The name assumed by Cathos as more aristocratic than her own. She is courted by a gentleman, but discards him because his manners are too simple and easy for “bon ton;” he then sends his valet, who pretends to be a marquis, and Aminte is charmed with his “distinguished style of manners and talk.” When the game has gone far enough, the trick is exposed, and Aminte is saved from a mésalliance. —Molière: Les Précieuses Ridicules.
It was a prevailing fashion in the Middle Ages to change names; Voltaire's proper name was Arouet (1694–1778); Melancthon's was Schwarzerde (1497–1560). The real names of Desiderius Erasmus were Gheraerd Gheraerd (1467–1336); Anacharsis Clootz was Jean Baptiste Clootz, etc.
Source: Dictionary of Phrase and Fable, E. Cobham Brewer, 1894
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