Chapter 3: Robes and Robbers

A short list based on the root RB/RP.

As outlined in the first chapter, we can use a short word-list to explore a single theme - the meaning of an obscure word in a text, a place-name or, as here, an etymological problem. The puzzle in this case was the etymology of the word robe. Dictionary-makers blythely if improbably claim that the French word robe originally meant 'booty' and is the same as German rauben 'to steal'. English dictionaries agree that E. robe is the same word as O. Fr. robe ‘booty’, while the French claim that French robe derives from Frankish *rauba ‘booty’. This link is amplified by Onions who says that a robe was ‘clothes regarded as spoil’.1 The idea of a hidden mystery is furthered by the fact that identical ideas are expressed (with different words) by Alb. plaçke ‘plunder, clothes’ and by Gr. lopodutein ‘to steal clothes; to rob, plunder’, from lopo-dutes ‘one who slips into another’s clothes or strips him of them, a clothes-stealer; thief, robber, footpad’.2

This does not sit well with the fact that, as far back as we can trace it, the robe was a high-status garment. Unlike the toga or the Highland plaid, a robe is not merely a length of cloth folded, belted, wrapped and pinned but a sewn garment, usually with sleeves, which hangs from both shoulders and fastens up to the neck. A robe envelops the body as a French caramel is enrobé in chocolate and it is usually made of expensive fur or cloth. In another source it is defined as 'a one-piece full-length or knee-length garment, worn by men in Classical times and in the East; a female garment, with or without sleeves, in which the bodice and skirt form one piece; a distinctive full-length garment worn by judges and advocates in the exercise of their duties, by academics attending official ceremonies, and by certain churchmen’.3 None of this squares with the robe as the booty of medieval German robbers.

It appears that the elite of northern Europe were wearing full-length close-fitting symmetrical outer garments before the time of the Franks, to whom these garments are attributed. Carved stones of Dark Age date in Shetland and in Angus (Scotland) show men who are either hunters or hunt officials wearing long hooded garments which sometimes appear to have sleeves. They are shaped, so seem more like robes than cloaks. In Anglo-Saxon England upper-class women wore a sleeveless full-length robe finished round the neck and arm openings with trimming while tenth-century drawings of St Cuthbert confronting his biographer, the Venerable Bede, show long garments of tenth-century type with tailored sleeves and hoods. Bede’s garment appears to have a fur lining; it might be made of fur. This type of dress is distinct from and much superior to the tunic and wrapped plaid worn by the lower orders.

Thus, for twelve or more centuries, the robe has been a prestigious elite garment in northern Europe. It was not a utilitarian article like a tunic or plaid. For most of this period robes of heavy woollen material, edged or lined with fur, perhaps even made of fur, have been worn by those whose duties obliged them to sit for long periods in unheated public spaces - royalty, judges, monkish scribes. The length, volume and probable weight of a robe unfitted its wearer from any outdoor activity beyond strolling round a paved area. The robe came to be identified with the legal elite to the point where Fr. robin ‘robed one’ now means ‘lawyer’. A Frankish robber could neither wear nor sell such a garment, in the unlikely event of his being able to steal such a thing.

A further consideration is the problem of transmission: how did the word survive? For the robe to have got its name from *rauba ‘booty’ would require our hypothetical robbers to have looted robes so often and with such single-minded purpose that they came to be defined as robe-looters to the exclusion of everything else. An even more imponderable factor is why the literate class, the monks and professional men to whom we owe the Frankish or Germanic elements in French, should have perpetuated this view.

A short wordlist

To look into this question I set up a short wordlist limited to RB and RP words. RB is not a common root. The whole of Europe produced only 200 words, more than 140 from Britain. They fall into six categories.

1. Conventional hunting language
2. Coarse hunting language
3. Very coarse hunting language
4. The corresponding Irish lexicon
5. Generosity and plenty
6. Clothing

Only a sample of RB words is given below: a full list will be found at the end of the chapter. RB words cover all aspects of hunting. To understand the following list we should remember that all archaic references to warfare, fighting or any other kind of violent confrontation, refer to hunting. An active or heroic young man is a hunt-follower. Du. rob and Ger. robbe ‘seal’ are particularly noteworthy and already suggest that the original robe may have been made of seal-skin.

1. Conventional Hunting Language This category gives a vivid impression of a seal-hunt.
ràbal (G.) ‘noise, bustle’.
rabhaiteáil (Ir.) ‘beating, chasing’.
rapere (Lat.) ‘to seize, to ravish’.
réab (Ir.) ‘tear, rend, rip up’.
rivek (Shet.) ‘cleft or fissure in a rock’.
rob (Du.) ‘seal’.
rob (E.) ‘to plunder, carry off’.
robe (Fr.) ‘coat of an animal’.
ron (G.) ‘seal’, rònach ‘seal-hunt’ (B>M>N).
rop (G.) ‘to eviscerate with a knife’.
ròp (G.) ‘to fasten with ropes, to entangle’.
rubha (Ir.) ‘cutting, killing, spearing; point (of a spear, land etc); part of a deer-net; a brake’.
rup (Hind.) ‘to stand fast (in battle), to fight boldly’.
rupina (Lat.) ‘cleft in a rock’.

