martinet n : someone who demands exact conformity to rules and forms [syn: disciplinarian, moralist]
- Rhymes with: -ɛt
Etymology 1After the example of 17th century French army officer Jean Martinet.
Etymology 2Diminutive of martin
- The martin bird.
Etymologyfrom marteau 'hammer', itself from Latin martulus 'hammer'
The martinet is a punitive device traditionally used in France and other parts of Europe. The word also has other usages (see below). It is also a term for a type of hammer in French, a dimunitive of marteau (Latin martulus), "hammer".
ObjectA martinet is a short, scourge-like (multi-tail) type of whip made of a wooden handle of about 25 cm (10 inches) in length and about 10 lashes of equal, relatively short length. The lashes are usually made of leather, but sometimes soap-stiffened cords are used in place of leather. It is a traditional instrument of physical punishment in France (in French it also meant a similar dusting implement; the type for chastisement was also known as fouet d'enfant, 'child's whip') and other European countries.
The martinet was often applied on the calves, for children did not have to disrobe that way. Otherwise it was often applied on the bare buttocks, adding a dose of humiliation to the physical pain, like the English and Commonwealth caning, birching, naval boy's pussy, American paddling, et cetera. As it is not blunt, and heavy, impact on clothes would be reduced too much to remain effective.
It is generally considered abusive to use it for spanking children in modern times. Still, martinets were still sold in the pet section of French supermarkets; it is generally believed that a large share of those sold are meant for use on children, not pets, or at least to threaten them. But nowadays many supermarkets in France have stopped selling the martinet even in the pet section. It is also often still carried demonstratively by Zwarte Pieten (male black assistants of Saint Nicholas, the European original of Santa Claus, celebrated on December 6; attribute persisting where lashes are banned, as in Belgium) to chastise very naughty kids instead of leaving presents.
- A French homonym, from first name Martin and suffix -et, is a kind of swallow.
Martinet as a person
in FrenchThe term was used for an external pupil of a collège (i.e. continental high school, especially Catholic). Jean Bodin, quoting the examination of three witches by Paolo Grillandi of Castiglione at the Castello San Paolo, Spoleto, records that the witches referred to the Devil as Master Martinet (maistre Martinet), or the Little Master (petit maistre).
in English terms
This sense of the word reputedly comes from the name of Jean Martinet, Inspector General of the army of Louis XIV (one of the first great drill masters of modern times, died 1672) and thus would be etymologically only by accident related to the earlier sense. It was the drill master who revolutionized the early modern army by instituting a standardized system capable of turning raw recruits into a disciplined fighting force, thereby eliminating the mercenaries and soldiers-of-fortune who had been the mainstays of earlier armies.
History records that Martinet was eventually killed by friendly fire while leading an infantry assault at the siege of Duisburg. Whether or not this was entirely accidental is, of course, a matter of conjecture.
martinet in German: Martinet (Züchtigungsinstrument)
martinet in French: Martinet (instrument)