medieval-religion: Scholarly discussions of medieval religion and culture
I'm guessing that "clootie" must derive from "clout." Here (with my slight edits and apologies for its length) is what the OED offers for "clout." Senses 3, 4, and maybe even 5 seem to fit the phenomenon we've been discussing.
[OE. clśt; cf. 14th c. Icel. klśtr a kerchief (? not native), Sw. klut, Norw. and Da. klud clout, rag, tatter, shred. Ir. clud, cluid, Gael. clud, Welsh clwt are all from English (Rh]s). The OE. points to an OTeut. *klūto-z, pre-Teut. type *glG"do-s from same root as clot, cleat (:*glu"dom, *"glaudom). The original sense would therefore be something like lump, piece of stuff; from an early period the word has been applied especially to a patch or piece of cloth, and so to a cloth (cloth 13) in a somewhat depreciatory sense. But sense 2 retains some of the original wider meaning, and relationship with cleat. It has been doubted whether sense 7 belongs to this word, though a parallel development of sense is found under clod.]
I. gen. Piece, patch, flat piece, shred.
1. A piece of cloth, leather, metal, etc., set on to mend anything; a patch. arch. and dial.
a700 Epinal Gloss. 789 Pittacium, clut. c1380 Wyclif Sel. Wks. III. 350 Aens Cristis sentence, žei sewen an old cloute in newe cloiž. c1440 Promp. Parv. 84 Clowte of clothe, scrutum. Ibid. Clowte of a schoo, pictasium. 1563 Mirr. Mag., Induct. xxxvii, Cloutes and patches pieced one by one. 1570 Levins Manip. 228/32 The clout set on a garment or on a shoe, cento. 1719 D'Urfey Pills (1872) III. 249 Leather Bottel Out of the side you may cut a Clout, To mend your Shoe when worn out.
2. A plate of iron: esp. (in more recent use) one fixed on some part of a plough, on an axle-tree, or on a shoe, to prevent wear. [Cf. cleat 4.] Obs. exc. dial.
3. A small piece or shred produced by tearing or rending; in later use chiefly a shred of cloth, a rag (as in 4). Obs.
c1325 E.E. Allit. P. B. 367 Mony clustered clowde clef alle in clowtez, To-rent vch a rayn-ryfte. Ibid. B. 965 Clouen alle in lyttel cloutes že clyffez. c1380 Sir Ferumb. 4533 Al his hod [he] to taar to cloute. c1386 Chaucer Merch. T. 709 Sche rent it al to cloutes. 1600 Dekker Shoemaker's Holiday 65 Touch not a rag lest I and my brethren beat you to clowtes. a1625 Fletcher Women Pleased v. i, All his louts Beat (as the proverb seemly says) to clouts.
II. spec. Piece of cloth, a cloth.
4. A piece of cloth (esp. a small or worthless piece, a rag); a cloth (esp. one put to mean uses, e.g. a dish-clout). arch. and dial.
a1225 Ancr. R. 212 Že deoflen schulen pleien mid ham+& dusten ase enne pilche-clut. c1275 Death 68 in O.E. Misc. 172 Me nimeš že licome and preoneš in a clut. c1400 Mandeville xviii. 196 Žei gon all naked saf a lityll clout žat žei coueren with+hire membres. 1483 Caxton G. de la Tour Gjb, The clowte of the kechyn wherwith men wype dysshes and platers. 1531 Elyot Gov. i. xxiii. (1883) I. 247 The good husbande+settethe up cloughtes+to feare away birdes. 1562 J. Heywood Prov. & Epigr. (1867) 79 Ye can geue me your blessyng in a clout. 1590 Greene Never too late (1600) 98 Marrie her (my Sonne) and thou shalt haue my benizon in a clowte. Ibid. 114 If you match with mee, old Calena my mother hath that in a clowte that will doo vs both good. 1591 G. Fletcher Russe Commw. (1857) 117 They use to go naked, save a clout about their middle. 1611 Bible Jer. xxxviii. 12. c1645 Howell Lett. (1650) I. 356 Money is welcome though it be in a dirty clout. 1760 Sterne Tr. Shandy 159 Driven, like turkeys to market, with a stick and a red clout. 1887 Hall Caine Son of Hagar ii. xvi, A pair of kid gloves that sat on his great hands like a clout on a pitch-fork.
b. Applied contemptuously to any article of clothing; in pl. clothes. (Cf. rag.) Still dial. and in proverb.
a1300 Seven Sins 49 in E.E.P. (1862) 20 If he hauiž an old clute he mai be swiže prute, whar mid i-helid he sal be. c1485 E.E. Misc. (Warton Club) 56 He had not left an holle clowt, Wherwith to hyde hys body abowte. 1563 Homilies ii. Excess of Apparel (1859) 311 The poor labouring man+with a few beggarly clouts about him. 1568 Grafton Chron. II. 458 The+Peysauntes spoyled the dead Carcasses, leaving them neyther shyrt nor clowte. Old Proverb, Till May be out Ne'er cast a clout. 1877 Holderness Gloss., Female attire is denominated cloots occasionally, as, get thy cloots on.
c. babe of clouts: a doll. Hence fig. man of clouts, king of clouts, etc.: a mere doll in the garb of a man, a king, etc.; a lay-figure. Obs.