2. Coarse Hunting Language There are many words describing the climax of a hunt or round-up which was evidently a noisy and disorderly event. It also seems that, as hunting declined in economic importance, bands of young hunters slid down the social scale and were described in very derogatory terms.

rabagast (Nor.) ‘wild type, madcap’.
rabalder (Nor.) ‘noise; uproar, hullabaloo’.
rabble (E.) ‘a disorderly assemblage’.
rapach (G.) ‘nasty, filthy’.
rapaille (Fr.) ‘rabble, canaille, riff-raff’.
rhempan (W.)‘to snatch greedily’.
ribote (Fr.) ‘drunken bout’.
robach (Ir.) ‘destruction, damage’.
ropaire (Ir.) ‘thruster, stabber, violent person; robber, scoundrel’.
ruffler (E.) ‘vagabond, swaggering fellow’.

3. Very Coarse Hunting Language These words belong to a large group of Gaelic words which refer to a V-shaped hunt-ambush as the vulva of a divine but dark and bloody female entity. This powerful image is absent from recorded Gaelic folk-lore, which was notoriously purged of all sexual references by gentlemen collectors who were too prudish to appreciate such images, or free to publish them if they had. This ageless metaphor has inspired some of the earliest art and foreshadows the personification of the earth as a female.

The most striking images are Lat. rupina ‘cleft in a rock’ and Shet. rovek ‘cleft between the buttocks’. The RP/RB names links them with hunting. Rupina and rovek are both ambush sites. They are squalid and dirty with blood and excrement from the slaughter of deer or other animals, and they may also be surrounded by pubes in the form of sharp fences; hence the puns between ‘hair’, ‘bristle’, and ‘spear’. [where dey?] A bristle or ruba features prominently in the Death of Diarmid, the Great Boar. Eskimo hunters retain a belief in a very big woman who sends them their prey though in their case she lives at the bottom of the sea. The comparable Irish lexicon is much more restrained and neutral in meaning.

The note of revulsion that pervades these Very Coarse words is probably recent. It is no doubt true that places where animals were regularly butchered became very dirty but no-one before the nineteenth century would find such squalor offensive. It was a sign of prosperity and plenty, like an overflowing midden. This strong antipathy extends to the person of the Goddess and is particularly at odds with her other aspect as the beautiful and generous Maiden. Even as the Hag she and her bloody cleft were recognised as the source of wealth and happiness. To describe the goddess as a wanton harlot was accepted by hunters as a poetic fact, just as they described themselves as ‘robbers’ and 'thieves’.

raipleach (G.) ‘filthy or slovenly woman’.
rapach (G.) ‘nasty, filthy, dirty-mouthed’.
reaban (G.) ‘a fringe of whiskers’.
riobagach (G.) ‘hairy, shaggy’.
ròb (G.) ‘coarse hair, hairiness, shagginess, slovenliness, filthiness’.
robar-fola or robar-fuil (G.) ‘menstrual blood’.
ròib (G.) ‘filth, slovenliness, filth about the mouth, overgrown or squalid beard, circle of hair, pubes’.
ròmag (G.) ‘a female with a beard; the female pudenda’.
ròpach (G.) ‘viscous, glutinous, slovenly, squalid’.
rovek (Shet.) ‘cleft between the buttocks’.

4. The comparable Irish lexicon Sexual metaphors are absent from Irish.

raibléire (Ir.) ‘an obstinate or wayward person; a hussy’.
raipleachán (Ir.) ‘stout person; worthless person, reprobate’.
rapladh (Ir.) ‘slovenliness, bustle’.
rálach (Ir.) ‘loose woman, harlot, vulgar woman’: for *ráphlach?
ruibheanta (Ir.) ‘venomous, sharp-tongued’.
ruibhseach, ruibhleach (Ir.) ‘sharp-tongued abusive woman; jilt, jade’.
rúpach (Ir.) ‘big strong woman’.

5. Beauty and plenty. A few RB words refer to the beauty of the Maiden who was the source of all good things. They retain the original sense of worship.

ràbach (G.) ‘plentiful, fruitful’.
rapail (G.) ‘sumptuous’.
rapture (E.) ‘extreme delight’.
ravish (E.) ‘to enrapture’.
riamh (G.) ‘beauty, excellence’.
ribhinn (G.) ‘nymph, maid, beautiful female, young lady, queen’.

6. Clothing The words in this category suggest clothing made of leather or of felted wool, both woven and knitted. There are several words suggesting strips or patches but none that refer directly to the use of skins as clothing. It is probable that they survive in words for rags and tatters.

rab, ravel, ripin (Shet.) ‘coarsely-knitted woollens’ (subsequently felted).
rabhlaer (Ir.) ‘frock, overall’.
rabitribi (Shet.) ‘ragged person’.
réabach (Ir.) ‘torn strip of cloth’.
refill (Ice.) ‘width of web in a loom’.
ribbon (E.) ‘a narrow band of woven material’.
ribleach (G.) ‘anything entangled; man in rags, anything in tatters; shagginess’.
riobalach (G.) ‘hairy, ragged person’.
róba (Ir.) ‘horse-cloth’.
robe (E.) ‘gown or dress of office, dignity or state’; the long robe ‘the legal profession’.
rocan (G.) ‘hood, mantle, cloak’.
rock (Ger.) ‘coat (for men); skirt (for women)’.
ropa (Port.) ‘clothes’.

