• donnybrook •
dah-ni-bruk • Hear it!
Part of Speech: Noun
Meaning: A huge brawl, a riot, an uproar.
Notes: Donnybrook is a sterling example of a lexical orphan, a word with no derivational relatives. Since it is a compound made up of easily recognizable components, we are left with little to say about it.
In Play: We generally associate donnybrooks with sporting events: "A donnybrook broke out among the fans at the football game when the visiting team pulled out a victory in the final seconds." However, this word is not immune to metaphor: "This last presidential campaign proved to be an advertising donnybrook in the swing states."
Word History: This word has an eponym in the Donnybrook Fair once held outside Dublin annually, known for its drunken brawls. The fair was banned in 1855. The word originated in an Irish Gaelic phrase, Domhnach Broc, meaning "Church of (Saint) Broc". Broc was one of seven daughters of Dallbronach of Deece, County Meath, mentioned in two manuscripts of the day. She was supposedly beatified for building a monastery near the Donnybrook fairground, a monastery long since replaced by a graveyard. Domhnach comes from Latin (Dies) Dominica "(day) of the Lord", an adjective derived from dominus "lord, head of the household". This word comes from domus "house". An interesting journey, all said and done, for today's Good Word. (Let's tip our hats in thanks to Albert Skiles for suggesting today's Good Word, lest an e-donnybrook break out.)
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