Origin of fencing "Foil"

The girls in the office were having a little discussion about fencing, and one said the sword was called a foil, one didn’t believe it and, as what usually happens in situations such as these, they came to me for the answer, as I am an avid reader of TSD).

"It’s called a foil or an epée,” I quickly said.

They both screamed: one in triumph, the other defeat.

Then the defeated one asked “Why?”

“Umm…” I say.

So I quickly hopped over to http://www.m-w.com and looked up “foil”

I find the definition referring to fencing and it says
“Etymology: origin unknown”


So I gave her a WAG based on the following:

[li]Foil does refer to a thin metal.[/li][li]Foil is also used to describe someone(thing) that counters you.[/li][li]In fencing you use a thin, metal instrument to counter your opponent.[/li][/ul]**

Anyone out there in the teeming millions have a more definite etymology? Or have I hit the nail on the head?

Just to be accurate, a foil is a different type of sword than an epee – or a saber, for that matter. All three are competitive fencing weapons but they have different shapes and follow different rules.

Origin of “foil”? Dunno.

Well according to Westside’s World of Fencing Facts

"Etymology: the word foil comes from the french “refouler,” meaning “to turn back,” referring to the blunted tip that was introduced by teachers to avoid serious injuries during lessons. Everywhere else in the world, the foil is called the fleuret, French for “little flower” because of the leather bulb’s (which used to be placed over the tip) resemblance to a flower bud. "

Damn.> less than two hgours and we go from a WAG to the asnwer.

The Teeming Millions rule!