Word Origin & History
1291, "coarse cloth;" 1345, "tablecloth, bedspread," from O.Fr. carpite, from M.L. carpita "thick woolen cloth," pp. of L. carpere "to card, pluck," probably because it was made from unraveled, shreded, "plucked" fabric, from PIE *kerp- "to gather, pluck, harvest" (see
). Meaning shifted 15c. to floor coverings. The verb meaning "to cover with a carpet" is from c.1626. From 16c.-19c. often with a tinge of contempt, when used of men (e.g. carpet-knight, 1576) by assoc. with luxury, ladies' boudoirs, and drawing rooms. On the carpet "summoned for reprimand" is 1900, U.S. colloquial (but cf. carpet (v.) "call (someone) to be reprimanded," 1823, British servants' slang). To sweep (something) under the carpet in the fig. sense is first recorded 1963.