Use this forum to suggest Good Words for Professor Beard.
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Postby Flaminius » Sun May 15, 2005 10:53 am

Pronounced rather French way but without nasalisation of the last vowel. I remember a rather mysterious French proverb, "jeu de main, jeu de vilain." Is it intended to say that everone who rubs his hands together hides evil intentions?


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Postby Brazilian dude » Sun May 15, 2005 11:11 am

I would say that that is referring to some kind of game where hands have to be agile and you have to have the necessary mental acuity to be on the lookout for possible moves and even resort to cheating every once in a while. You may be right, though.

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Postby Flaminius » Thu May 19, 2005 11:28 am

I have just learnt that French vilain is not English villain but rustic. Any idea how the two words are related?

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Postby tcward » Thu May 19, 2005 5:23 pm

1303, "base or low-born rustic," from Anglo-Fr. and O.Fr. villain, from M.L. villanus "farmhand," from L. villa "country house" (see villa).
"The most important phases of the sense development of this word may be summed up as follows: 'inhabitant of a farm; peasant; churl, boor; clown; miser; knave, scoundrel.' Today both Fr. vilain and Eng. villain are used only in a pejorative sense." [Klein]
Meaning "character in a novel, play, etc. whose evil motives or actions help drive the plot" is from 1822. Villainous is recorded from c.1300, from O.Fr. vileneus; villainy (c.1225) is from O.Fr. vilanie.

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