Where does the word cloak (clock) come from and What does cloak mean?

It may seem odd to combine the words cloak and clock, but they are closely related.

The clock got its name from the bell that sounded its hours; the cloak from its resemblance, in the early Middle Ages, to the shape of a bell, to its form when hung over the shoulders.

Both words descend from a common Medieval Latin word, cloca or clocca, which was probably formed by early Christian priests from an earlier Celtic or Teutonic source.

The Dutch klok, the Norwegian klokka, the the German glocke, and the Welsh cloch, each meaning “bell,” all bespeak a common source. But it must be remembered that early bells showed little resemblance to the church bells of today.

They were little larger than our modern hand bells, and, made up from thin plates of hammered iron, riveted into quadrangular shape, they looked something like the modern cowbell and were about the same size.

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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