capital of Laconia in ancient Greece, famed for severity of its social order, the frugality of its people, the valor of its arms, and the brevity of its speech. Also for dirty boys, men vain of their long hair, boxing girls, iron money, and insufferable black broth. The name is said to be from Greek sparte "cord made from spartos," a type of broom, from PIE *spr-to-, from root *sper- (2) "to turn, twist" (see spiral (adj.)). Perhaps the reference is to the cords laid as foundation markers for the city. Or the whole thing could be folk etymology.