corvette

OK, let’s play word association: I say corvette, you say… stingray? Probably. But before this was a brand of car, the most corvettes and stingrays had in common was their medium: the ocean. Corvette was, when the word hit English (from French), the name of a type of flush-decked navy ship with one tier of guns. And it did not get its name from a little crow, even though corvus was Latin for “crow” (time and tide have turned it into modern Spanish cuervo, which may sound curvy and tequila drinkers know will get you bent); corvette may have come from Latin corbis “basket,” which may have been a reference to a basket hoisted on slow Egyptian freighters, but that’s not sure. Now a corvette is neither slow nor a freighter; it’s a fast little escort ship. Which is fitting enough given that the car named after it is a fast little thing that in its days has probably picked up more than its decent share of escorts. It’s amusing that this rather feminine word (it does have the ette ending, after all) is associated with such masculine things as armed ships and muscle cars. But, then, the occupants of each tend to smoke a lot of cigarettes, too. And there is enough about this word that is racy, aside from the races the car gets into: it has that v-neck down the middle, and that ought to rev the octet under the hood.

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