This last category shows us rough characters wearing coarse, ragged, or hairy garments. They are more likely to be 'robbers' wearing animal skins than farmers wearing garments felted or woven from wool. Sp. rabicano and Fr. rubican ‘flecked’ suggest a speckled hide or clothing made of small pieces, while G. ribleach ‘man in rags, anything in tatters, shagginess’ and G. riobalach ‘hairy, curious-looking, ragged person’ describe a person wearing unfashionable skin clothing or clothing made out of bits and pieces. The absence of any direct references to skin garments shows how completely they were replaced by wool. But that the earliest robe was made of skins is implicit in the general history of clothing and in the use of the word for a warm and enveloping outer garment. Shetland rivlin ‘skin shoe’ appears to be the only surviving RB word that describes an article of wear made out of animal hide. Like other peasant shoes in northern Europe, it was simply a piece of rawhide cut round the naked foot, pulled together and tied on with thongs from the same source. Rawhide shoes were nasty but cheap and easily made.

In other words, we need only move the references to robbery and booty to hunting for the robe and the robber to make perfect sense. All hunters defined themselves as robbers or thieves. At the most archaic level they stole clothing from animals to clothe their own bodies but a quasi-religious notion arose that they stole their prey from the Mother Goddess, whose children they were. In such a context *rauba refers to the spoils of the hunt in the form of the pelts of animals used as clothing.

To use ‘robber’ in this sense is common in Gaelic tradition but causes confusion when translated literally into English. The Highlander’s reputation for robbery and rapine is not supported by historical documents and must in large part be attributed to the literal translation of archaic Gaelic texts in which robber, thief, pirate, brigand or rapist were honourable epithets. The most relevant example comes from the Life of Colomba written in the seventh century by the Irish monk Adamnan Colomba founded a monastery on Iona in 563. His neighbour was Erc Mocudruidi, ‘Son of the Druid’, a wretched thief or greedy robber, who lived on Colonsay. Erc went secretly in a skin boat to Mull to hunt young seals. Columba objected on the grounds that these seals were the property of his monastery but replaced them with sheep. Little in Adamnan is literal truth but we can at least deduce that in the sixth century the native Hebridean pagan elite were in the habit of hunting young seals.

A number of RB words refer to the processing of wool. Since sheep are not native to Europe these words must have been borrowed from older usage and may belong to the lost leather-working lexicon. Words such as Ger. rock ‘robe’, G. ruic ‘fleece’, G. ruighean ‘a rolag of wool ready to spin’, Ger. rock ‘distaff’, E. rug, and E. rough show a burst of lexical creativity when wool arrived. Nevertheless only Ice. refill ‘the width of web in a loom’ refers directly to woven material. From the start, life in Iceland depended on sheep and their wool.

There are indications that at one time robe meant a small piece cut off a large piece, a long strip of leather, or a length of woollen cloth but this is not on the main track. Relevant words are E. lap, Ger. lappen ‘rag, patch, cloth’, Ir. réabach ‘torn strip of cloth’, E. ribbon, rope and wrap. Shetland, the most northerly part of the British Isles, have an extraordinary profusion of RB words meaning ‘strip’: rab, rag, rapel, rav, reg, rem, repel, revel, rib, ribek, ribin, rig, rikkel, riklin, rim, rimma, rimmek, ripl, rog, and rovek. The Irish róba 'horse-cloth' was neither a garment nor prestigious but was made of hide or of woollen material, perhaps felt. Pictish horsemen sit on a piece of material which reaches the feet on both sides and possibly served as stirrups. G. truibhas ‘an ancient article of Highland dress, consisting of trousers and stockings in one piece’ is a TRB word and may be related. I have not looked for other TRB words but they may contain further clues. Trews were made of fine woollen material cut on the bias for elasticity and sewn up the back of the leg. Were they once made of strips of hide wound round the leg and sewn on for the winter?

Irish rabhlaer ‘frock, overall’ is also interesting. A fisherman’s knit-frock was a close-fitting, tightly felted, thigh-length outer garment but this may refer to waterproofs made of oiled skins. The rabhlaer again provides a link to the coasts of north-west Europe.

In all of this the seal is a recurring motif. In addition to Du. rob and Ger. robbe ‘seal’, and the seals killed by Erc Mocodruidi on Mull, there are folk-tales in Orkney and Shetland of seal-men and seal-women who wore close-fitting seal-skin garments. Marwick E.W., 1975, 28. The Folklore of Orkney and Shetland. B.T. Batsford, London. They were known as silkies, from G. sealg ‘hunters’ and were presumably a specialised group of seal-hunters. Loki and Heimdall, fictitious beings of mixed Norse and Gaelic ancestry, wore sealskins when they fought, which means that they wore sealskins when they went hunting. This again suggests that the robe was made of seal-skin, that it was peculiar to the north of Britain, and that the original seal-skin robes were still worn by hunters in the Dark Ages in the Hebrides and even more recently in the Northern Isles and Iceland.

