I Literal senses.
II Figurative. (Cf. slight a. and G. blasz.)
III Comb., chiefly parasynthetic deriv., as bald-crowned (sense 2), -nosed (sense 5). See also bald-coot, -faced, eagle, -head, -pate, -rib, and bald buzzard, kite, locust, etc.
ME. balled, of uncertain origin; in sense 1, apparently a ppl. form from ball v. or sb., with the sense of `protuberant or rounded like a ball,' whence possibly `smooth,' and, as applied to the head, `hairless.' But the analogy of many words for `bald' in various langs., in which the sense arises out of that of `shining, white,' or esp. that of `having a white patch on the forehead,' as in `bald-faced stag,' `bald-coot,' with the actual appearance of this sense in ball sb., strongly favours the idea that ME. ball-ed was a derivative of the latter (cf. also ballard), which is with evident propriety referred to Welsh bàl, as explained under sense 5. The chief difficulty is the rarity of the simple ball, and lack of early instances to prove its Eng. use before the appearance of ball-ed. For the termination, Sievers compares OE. -ede (OS. -odi) used esp. of bodily defects, as in heal-ede ruptured, hofer-ede hunchbacked, etc. [ Cf. the analogy of MDutch blaer `bald' and blare, Dutch blaar `white patch on the forehead' of a horse, etc.; also of MHG. blas `bald,' earlier `shining,' and blasse `white patch on the forehead'; also of Dutch bles `bald' and blesse; and see blas in Grimm; also Wedgwood and Skeat. Cf. also Gr. falakroj `bald,' lit. `white- or shining-pated.' There seems little ground for the suggestion of Kluge that balled represents a lost OE. *bællod = *bærlod, Goth. *bazlops, from OTeut. baz-oz bare.]
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Date last modified: August 29, 1995.
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