Today, a constable is just a word for "police officer" in small towns and England, but back in the Middle Ages the term (also spelled cunstable, constabil, connestable, and cunestable) referred to the main officer of a lord's household. Before that, as French conestable, it was a specific title given to the commander of the Frankish king's armed forces. That comes from Medieval Latin conestabulus, which meant "officer of the stables" because, at its earliest points, the role involved managing the horses of a monarch or lord. The term is composed of Latin comes, meaning "count" (and from the word cum, "together"), and stabulum, which meant "stable" and is the source of our modern-day word for the buildings (this traces to a Proto-Indo-European root that's reconstructed as steh and meant "to stand"). That's a pretty interesting history!
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.