- mannequin (n.)
- 1902, "model to display clothes," from French mannequin (15c.), from Dutch manneken (see manikin). A French form of the same word that yielded manikin, and sometimes mannequin was used in English in a sense "artificial man" (especially in translations of Hugo). Originally of persons, in a sense where we might use "model."
A mannequin is a good-looking, admirably formed young lady, whose mission is to dress herself in her employer's latest "creations," and to impart to them the grace which only perfect forms can give. Her grammar may be bad, and her temper worse, but she must have the chic the Parisienne possesses, no matter whether she hails from the aristocratic Faubourg St. Germain or from the Faubourg Montmartre. ["The Bystander," Aug. 15, 1906]Later (by 1939) of artificial model figures to display clothing.
- diminutive suffix, first attested late 12c. in proper names adopted from Flanders and Holland, probably from Middle Dutch -kin, properly a double-diminutive, from -k + -in. Equivalent to German -chen. Also borrowed in Old French as -quin, where it usually has a bad sense.
This suffix, which is almost barren in French, has been more largely developed in the Picard patois, which uses it for new forms, such as verquin, a shabby little glass (verre); painequin, a bad little loaf (pain); Pierrequin poor little Pierre, &c. ["An Etymological Dictionary of the French Language," transl. G.W. Kitchin, Oxford, 1878]