One of the mysteries of the English language finally explained.
1A decorated robe; a robe of state; an ecclesiastical robe. Now historical and rare.
2An ornament or decoration, especially an ecclesiastical ornament. Now usually: an embroidered hanging for the altar, pulpit, etc. Now chiefly US.
Late Middle English; earliest use found in Geoffrey Chaucer (c1340–1400), poet and administrator. From Anglo-Norman and Middle French parement (1177 in Old French in sense ‘ornament, adornment’, 1318 in sense ‘altar hanging’; compare parures (plural) fine clothing) and its etymon post-classical Latin paramentum royal state, throne, ecclesiastical dress, sacred furniture, shroud from classical Latin parāre to prepare + -mentum.
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