This is the full read-only archive of the "Ask the Wordwizard" section of the original Wordwizard site. The responses to the questions originate from Jonathon Green, the compiler of the Cassell Dictionary of Slang and numerous other dictionaries.
What is the origin of the word "easel"? Does it come from the Dutch word "ezel"? What does that word mean?
Submitted by Dawn Poore (Morris - U.S.A.)
Signature: Topic imported and archived
It does indeed come from Dutch 'ezel', meaning an ass. The image is of its bearing the weight of the canvas. 'Horse' is found in similar uses, indicating a frame or structure on which something is mounted or supported.
Signature: Jonathon Green