Did you know that “an apron” used to be “a napron” … until eventually people got confused about the ellision and changed the spelling to match? Even funnier is that this has happened quite a lot in English (and other romance languages that have articles with n, like French, Italian, etc) with words originally beginning with n (see orange).

Faulty separation of the word from its article aside, the word apron, meaning “a cloth to cover one’s front to keep one’s clothes clean” is from the mid 1400s, from the French naperon, meaning “small tablecloth.” (Yeeeepppp. We just tie a tablecloth over us, like in a cartoon. No fooling.) Naperon, in turn, is a diminutive of nappa, meaning “cloth,” which came from the Latin mappa. Apparently those Old French speakers had a tendency of changing Ms to Ns.

By the 1700s, it was extended to other objects that looked or acted like an apron, and it has been used to refer to the business of a housewife since the 1610s!

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