Covert Charge/Cats/Chops

Douglas G. Wilson douglas at NB.NET
Mon Jan 29 05:34:50 UTC 2001

J. Ivarsson:

>I've always believed that "cover charge" was derived from the French
>"couvert". ....
>Petit Robert Dict gives the sense of "all you use to cover the table (...)
>tablecloth, china, glasses..." for this word (since 1570), and it very
>often figures at the top of your bill, even in rather cheap restaurants,
>as an additional charge over what you eat and drink.
>Maybe the "-t" comes from there. ....

I think this is about right.

Searching the Web for "covert charge", I find many instances from South
Africa: I presume that this is standard usage there. At a glance, it seems
that it's always "covert" in South Africa, always "cover" everywhere else.

Note that "covert charge" will be indistinguishable from "cover charge" in
speech, assuming one very standard pronunciation of "covert".

Was there perhaps a time when these were widely interchangeable?

-- Doug Wilson

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