I have a super silly but nagging question: Is the proper spelling
for the piece on a pendant which a chain threads through bale, or
bail? I see it listed both ways on different websites, but no
dictionary I have access to seems to have the last word. It’s
slightly maddening. Does anyone have an authoritative answer? Many
According to the Oxford English Dictionary, the correct spelling is
‘bail’, meaning a ring or half-hoop used for suspending something.
The spelling ‘bale’ refers to a volumetric description as in ‘bale of
Don’t guarantee authority but I read that “bail” may be derived from
a Scandinavian word meaning “bow” - something bent into a simple
curve. Some meanings offered in my very old Webster’s Collegiate
--a supporting half hoop
--the usually arched handle of a kettle or pail
“Carrying” the right spelling in my memory is easy when I picture
the bail of a pail.