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palfrey

[pawl-free]
noun, plural pal·freys.
  1. a riding horse, as distinguished from a war horse.
  2. a saddle horse particularly suitable for a woman.
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Origin of palfrey

1200–50; Middle English palefrei < Old French < Late Latin paraverēdus post horse for byways, probably literally, spare horse, equivalent to Greek para- para-1 + Latin verēdus fast breed of horse < Gaulish < Celtic *woreidos (> Welsh gorwydd horse, charger), equivalent to *wo- under (< *upo-; cf. hypo-) + *reid-, base of Old Irish réidid (he) rides, réid level, smooth, easy, Welsh rhwydd easy; see ride
Related formspal·freyed, adjective
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

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British Dictionary definitions for palfrey

palfrey

noun
  1. archaic a light saddle horse, esp ridden by women
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Word Origin

C12: from Old French palefrei, from Medieval Latin palafredus, from Late Latin paraverēdus, from Greek para beside + Latin verēdus light fleet horse, of Celtic origin
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012

Word Origin and History for palfrey

n.

c.1200 (mid-12c. as a surname), "saddle horse for ordinary riding (opposed to a war horse), small horse for ladies," from Old French palefroi (11c.) and directly from Medieval Latin palafredus, altered by dissimilation from Late Latin paraveredus "post horse for outlying districts" (6c.), originally "extra horse," from Greek para "beside, secondary" (see para-) + Latin veredus "post horse; light, fast horse used by couriers," from Gaulish *voredos, from Celtic *wo-red- (cf. Welsh gorwydd "horse," Old Irish riadaim "I ride"), from PIE root *reidh- "to ride" (see ride (v.)). The Latin word passed to Old High German as pfarifrid, where in modern German it has become the usual word for "horse" (Pferd).

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Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper