"top of the head," early 14c. (late 12c. in surnames), of unknown origin; perhaps a shortened form of Old French patene or Medieval Latin patena, both from Latin patina "pan, dish" (see pan (n.)). "[U]sually employed in a trivial or derogatory sense" [Century Dictionary].
Entries linking to pate
"broad, shallow vessel of metal used for domestic purposes," Middle English panne, from Old English panne, earlier ponne (Mercian) "pan," from Proto-Germanic *panno "pan" (source also of Old Norse panna, Old Frisian panne, Middle Dutch panne, Dutch pan, Old Low German panna, Old High German phanna, German pfanne), probably an early borrowing (4c. or 5c.) from Vulgar Latin *patna. This is supposed to be from Latin patina "shallow pan, dish, stew-pan," from Greek patane "plate, dish," from PIE *pet-ano-, from root *pete- "to spread."
But both the Latin and Germanic words might be from a substrate language [Boutkan]. Irish panna probably is from English, and Lithuanian panė is from German.
The word has been used of any hollow thing shaped somewhat like a pan; the sense of "head, top of the head" is by c. 1300. It was used of pan-shaped parts of mechanical apparatus from c. 1590; hence flash in the pan (see flash (n.1)), a figurative use from early firearms, where a pan held the priming (and the gunpowder might "flash," but no shot ensue). To go out of the (frying) pan into the fire "escape one evil only to fall into a worse" is in Spenser (1596).
"to beat or strike repeatedly, especially with the fist," 1540s, alteration of pommel (q.v.) in a verbal sense of "to beat repeatedly" with or as with a pommel or something thick and bulky. In early use pumble, poumle; the current spelling prevails from c. 1600, but the spelling alteration appears to be random, as the verb is merely the noun repurposed and they were pronounced the same. Originally often used alliteratively with pate (n.1) "head" as its object. Related: Pummeled; pummeling.
1942, apparently first attested in the Walt Disney movie "Bambi" (there also was a song by that name but it was not in the studio release of the film), a past-participle adjective formed from twitter in the "tremulous excitement" noun sense (1670s) + pate (n.2) "head" (compare flutterpated, 1894).
Thumper: Why are they acting that way?
Friend Owl: Why, don't you know? They're twitterpated.
Flower, Bambi, Thumper: Twitterpated?
Friend Owl: Yes. Nearly everybody gets twitterpated in the springtime. For example: You're walking along, minding your own business. You're looking neither to the left, nor to the right, when all of a sudden you run smack into a pretty face. Woo-woo! You begin to get weak in the knees. Your head's in a whirl. And then you feel light as a feather, and before you know it, you're walking on air. And then you know what? You're knocked for a loop, and you completely lose your head!
Thumper: Gosh, that's awful.
updated on February 19, 2020