The word bridal has a lot more going on than you would expect. Now, of course, it means "pertaining to a wedding or bride", but before it used to mean "wedding feast". The new definition happened because people saw what they thought was the suffix -al and assumed that the newer meaning is correct; they were wrong. Indeed, bridal is from the Old English word brydealo, which also meant "wedding feast". But the plot thickens! Brydealo is from bryd ealu, which literally meant "bride ale", as in the alcoholic beverage. The beverage-to-meal transition was done synecdochally, but is nevertheless fascinating. Bryd is from Proto-Germanic brudiz, which has unknown origin, and ale is from Proto-Indo-European helut (meaning "beer"), through Proto-Germanic alu. Next time you get a bit tipsy at a wedding, remember to drink some bridal.
Adam Aleksic is a 220-month-old, 2800-ounce high school senior with disturbing interests in etymology, vexillology, geography, board games, limericks, and law. Adam will be studying linguistics at Harvard College in the fall.
The Etymology Nerd