What is the etymology of frog? I'm referring to the elaborate braid fastenings often found on 18th and 19th century military costumes, not the amphibian.
Wikipedia tells me
Frogs and frogging became an important decorative feature on military uniforms from the 17th–19th centuries. This was particularly evident for prestigious regiments, especially cavalry or hussars, and gave rise to the German term for frogging in general, 'Husarentressen'. These dolman jackets were tight-fitting and dominated by extensive frogging, often in luxurious materials such as metallic cording or brocades.
No mention of who invented that type of button or where it originated from, and not a word on its etymology. Etymonline was a little more helpful:
frog (n.2) type of fastening for clothing, 1719, originally a belt loop for carrying a weapon, of unknown origin; perhaps from Portuguese froco, from Latin floccus "flock of wool."
The OED mentions when the ‘buttons’ frogs first appeared in print.
1746 Berkeley Let. Wks. “Laces, frogs, cokades..are so many..obstacles to a soldier's exerting his strength.”
and offers this second example
1770 W. Richardson Anecd. Russian Emp. 25 “In a light blue frock with silver frogs.”
The term for the amphibian—frog—is derived from Old English frogga, so it's been around a long time. Why call a hand sewn button a frog then? Was it military slang? Did the Portuguese invent this type of closure? Was this an English variation on the Chinese knot?
I don't speak Portuguese, so I asked Google translator to lend me a hand. It suggested chenille a type of yarn or fabric, but it's also the French word for caterpillar, the yarn is said to resemble the caterpillar's soft fur. Those frogs look neither soft or fuzzy to me. However, frock, which originally meant a man's overcoat and a type of smock for both men and women, is a loanword derived from Old French froc and Middle French frocq.
Returning to the uniforms, we can see there are a fair number of frogs adorning the military jacket. By the mid 18c, the braidings had become gold and covered the entire front; was this only embellishment or did the metal buttons and thick knots ostensibly offer protection against sword cuts?
Captain F Farquharson of Eastbury, Dorset, 7th Hussars, 1836.
Which led me to wonder what a large group of frogs (amphibians and fasteners) would be called. There are three venery terms for a group of frogs
The question is, did the venery terms precede the name of the fasteners, in which case I think we may have a plausible answer to my first question, or were these collective nouns coined in the 19th century?
- Why are these fasteners called frogs?
- Were they always called frogs, the term sounds like a witticism.
- Was the term frog (fastener) a loanword from French, Portuguese or Latin?