The word Rococo first started showing up in English in the 1830s, in reference to the art style that emerged in France about a century earlier. In French, the word seems to have been a humorous alteration of rocaille, meaning "shellwork", based on the Portuguese word for Baroque, barroco. This is in reference to how Rococo art looks like Baroque art but with a bunch of lavish ornamentation that often incorporates or resembles seashells. The word rocaille, which originally described a method of decoration that frequently used shells, pebbles, and cement, comes from roc, meaning "rock", and both it and the English word come from a Medieval Latin noun with the same definition. The etymology of barroco is unknown, but it's considered to be related to a Spanish word for "wart", so that's interesting.
Hello! I'm Adam Aleksic, a rising junior studying government and linguistics at Harvard University, where I co-founded the Harvard Undergraduate Linguistics Society. In addition to etymology, I also really enjoy trivia, politics, vexillology, geography, board games, conlanging, art history, and law.