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Dr. Goodword
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Postby Dr. Goodword » Sat Jul 13, 2013 10:46 pm

• fillip •

Pronunciation: fi-lip • Hear it!

Part of Speech: Noun, Verb

Meaning: 1. (Noun) A movement made by curving a finger against the thumb and then suddenly releasing it. 2. (Noun) A stimulus, an act that attracts attention or arouses interest. 3. (Verb) To flip, to move a small object with a sharp motion of the fingers.

Notes: Today's Good Word is the immediate ancestor of the verb flip, reduced permanently by 'LVS'. This reduction follows the same route as chirrup, currently more often written simply chirp—and pronounced appropriately differently.

In Play: Fillips at one time were a common way to capture someone's attention: "I was about to mention the birthday party to Phillip when Agnes Payne gave me a rather painful fillip on the arm as a reminder that the party was supposed to be a surprise." Used as a verb, this word still implies the finger motion described in Meaning No. 1: "As I whispered sweet nothings into Mala Fortuna's ear, she nonchalantly filliped crumbs across the table."

Word History: US dictionaries are inclined toward explaining today's word as an imitation of the sound a fillip makes. Other dictionaries list its origin as a mystery. It does appear that fillip was in use a century before flip, so flip would seem to be a reduction of today's Good Word. The meaning of flip has also broadened to mean "turn over" as well as "to put into motion using any finger", as to flip a coin (using the thumb against the forefinger). (Today's Good Word is a fillip from Mark Angney of the English faculty at Concord-Carlisle High School in Concord, Massachusetts, reminding us how interesting this word is.)
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Perry Lassiter
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Re: Fillip

Postby Perry Lassiter » Sun Jul 14, 2013 12:29 am

Couple of things come to mind. First, in the doc's attribution as a fillip from the teacher comes across to me with the connotation of a minor thing, like flipping crumbs, a small thing or action. Am I the only one who has mistakenly applied this meaning?

The shortening of the words reminds me of our discussion under "squirrel." following the same process, we may one day shorten to spelling to squirl, squirld, and the like!

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Re: Fillip

Postby MTC » Sun Jul 14, 2013 8:24 am

You're correct, Perry. The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition includes the sense: " n. One that is trivial or of little importance."

The same dictionary also includes: "n. An embellishment that excites or stimulates: 'Spritely tabasco onions, just a little crunch for the top, were an added fillip' ( Alison Arnett)."

Just adding a little fillip to our discussion...

Philip Hudson
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Re: Fillip

Postby Philip Hudson » Sun Jul 14, 2013 2:23 pm

As a child, I was an only son in a remote place. I had no playmates. I regret that I never learned how to snap my forefinger against my thumb and make a fillip. Nor did I ever learn to whistle. These things you learn as a small child.

It is a coincidence that the word fillip is pronounced the same as my name. Philip is from the Greek Φίλιππος which means "friend of horses".
It is dark at night, but the Sun will come up and then we can see.

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