Friday, March 17, 2006
Piebald (PYE-bahld) means "patched or spotted, particularly in black and white," as on an animal. Piebald is from pie, an old word for magpie, the name of a bird with that kind of coloring. The bald in piebald alludes to white fur, hair, or feathers, on the head (as in a bald eagle). They're also related to the word skewbald, which the OED describes as applying to animals, particularly horses, that are "Irregularly marked with white and brown or red, or some similar colour." Magpies--like this one--also inspired at least one other word. More about that a little later.