Thursday, December 18, 2008

Word of the Day: Kickshaw

KICK-shaw:  1.  a fancy dish.  2.  a showy trifle.

Yesterday Merriam-Webster's Word of the Day was kickshaw, a word I had never heard before.  The only reason I'm telling you about it is because it has a quirky French origin.  I'm fascinated by the evolution of language and this silly little word illustrates beautifully how English has been pollinated by so many foreign words.  

According to MW, kickshaw: 
...began its career in the late 16th century as a borrowing from the French "quelque chose" literally, "something."  In line with the French pronunciation of the day, the "l" was dropped and the word was anglicized as "kickshaws" or "kickshoes."  English speakers soon lost all consciousness of the word's French origin and by taking the "kickshaws" as plural, created the new singular noun "kickshaw".
OK, many of you are probably asleep at this point wondering,  just how boring is this woman??  For those of you paying attention, you can astound your friends with your new found knowledge.  

Photo credit:  nbkix17 / Sandy@flickr


My Castle in Spain said...

i think i will indeed astound my friends...
such a find ! and amusing too...

Kelli said...

I also receive the "word of the day" loving to know where words originate from. Lovely story and I will try to use this "new" word very soon!
Thanks for digging into a little history for us.

Kim said...

Kelli--we keep having more in common:-))