Word of the Day

Wednesday, December 05, 2018

postiche

[ paw-steesh, po- ]

noun

a false hairpiece.

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What is the origin of postiche?

Postiche, like many cultural terms derived from the Romance languages, has a complicated etymology, what with the borrowing and lending of forms and meanings between Latin, Late Latin, Medieval Latin, Italian, French, Spanish, and Portuguese. The English word postiche, from French postiche, has two original meanings: as an adjective, it is a term used in architecture and sculpture and means “added on, especially inappropriately; artificial, counterfeit”; as a noun, it means “a hairpiece made of false hair.” The French word may come from Spanish postizo “artificial, substitute,” or from Italian posticcio with the same meanings. The Spanish and Italian forms most likely derive from Late Latin apposticius “placed beside or on” (and equivalent to Latin appositus “adjacent, near at hand, suitable”).

how is postiche used?

… the Goulet postiche is guaranteed to blend imperceptibly with the wearer’s own hair, for I refuse to settle for anything less than a perfect match.

Catherine Chidgey, The Transformation, 2003

… when the hair had been thoroughly dyed it could only recover its natural colour by this slow process, but that usually the effect was concealed by a postiche

Laurence Oliphant, Piccadilly, 1870
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Tuesday, December 04, 2018

brusquerie

[ broos-kuh-ree ]

noun

abruptness and bluntness in manner; brusqueness.

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What is the origin of brusquerie?

Brusquerie, which still feels like a French word, is a derivative of the adjective brusque. The French adjective comes from Italian brusco “rough, tart,” a special use of the noun brusco “butcher’s broom” (the name of a shrub). Brusco may come from Latin bruscum “a knot or growth on a maple tree”; or brusco may be a conflation of Latin ruscus, ruscum “butcher’s broom” and Vulgar Latin brūcus “heather.” Brusquerie entered English in the mid-18th century.

how is brusquerie used?

… I could see that she was doing her best to irritate me with the brusquerie of her answers.

Fyodor Dostoyevsky, The Gambler (1866), translated by C. J. Hogarth, 1917

I hope you have not been so foolish as to take offence at any little brusquerie of mine …

Edgar Allan Poe, "The Gold-Bug," Philadelphia Dollar Magazine, 1843
Monday, December 03, 2018

beanfeast

[ been-feest ]

noun

Chiefly British Slang. (formerly) an annual dinner or party given by an employer for employees.

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What is the origin of beanfeast?

Beanfeast is a perfectly ordinary compound of the humble bean and feast. A beanfeast was originally an annual dinner given by employers for their employees, but the word acquired the sense “festive occasion” by the end of the 19th century. Beanfeast entered English in the early 19th century.

how is beanfeast used?

In August the annual outing, or, as it was called, the bean-feast, at the works took place.

G. A. Henty, Sturdy and Strong, 1888

Why do we come? … Simply from the primordial love of a bean-feast!

W. W. Blair-Fish, "Because We Are Conventional," The Rotarian, June 1930

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