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Richard Walker

Panniers

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A few months ago, I bought a mobility scooter designed to go on the road, rather than the pavement. It’s a bit like an electric motorbike except of course it doesn’t go as fast, there’s a limit of 8 mph.

Like many motorbikes, it has a back box, but its capacity is limited. Having literally just bought a baguette I wondered how I could fit my bread and other groceries in. 

What I need is panniers I thought; storage baskets that hang on either side of a donkey or a bike; and then it occurred to me, that’s exactly why they are called panniers. It must be connected with French pain = bread. Aha! 

So I looked it up in the OED and sure enough, a pannier was a bread basket in old French, and we borrowed the word, into Middle English or maybe before.

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