Paisley patterns are traditionally associated with southern Asia, but the word paisley is named after a village in southwestern Scotland. In fact, it wasn't until relatively recently that the term had anything to do with the well-known design: originally, it referred exclusively to the famous shawls the village produced, and the definition wasn't extended until the nineteenth century when it became fashionable to print the Kashmiri teardrop-shaped motifs on those shawls. The Scottish village has a name literally meaning "church" in Scottish Gaelic; through Middle Irish baslec, it goes all the way back to Latin basilica, which we should recognize as an English word as well. Basilica traces to Ancient Greek basilikos, which meant "royal" and eventually traces to Proto-Hellenic gatileus, "chief".
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.