Tacitus has an important reference to sealskin in Germany in the first century AD.4

"For clothing all wear a cloak, fastened with a clasp or, in its absence, a thorn: they spend whole days on the hearth round the fire with no other covering… They wear also the skins of wild beasts, the tribes adjoining the river-bank [of the Rhine] in casual fashion, the further tribes with more attention, since they cannot depend on traders for finery. The beasts for this purpose are selected, and the hides so taken are chequered with the pied skins of the creatures native to the outer ocean and its unknown waters."

In other words the German tribes in the first century A.D. wore skin cloaks patterned with seal-skins.

We can now construct a sequence linking hunting and the robe.

RB ‘to hunt (steal)' > RB ‘a seal’ > RB 'a skin, pelt, sealskin' > RB ‘a strip of animal skin used as wrapped clothing’ > RB ‘a warm outer garment’ > RB 'a prestigious fur garment'.

The medieval fur-trimmed or fur-lined robe is in a direct line from the enveloping fur cloak worn by the first-century German elite. The Frankish elite wore the same garment which they knew as rauba ('seal-skin') and brought it as an elite garment to France. The robe was an elite garment because it was originally made of expensive imported seal-skin. But the most intriguing fact is that the word robe is not native to Germany but came, with the valued seal-skins and the name of the seal from the mysterious and unknown outer ocean. It might well have come from the Hebrides where robbers or seal-hunters were still active in the sixth century and no doubt later. This far-travelled word is a sign of a trade contact which linked the tribes beyond the Rhine with sea-going men living in north-west Scotland by way of traders within the Roman Empire. Historians have sometimes imagined that there must have been contact between the Caledonians and the Germans, to explain their co-ordinated attacks on Rome. Here in a single word is evidence for this contact.

CRB words
We have not yet explained the origins of RB as a root. To do so might not be difficult, but this chapter is already too long. We could do so in terms of archaic G. ro 'very much, exceedingly' + bo, now 'cattle', but originally any large wild animal. 'A large number of animals' is a common enough definition of a hunt. However the original word probably had a CRB root. CRB words such as grapple and graip are structurally older and more generally distributed in Europe. The agricultural fork or graip is used everywhere in northern Europe, from Russia to Scotland and is cognate with the harpoon used by Palaeolithic reindeer hunters. This suggests that the original graip was the Palaeolithic harpoon universally used by European reindeer-hunters while the original robe was a one-piece garment made of strips of seal-skin and used only in Britain and Germany. Do the RB words show us the conversion of reindeer-hunters to seal-hunters?

The final sequence is

  • to hunt (anything) with a harpoon (Mesolithic, local)
  • the animal hunted, a seal (modern, local)
  • the skin of the seal (hypothetical)
  • a strip of seal-skin used as wrapped clothing (hypothetical)
  • a strip (of fish, skin, fabric) (modern, local)
  • fur cloak worn in Germany (1st century, probable)
  • a warm outer garment (modern, local).

This investigation into the robber and his robe suggests a probable origin for the robe as seal-skin, used in northern Britain before the arrival of woolly sheep and traded with Northern Europe. It confirms that Gaelic is not simply a type of Irish. To anticipate the next chapter, the CRB list (below) contains a substantial number of words, all from British languages, which refer to deliberate laming or to lame animals. Since ‘laming’ is absent from the RB categories, this suggests that it was a very archaic practice which persisted in Britain.

Appendix A The complete wordList

Roots: RB, RMb, RP, RF, RV with an occasional contribution from LB and LP. Total 197 words. The categories have been discussed above and should be self-explanatory.

1 Conventional hunting language (93 words)
2 Coarse hunting language (24 words).
3 Very coarse hunting language (23 words)
4 The comparable Irish lexicon (9 words)
5 Beauty and plenty (10 words)
6 Clothing (38 words)

