The word gasket (describing a type of mechanical seal) was borrowed in the early seventeenth century from the Middle French noun gaskette, with the same definition. There's a lot of uncertainty about where that comes from, but the leading theory is that it's from garcette, meaning "little girl", perhaps through a figurative nautical sense of "plaited coil". That would be a diminutive of garce, which referred to young women, harlots, or concubines, and garce was a feminine version of garcon, which still means "boy". Finally, that traces to the Frankish reconstruction wrakjo ("servant" or "boy"), to Proto-Germanic wrakjon ("exile") and Proto-Indo-European wreg ("track" or "hunt"). The expression to blow a gasket emerged in the 1940s, when gaskets used to seal pressure in car engines were known to occasionally degrade and pop.
Hello! I'm Adam Aleksic, a senior 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.