Take the 2-minute tour ×
English Language & Usage Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for linguists, etymologists, and serious English language enthusiasts. It's 100% free, no registration required.

I've been debating this for a while now with a comrade of mine. Wikipedia (and others) give "close helmet" as a type of medieval helmet.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Close_helmet

http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/close+helmet

My compatriot argues that, as-is, this doesn't make sense, that it should be either "closed helmet" (with an extra D) or "close-helmet" (hyphenated). I say "close helmet" is perfectly fine, and simple Google searches turn up more results for this form of it, but I can't find a convincing argument for why it is correct other than because it seems to be the most common usage.

My friend says that "close helmet" is only correct if "close" is an adjective, as in "she sat close to me", but that doesn't really make sense for a type of helmet, since ALL helmets can be considered "close" to one when worn.

Yet, using "close" as a verb ("I shall close the door") doesn't really make grammatical sense either. The defining feature of this type of helmet is that it can open and close (or it is related to the opening/closing; I'm not entirely sure of the details), so "close helmet" makes some kind of sense, but I don't know a grammatical construction that allows this.

Or is this just a relic of older English that has survived into the present?

At first, I was sure that "close helmet" was correct, but the more I think about it the more confused I make myself. Help?

share|improve this question

3 Answers 3

up vote 4 down vote accepted

Actually, according to this Wikipedia article it is close as in "close the door."

The close helmet, also called the close helm was a military helmet worn by knights and other men-at-arms in the Late Medieval and Renaissance eras. It was also used by some heavily armoured, pistol-armed, cuirassiers into the mid 17th century. It was a fully enclosing helmet with a pivoting visor and integral bevor.

Also, being a technical and historical term, it simply is; even though it sounds strange and unfamiliar to our modern ear.

Several senses of the word as listed here are readily identifiable as sources for the usage.

share|improve this answer
    
I understand now. Thanks! –  Athena Aug 31 '13 at 4:45
    
Aside: I thought for sure this would be in the OED, and I could add that reference to the answer, but I couldn't find it there last night. Three or four pages on close, with related senses, so I might have missed it. –  Pieter Geerkens Aug 31 '13 at 12:04

If "close" is a specific technical term for a type of helmet then "close helmet" would be just as correct as "Steel helmet" or "Norman helmet"

share|improve this answer

Close is sometimes used as a modifier instead of closed; a well-known example is close-minded.

share|improve this answer
1  
Also, while close is usually pronounced kloʊs when used as an adjective, I believe it's kloʊz for these senses – essentially, it's just closed with the D clipped off. –  Bradd Szonye Aug 31 '13 at 5:26

Your Answer

 
discard

By posting your answer, you agree to the privacy policy and terms of service.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.