I was reading Julian Bell’s LRB review of a Munch exhibition at the Tate Modern (which Wikipedia says is the most-visited modern art gallery in the world) when I was stopped in my tracks by the italicized word in the following sentence: “Munch did come to Paris with some training, but in genres appropriate to provincial Kristiania, each of them distinct: the frontal portrait, the landscape pochade, the bourgeois interior.” I had no idea what a pochade might be, so I went to my trusty Concise Oxford, which didn’t have it. It did, however, have pochard “a diving duck, the male of which typically has a reddish-brown head,” which is “of unknown origin.” So I had to go to the big OED, which of course has both words. Here’s what it says about the first (I’m putting brackets around the etymology for clarity): “[< French pochade a rough or hastily executed sketch (1828; also in sense ‘literary work written rapidly’ (1830)) < pocher (see poach v.1) + –ade -ade suffix.] A rough or hastily executed sketch; a blurred or indistinct picture. Also in extended use (chiefly Theatre).” The first citation is from 1872: R. Browning Fifine xxxvi, “So, any sketch or scrap, pochade, caricature, Made in a moment, meant a moment to endure, I snap at.” The diving duck pochard is “Apparently partly < poach v.2 + –ard suffix, and partly < poke v.1 + –ard suffix, in both cases probably with reference to the feeding habits of the bird.” You will note that both etymologies refer to a verb poach; poach 1 is the commonly known ‘cook (an egg) without the shell in simmering, or over boiling, water,’ which is ultimately from Old/Middle French poche ‘bag’ (the sense “is usually explained as referring to the enclosure of the yolk in the white as in a bag”), while poach 2, ‘shove, poke, thrust,’ has an etymology (revised September 2006) so tortured I won’t try to summarize it:
Origin uncertain. It is also uncertain whether the material below shows the development of a single word or of two or more, and whether (if a single origin is assumed) the original meaning should be taken to be ‘to shove’, ‘to poke’, ‘to thrust’, ‘to trample’, or ‘to thrust into a bag’. Branch I. perhaps shows a variant (with palatalized consonant) of poke v.1, but if so sense 1b must be of independent origin, < Middle French, French pocher to poke out (an eye) (1223 in Old French; spec. use of pocher poach v.1, perhaps arising originally from an analogy between the empty eye socket and a bag or pocket); with the early uses at sense 1a, and perhaps also with branch II., perhaps compare also French pocher poach v.1 in the sense ‘to put in a bag’, although this sense (although apparently a primary one) is not recorded in French until later (1660, unless implied slightly earlier by the idiom recorded by Cotgrave in quot. 1611 at sense 4a) and is apparently rare at all times. Perhaps alternatively compare poke v.2, of which the present word could perhaps show a variant (perhaps compare early forms at pouch n.).
That’s six perhapses, if I’ve counted right. I admit to feeling a certain irritation on being confronted with an obscure word like pochade used in place of a more transparent synonym, but on the other hand I enjoy looking things up, so I guess it’s a wash.