One of the mysteries of the English language finally explained.
1Fur, typically bluish-gray, obtained from a variety of squirrel, used in the 13th and 14th centuries as a trimming or lining for garments.
- ‘It was ordained that no ecclesiastic, but dignified clergymen, should wear vair, gray, or ermine.’
- ‘On special feasts, the knights would bestow many robes of vair, for which reason courtiers and jugglers from Lombardy and all of Italy were drawn to Florence, where they were welcomed.’
- ‘One morning this maidservant, with a basket of cabbage greens, passed by Bito who, beforehand, had thought to dress in his finest robes of rich vair.’
- ‘All day long Cinderella wore rags and dragged her feet in clogs, but at night she whirled in fine vair shoes and glittering gowns.’
- ‘A thousand men dressed in vair followed Beduerus the butler, similarly attired, offering various drinks of every sort in goblets.’
Fur represented by interlocking rows of shield-shaped or bell-shaped figures which are typically alternately blue and white, as a tincture.
- ‘The white and blue bell-shapes of vair usually form the equivalent of a chequerboard pattern.’
- ‘The height of a row of vair is not strictly specified, but is typically about one-fifth that of the shield.’
Middle English: via Old French from Latin varius (see various).
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