Posted: 11 January 2009 09:09 PM   [ Ignore ]
Total Posts:  283
Joined  2007-02-23

Here is an old question: whence “gazebo” (= “pavilion” or “belvedere")?

I guess the default hypothesis is English “gaze” + frivolous Latin future “-bo” (cf. “placebo").

OED seems to favor an unspecified “Oriental” origin (last I knew). A couple of Arabic candidates have been put forth but AFAIK there is no evidence (no paper trail).

I think perhaps one might consider a Germanic origin. Maybe some of those familiar with Dutch and German can comment.

The word dates from the mid 1700’s. It is said to have no known cognate.

Surely something like German “Gesehbau” or Dutch “geziebouw” would be attractive. The German verb “gesehen” (= approximately “see") and [I think] its Dutch equivalent do exist (I’m not exactly referring to the participle of “sehen") but I’m not sure that they could be used in this manner. ("Bau" or “bouw” = “structure”.)

The possibility of German “Gassebau” ("street-structure", supposedly meaning a bay window or so) has been put forth but I cannot find any trace of this putative German etymon.

I do find “gaze-boo” (in English) and “gaze-bo” (in French) applied to a bay-window overlooking the street in Turkey, but this is from the early 1800’s. It may be from already existing English “gazebo” ... or can it point to a particular Turkish etymon?

I do find in the 1700’s the German “Sieh-dich-um” (roughly “look-around") given as an equivalent (and perhaps calque) of Italian “belvedere” or French “bellevue”.

Posted: 11 January 2009 11:58 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 1 ]
Total Posts:  307
Joined  2007-02-16

Any use?

“An etymology for gazebo is sought in Hispano-Arabic and a likely candidate meaning `mirador, viewing platform’ is found in the work of the medieval Cordoban poet Ibn Guzman.”


Posted: 12 January 2009 07:34 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 2 ]
Total Posts:  3130
Joined  2007-01-30

Darn it, just as it gets interesting it cuts off! You only get a preview (1st page) unless you’re a paid-up subscriber. It does look intriguing though.

Anyone here have access and can give us the nitty-gritty?

Posted: 12 January 2009 11:40 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 3 ]
Total Posts:  3528
Joined  2007-01-31

I have full-text access through my school.  I attempt to excerpt the most relevant parts not available in the free preview:

Two instances of the word from the latter half of the eighteenth century
will orient our consideration. Plate 55 in William and John Halfpenny’s
Rural Architecture in the Chinese Taste from the 1750s is entitled
“Elevation of a Chinese Gazebo” and the caption reads “The Elevation
of a Chinese Tower or Gazebo, situated on a Rock, and raised to a con-
siderable Heighth, and a Gallery round it to render the Prospect more
compleat” (Part 4.2). The illustration shows a structure of several stories,
as if a miniature baroque tower had been crossed with a pagoda. There
is no explicit statement that the name gazebo is derived from Chinese
and it seems to be used as a sort of generic for pavilions of this kind.
If correct, this would suggest that the word was already in general use
by the mid-eighteenth century. A second instance of the word gazebo
from the same century shifts focus to an architectural detail: “The whole
is lighted from the gazebo on the top” (Wrighte 7). Somewhat latter,
gazebo is being used of projecting windows and balconies as well, as
encountered by English travelers to Malta in the early nineteenth century
(Romer II.354).

There would appear to have been only one recent inquiry into the
etymology of gazebo. Leonard Lee Bacon speculated that “a loan-word
with the improbable spelling of gazebo is likely to have a doublet” (87)
and found this in Casbah, the popular name for the Muslim quarter
around the citadel in Algiers. In fact, the name of the neighborhood is
itself derived from this prominent landmark and from North African
and Hispanic Arabic qasbah ‘citadel.’ Bacon also judged the similarly
derived Spanish alcazaba ‘castle, citadel, stronghold’ to have been influ-
ential in generating the English term gazebo and noted that “three
fortress-citadels were well known to English travelers in the 18th century
. . . Almeria, Malaga, and Granada.” The loftiest and most conspicuous
elements of these buildings would have been the watchtowers, which
coincides, albeit on a different scale, with one of the early meanings of
gazebo in English.

