Origin of pretzelGerman brezel ; from Old High German brezitella ; from Medieval Latin an unverified form brachiatellum, diminutive of an unverified form brachiatum, biscuit baked in form of crossed arms ; from Classical Latin brachium, an arm: see brace
Origin of pretzelGerman Brezel, from Middle High German br&emacron;zel, pr&emacron;zel, from Old High German br&emacron;zila, brezzitella, from Medieval Latin bracellus, alteration of Medieval Latin *brachiatellus, diminutive of Latin bracchiatus, having branches like arms (in reference to the traditional form of a pretzel said to be made to look like arms folded in prayer), from bracchium, arm, from Greek brakh&imacron;&omacron;n, upper arm; see mregh-u- in Indo-European roots. Word History: In the early 1800s, the pretzel was considered a stereotypically German food, and the first known occurrences of the word pretzel in English date from the first half of the 1800s and are often found in descriptions of the German diet. Pretzel comes from a German word that is now spelled Brezel in modern standard German. The English spelling pretzel with p probably reflects the pronunciation of Brezel in one of the dialects of southern Germany. In many of these dialects, the letters b and p are pronounced identically when they occur at the beginning of a word, and they have a sound that reminds English speakers of a p. In Germany, pretzels are traditionally associated with Lent and Easter, and the overlapping strands of dough in a pretzel are said to represent the arms of a person with hands folded in prayer. In fact, German Brezel is ultimately derived from the Latin word for “arm,” bracchium. Brezel comes from the Medieval Latin word brachellus, which referred to some sort of baked item, presumably like a pretzel. This Medieval Latin word is thought to be a shortened version of another Medieval Latin word, *brachiatellus, that does not happen to be attested in any written documents preserved from the Middle Ages. In Latin, *brachiatellus would literally mean something like “little thing with arms.” It is the diminutive of another Medieval Latin word braciatus that is actually attested in surviving Medieval Latin documents and refers to some sort of baked good eaten by monks on holidays. This Medieval Latin word developed from the Late Latin word bracchiatus, meaning “having boughs or branches like arms,” itself a derivative of Latin bracchium, “arm.” In this way, the history of the word pretzel accords with the widespread tradition that a monk living in France or northern Italy invented the knotted shape of a pretzel in order to symbolize arms folded in prayer.