Do you know the difference between sewing and weaving? They don’t seem much different at first glance but dive deeper and there’s quite a contrast. In weaving, two different sets of yarn are interlaced at right angles to form fabric or clothes. It is generally done on a loom. Sewing, on the other hand, means fastening or attaching something like pieces of cloth or an open wound using needles and thread (or, even better, a sewing machine). We will keep our discussion limited to sewing here. If you’re interested in weaving too, here’s something to quell your curiosity.
The Latin word for sew is suere. When con- (together) is added to it, we get the French term couture and the related term haute couture. Earlier, couture used to refer to the art of dressmaking but now it often means the art and business of selling highly fashionable ‘designer’ garments or clothing. The word haute is also French and means high. Thus, haute couture refers to ‘high dressmaking’, i.e., designers who create high class or exclusive fashion accessories.
Prefixing couture with a- gets us accoutre which means to dress up (or equip) someone with a special costume or equipment. For instance, due to a sudden attack on their camp, the soldiers did not have enough time to accoutre themselves.
The past participle of suere, suture is now used to refer to stitches that hold together edges of a wound or incision. It can also be used as a verb which means to stitch wounds. Interestingly, there’s also a Sanskrit equivalent – sutra (thread; rule). Now sutra means a maxim or rule expressed in brief.
A related Latin word sarcire, which meant to patch and mend, led to the derivation of sartor (a humorous word for tailor) and sartorial (relating to the art of tailoring or dress-making). Sticking with tailors for now, you should be knowing that there are seams where the clothes are stitched and they aren’t the best looking part of our dresses. Thus, the term seamy has taken up the meaning of not being pleasurable or being disreputable. For instance, the seamy part of a town refers to those parts of a town whose reputation is questionable.
Now that you have acquainted yourself with these words, how about a chance to know them even better? Try out the quiz and crossword below. They might just become you best of friends…
|Couture||The art and business of selling highly fashionable and designer clothing.|
|Haute Couture||Designers who design high class or exclusive fashion accessories.|
|Accouter||Dress up or equip.|
|Suture||Stitches that hold together edges of an incision or wound.|
|Sutra||A maxim or rule.|
|Sartor||A humorous word for tailor.|
|Sartorial||The art of tailoring or dress-making.|