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Gimcrack

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                     *  WORD A DAY  *
                  Thursday, August 2, 2007
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Fellow Logophiles,

Good morning! Here are the answers to the word scramble: 
1) maudlin, 2) volte-face, 3) missive, 4) prescind, and 
5) maven. 

Let me share with you the origin of the term "big wig." 

As incredible as it sounds, long ago men and women took 
baths only twice a year (May and October)! Women kept 
their hair covered, while men shaved their heads (because 
of lice and bugs) and wore wigs. Wealthy men could afford 
good wigs made from wool. 

They couldn't wash the wigs, so to clean them they would 
carve out a loaf of bread, put the wig in the shell, and 
bake it for 30 minutes. The heat would make the wig big and 
fluffy, hence the term "big wig." Today we often use the 
term "here comes the Big Wig" because someone appears to be 
or is powerful and wealthy. 

Sincerely,

Carly

P.S. You can discuss this issue or any other topic in the
new Word A Day forum. Check it out here... Word A Day Forum

                             *

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                             *


WORD:  gimcrack   JIM-krak  (noun)

: A trivial mechanism 

adjective: Tastelessly showy; cheap; gaudy. 

SYNONYMS: * device 
          * toy 
          * gewgaw 

WORD WISE: The origin of gimcrack is uncertain. It is 
perhaps an alteration of Middle English gibecrake, a slight 
or flimsy ornament. 

QUOTE: "And as for coincidences in books - there's something 
cheap and sentimental about the device; it can't help always 
seeming aesthetically gimcrack." 
--Peter Brooks, "Obsessed with the Hermit of Croisset," New 
York Times, March 10, 1985 


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BONUS WORD OF THE DAY:  concinnity   kuhn-SIN-uh-tee 
(noun) 

: Internal harmony or fitness in the adaptation of parts to 
a whole or to each other. 
: Studied elegance of design or arrangement -- used chiefly 
of literary style. 

Concinnity comes from Latin concinnitas, "elegance; harmony 
of style," from concinnus, "well put together; pleasing, on 
account of harmony and proportion." 



                  OBSCURE AND UNUSUAL WORDS
                  *************************

1)  kreistle   kri sel  (transitive verb) 
    : to disgust 

    From German greiseln = to shudder at. 

2)  scaramouch   skar e moosh  (noun) 
    : a cowardly buffoon 

    From Scaramouch, a character in Italian comedy. 


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