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Words new to me: жаконетный

August 26, 2013

For about the five hundredth time, I looked up a word Leskov uses only to find that Russian dictionaries point me back to the same Leskov passage where I found it. That link is to a dictionary of Gallicisms, which suggests it’s from the French jaconas, but the Russian form looks more like the English jaconet or German Jakonett. In each language the word means a particular kind of cloth. Merriam-Webster defines it as “a lightweight cotton cloth used for clothing and bandages.” The OED notes that “the application of the name has undergone change,” and I can’t say what exact kind of cloth Leskov was thinking of. In No Way Out a jaconet dress is one of several items of clothing that Liza Bakhareva makes for herself in between reading until her eyes almost give out and raging at the uselessness of everyone around her (book 1, chapter 30).

The etymology is what made me write it up here. Apparently it’s from jagannāthī in Hindi and Urdu, which is from the place name Jagannāth, an Indian seaport, which is also a title of Vishnu that means “lord of the world,” which in turn is the source of the English word juggernaut.

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