A postillion is the 'cut card' that protects the bottom card in the pack in games such as poker.

The standard definition of that word is:

a person who rides the leading nearside (left-hand side) horse of a team or pair drawing a coach or carriage, especially when there is no coachman.

And I read at wictionary this etymology:

From Middle French postillon, and its likely source, Italian postiglione (“guide for driver of post-coach”), from posta (“post”).

How and when did the cut-card become known as a postillion?

  • 2
    Off-topic, but there is also the word pillion, which originally applied to a seat behind a saddle for a woman to ride on. Now it used mainly in the UK to apply to what American bikies call "riding bitch". – Cascabel Oct 29 '19 at 17:22
  • 1
    Unsure. Two uses I've found while researching - (1) to postillion (verb): a coital action related to a finger at the bottom (OED); (2) the postilion basque, a Victorian basque with a skirt cut in the back to resemble coattails (Ladies' Home Journal). I haven't found any sources pre-internet for the cut-card. – TaliesinMerlin Oct 29 '19 at 18:31
  • @TaliesinMerlin Usage (1) is a bit leftfield, hopefully unrelated to the usage I’m referring to. Lol. – k1eran Oct 29 '19 at 18:42
  • 1
    @k1eran I hope so too. Both uses are late 19th century, by the way, in case that helps anyone. – TaliesinMerlin Oct 29 '19 at 18:51

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