What's in a Word | All Blogs


Belgian town gives name to piece of U.S. Army gear

By Debra Dobbins

Lately much of the news, both local and national, has been daunting. Reading, for instance, about the senseless deaths of the little boys on Grand Mesa and the slaying of first-graders in Connecticut has left me aching over the dark side of human nature.

It was a pleasure, then, to read today of the World War II veteran who received his duffel bag back after almost seven decades. William Kadar's surprise was an act of kindness by a French boy who found the bag in his grandfather’s house. (The full story begins on 1A and jumps to 8A.)

The word “duffel” hails from a neighbor of France, Belgium. Actually, it hails from a town in Belgium called – you guessed it – Duffel. It was there that the rugged green wool was first made into bags and coats.

“Duffel bag is American English, first recorded 1917 in a letter of e e cummings,” according to the Online Etymology Dictionary. These days Americans seem more likely to use the term “gym bag.”



 

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