Bacon states that English travelers applied the term gazebo only to the
“glazed and latticed balconies characteristic of the houses” in the Muslim
countries they visited. Function, not form, was the unifying feature,
and the function of the gazebo, like that of the watchtower, was to provide
the best view.

In philological terms, at least, Bacon’s derivation is attractive. Yet it
is in the light, octagonal, pointed-roofed structures with pillars,
balustrades, and latticework, situated in gardens within Muslim palaces
and fortresses, that we find the closest architectural parallel to the gazebo
of British parks and grounds, and not in the turrets and watchtowers at
the top of alcazabas. In these strictly architectural terms, antecedents
of the modern gazebo are well preserved in Spain and North Africa,
e.g., the Mirador de Lindaraja within the precincts of the Alhambra
Palace, the Mirador de Daraxa, kiosks in the gardens of Riad and
Marrakesh, as well as generally in the Islamic world. Kiosk(Persian
kūskh, later, Turk. kiushk) or pavilion may stand as general term for these
buildings. Bacon’s metonymical derivation – the term for fortress
(alcazaba) being borrowed for an exported functional homologue
(gazebo) of its most prominent sight-related element (torre de la vela)
– cannot be judged fully satisfactory when a truer architectural homo-
logue (kiosk) is disregarded.
Arabic terms on the root of khashab ‘wood, lumber, timber,’ with
derivatives such as khashaba ‘piece of wood, pale, post, plank, board’
and takhshība ‘wooden shed,’ might suggest that the ultimate source
of gazebo lies in its primary construction material, wood.3 But there is
no recorded instance of a related term for a light wooden structure such
as a kiosk or, for example, for a latticed lookout window.

Further speculation on possible construction materials leads us back
to the Casbah. In his standard work on Spanish etymology Corominas
notes in his entry for alcazaba that the underlying Arabic root also gen-
erated Hispano-Arabic qaba, qashaba‘cane, reed.’ Thus the case could
be advanced that Eng. gazebo is to be traced to a related North African
or Iberian Arabic term referencing the latticework incorporated in
windows, balconies, and other lookout points. Another lexicographer,
Corriente, has recently published A Dictionary of Andalusi Arabic and
here the entry for the root q-sh-b (XŠB) lists both the derivations ‘cane’
and ‘fortress’ but also offers a new and revealing bit of evidence. The
Cordoban poet Ibn Quzman (d. 1160) employs a diminutive form
qushaybah which Corriente, who has edited the poet’s work, glosses as
‘belvedere, flat roof.’ Here, it would seem, we have a good match in both
phonological and semantic terms with gazebo. Yet Ibn Quzman’s single
known use of qushaybah seems as isolated as the English word among
other European terms for pavilions such as kiosk and belvedere.

[ Edited: 12 January 2009 08:02 PM by Dr. Techie ]
Posted: 12 January 2009 11:00 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 4 ]
Total Posts:  3130
Joined  2007-01-30

Thank you, Doc.

Posted: 13 January 2009 07:34 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 5 ]
Total Posts:  4696
Joined  2007-01-29

I add my thanks.  Most interesting.

Posted: 21 January 2009 10:45 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 6 ]
Total Posts:  307
Joined  2007-02-16

Is OP D. Wilson contemplating a ‘closing’ comment based on the aforegoing?

Posted: 22 January 2009 06:24 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 7 ]
Total Posts:  283
Joined  2007-02-23

I don’t have much to say. AFAIK the etymology is still ‘unknown’.

Posted: 23 January 2009 12:02 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 8 ]
Total Posts:  1623
Joined  2007-01-29

And thanks from me, too, Dr. T. Very interesting.

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