Victor Steinbok aardvark66 at GMAIL.COM
Mon Jan 16 08:10:59 UTC 2012

There are three separate nouns under "bugle" in the OED.

Bugle n.1
> Etymology: < Old French /bugle/ < Latin /būculus/ , diminutive of
> /bo-s bov-is/ an ox.
This one includes buffalo, hunting (buffalo) horn, bugle-horn (as just
"bugle") because it was originally made from buffalo horn, and a bunch
of derivatives and combinations

Bugle n.2
> Etymology: < French /bugle/ = Italian /bugola/ , Spanish /bugula/ <
> late Latin /bugula/ . The Latin /bugillo/ , used by Marcellus
> Empiricus /c/400, seems to denote the same plant.

This one is pretty one-dimensional

> The English name of the plants belonging to the genus /Ajuga/, esp.
> the common species /A. reptans/. (The names /buglossa/ and /bugle/
> were occasionally confounded by early writers.)

This particular "bugle" will not be relevant to the rest of the comment.

Bugle n.3
> Etymology:Etymology unknown. Of the medieval Latin /bugulus/ ,
> sometimes quoted as the etymon, a single instance, as the name of a
> ‘pad’, or framework for the hair, used by Italian ladies, occurs in a
> chapter /De moribus civium Placentiæ/ 1388, in Muratori /Script.
> Italian/ XVI. 580; no similar word is known in Italian or French.
> /Bugle/ has a certain resemblance in form to Dutch /beugel/ a ring ( <
> Middle Dutch /böghil/ , /bōghel/ , Franck); but no connection of
> meaning appears.

The proposed etymology does not give much sense of what the item is.
Collins and AHD give simply "origin unknown".

> A tube-shaped glass bead, usually black, used to ornament wearing
> apparel. (Formerly also collective, or as the name of material.)

My first thought was the idea of a connection between bugle n.1 and
bugle n.3--not so much for the buffalo horn as for the metal version. A
bugle-horn is essentially a twisted (curved) tube. But the fact that it
originated from a buffalo horn seems inescapable. And the forms of the
two are quite distinct until they converge toward modern spelling. And
bugle beads are pretty much straight rods, not cones or funnels, as
would have been implied from a connection to bugle n.1.

There are several 19th century dictionaries in GB that mention the
Germanic (Swedish, Norwegian, German, Icelandic) use of "bagel",
"bugel", "bogel" or something similar. But the one that comes closest is
this one.

An Etymological Dictionary of the Scottish Language. Volume 1. By John
Jamison. Revised Edition. Paisley: 1879 (University Microfilm
reproduction, 1964)
p. 178/2
> BEUGLE-BACKED, /adj./ Crook-backed
> --/Beugle-back'd/, bodied like a beetle.
> Watson's Coll. ii. 54
> A.-S. /bug-an/, to bow; Teut. /boechel/, gibbus. Germ. /bugel/, a
> dimin. from /bug/, denoting any thing curved or circular. It is
> undoubtedly the same word that is now pronounced /boolie-backit/, S.

It's the "bodied like a beetle" quote that grabbed my attention. That
seems potentially to be a good fit for bugle n.3. Is it plausible that
there is a connection here? Or am I just going for the superficial
similarity? ("beugle" is one of the spelling forms of bugle n.3 /and/
the Dutch form "beugle" for "ring" is mentioned in the OED note) The
other question is whether the "curved" meaning of "beugle" might have
been derived from bugle n.1, drawing the link in the opposite direction.

One additional note. There should be a 2.c definition added to bugle
n.1--one for objects that are conical or funnel-shaped, in some
superficial similarity to a bugle-horn, such as the Bugles snacks. I
don't think it's particularly widespread, but it's certainly in use and
it earned a mention in Wiktionary (no one else seems to have it, though).


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