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POPINJAY

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POPINJAY

Postby Dr. Goodword » Thu Apr 19, 2012 10:20 pm

• popinjay •

Pronunciation: pah-pin-jay • Hear it!

Part of Speech: Noun

Meaning: 1. A vain, conceited, pompous person, a coxcomb, a fop. 2. A loquacious, talkative person, a blabbermouth.

Notes: This Good and colorful Word originally referred to a parrot, which explains the two rather unrelated meanings "show-off" and "blabbermouth". You may use this word as an adjective meaning "vividly or garishly bright" when referring to colors, as popinjay blue or popinjay green.

In Play: Popinjay began as a metaphor for a brightly multicolored bird and referred to people who were dressed showily. It has since migrated to people who show off in any manner: "August March is such a strutting popinjay, I doubt he would deign even to speak to a general with fewer than four stars." As a result of the association with jays—not to mention the parrot's own talkativeness—the word's meaning today is slipping toward loquacity: "That smarmy popinjay in the front office won't let you get a word in edgewise."

Word History: Today's Good Word started out as Old French papegai "parrot" (perroquet today in French). The French could have gotten the word from any number of European languages: Russian popugai and Spanish papagayo are just two languages that still use it. It had reached Greek as papagas by the Middle Ages, a word which survives as papagalos today. The Europeans appropriated the word from Arabic babaga, probably during the Crusades. Arabic assumed the word from Persian babbagha. The Persian word is probably onomatopoetic, an imitation of parrot babbling. The last syllable changed to -jay in English under the influence of the word for jays, another chatty bird more familiar to our English ancestors.
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Postby bamaboy56 » Sun Apr 22, 2012 12:16 am

Popinjay began as a metaphor for a brightly multicolored bird and referred to people who were dressed showily. It has since migrated to people who show off in any manner:
I was watching a classic movie one evening (I wish I could remember the name of it but right now the name escapes me) in which a member of one party of the English House of Commons accused the members of the opposing party of being popinjays. It was the first time I heard the word and I thought it was an interesting one. Just going by the context of the sentence he used, I thought he was accusing the members of the opposing party of being effeminate (or at least of being less than manly). Don't think I've ever heard it used here in my neck of the woods. I'm going to work it into one of my conversations here soon just to see what happens.
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Postby LukeJavan8 » Sun Apr 22, 2012 11:32 am

One hears the word used in the context you infer
in Sherlock Holmes novels or in those period
murder mysteries of the mid 1800's from authors
like Anne Perry. I think I even heard it once in the
"Downton Abbey" series.
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Postby Philip Hudson » Sun Apr 22, 2012 7:07 pm

If you haven't seen the two Downton Abby series on PBS you have really missed something great. It is like "Upstairs, Downstairs" with a mega budget. I understand series three will be coming soon.
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Postby bamaboy56 » Sun Apr 22, 2012 10:33 pm

Sherlock Holmes novels, Anne Perry novels and House of Commons movies? Definitely a word used primarily in English-type media. English as in media using people from England. Can't wait to use the word in a conversation.
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Postby LukeJavan8 » Fri Apr 27, 2012 5:31 pm

Philip Hudson wrote:If you haven't seen the two Downton Abby series on PBS you have really missed something great. It is like "Upstairs, Downstairs" with a mega budget. I understand series three will be coming soon.



I decided that if I am going to watch it I had better
get it from the beginning. Waiting for DVD of season
One now. Having heard so much, I am looking forward
to it. And I love Maggie Smith, especially from Harry
Potter movies.
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