Student Dictionary

One entry found for mascot.
Main Entry: mas·cot
Pronunciation: primarystressmas-secondarystresskät also -kschwat
Function: noun
Etymology: from French mascotte "mascot," from a Romance word mascoto "charm," literally "little witch," from masco "witch," from Latin masca "witch"
: a person, animal, or object supposed to bring good luck
Word History The word mascot is an example of words that come to have a more pleasant meaning as they develop through the years and through many languages. The ancestor of mascot is the Latin word masca, used in the Middle Ages to mean "witch." Masca passed into the Romance speech of southern France as masco. Later it developed a derivative mascoto, literally meaning "little witch" but actually used to mean "charm" or "magic spell." A magic spell can be used for good as well as bad. Already, then, we have the beginnings of a change to a nicer idea in the basic use of the word. The word mascoto came to be mascotte in modern French, meaning a "good luck charm." It was made popular by the operetta La Mascotte in 1880. In this operetta "la mascotte" is the lovely young woman Bettina, whose influence brings victories to the army of the prince of Pisa. English later borrowed the word as mascot, with the meaning "a person or thing thought to bring good luck." Today the word is often used to refer to an animal chosen by a school or college as a good luck symbol for its sports teams.

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