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Previous entry: Under Prague

Friday, 28 May 2010
Prague cobbles

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I noticed some different designs of cobbles in Prague last week.

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Cobbles are an interesting subject, but (at the time of posting) the wikipedia article on Cobbles is dire, with rather random information about cobbles in various US cities. It seems it used to be worse. The word detective commented:

I have, on occasion, made a few snide jokes about the accuracy (or lack thereof) of the do-it-yourself online encyclopedia Wikipedia. Many parts of Wikipedia, as the curate said of the egg, are quite good. But every so often I come across a real clunker. When Wikipedia announces that “cobblestones” are so called because they are “cobbled (roughly assembled)” to form pavement, they stumble and land face down in the street. The verb “to cobble,” meaning “to join or mend clumsily” (source of the derivative noun “cobbler,” one who repairs shoes or makes simple repairs) has no connection to “cobblestone.” See me after class, Wikipedia.

“Cobblestone” is derived from the very old English word “cob,” which had a wide range of meanings, one of which was “rounded lump” with overtones of large size. The “cob” in “corn-cob” invokes a slightly different sense of “cob,” that of “top” or “head” (which, in some people, is also a large rounded lump, but I digress). “Cobweb,” since you were about to ask, has nothing to do with “cob,” and comes from the Middle English “coppe,” meaning “spider.”

“Cobble,” which appeared in the 15th century, simply added the diminutive suffix “le” to “cob,” and meant a small stone rounded by the flow of water, essentially a large pebble. It was these smooth “cobbles,” gathered from stream beds, that paved the first “cobblestone” streets.

Posted by bigblue on 28/05/2010 at 08:56 AM
Filed under: EuropeCzech Republic • (2) CommentsPermalinkBookmark or Share

In The Hobbit, the giant spiders are referred to as ‘attercops’, and in Afrikaans a spider is a ‘spinnekop’ - and a ‘head’ is a ‘kop’ - also I think in German a ‘kopf’ is ‘head’.  So perhaps ‘cobble’ derives from this - round ‘heads’.

Posted by gogo  on  29/05/2010  at  05:28 PM

And the word “cob” is still used in some regions of the UK to describe a large bun of similar rounded shape, while the word kinderkopjes (children’s heads) is used to describe cobbles in Dutch.

Posted by bigblue  on  29/05/2010  at  06:42 PM

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