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cheval-de-frise (shuh-VAL duh FREEZ) noun plural chevaux-de-frise (shuh-VOH duh FREEZ)

1. An obstacle, typically made of wood, covered with barbed wire or spikes, used to block the advancing enemy.

2. A line of nails, spikes, or broken glass set on top of a wall or railing to deter intruders.

[From French, literally horse of Friesland, so named because it was first used by Frisians who lacked cavalry.]

"Fold back the leaves of an artichoke and you discover ... more artichoke leaves, at least until you come to the succulent, secret heart hidden beneath a chevaux-de-frise of thistle-like bristle."
David Nelson; Gastronomic Adventure Unfolds Like an Artichoke; The Los Angeles Times; Jun 21, 1991.

"On the land side, outside the battlements, are acres of chevaux-de-frise: sharp rock slabs set vertically into the ground, making it virtually impossible for a person to pass, let alone a horse."
Denise Fainberg; On Foot In Inishmore; The New York Times; Aug 1, 1999.

Artists sit on art horses -- wooden benches with supports for their canvases. Carpenters use saw horses, so called because they clearly look like stylized representations of the animal. Not so obvious are horses -- or their cousins -- hiding in many everyday objects. Literally speaking, an easel is an ass (from Dutch ezel), while a bidet is a pony (from French bidet).

We continue with the theme from the last week: words with horse-related origins. In each of this week's terms, there is a horse lurking somewhere in its etymology.

-Anu garg AT wordsmith.org


The innocent and the beautiful have no enemy but time. -William Butler Yeats, writer, Nobel laureate (1865-1939)

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