1 Conventional hunting language
dérober (Fr.) ‘to steal, rob; screen, conceal; shell, skin’.
drap (Nor.) ‘murder, manslaughter’; drepe ‘kill, slay, put to death’.
enrober (Fr.) ‘to cover with a protective layer’.
grab (E.)
grabit (Ru.) ‘to plunder, ransack, rob’.
grobis (Lith.) ‘booty, plunder, spoil’.
rab (Ru.) ‘slave’.
ràbach (G.) ‘plentiful, fruitful’.
ràbair (G.) ‘roarer, wrangler’.
rábaire (Ir.) ‘loose-limbed, active fellow’.
rabairne (Ir.) ‘generosity, extravagance’.
ràbal (G.) ‘noise, bustle’.
rabatt (Nor.) ‘border, verges (hunting grounds)’.
rabbe (Nor.) ‘barren ridge, mound of rock’.
rabh (G.) ‘warn, guard’.
rabhach (Ir.) ‘caution, forewarning’.
rabhachan (G.) ‘beacon’.
rabhadair (G.) ‘spy, scout’.
rabhaiteáil (Ir.) ‘beating, chasing’.
rabhchan (Ir.) ‘warning signal or fire, beacon’.
rafler (Fr.) ‘to sweep off, carry away, catch between two barriers’.
ráib (Ir.) ‘dash, sprint’.
raibhre (Ir.) ‘bands or troops’.
ráipéar (Ir.) ‘rapier’.
raiple (Ir.) ‘rousing call, stirring tune’.
raoimeach (G.) ‘plundering’.
rapa (Fin.) ‘mud, slush’.
rapa (Ir.) ‘casting-stone’.
rapace (Fr.) ‘hunting bird’.
rapaz (Por.) ‘lad (hunter)’.
rapere (Lat.) ‘to seize, to ravish’.
rapis (Gr.) ‘rod, stick, cudgel’.
rapp (Sw) ‘blow’.
raub (Ger.) ‘robbery, plundering; booty’.
réab (Ir.) ‘tear, rend, rip up’.
reabh (Ir.) ‘feat, trick’.
reabhair (G.) ‘crafty, subtle fellow’.
réabóir (Ir.) ‘violator’.
reave (Sc.) ‘to rob’.
rema (Lat.) ‘cleft, fissure’.
repa (Sw) ‘scratch, tear; unravel’.
reu (Du.) ‘male dog’.
reub (G.) ‘tear, rend, pull apart; wound, mangle’.
reubainn (G.) ‘robbery, plundering’ (hunting).
rhagachub (W.) ‘to anticipate’.
rhagod (W.) ‘to hinder, lie in wait, ambush’.
rhagor (W.) ‘superior, better’.
rhagorsaf (W.) ‘out-station, outpost’.
rhagwas (W.) ‘under-servant’.
rhapsodos (Gr.) ‘to recite Epic poems, to declaim, to sing’.
rhyfel (W.) ‘war (hunting)’.
rhyfelu (W.) ‘to feed a fire’.
rib (G.) ‘ensnare, entangle’.
riob (G.) ‘to ensnare’.
ripa (Lat.) ‘bank of a stream’, a common ambush site.
rivek (Shet.) ‘cleft or fissure in a rock’.
rob (Du.) ‘seal’.
rob (E.) ‘to plunder, carry off’.
robail (G.) ‘robbery’.
robáil (Ir.) ‘robbing, plundering’.
robainn (G.) ‘robbery, plundering’.
robar (Cat.) ‘to rob, steal’.
robbe (Ger.) ‘seal’.
robbevel (Du.) ‘sealskin’.
robe (Fr.) ‘coat of an animal’.
rober (Fr.) ‘to strip (madder, a source of red dye) of its bark or outer covering’.
roberdsman (E.) ‘a stout robber’.
robin (E.) a hunter, stained with blood.
rocan (G.) ‘fray’.
rompre (Fr.) ‘to divert, break, interrupt’.
roof (Du.) ‘plunder, robbery’. E. rover ‘pirate’.
rop (G.) ‘to eviscerate with a knife’.
ròp (G.) ‘to fasten with ropes, to entangle’.
rop (Ir.) ‘thrust, stab; dart, dash’.
rop (Shet.) ‘call, cry, shout, yell’.
roublard (Fr.) ‘deep, knowing, crafty, cunning, double-dealing’.
rov (Shet.) ‘prey, robbery, booty’.
roven (Du.) ‘to rob’.
ruaig (G.) ‘pursuit, hunt, chase, victory’.
rubeus, ruber (Lat.) ‘red’, hence E. ruby.
rubha (G.) ‘promontory’.
rubha (Ir.) ‘cutting, killing, spearing; point (of a spear, land etc); part of a deer-net; a brake’.
rubrica (Lat.) ‘red earth’, hence Fr. rubrique ‘a chapter heading decorated in red’.
rufus (Lat.) ‘red’.
ruibhne (G.) ‘lance, spear’.
ruipleach (Ir.) ‘entrails’.
rup (Hind.) ‘to stand fast (in battle), to fight boldly’.
rupina (Lat.) ‘cleft in a rock’.
laban (Nor.) ‘rascal, scamp, lout (hunter)’.
labb (Nor.) ‘paw, hand’.
labbelensk (Nor.) ‘double Dutch, gibberish’: a language used by hunters?
lob (E.) ‘a slow high underhand ball, a drop shot’: used as a weapon?
lob (E.) ‘clumsy person, lout (hunter)’.

2 Coarse hunting language
rabagast (Nor.) ‘wild type, madcap’.
rabalder (Nor.) ‘noise; uproar, hullabaloo’.
rabalder (Sw) ‘fuss, hullaballoo; commotion, stir’.
rabble (E.) ‘a disorderly assemblage’.
rabhdair (G.) ‘idle, tiresome talker; boaster’.
raffut (Fr.) ‘shindy, row’.
raibeach (G.) ‘loose’.
raip (G.) ‘filth, debauchery’.
rapach (G.) ‘nasty, filthy’.
rapaille (Fr.) ‘rabble’, canaille, riff-raff’.
rapscallion (E.) ‘rascal’ from *rap ‘to hunt’ and *sgillean ‘hunt followers’, also found as scallywag, scullion, gillean.
rhemp (W.) ‘excess; deficiency; (a) notorious’.
rhempan (W.)‘to snatch greedily’.
rhyf (W.) ‘pride, presumption’.
ribald (E.) ‘a menial of the lowest grade; licentious, foul-mouthed’.
ribote (Fr.) ‘drunken bout’.
robach (Ir.) ‘destruction, damage’.
ropach (Ir.) ‘stabbing, violence, ructions’.
ropaire (Ir.) ‘thruster, stabber, violent person; robber, scoundrel’.
ruction (E.) ‘disturbance’.
ruffler (E.) ‘vagabond, swaggering fellow’.
ruifíneach, ruifín (G.) ‘ruffian’.
rumpus (E.) ‘disturbance, row’.
ruzie (Du.) ‘brawl, squabble, fray (hunt)’.

