One of the mysteries of the English language finally explained.
1A decorative edging of cut work or vandyking, especially on a collar, sleeve, or ruff; (in plural) the pieces of fabric which together make up such an edging. Also: a type of wide collar decorated in this way, fashionable in the early 17th cent.
2A stiff band of covered board or wire worn to support a wide collar or ruff.
Early 17th century; earliest use found in Thomas Dekker (c1572–1632), playwright and pamphleteer. From French † piccadille inside part of a sleeve, glossed in Cotgrave as ‘the seuerall diuisions or peeces fastened together about the brimme of the collar of a doublet’, of uncertain origin. Spanish picadillo has been suggested as the etymon of the French word, but is apparently only attested in the sense ‘minced meat, hash’; however, compare picadura ornamental gusset, and also Occitan picadura embroidered textile.
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