• brouhaha •
Pronunciation: bru-hah-hah • Hear it!
Part of Speech: Noun
Meaning: 1. Commotion, uproar, rumpus, racket, clamor, tumult. 2. Hubbub, hullabaloo, confused excited contention.
Notes: This word is so odd and isolated that it has no lexical relatives other than plural brouhahas. Do make sure you place the accent on the first syllable and not the second, where it would more naturally fall in English. Also be sure to include the O since this word is often misspelled bruhaha.
In Play: Brouhahas are closely associated with sporting events in the US: "No one was laughing after the brouhaha that resulted from the umpire calling McGraw out at home plate." Any excited contentious situation may be characterized as a brouhaha: "Yes, there was a little family brouhaha when Sue Barew came home with the nose tattoo and ring."
Word History: Today's Good Word comes from 16th century French brouhaha, taken from a chant by a priest disguised as the devil in a late 15th century French farce: "Brou brou brou ha ha, brou ha ha!" It is possible that the playwright simply made up sounds imitating confused speech. But it is also very possible that it comes from the Hebrew phrase barukh habba "blessed be he who enters," frequently heard in Jewish ceremonies and suspiciously similar to barruccaba "hubbub" in Italian dialects. Other words found in Italian dialects, such as badonai from Hebrew bi adonay "by God", further suggest that Hebrew at one time was equivalent to "Greek" in the English idiom "it's all Greek (gibberish) to me". The derivation would then parallel that of English patter from Latin pater noster "our Father". (We made no brouhaha at all over Jerrod Seaton's suggestion that we run today's Good Word.)
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