The word parapet was first used in English in a late sixteenth century book about hunting. It was borrowed from a Middle French word with the same spelling, and that came from Italian parapetto, which literally translates to "breast defense". The idea was that the rampart was usually about at chest height, and was thus able to defend the breast area from attacks. Para-, which meant "defense" there, comes from the Latin verb parare, which translates to "prepare" (and that traces to Proto-Indo-European per, "to produce"). Petto, meaning "breast", comes from Latin pectus, which is also the source of the words pectoral and expectorate (and that is most likely from the Proto-Indo-European reconstruction peg, also meaning "breast").
Adam Aleksic is a sophomore studying linguistics and government at Harvard University. He also has disturbing interests in politics, vexillology, geography, board games, conlanging, and law.