How did the word “pannier” originate and What does pannier mean in French?

When introduced from France in the thirteenth century, the word “pannier” denoted nothing more than a basket, originally for the carrying of bread, whence its name, from the Latin panarius, bread basket.

But it had also come to mean a fish basket or, if of larger size, a basket for the carrying of provisions of any kind.

When someone in later centuries conceived the brilliant notion of balancing two of these larger baskets across the back of a donkey, these too became panniers.

It was but a step, then, to transfer the name to the basket-like frames which, at the demand of fashion, women affix beneath skirts to extend the size of the hips.

About Karen Hill

Karen Hill is a freelance writer, editor, and columnist. Born in New York, her work has appeared in the Examiner, Yahoo News, Buzzfeed, among others.

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