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Why is there an 'ai' in plaid if it is pronounced "plad"? That's a word that used to trip me up when I was a little tyke. (This time, unlike my previous question, I hope I'm right in saying that this word is an oddity in having an 'ai' pronounced as 'a'.)

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But don't confuse with Welsh plaid /plaɪd/ meaning side or political party. –  z7sg Ѫ Aug 2 '11 at 10:22
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Tangential comment: "Plaid" appears to be a much more common word in the US than in Britain (even Scotland): what Americans call "plaid", we usually call "tartan". –  Colin Fine Aug 2 '11 at 11:31
    
@Colin Fine - Quite. Here in the US I have heard "tartan" used, but in the clothing industry you usually see them describe that pattern as plaid. My wife may even be able to describe a difference between the two words, but as a meer male I don't see one. –  T.E.D. Aug 2 '11 at 14:01
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A meer male is like a meercat? –  GEdgar Aug 2 '11 at 15:21
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I thought that a plaid was a tartan cloak worn over the shoulder as part of parade dress. –  Chris Cudmore Nov 17 '11 at 16:54
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2 Answers 2

up vote 8 down vote accepted

Because it's not English — it's from the Gaelic word for blanket.

According to Gaelic pronunciation, "ai" in old Irish is a short 'a' as in gather.

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The Scottish pronounce it so that it rhymes with maid, that is nowadays. –  Thursagen Aug 2 '11 at 3:54
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Just like to point out two things:

Plaid comes from Scottish Gaelic:

1505–15; < Scots Gaelic plaide blanket, plaid

According to the site that @Martin Beckett provided, Scottish Gaelic pronounces "ai", as short a.

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But it doesn't say what C16 scots pronounced it as –  mgb Aug 2 '11 at 5:10
    
Scots Gaelic was still in use C16 –  Thursagen Aug 2 '11 at 5:19
    
English isn't the only language to have undergone pronunciation changes. –  Peter Shor Aug 2 '11 at 6:05
    
@Thursagen - I meant the pronunciation site didn't give a specific 'old' Scots pronunciation as it did with Irish. –  mgb Aug 2 '11 at 15:16
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