In the post about aglets, I mentioned that according to the OED, in earlier eras, aglets were called points. According to the AHD, under definition 35 for point, a point is “A ribbon or cord with a metal tag at the end, used to fasten clothing in the 16th and 17th centuries.”
The following bit from Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night, Act 1, scene 5, between Feste the Jester or “clown,” and the maid Maria, refers to points. Feste has returned, late, long after he was expected:
Maria Yet you will be hanged for being so long absent; or,
to be turned away, is not that as good as a hanging to you?
Clown Many a good hanging prevents a bad marriage; and,
for turning away, let summer bear it out.
Maria You are resolute, then?
Clown Not so, neither; but I am resolved on two points.
Maria That if one break, the other will hold; or, if both
break, your gaskins fall.Twelfth Night I. 5. 14–21
Feste is making a bawdy pun regarding a good hanging, meaning both “lynched,” and well, “well hung.” He says he is unconcerned about being “turned away,” or fired, and will let “summer bear it out” because summer time, when it is warm, won’t be so terrible to be homeless and jobless. Maria asks if Feste is “resolute,” and again, Feste makes a pun on being “resolved,” in the sense of being “sure, and in the sense of “finding a solution” to a problem—he is “resolved on two points,” again, making another pun on points as in definition 17 “A significant, outstanding, or effective idea, argument, or suggestion,” and, 36 “A ribbon or cord with a metal tag at the end, used to fasten clothing in the 16th and 17th centuries.” As Maria knows, gaskins or breeches were held up by points.
All that from part of a shoelace
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