• tuxedo •
Part of Speech: Noun
Meaning: A man's formal eveningwear usually comprising black trousers with a silk stripe down the leg, a cummerbund, a bow tie, and a black or white jacket. The cuffs of the shirt and the shirt itself usually fasten with studs rather than buttons.
Notes: For some reason, Americans love to mangle today's Good Word. The plural may be spelled tuxedos or tuxedoes; no one seems to care. Moreover, it may be clipped down to simply tux in informal or colloquial speech. The plural of the clipping is tuxes. Again, in highly informal English, someone wearing a tuxedo may be said to be tuxedoed.
In Play: Men are wearing tuxes less and less often these days: "Freddie wears his tuxedo so seldom that it usually smells of moth balls when he does." Hundreds of jokes are based on the similarity of the colors of tuxedoes and penguins: "All the men attending the eleemosynary fund-raiser stood together on one side of the room like a rookery of penguins huddled together against the cold."
Word History: Tuxedo was named for Tuxedo Park, a town in southeastern New York, the site of a country club where a dinner jacket without tails was first worn in 1886. The name of the town came from nearby Tuxedo Lake, named for an Algonquin tribe that lived near it in years gone by. The name of the tribe would seem to come from an Algonquin word, perhaps Munsee Delaware p'tuck-sepo "crooked river". It is, however, difficult to trace the origin of native American words since the languages were not written. (Today we offer a formal bow of gratitude to Maureen DeGrio for suggesting today's Good Word, even though we are not dressed in tuxedos.)
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