One of the mysteries of the English language finally explained.
A small pennon upon a helmet or lance; a pencel (now historical). Formerly also: †a pennon or pendant of a ship (obsolete).
Late Middle English; earliest use found in John Gower (d. 1408), poet. From Anglo-Norman penuncel, pennuncel, penencel and Middle French penoncel, panoncel, pannoncel, pannuncel (plural penonciaus, penonceaulx, etc.; 1165 in Old French; Middle French, French panonceau) from penon + -cel, diminutive suffix. Compare post-classical Latin penuncellus, penonsellus, penoncellus, Old Occitan penoncel, Italian pennoncello.
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