The word pageant didn't mean "spectacle" or "exhibition" until 1805. Although usage remained steady, for four centuries before that, it very specifically meant "a play in a series of mystery plays". This very odd definition comes to us from Latin pagina, which meant "page of a book", through a connection of "manuscript". This comes from pangere, a verb meaning "to fasten" (again under a slight connection to "page", as in pages are fastened to a manuscript), from PIE pag, also "to fasten". Pagina is recognizable to me personally because it's also the Spanish word for "page", and, if we dig deeper, it's also the root for the English word and many others in European languages. Moreover, the PIE reconstruction pag is the etymon of so many other words that we all know, including pallette, compact, propagate, palisade, impale, pagan, and fang. There are so many words I'm displaying here: you could almost call it a linguistic pageant!
Adam Aleksic is a 221-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 University in the fall.
The Etymology Nerd