a : something that ornaments or protects the shoulder: as
b : an ornamental fringed shoulder pad formerly worn as part of a military uniform
c : an ornamental strip or loop sewn across the shoulder of a dress or coat
"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
Did You Know?
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 ...