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I came across this paragraph reading John Adams by David McCullough,

Of London, he(Jefferson) thought only the shops worthy of attention, and devoted ample time to them, spending lavishly on shoes, boots, a flintlock rifle, a reading lamp, plated harness and stirrups, and a set of chessmen.

According to Dictionary.com, plate uses as verb means "to coat (metal) with a thin film of gold, silver, nickel, etc., by mechanical or chemical means". So does "plated harness" here mean 'metal-coated harness"?

  • 1
    Yes, you got it. – Dan Bron Jul 7 '17 at 13:23
  • M-W correctly indicates that metal-on-metal is not mandatory. – Edwin Ashworth Jul 7 '17 at 13:45
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    "Plat" is an alternative spelling of "plait," so are we sure this isn't "plaited" (plated)? Harnesses are leather, typically. – Yorik Jul 7 '17 at 15:19
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    And from context, the harness and stirrups are problably sliver- or gold-plated. – Davo Jul 7 '17 at 15:32
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Yorik is correct. McCullough uses plated in the sense of plaited. Harness is made of leather and must be supple. Nobody would cover it with metal plates either for decorative or for military purposes.

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