diaper

Discuss word origins and meanings.

diaper

Post by moomin » Sat Aug 13, 2005 7:55 pm

How did this word originate? Is it a brand name or an old English word?
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diaper

Post by Bobinwales » Sun Aug 14, 2005 11:43 am

Ouch. There's no need to shout Ellen.

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Post by Wizard of Oz » Sun Aug 14, 2005 10:19 pm

.. hey ya silly old moo(min) .. now that you have woken the baby there remains only one thing to do .. that is once you have changed its nappy .. and that is for you to decide which came first, the cloth or the use for that cloth .. if you go to http://www.onelook.com and enter the word you will find all kinds of information .. that is unless Ken, because you are of the female kind, gets the urge to answer your question rather than just telling you to look it up yourself ..

WoZ of Aus 15/08/05
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Post by moomin » Mon Aug 15, 2005 7:02 pm

ooooops sorry about that...too much wine... had argument with friend as to how they come to be called diapers in the USA and nappies in England..decided to ask the "experts" after trying various other sites and getting nowhere. ps am sober now and thanks.
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Post by Ken Greenwald » Tue Aug 16, 2005 6:12 am

Ellen, Don’t pay no mind to nasty old Wiz. If you look it up in OneLook.com you'll find the meagerest of explanations — we just can’t have that. And there is, of course, more to DIAPERS (or DI-A-PERS as they used to say in those TV ads) than meets the eye, as anyone who has worked in that area can tell you. So here's a bottoms-up explanation. Also, glad to hear you’ve sobered up — wouldn’t want you throwing out any babies with the bathwater!

DIAPER ETYMOLOGY: The notion underlying DIAPER is ‘extreme whiteness’ (that’s before they’re used). It comes ultimately from Byzantine Greek ‘diaspros,’ meaning pure/thoroughly/entirely white, and was a compound formed from the intensive prefix ‘dia-’ and ‘aspros,’ white. ‘Aspros’ has an involved history. It began life as Latin ‘asper,’ rough (source of English ‘asperity'), which was applied particularly to bas-relief on carvings and coins. It was then borrowed by Byzantine Greek and used as a noun to designate silver coins, and their brightness and shininess led to its reconversion into an adjective, meaning ‘white.’ ‘Diaspros’ appears to have originally been applied to ecclesiastical vestments, and subsequently any shiny fabric. When the word first entered English, via Medieval Latin ‘diasprum’ and Old French ‘diapre,’ it referred to a rich silk fabric embellished with gold thread, but by the 16th century it was being used for less glamorous textiles, of white linen, with a small diamond-shaped pattern. Shakespeare used the term in 1596 to mean towel, napkin, cloth. The specific application to a piece of such cloth used as a baby’s NAPPY (which BTW is still current in American English, although I don't believe that much) seems to have first appeared in print in the U.S. in 1837.
<1837 “Table and bed~linen, DIAPERS, blankets.”—‘Society in America’ by H. Martineau, II. page 245>
NAPPY, which is short (baby talk) for ‘napkin,’ is a synonym for ‘diaper’ and first appeared in print in 1927.
<1927 “Mothers and nurses use pseudo-infantile forms like pinny (pinafore), NAPPY (napkin).”—‘Contemporary English’ by W. E. Collinson, page 7>
And as a bonus (for the word lover, not the baby and mommy) we have the infamous “DIAPER RASH”:

DIAPER RASH (North American) = NAPPY RASH: First appeared on babies a long time ago, but in print only in 1919.
<1919 (advertisement) “It [the powder Kora Konia] has been used for several years in hospitals to relieve the skin irritation of bed patients and to free babies from the intolerable suffering of DIAPER RASH.”—'N.Y. Times,' 14 July, page 28/4>
(Ayto’s Dictionary of Word Origins, Barnhart Concise Dictionary of Etymology, Oxford English Dictionary)
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Ken G – August 15, 2005
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Post by Erik_Kowal » Tue Aug 16, 2005 6:42 am

There's nothing half-assed about Ken once someone moomins at him... (_!_)

(Sorry, I just couldn't resist!)
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Post by Ken Greenwald » Tue Aug 16, 2005 7:11 am

Erik, Yeah. But that old devil moonim does sometimes cause me to get half-rash!

Ken – August 15, 2005
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Post by Bobinwales » Tue Aug 16, 2005 8:31 am

Ellen, it is my self-imposed duty to get the whole world to realise that "England", and "Britain" are not synonyms. “Nappy” is a word used in England, Scotland, Ireland and Wales. Therefore it is a word used in Britain, not England. Please don’t be offended, I have had to put a lot people onto the right track, including a lot of English. :-)
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Post by russcable » Tue Aug 16, 2005 1:48 pm

Bob, it seems to me if it's used in England, then it's correct to say that it's used in England regardless of where else it might or might not be used?
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Post by Bobinwales » Tue Aug 16, 2005 3:16 pm

OK Russ you have a valid point, and I have to admit that I am a bit pedantic about it, but after a lifetime of correcting people who ask "What part of England do you come from?" and correcting people who do think that England is Britain it all gets to be a bit automatic.

You are correct, Russ, I apologise to Ellen, and I promise to be more thoughtful in future.
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Post by Shelley » Tue Aug 16, 2005 3:27 pm

Ken Greenwald, that was great! I really learn something new everyday when I visit Wordwizard. Meanwhile, I read this today:
LONDON -- British cops are hunting for a DIAPER-WEARING pervert who approaches women . . . and asks: "Are there any baby-changing facilities around here?" . . . Reuters, from the NY Daily News, 8/16/05
Now, if this is occurring in Cleveland, England, as the report says later on, shouldn't the reporter have written about a "nappy-wearing" pervert?
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Post by Bobinwales » Tue Aug 16, 2005 4:26 pm

They are over here, but then I have some pictures of the work of New York pavement artists, should they be sidewalk artists? And in Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory, they have British actors calling a Wonka Bar 'candy', when it is obviously a 'bar of chocolate'. Will we ever, did we ever, speak the same language do you think?

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Post by haro » Tue Aug 16, 2005 7:13 pm

Bob, of course you know that 'pavement' has several meanings. British English uses the word 'pavement' for the American 'sidewalk', but the hard-covered surface of a thoroughfare may still be called a pavement also in the USA. So perhaps American pavement artists may use the street surface too, whereas their British colleagues have to confine themselves to pedestrian areas.
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Post by moomin » Tue Aug 16, 2005 7:46 pm

Blimey Bob was just asking if it was an "English" word and yes I do understand there is a difference between England and Britain.. apology accepted. As for Mr Oz not sure how to take the reference to silly old moo(min) could that be cow? (The phrase "full of himself" springs to mind.) Thankyou Ken for having the urge to answer my question.. me being of the female kind I won the argument. I have the opinion that in many cases the American word makes more sense than ours.. trunk / boot.. pantihose / tights.. sidewalk / pavement. Was informed by a colleague that the word diaper was mentioned by Tony Robinson in his programme The Worst Jobs In History as being used to wipe the behind of Henry V111!
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Post by Wizard of Oz » Tue Aug 16, 2005 10:12 pm

.. Moo you have been patronised by Ken and don't even realise it .. my comment is valid in that when the mood takes him Ken will simply tell anybody to do what anybody can do .. look it up .. other times, for reasons known only to himself, he will launch into one of his learned treatises on the subject .. never think it is for YOUR benefit .. and your pathetic attempt at a flame falls well short of the mark .. all that knowledge from one small post .. my my ..

WoZ of Aus 17/08/05
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