pleached; pleaching; pleaches

Word History

Etymology

Middle English plechen, of uncertain origin

Note: The Middle English verb first appears as a gerund plechyng in John of Trevisa's translation of De proprietatibus rerum by Bartholomaeus Anglicus (end of the fourteenth century), and as a full verb in a Middle English translation of Palladius's De re rustica (ca. 1440). It has inevitably been associated with a synonymous verb plash, which first appears as a gerund plashynge, taking the place of plechyng in Wynkyn de Worde's printed version of John of Trevisa's translation (1495). Plash can readily be taken as a loan from an Anglo-French variant, with a hushing consonant /ʃ/, of Old French plaissier "to interlace branches of trees or shrubs to form a hedge," apparently a verbal derivative of plesce (Roman de Renart) "plot of land enclosed by hedges." The editors of Französisches etymologisches Wörterbuch take this as a feminine variant of a noun attested in Old Occitan as plais "hedge," going back to Vulgar Latin *plaxus, an analogical variant of plexus, past participle of plectere "to plait, twine" (see ply entry 3). (Compare sparsus, past participle of spargere "to scatter," beside conspersus, past participle of the prefixed verb conspergere; following this pattern, complexus, past participle of complectere, would yield a simplex *plaxus.) However, it is not clear what relationship plechen/pleach has to plash. French <ai> could result in Middle English long open e, but ch is more difficult to explain. Oxford English Dictionary, third edition, takes as of possible relevance "French regional (Burgundy) plécher," a form apparently taken from Französisches etymologisches Wörterbuch, where it was drawn from Eugène de Chambure's Glossaire du Morvan (Paris/Autun, 1878). As plécher is not written in any sort of phonetic transcription, however, <ch> most likely represents /ʃ/ and by no means has to go back to an original affricate.

First Known Use

14th century, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of pleach was in the 14th century

Dictionary Entries Near pleach

Cite this Entry

“Pleach.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/pleach. Accessed 6 Feb. 2023.

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