One of the mysteries of the English language finally explained.
1(in ancient Rome) a wheeled screen with an arched roof, used to protect besieging troops.
- ‘Miles did attempt to make a contribution to operations in Cuba, in the form of a little invention based on the ancient Roman testudo.’
- ‘When the bombardment failed, Salisbury's men built a testudo or "tortoise," a wheeled covered shed under which his men worked battering rams.’
- ‘It was usually the same men in each testudo as each had to know exactly where he was to be placed.’
- 1.1 A protective screen formed by a body of troops holding their shields above their heads in such a way that the shields overlap.
- ‘The testudo, the tortoise formation, involved raising the scutums into a shell.’
- ‘Roman soldiers used to form a testudo or tortoise, by some putting their shields over their heads and others in front.’
Late Middle English: from Latin, literally ‘tortoise’, from testa ‘tile, shell’.
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