July 11, 2011
- banister (noun)
- What does it mean?
- 1 : one of the slender posts used to support the handrail of a staircase2 : a handrail with its supporting posts3 : the handrail of a staircase
- How do you use it?
- Brenna and Caleb held tight to the banister as they climbed the creaky attic stairs.
- Are you a word wiz?
The origin of "banister" traces back to the shape of something that the ancient Greeks saw in nature. What do you think it was?Your word skills are blooming if you picked A! The history of "banister" traces back to the Greek word "balaustion," the name of the vase-shaped flower of the pomegranate tree. Latin speakers adopted the flower's name as "balaustium," which became "balaustra" in Italian. Italian speakers noticed the vase-like shape of the pomegranate flower and applied their word for it to other vase-shaped items, such as the stem of a wine glass. The upright spindles of a rail also often have that vase shape. French speakers borrowed the Italian word as "balustre," which passed into English as "baluster." In English, "baluster" was altered to form "banister.