Word of the day

The word for today is…

camouflage (noun) – 1. The concealing of personnel or equipment from an enemy by making them appear to be part of the natural surroundings.
2. Protective colouring or other appearance that conceals an animal and enables it to blend into its surroundings:.
3. (a) Cloth, netting, or other material used for camouflage.
(b) Fabric or a garment dyed in splotches of green, brown, and tan, used for camouflage in certain environments.

Source : The Free Dictionary

Etymology : 1917, noun, verb, and adjective, from French camoufler, Parisian slang, “to disguise,” from Italian camuffare “to disguise,” which is of uncertain origin, perhaps a contraction of capo muffare “to muffle the head.” Probably altered in French by influence of French camouflet “puff of smoke, smoke puffed into a sleeper’s face” (itself of unknown origin) on the notion of “blow smoke in someone’s face.” The British navy in World War I called it dazzle-painting.

Since the war started the POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY has published photographs of big British and French field pieces covered with shrubbery, railway trains “painted out” of the landscape, and all kinds of devices to hide the guns, trains, and the roads from the eyes of enemy aircraft.

Until recently there was no one word in any language to explain this war trick. Sometimes a whole paragraph was required to explain this military practice. Hereafter one word, a French word, will save all this needless writing and reading. Camouflage is the new word, and it means “fooling the enemy.” [“Popular Science Monthly,” August 1917]


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Peter is a fourth-generation New Zealander, with his mother’s and father’s folks having arrived in New Zealand in the 1870s. He lives in Lower Hutt with his wife, three cats and assorted computers.

His work history has been in the timber, banking and real estate industries, and he’s now enjoying retirement. He has been interested in computers for over thirty years and is a strong advocate for free open source software. He is chairman of the SeniorNet Hutt City committee.

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