Where does the word “musket” come from and What does musket mean in French?

Early types of artillery developed in the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries were usually named after the venomous serpent or swift bird of prey to which they were likened.

Most of these names are now archaic, along with the artillery, and we are no longer familiar with the names of some of the animals.

There was the basilisk, a fabulous serpent whose name was applied to a large brass cannon; the culverin, originally a small handgun, named for a snake called coulevrine in French; the falconet, a small cannon named from the falcon, a bird of prey; the saker, slightly larger than the falconet, named for the saker, a species of falcon, and the musket.

The musket was originally a matchlock weapon, fired from a rest which the musketeer stuck into the ground before him.

The French, who named the weapon, called it mousquet from the sparrow hawk, known to them by that name.

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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