Word of the day – constable

In the Roman and Byzantine Empires of the 5th and 6th centuries AD, the comes stabuli (count of the stable) was the person in charge of the stables at the imperial court.

The Franks borrowed the title but changed the position slightly to the head of the royal stud. During the 12th century in France, the comes stabuli became an important commander in the army and the title became conestable in Old French.

Eventually the word was borrowed into English as constable and referred to “an officer of the peace” – this meaning was first recorded in 1596. During the 19th century, a regular police force was established in England and the police officers were given the title constable under a chief constable.

Today constable is the lowest rank in the British police, followed by sargeant, while Chief Constable is the highest rank.

More details of the exciting adventures of this word

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This entry was posted in English, French, Language, Latin, Words and phrases.

2 Responses to Word of the day – constable

  1. Funny…I first encountered this word on Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, where it was used to refer to Odo, the station’s security chief. He used to be quite insulted by the title, and now I see why…rather than being called “chief,” he was being referred to by the lowest rank possible. Ouch!

  2. karin says:

    I must say, I do have a lot of fun reading the entries in your blog. It is so interesting and I regret being too late to really guess at the two last recordings. The North Italian dialect was fascinating, I thought it sounded like Portugese and had never heard of any Italian with those sounds… Thank you for enlightening me on so many things. I am Swedish, I teach English, French and Swedish and if I were to share my interest in languages with my pupils on this level they would say that I am a nerd ;-) A language nerd perhaps ;-)
    By the way, are you aware that Swedes, Norveigian people and Danes never change language when we speak with each other. We can all understand each other, even though its considered to be different languages, they are very similar.