One of the mysteries of the English language finally explained.
A stone curb surrounding the mouth of a well, often decorated with figures depicting mythological scenes; (occasionally) a small building or structure housing a well.
In early use: of or relating to a well or pit. In later use (Classical Architecture): of or relating to a puteal.
Late 17th century; earliest use found in Obadiah Walker (1616–1699), college head and author. From classical Latin puteal (also puteāle) structure surrounding the mouth of a well, use as noun of neuter of puteālis<br>mid 17th century; earliest use found in Thomas Blount (1618–1679), antiquary and lexicographer. From classical Latin puteālis of or relating to a well from puteus pit, well + -ālis.
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