"I once had a sparrow alight upon my shoulder for a moment while I was hoeing in a village garden, and I felt that I was more distinguished by that circumstance than I should have been by any epaulet I could have worn." From Henry David Thoreau's 1854 novel Walden
"Military-inspired outerwear: It's baaack but with a twist. Sharp shoulders and button, zipper, epaulet and grommet details on peacoats, trenches and officer coats add a dose of fashionable force and edge to traditional pieces." From an article by Sara Bauknecht in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, February 21, 2012
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The epaulet gets its name from what it covers the shoulder. It comes from the French word "épaulette," the diminutive of "épaule," meaning shoulder. (Another accepted spelling of the English word "epaulette" mirrors the French.) "Épaule" itself, though, comes from the Latin word "spatha," meaning "spoon" or "sword." This Latin word (which traces back to Greek "spathē," meaning "blade of a sword" or "oar") is also the root of the word "spade" as in the playing card suit. (The digging implement "spade" is also a relative though the connection is less direct.)
Word Family Quiz: What relative of "epaulet" refers to a kitchen tool used for spreading, mixing, or lifting? The answer is ...
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