One good thing about the extremely infuriating daily aggravation of finding out what the New York Times Spelling Bee has chosen to accept or not accept is that occasionally I am provoked into looking something up in the OED.

Yesterday’s such word was TIPPET, which I was vaguely aware was a garment of some kind, and I thought might be ecclesiastical. Which, in fact, it is—a narrow scarf. But this is where it gets fun. This particular kind of scarf became so associated with the clergy, that tippet-man became an insulting term for a priest. But not just man, but tippet-captain, tippet-knight and the magnificent tippet-monkey! That’s wonderful.

The other combined form that I liked was from the garment being a long, narrow garment worn around the neck, suggesting (to a certain kind of mind, I suppose) a rope. Thus, a Tyburn tippet.

It was the junction of these two roads that made the place historic ground, for at that junction the gallows stood and this is Tyburn, ancient Tyburn, tragic Tyburn. No situation in London recalls more intense or indelible memories than this and no monument in London has a longer weird to keep or a greater fame to hold than Marble Arch1 that marks the place of Tyburn Tree, old Deadly Never Green. Their tale is not recorded in the marble and their names are not written on the arch. I mean the names of those who came from Newgate over there to wear the Tyburn Tippet in view of the crowd. Commonly the tippet was made of fur or wool, something soft and warm to wear about the neck, but the Tyburn Tippet was made of hemp; it was hard and cold ; it was the hangman’s rope.
Gordon, George Byron. "VII. Tyburn." The Museum Journal XIII, no. 4 (December, 1922): 295-304. Accessed May 03, 2021. https://www.penn.museum/sites/journal/7096/


One Response to “tippet”

  1. Jed


    I think I must have encountered the word tippet in 19th-century fiction, as a clothing item worn in cold weather. I now think it must have been used in the sense of (as Merriam-Webster puts it) “a shoulder cape of fur or cloth often with hanging ends”; but rather than looking it up, I must have tried to guess what it meant from context, because I always thought that it was the same thing as a muff—something that you put your hands in to keep them warm. Now I know!

    …And I had never encountered tippet-man, tippet-captain, tippet-knight, tippet-monkey, or Tyburn Tippet. Nice.


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