One of the mysteries of the English language finally explained.
1Historical or archaic. A man of valour and discretion; a knight or freeholder who is summoned to sit on a jury or to serve in the king's council. Now rare.
2In France: a member of a tribunal, especially one appointed to decide labour disputes.
Mid 17th century. From French prud'homme, prudhomme man of valour, expert well versed in a trade who is given certain duties, e.g. testifying in law or assessing the worth of something, expert in certain areas, member of an industrial tribunal, ultimately from proz or its etymon post-classical Latin prode and homme, although the exact nature of the compound is uncertain and disputed (perhaps from proz + de + homme). Compare also Middle French, French † preudefemme woman of merit. Compare earlier prudhommie.
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