3 Very coarse hunting language
raip (G.) ‘filth, debauchery, foul mouth’.
raipleach (G.) ‘filthy or slovenly woman’.
rapach (G.) ‘nasty, filthy, dirty-mouthed’.
rapais (G.) ‘filth, noise, nastiness’.
rapas (G.) ‘filth, slime’; Fr. roupie ‘snot’.
rauf (Ice.) ‘hind part, anus’.
reaban (G.) ‘a fringe of whiskers’.
ribe (G.) ‘a hair, rag, blade, snare, ambush’.
rig (E.) ‘loose woman’.
rig (E.) ‘sex organs (of either sex)’
rigga (Shet.) ‘woman’.
riobagach (G.) ‘hairy, shaggy’.
ròb (G.) ‘coarse hair, hairiness, shagginess, slovenliness, filthiness’.
robar-fola or robar-fuil (G.) ‘menstrual blood’.
ròib (G.) ‘filth, slovenliness, filth about the mouth, overgrown or squalid beard, circle of hair, pubes’.
ròm (G.) ‘pubes’.
ròmag (G.) ‘a female with a beard; the female pudenda’.
ròpach (G.) ‘viscous, glutinous, slovenly, squalid’.
ròpag (G.) ‘a sluttish woman’.
rovek (Shet.) ‘cleft between the buttocks’. A metaphor for a deer ambush; cf Lat. rupina.
ruba (G.) ‘a bristle’.
rump (E.) ‘hind-quarters’.
rygr (Ice.) ‘a woman’.

4 The comparable Irish lexicon
raibléire (Ir.) ‘an obstinate or wayward person; a hussy’.
raipleachán (Ir.) ‘stout person; worthless person, reprobate’.
rapladh (Ir.) ‘slovenliness, bustle’.
rálach (Ir.) ‘loose woman, harlot, vulgar woman’: for *ráphlach?
ruibheanta (Ir.) ‘venomous, sharp-tongued’.
ruibhseach, ruibhleach (Ir.) ‘sharp-tongued abusive woman; jilt, jade’.
rúpach (Ir.) ‘big strong woman’.
rúipéardach (Ir.) ‘rough woman’.
rúipín (Ir.) ‘a little wench or harlot’.

5 Beauty and plenty
ràbach (G.) ‘plentiful, fruitful’.
rapail (G.) ‘sumptuous’.
rapture (E.) ‘extreme delight’.
ravish (E.) ‘to enrapture’.
riamh (G.) ‘beauty, excellence’.
ribhinn (G.) ‘nymph, maid, beautiful female, young lady, queen’.
rip (Shet.) ‘ear of corn’, Nor. ripe ‘a cluster of seed’. Ears of corn are often shown with the Goddess as a sign of fertility.
robag and roban (G.), pet names for children; cf. Ir. rob ‘mischievous or pet animal, pet’.
ròic (G.)? ‘banquet, sumptuous but unrefined feast, superabundance of the good things of life without any of the refined manners of good society’.
ròmag (G.) ‘Athole brose, a drink made of oatmeal, whisky and honey’ (but also ‘a female with a beard; the female pudenda’.

6 Clothing
rab, ravel, ripin (Shet.) ‘open and coarsely-knitted woollens’.
rabhlaer (Ir.) ‘frock, overall’.
rabitribi (Shet.) ‘ragged person’.
réabach (Ir.) ‘torn strip of cloth’.
refill (Ice.) ‘width of web in a loom’.
rib (E.): a knitted rib doubles the thickness of the material.
rib (Shet.) ‘to knit very loosely’ (for subsequent felting and shaping).
ribeach (Ir.) ‘hairy’.
ribeag (G., St Kilda) ‘a rope made of hair or hide’.
ribbon (E.) ‘a narrow band of woven material’.
ribleach (G.) ‘anything entangled; man in rags, anything in tatters; shagginess’.
ribouis (Fr. slang) ‘boot’.
riobalach (G.) ‘hairy, ragged person’.
rivlin (Shet.) ‘a very primitive shoe made of the raw hide of a calf, cow or ox, cut to fit the foot and tied on, hairy side out.’ (A-S. rifeling, Scots rullion ‘shoe made of untanned leather; a coarse-made masculine woman’).
roba (Cat.) ‘clothes, clothing’.
róba (Ir.) ‘horse-cloth’.
robach (Ir.) ‘shaggy’.
robe (E.) ‘gown or dress of office, dignity or state’; the long robe ‘the legal profession’.
rocan (G.) ‘hood, mantle, cloak’.
rock (Ger.) ‘coat (for men); skirt (for women)’.
rocken (Ger.) ‘distaff’.
ròibeadh (G.) ‘ear-mark on sheep’.
ròp (G.) ‘raft of seaweed’.
ropa (Port.) ‘clothes’.
rub (E.) ‘ultimate origin unknown’ but it has a northern distribution (Onions 1994, 775).
rubadh (G.) ‘rubbing’.
ruck (E.) ‘heap, stack, pile; fold, crease’.
rug (E.) ‘rough hairy woollen stuff’: also E. rag, rough, ruffle, rub, rugged, rumple.
rugg (Sw.) ‘ruffled or coarse hair’.
rugga (Nor. dial.) ‘coverlet’ (known examples were tufted like a carpet, not felted).
ruic (G.) ‘fleece’.
ruighean (G.) ‘a rolag of wool ready to spin’.
rùsg (G.) ‘skin, hide, peel, husk’.
rùsgach (G.) ‘shelling, peeling, fleecing’.
wrap (E.) ‘to cover by folding or winding something round; to lap’.
lap, lappet (E.) ‘a flap, fold; part of a garment designed to hold or catch’.
lap (E.) ‘to wrap, enfold, overlap’.
lappen (Ger.) ‘rag, patch, cloth’.
lope (Gr.) ‘covering, mantle’.