1467 Mann. & Househ. Exp. (1841) 172 e sey I hame no beter than a man of klowetes. 1540 R. Wisdome in Strype Eccl. Mem. I. App. cxv. 323 We have a lyving Christ, and not a Christ of clowts. 1594 Lyly Moth. Bomb. v. iii, Silena, thou must+love him for thy husband. S. I had as liefe have one of clouts. 1595 Shakes. John iii. iv. 58, I should forget my sonne, Or madly thinke a babe of clowts were he. 1639 Fuller Holy War iv. xvii. (1840) 208 Babes of clouts are good enough to keep children from crying. 1655 W. Gurnall Chr. in Arm. v. §2. 447/2 The Idolater sweats before his God of clouts. 1660 Bond Scut. Reg. 330 He is a Clout, no King, which cannot command. 1705 Hearne Collect. (Oxf. Hist. Soc.) I. 35 Ye next King of Scotland is like to be King of Clouts. 1730 Fielding Tom Thumb i. iii, Indeed a pretty king of clouts To truckle to her will.
d. Phrase. as pale or white as a clout.
e. to wash one's face in an ale clout: to get drunk. Obs.
5. spec. a. pl. Swaddling clothes. Obs. or dial.
c1200 Ormin 3327 Wižž clutess inn an cribbe. Ibid. 3320, i winndeclut. 1340 Hampole Pr. Consc. 5199 Bethleem whare I was born And in clotes lapped and layd was In a cribbe. 1483 Caxton Gold. Leg. 128/2 The chyld wrapped in poure clowtes lyeng. 1552 Latimer Serm. Gospels ii. 154 He had neither cradell nor cloutes. 1561 T. Norton Calvin's Inst. iv. 10 That we maye begin in a maner at the very swadlyng cloutes of the Chirche. c1645 Howell Lett. (1650) I. 463 Hony soit qui mal y pense+being a metaphor taken from a child that hath bewrayed his clouts. 1677 Grew Anat. Plants iv. iii. vii. §8 Membranes, in which the Seeds+lie swadled, as in so many fine Calico Clouts. 1826 Scott Woodst. v, That band+looks like a baby's clout.
b. A handkerchief. Now dial. and slang.
c1380 Sir Ferumb. 2747 Že schrewes toke a clout+& byndež ys eene žar-wiž about. c1440 York Myst. xxxiv. 194 (Soldier to Mary) Go home, casbalde with ži clowte. c1690 B. E. Dict. Cant. Crew, Clout, a Handkerchief. a1745 Swift Wks. (1841) II. 58 Sobbing with his clout in hand. 1806 C. K. Sharpe Corr. (1888) I. 264 The sedulous care with which his friends gave+clouts for his mouth and nose during his speech. 1873 Slang Dict., Clout, or rag, a cotton pocket-handkerchief
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----- Original Message -----
From: Jim Bugslag <[log in to unmask]>
Date: Friday, February 10, 2006 11:15 am
Subject: Re: [M-R] Clootie
> medieval-religion: Scholarly discussions of medieval religion and
> > Not just Saxon, perhaps. We get clooties left at the Holy
> Wells here in
> > west Cornwall, scraps of usually cloth, but also tinsel and
> plastic ribbon, tied
> > to twigs and branches of overhanging trees. Rarely the effect
> is pretty,
> > mainly it's messy; neither is the point, I dare say. My
> understanding is that
> > they are meant as gifts of value, but I suspect that nowadays
> the meaning is
> > lost and people just do what they 'always' did. I further
> suspect that the
> > practice, locally at least, is actually of recent origin.
> These are practices that were, and are, alive on the continent, as
> well. The "Arbre
> Saint-Claude" near Neuville-Coppegueule in Picardy still has many
> bits of cloth
> attached to it. I've never heard them called "clooties"; do you
> know whence this
> word derives? It is possible that there are two separate aspects
> to this practice.
> Votive offerings to springs, trees and rocks were being made in
> western Europe
> before the coming of Christianity. I have often wondered,
> however, whether this
> particular form of votive offering, consisting of strips of cloth,
> is related to
> "brandea", i.e. contact relics consisting of such strips of cloth.
> It certainly wouldn't
> surprise me if it were such a synchretic phenomenon.
> Jim Bugslag
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