāfila," which means "caravan" or "travelling company," though in English it has been used more specifically to refer to a group of slaves or animals chained or strung together. One of the earliest known uses of "coffle" in English is found in the explorer Mungo Park's 1799 Travels in the Interior of Africa. This was not the first time, however, that English had borrowed "qāfila." About two hundred years earlier "cafila" started appearing in print as an Anglicization of the Arabic "qāfila" to indicate a caravan or company of travelers in the Middle East and India.


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