• brooch •
broch • Hear it!
Part of Speech: Noun
Meaning: An ornamental clasp worn on women's clothing.
Notes: The original function of brooches was to hold some part of a woman's clothing together but today it is simply a piece of jewelry used as a decorative accessory. The odd pronunciation of this word is the result of its coming from the same source as broach "large pointed rod or pin", such as roasting spit (see Word History). In fact, today's Good Word is more and more spelled broach in the US as a result of this confusion. The spelling above is still the preferred.
In Play: Today's Good Word is not very conducive to figurative use, so here is how we use it in its literal sense: "Maud Lynn Dresser had all her family jewels embedded in one brooch which she wears wherever she goes." For extra security, I hear, her brooch is attached to a gold chain that disappears mysteriously down her bodice.
Word History: Middle English borrowed this word from Old French broche "roasting spit, awl". French had inherited it from the Latin adjective broccus "projecting, pointed", often used to describe the canine teeth of humans and animals. Where Latin picked the word up is something of a mystery. The Romans may have borrowed it from the Gauls, who lived in France before the arrival of the Romans for a related language, Gaelic contains a word brog "awl". (Now is the time to broach the subject of thanking Debbie Kommalan for suggesting today's Good Word. I wish we could send her a lovely brooch.)
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