July 18, 2013

Case File #013.07.18: VISOR

When visor first entered the English lexicon circa 1300, it was sometimes spelled vesour or viser and referred to the movable faceplate of a military helmet such as that used with a suit of armor. The word was derived from the Old French visiere, which was itself derived from the Latin noun visus, meaning “a sight” or “a vision.” (In post-classical times, visus came to mean “face,” and it is from this sense that the English word visage was developed.) The sense in which visor refers to the stiff bill of a cap or headband was first recorded around 1847 in the writings of American historian Francis Parkman, and the use of the word in reference to the sunshade in an automobile dates back to the 1930s.

©2013 Michael R. Gates

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