bêm-bêr-shut • Hear it!
Part of Speech: Noun
Meaning: An umbrella or parasol, especially an old-fashioned one.
Notes: This word is one of the many nonsense words acceptable now in colloquial US English along with gobbledegook, snollygoster, stick-to-it-iveness. Remember that it ends in -shoot even though the origin of the pronunciation is probably that of -chute (see Word History).
In Play: Many Americans will remember this word from the song, "Me ol' bam-boo" in the movie Chitty Chitty Bang Bang:
Me ol' bam-boo, me ol' bam-boo
You'd better never bother with me ol' bam-boo
You can have me hat or me bum-ber-shoo
But you'd better never bother with me ol' bam-boo.
Today this word may be used more often in reference to the Seattle art and music festival, Bumbershoot. The festival received this name because it is an umbrella festival for all the arts in Seattle, rather than as a reference to that city's weather.
Word History: The origin of this word is fairly obvious, though no one knows for sure who created it or when. It seems to be a compromise between the beginning of umbrella (umber), with a replication of the B, plus the end of parachute. It was first remarked in 1896 in the Random House Historical Dictionary of the American Language, even though most Americans associate it with the British lower class. In fact, it is generally unknown in the UK. It is remindful of a child's mispronouncing umbrella like underbrella, as my son did when he was a child.
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