• froufrou •
Pronunciation: fru-fru • Hear it!
Part of Speech: Noun
Meaning: 1. A swishing sound like that of rustling silk or satin. 2. Frilly, showy ornamentation, such as knick-knacks in a home or accessories on a dress.
Notes: This word is so new (in linguistic time), it has no derivational family. It may be used as a verb, as in "femininities froufrouing down the stairs" or "skirts that froufrou when you walk". That is the extent of the spread of this word to other grammatical categories. If you wish to break up the repetition, you may add a hyphen and spell today's Good Word frou-frou.
In Play: Froufrouing first and foremost refers to the sound made by silk or satin rubbing together: "Maude Lynn Dresser wore an outfit of so many draping layers of fabric that when she sat down or rose up from sitting, she created a symphony of froufrou." It can also refer to something stationary that catches the eye and is on the borderline of good taste: "The old Victorian house was filled with so much froufrou as to make anyone feel like a bull in a china shop."
Word History: Today's word is a French example of onomatopoeia. In 19th century Paris, women's dresses were often made of several layers of such materials as satin or silk that rustled when the women who wore them moved. The word froufrou was the French attempt at imitating that sound. When the word arrived in England, it first meant "rustling", but later took on the second meaning above, "frilly, show ornamentation".