[Ansteorra] Regalia vs. Insignia

Sir Lyonel Oliver Grace sirlyonel at hotmail.com
Wed Jan 16 13:00:03 PST 2008

Salut mes frais,
Entertaining topic.
Master Robin dit qe:
> This one's actually extremely frustrating. Although the etymology of the > word seem to make "regalia" mean only royal insignia, it's just not true. > My doctoral hood is always refered to as academic regalia. Etymology is > not definition, or "digital computing" would mean counting on your fingers.
I agree, and why doesn't "lackadaisical" have anything to do with a flower shortage?
In this case, however, the etymology really is on our side. 
At first flush, the etymological history of "regalia" and "insignia" appear to work against us. The earliest recorded use of the term "regalia" in English is in 1540, when it was used to specify the rights and powers of the king. The earliest recorded use of "regalia" to mean "insignia associated with an office" is 1676. The word "insignia" does not show up in English until 1648.
So, does that mean a Medieval European noble of the 11th, 13th, or 15th Century would not have used these terms? 
Only the uneducated ones. 
Anyone with an education would have some Latin, and precise Latin terms are quite appropriate for discussion of court paraphernalia. In that wise, "regalia" means "royal stuff" and "insignia" means "mark" or "badge." Crowns are regalia; white belts are insignia. Note, however, that "regalia" in this sense does not apply only to royal insignia. The King's authority, the Queen's stance, a Crown Prince's favorite goblet--all of these things are regalia.
En Lyonel 
Impedimentum via est 
(The obstacle is the path)

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