1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Wainscot

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WAINSCOT, properly a superior quality of oak, used for fine panel work, hence such panel-work as used for the lining or covering of the interior walls of an apartment. The word appears to be Dutch and came into use in English in the 16th century, and occurs in lists of imported timber. The Dutch word wagenschot, adapted in English as waynskott, weynskott (Hakluyt, Voyages, i. 173, has “boords called waghenscot”), was applied to the best kind of oak, well-grained, not liable to warp and free from knots. The form shows that it was, in popular etymology, formed from wagen (i.e. wain, wagon) and schoi, a term which has a large number of meanings, such as shot, cast, partition, an enclosure of boards, cf. “sheet,” and was applied to the fine wood panelling used in coach-building. This is, however, doubted, and relations have been suggested with Dutch weeg, wall, cognate with O. Eng. wah, wall, or with M. Dutch waeghe, Ger. Wage, wave, the reference being to the grain of the wood when cut. The term “wainscot” is sometimes wrongly applied to a “dado,” the lining, whether of paper, paint or wooden panelling, of the lower portion of the walls of a room. A “dado” (Ital. dado, die, cube; Lat. datum, something given, a die for casting lots; cf. O. Fr. det, mod. , Eng. “die”) meant originally the plane-faced cube on the base of a pedestal between the mouldings of the base and the cornice, hence the flat surface between the plinth and the capping of the wooden lining of the lower part of a wall, representing a continuous pedestal.