Purple Nebula (gwoman) wrote in word_ancestry,
Purple Nebula
gwoman
word_ancestry

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jail/gaol

jail/gaol, n. [jeyl, jāl]
-Jail is etymologically a 'little cage.' It comes from Vulgar Latin gaviola, an alternate form of Late Latin caveola, which in turn is the diminutive form of Latin cavea 'cage' and the source of English cage. Gaviola was adopted by Old French as jaiole and Old Northern French gaiole. In 1275, the English form of the word was written as gayhol, but it eventually split into two distinct words: jail from jaiole and gaol from gaiole, both meaning 'jail, prison.' Until the 17th century, gaol was pronounced with a hard 'g' (as in 'good'), but at this point it began to slowly take on the same pronunciation as jail. There has been a tendency for British English speakers to prefer gaol over jail, which is used more in America. This seems to be changing, however, with more recent years showing an increase in the usage of jail in Britain.
Tags: gaol, jail
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