October 07, 2013
pavilion (noun)
\puh-VIL-yun\ Hear it!
What does it mean?
1 : a large tent2 : a light structure (as in a park) used for entertainment or shelter
How do you use it?
For his fiftieth birthday, Mom threw a party for Dad and held it in the pavilion at his favorite park.
Are you a word wiz?

The word "pavilion" means a tent or a shelter of some kind, but it comes from "papilio," a Latin word that has quite a different meaning. What do you think "papilio" means?

The answer that flies is D, because the Latin word "papilio" means "butterfly." From "papilio" came "paveillon," the early French word for "butterfly." "Paveillon" also later came to be used for "tent," probably because the top of a colorful tent looks like the spread wings of a butterfly. The French word was borrowed into English as "pavilon," now spelled "pavilion." Over the years "pavilion" has acquired additional meanings in English that have to do with a building of some kind. But a tent that is large and richly decorated -- and as colorful as a butterfly -- is still sometimes called a "pavilion."
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