• droll •
Pronunciation: drowl • Hear it!
Part of Speech: Adjective
Meaning: Oddly amusing, intentionally facetious, whimsically comic.
Notes: Today's word comes with three nouns, two that are droll in themselves: drollery and drollity. The third is as humorless as nouns come: drollness. We also have at our disposal an adverb, drolly, and a diminutive adjective, drollish "somewhat droll".
In Play: Santa Claus in Clement Moore's famous poem, A Visit from St. Nicholas, lately known as Twas the Night before Christmas, is described as having 'a droll little mouth . . . drawn up like a bow. Honoré de Balzac wrote some famous Droll Stories (Contes drolatiques), a collection of lively and lusty stories about 16th century French manners.
Word History: Today's Good Word was passed around substantially before coming to English. It began its English life as a noun meaning "a good fellow, a pleasant wag". It was borrowed from Middle French drôlle with the same meaning. French, it seems, picked its word up from Middle Dutch drol "fat little fellow, goblin" or from Middle High German trolle "clown". These words are related to Old Norse troll "giant, evil spirit, monster", but trolls were regarded by the peasants of Denmark and Sweden as dwarves or imps who lived underground, in caves, or under bridges. By the 17th century it was being used as an adjective with its current meaning. (Today's funny little Good Word was recommended by the ever droll Rob Towart.)