Appendix B. Some CRB and GRB words
This list confirms that the origins of the robe lie in hunting. CRB words appear to belong to an older stratum but offer no insights into what ‘robe’ might mean. It is evidently a later and localised invention. This list offers a further view of deliberate laming as part of hunting practice in the British Isles. A remarkable feature is the range of CRB words for ‘fork’ which were presumably once names for the Palaeolithic harpoon.

crab (E.) ‘(of hawks) to claw’.
crabro (Lat.) ‘hornet’.
craf (W.) ‘claws’.
craff (W.) ‘clasp, cramp, hold, grip’.
crap (Sc.) ‘to gather together’.
crap (W.) ‘hold, grip’.
creapall (G.) ‘entangling, stopping, hindering’.
creber (Lat.) ‘thick, close, numerous, pressed together’.
cref (W.) ‘strong, powerful’.
crepido (Lat.) ‘bank, mound’.
crepito (Lat.) ‘to rattle’. Perhaps to make a signal.
crepo (Lat.) ‘to make a sound, to rattle, crack, creak, fart’.
creubh (G.) ‘body, corpse’.
creubhach (G.) ‘firewood, dry sticks’.
criabus (G.) ‘pig’.
crib (E.) ‘manger; stall; bed; hut; stealing; to confine, to pilfer’.
crib (W.) ‘comb, crest, summit, ridge’. As Lat. crepido.
cribach (W.) ‘hay hook’.
cribddeilio (W.) ‘to grab, extort, spoil, plunder, ravish’.
cribler (Fr.) ‘to pierce all over’.
criopus (G.) ‘stag’.
crobh (G.) ‘hand, paw, hoof’.
crùbag (G.) ‘hook’.
crubh (G.) ‘claw, fang; horse’s hoof’.
cruive (Sc.) ‘pen’.
grab (E.) ‘to seize or grasp suddenly’.
grabatus (Lat.) ‘camp-bed, pallet’.
grabit (Alb.) ‘to plunder, pillage’.
grabit (Ru.) ‘to plunder, ransack, rob’.
grabli (Ru.) ‘hay rake’.
grape (Sc.) ‘three or four-pronged fork’.
grappe (Fr.) ‘a hook; a bunch’.
grapple (E.) ‘a grasp, grip, hold or clutch’.
grappling (Sc.) ‘a way of catching salmon’.
greben (Ru.) ‘comb, ridge, crest’.
grep (Alb.) ‘fish hook’.
greblys (Lith.) ‘rake’.
griebti (Lith.) ‘to snatch, seize, catch’.
grip (E.) ‘a firm hold with the hand’.
gripe (E.) ‘to seize, to hold fast’.
gripos (Gr.) ‘fishing-net’.
grob (Ru.) ‘grave; coffin’.
grobis (Lith.) ‘booty, plunder’.
grobti (Lith.) ‘to snatch, seize, catch, hold’.
grope (E.) ‘to search for by feeling’.
groupe (Fr.) ‘cluster, number gathered together’.
grypos (Gr.) ‘curved, hooked’.
krabat (Sw.) ‘young rascal’.
krap (Du.) ‘tight, narrow’.
krievas (Lith.) ‘hooked, curved’.
krib (Du.) ‘manger, crib, cot’.
krobylos (Gr.) ‘roll of hair; crest of helmet’. As Lat. crepido, a wall or dyke.
krubba (Sw.) ‘manger, crib’.
krypti (Lith.) ‘bow, bend’.

Butchery and food
craobh (G.) ‘flowing in gushes, as blood’.
crap (Sc.) ‘to fill, stuff’.
creubhach (G.) ‘pudding made with calves’ entrails’.
crib (Sc.) ‘a bicker of porridge; food’.
cribble (E.) ‘coarse riddle or sieve’.
cribrum (Lat.) ‘sieve; a method of separating two substances’.
cripiad (W.) ‘scratch’.
crop (E.) ‘to cut; to harvest; the total harvested’.
crubhas (G.) ‘crimson colour’.
crup-phutag (G.) ‘blood-pudding’.
graver (Fr.) ‘to engrave, scratch, impress’.
grub (E.) ‘to dig in the dirt; food’.
krab (Du.) ‘scratch’.
krabb (Sw.) ‘choppy, short’.
krap (Du.) ‘madder (source of a red dye)’.
krapat (Ru.) ‘to sprinkle, trickle’.
krobh (Ru.) ‘blood’.
krop (Du.) ‘head of lettuce, cabbage, etc’.
kropp (Sw.) ‘body, trunk, carcass’.
krubba (Sw.) ‘grub, food’.

