What do you see in someone's pupil? - an image of yourself, but tiny. A little person. (And the image of yourself is enhanced if the person into whose eyes you gaze has used belladonna to dilate the pupils; but bella donna†, or 'beautiful woman', is another story.) The Latin for 'little girl' is pupilla (French speakers will remember poupée; and the -illa ending is just a diminutive suffix.)
When Dr Cremona told me about this he explained that the same image was not used only in Latin and its descendants; he listed examples from all over the Indo-European world, which I have shamefully forgotten. I think Arabic was one, and probably Farsi... I'm guessing. And to reinforce the lesson he referred to the tool that layers of pavements use - a dolly (shaped like a legless doll, whose arms are the handle and whose torso pounds slabs into place). I had not met this, and looking in various online dictionaries I've only found this - '...4 historical a short wooden pole for stirring clothes in a washtub' - not at all the same tool, but similar in structure.
I was reminded of this during one of the earlier rounds of The Great British Bake-off (no useful link, as the TV series is over). The contestants were required to make a pie, not in a case or tin, but formed* manually using a wooden mould called - no prizes for guessing - a dolly. I was sure there'd be a DVD spin-off; apparently not - but there are more Mary Berry and Paul Hollywood books out there than you could shake a pie-dolly at).
*And on the subject of 'formed', I must write about formaggio and fromage some time.
Update 13.01.01.14:33 Done it at last: here it is.
Update 2015.11.08.17:25 – Added this note:
†I can't believe I resisted the temptation here to talk about mustelidae. The date explains the omission; I was in the thick of lexicography.
|The Raised Faculty Building|
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<digression>Apropos of that sexism , I can't hear the words men and hunting without thinking of that loathsome song from the end of The Jungle Book:
Father's hunting in the forest
Mother's cooking in the home.
I must hone my sexual stereotypes
Meanwhile, here's a clue:Till the day that I am grown[I may have remembered the third line wrong; the scansion‘s not great.]</digression>Now we come to those weasels. Dangerous or mischievous animals can acquire taboo-affected words. Bella is obvious as a root of the French bellette. But the word for weasel in Portuguese is doninha, and in Italian is donnola – both meaning little lady.That example comes from that lecture; this is my speculation – it seems to me that there might have been an element of placating the gods of the jungle in the naming of the Boa constrictor: pretty again, and female, though you couldn't call her a little lady. But Etymonline (spoilsport) says the origin of the Latin boa, mentioned in Pliny‘s Natural History, is unknown. Hmmm...
Weapon that brusque potter might demand. (8)
Update:2018.05.21.16:45 – Repaired broken link. And here's the answer at last: CLAYMORE