Once again, my time spent watching Bones is justified.
From one episode of Bones (I don’t recall the episode or even the season) I learned that a misericord (or misericorde) is a short, narrow dagger-like weapon. In the show, it’s a murder weapon.
Then last night, I learn (while reading Saint Julian by Walter Wangerin Jr.) that misericordia means mercy in Latin. [Why oh why didn’t I learn Latin when I had the chance?]
So this morning, I had to look this up. I learned this word misericord can also mean a support for someone who’s standing and a special monastic apartment for a monk who has been granted a relaxation of the monastic rules (as well as that relaxation of the rules), in addition to the weapon. All these rely precisely on the word’s Latin origin — they’re all, apparently, ways of showing mercy.
The weapon? Used in medieval times to deliver the death stroke to a seriously wounded knight.
The bracket? On the underside of a hinged seat in a choir stall against which a standing person could lean during long services.
Interesting, very interesting.