One of the mysteries of the English language finally explained.
1Usually with capital initial. A German count whose hereditary title is associated with the Rheingau, the area lying north of a bend in the Rhine to the east of Wiesbaden; specifically (more fully "Rhinegrave of Salm") a Rhinegrave descended from the line of the counts of Salm.
2Loose, wide breeches with legs resembling skirts; = petticoat breeches. Also in plural historical after 17th cent.
Mid 16th century. Partly from Middle Low German rīngrāve, rīngrāf, rīngrēve, and partly from German Rheingraf (Middle High German rīngraf, rīngreve), both from the name of the river Rhine + Middle Low German grāve and German Graf respectively, both occurring as a title (equivalent to the rank of count) associated with a variety of rights and privileges in the Rheingau and inherited by members of several noble families (in Middle High German, German also as a term for an officer overseeing fishing in the Rhine); compare also Dutch rijngraaf in similar use.
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