May 21, 2004

The secret of "reveal" revealed!

Following up on this post, Michael Albaugh emailed some additional information on reveal as a noun:

... it is commonly used in carpentry or cabinet making, indicating the portion of one piece of trim "revealed" by the displacement of another.

He's absolutely right -- I remember it well from shop class. Not only that, but the American Heritage dictionary tells us that reveal can also be

The part of the side of a window or door opening that is between the outer surface of a wall and the window or door frame. b. The whole side of such an opening; the jamb. 2. The framework of a motor vehicle window.

However, if the AHD is right, this is NOT a nominalization of the verb reveal. For the verb, the AHD gives the expected etymology

Middle English revelen, from Old French reveler, from Latin revēlāre : re-, re- + vēlāre, to cover (from vēlum, veil).

However, for the noun, the AHD gives the etymology

From Middle English revalen, to lower, from Old French revaler : re-, re- + avaler, to lower (from a val, down ( a, to, from Latin ad; see ad– + val, valley; see vale1).

This is like the two sources for pole discussed in this post. Live and learn.

Posted by Mark Liberman at May 21, 2004 06:53 PM