All these words, except two come from the British Isles. Deliberate laming was a very archaic practice and it now seems possible that it persisted longest in Britain.

crab (E.) ‘one who moves sideways’.
crabbed (E.) ‘crooked, rugged, knotted’.
crabi (W.) ‘crooked’.
crap (G.) ‘crush, thump, strike’.
crap- (Ir.) ‘crippled, gathered up’.
crap (Sc.) ‘to lop’.
crab, crib (Sc.) ‘kerb, curb’.
curb (E.) ‘to impede, limit’.
cropen (Sc.) ‘shrunken, contracted’.
crapall (Ir.) ‘fetter’.
crapaud (Fr.) ‘toad’. Perhaps one who creeps like a lame animal.
crapluich (G.) ‘fetter, bind’.
creapailte (Ir.) ‘stumbling, fettered, disabled, crippled’.
creep (E.) ‘to move with the belly on or near the ground’.
crepa (W.) ‘crabbed dwarf’. Perhaps one who creeps, a lamed animal.
crepare (Lat.) ‘to break’.
crepian (W.) ‘to creep; to hobble’.
creubhach (G.) ‘unsteady, lame’.
crib (G.) ‘swiftness, speed’.
cripleachadh (G.) ‘act of laming’.
cripple (E.) ‘a lame person’.
cropan (G.) ‘deformed person’.
crub (G.) ‘lame foot’.
crùb (G.) ‘sit, squat, creep, crouch’.
crúbach (Ir.) ‘animal with awkward gait; spider crab’.
crùban (G.) ‘disease in legs of animals; any crooked creature’.
crupag (G.) ‘wrinkle, fold, plait, gather’.

Peripheral hunting language
The negative aspects of hunting and goddess-worship in the form of Coarse and Very Coarse language is barely evident, though the dual aspects of hunters behaving badly and sexual metaphor are already hinted at. In this earlier world, the goddess is a beloved Maiden petitioned by hunters, in which we can trace the origins of all devotion.

crabhadh (Ir.) ‘piety, devotion’.
craobh (G.) ‘richness’.
crapula (Lat.) ‘debauch, hangover, nausea’.
crave (E.) ‘to beg, to implore; to wish to possess’.
creabhag (G.) ‘young woman’.
creffyd (W.) ‘religion, devotion’.
crefu (W.) ‘to cry, beg, implore’. E. crave.
creubhag (G.) ‘beloved little female’.
crobhall (G.) ‘genitalia’.
croupir (Fr.) ‘to lie in filth; to stagnate’.
groobyan (Ru.) ‘vulgar person, ruffian’; from groobay ‘rough, rude, coarse, crude’.
kracht (Sc.) ‘craft, wickedness’.

Clothing and leather
crepida (Lat.) ‘a sole which served as a shoe in Ancient Greece and Rome’.
criopag (G.) ‘clew of yarn’.
croupon (Fr.) ‘back of an ox-hide’.
crupper (E.) ‘a strap of leather passing under the horse’s tail to keep the saddle in place’.

grib (Ru.) ‘mushroom; toadstool’, perhaps used as kindling.
grybas (Lith.) ‘fungus’.
creper (Lat.) ‘dusky, obscure’.
criapach (G.) ‘rough’.
grubus (Lith.) ‘rough, coarse’.
kraupus (Lith.) ‘horrible, fearful, dreadful’.

Appendix C: Supplementary note on PLC words.
The following very short list suggests that Alb. plaçke ‘plunder, clothes’ also has a background in hunting.

flag (E.) ‘signal’.
flag, flaught (Sc.) ‘flash of lightning’.
flake (Alb.) ‘flame, blaze’.
fleece (E.)
flock (E.) of animals protected (or hunted) by fire.
palace (E.)
phlego (Gr.) ‘set on fire, burn up’.
place (E.)
plage (Fr.) ‘beach’ (a coastal hunting reserve).
plaukas (Lith.) ‘hair’.
plikynti (Lith.) ‘to scald’, to pluck or clean, as in scalding a pig.
pluck (E.) ‘despoil, fleece; entrails; heart, liver and lights; courage, spirit’.
plug (E.) ‘blow, punch’.

Note on the Distribution of RB words.
Total 197 words.

British Isles 142
E. 20, G. 54, Ir. 33, Shet. 10, W. 10.
Total 127 words, 70% of total. Average 25 words per language

North Sea area
Du. 6, Ger. 5, Ice. 3, Nor. 9.
Total 23 words, 13% of total. Average 6 words per language.

W. Europe
Cat. 2, Fr. 9, Lat. 8. Average 6 words per language.

E. Europe
Fin. 1, Gr. 2, Lith. 1, Ru. 3, Sw. 4. Average 2 words per language.

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