One of the mysteries of the English language finally explained.
1A kind of fastener or clasp consisting of a hook attached to a ring or loop, often richly ornamented and worn especially on military uniforms, women's gowns, ceremonial costumes, etc. (sometimes having a purely decorative function). Now chiefly historical.
2Any of various things resembling an agraffe in form or function, especially an object or device that serves to bridge, join, or fasten two other parts or components. Now rare.
3Winemaking. Usually in form agrafe. A metal clip used to secure the cork in a bottle of champagne or sparkling wine during secondary fermentation.
4Music. A device on a piano consisting of a metal guide or holder fixed to the plate near the tuning pins, through or over which the individual strings are passed to keep them at the correct height and position.
Mid 17th century; earliest use found in John Evelyn (1620–1706), diarist and writer. From French agrafe, † agraffe metal clasp, consisting of a hook inserted into a ring, used to fasten two sides of a garment together, staple or suture used to join two sides of a wound, clamp or brace used to retain the stones of a wall, probably an alteration of agrappe, agrape.
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