[SCA-Dance] branle v bransle

Charlene C charlene281 at gmail.com
Thu Sep 26 13:40:44 EDT 2013

On Wed, Sep 25, 2013 at 5:09 PM, Stephen Kiefert <lanhamlaw at att.net> wrote:

> Arbeau spells it branle but we often, as in the recent thread, see it spelled bransle - does anyone know when or how it changed

Modern French has "branler"* meaning to oscillate, shake, or wobble. I
checked Cotgrave's 1611 French-English dictionary and he shows
"bransle" with the same meaning as well as noting it's the dance
called in English "brawle."

No idea when or how English acquired the "s".

Taking a quick search through the OED, looking at entries who meaning
is dance rather than other movement:
etymology: French bransle (16th cent.), a graphical variant of branle
1590   Spenser Faerie Queene iii. x. sig. Mm2,   Now making layes of
loue..Bransles, Ballads, virelayes.
1597   T. Morley Plaine & Easie Introd. Musicke 181   The bransle de
poictou or bransle double is more quick in time..but the straine is
longer, containing most vsually twelue whole strokes.
1674   R. Boyle About Excellency Mech. Hypothesis in Excellency Theol.
34   Branles, Sarabands, Jigs, and other..Tunes.
There are several variant spellings for the movement, but not the
dance: brandle, brangle, etc.


NB: Careful with modern French speakers who don't know the dance. The
reflexive French verb (to ... myself) is "se branler" and is a slang
term referring to male masturbation. I've had a French speaker snicker
when I talked about branles. :-)

More information about the Sca-dance mailing list