belt, girdle or band worn around the body, originally to confine loose garments. Later the girdle became a decorative accessory and was used to carry belongings. The Greeks and Romans wore ornamental cords and bands of many materials, including metal. The medieval belt displayed brilliant goldwork and gems; it carried the purse, dagger, sword, and other personal belongings of the wearer. Since then the belt has varied in style and importance. It has been symbolic of strength, of alertness, and of integrity. In folklore belts have often been accorded supernatural power.
The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.