It’s always fun to make guesses about unfamiliar words. The Tensor has a post on this very subject, introducing “two separate bits of terminology associated with modern sport fencing: homologated and maraging.” If you already know these words, you’re presumably a fencer (and I’d be interested to know how you pronounce the latter, since it seems to have undergone a curious process of foreignizing in some circles in the few decades of its existence). If you don’t, take a stab (so to speak) at the meaning of “homologated jackets, britches, and masks” and “maraging blades” (or, more properly as far as I can tell, “maraged blades”). Then pop over to The Tensor and get the facts (which suprised me).

Addendum (2019). I just ran across this post and was alarmed at my fecklessness in having left the important facts to be discovered by visiting a post at The Tensor which might vanish away at any time. As it happens, it’s still there, but just in case:

ho·mol·o·gate: To approve, especially to confirm officially. (From Medieval Latin homologāre, homologāt-, from Greek homologein, ‘to agree’, from homologos, ‘agreeing’) […]

The word maraging actually refers to steel subjected to a particular heat treatment process to greatly increase its hardness. It’s derived from the words martensite (a kind of crystalline mineral that forms during the process) and aging, so it’s pronounced like the English words mar and aging. Live and learn.


  1. dungbeetle says

    homo logo; logic and man leading to [1] “to approve,or countenance or it be [2] Civil law to confirm officially,
    so my ill informed guess be: officially approved clothing of those that be fencing and using special steel for ones epee.
    Ah! that word ‘fence’ leads to some interesting situations.

  2. David Boyk says

    I used to fence when I was growing up in Los Angeles, and we pronounced “maraging” as “m?ra???.”

  3. David Boyk says

    Hmm, maybe the IPA didn’t come through. “Muh-raa-zhing,” anyway.

  4. Yeah, apparently that’s the standard “fencing pronunciation.” But it’s very odd, because it’s a compound based on mar(tensite) + aging, two perfectly good English words; I guess fencers just feel more comfortable with terminology that sounds French!

  5. george sala says

    A propos, why hasn’t LanguageHat updated his email?

  6. Not sure what you mean. The Gmail address is my current one.

  7. John Emerson says

    Steve here is now the #3 “hat” google. With a few more links he will become the Hat of the Universe.

  8. Homologated is very familiar if you are connected or follow reasonably closely any form of motor sport (auto racing or rallying).

  9. Maitreya says

    homologated sounds familiar for any italian-speaker (maybe also in other romance languages). in Italian it’s quite an every-day word (omologato). It’s used to describe an object which is approved by a sport federation or which fits in all the features stated by the law. E.G. if you ride a motorbike you must wear a homologated (omologato) helmet. I heard that there’s quite a lot of latinate words which sound rare, obsolete, or obscure in English, while their italian cognate is quite common in every-day speech. Is that true?
    P.S. I’d never heard the word maraging before.

  10. I was wondering if there is a spanish word for maraging, but seems there is not.
    Maraging steel is 18Ni-4,5Mo-7Co-0,3Ti and was developed in 1960 by International Nickel Company ….

  11. “Maraging” is actually the technical term for what goes on immediately prior to my putting up a post on my blog. I know what I want to say, but the letters aren’t quite in the right order…

  12. maitreya says

    I forgot to say that homologated comes actually from greek: homos = the same & logeo = say, declare.

  13. Odd… I’ve only ever heard “homologated” as a description of a Spanish legal process — specifically, in the context of someone needing to have a degree from a non-Spanish university “translated” so that it could be used to meet the requirements of a particular job in Spain.

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