The Notebooks
by Josée Fiset

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Have You Ever Wondered... French, the word copain is multi-purpose. A copain can be a chum, a best buddy, or a boyfriend (the feminine copine designates a girlfriend); it’s also a handily ambiguous word to avoid unmasking a lover. In the Middle Ages, before the advent of plates, meals were served on thick slices of sourdough bread, each makeshift platter shared by two guests. The Latin phrase cum panem, which means “with bread,” was amalgamated to become companio, referring to a person with whom not only was bread shared, but also wine, secrets, life. Companio in turn became compaing, the root of the word “companion” and, you guessed it, copain. Today, a copain remains someone to share all sorts of good things with. Like bread.


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