• kiosk •
kee-ahsk • Hear it!
Part of Speech: Noun
Meaning: 1. A small stand selling newspapers, magazines, and/or other small retail items. 2. A public interactive computer stand for disseminating information or selling things, usually located in airports and shopping malls. 3. An upright cylindrical structure for posting advertisements. 4. (UK) Telephone booth.
Notes: The spelling of this word is something to watch; I isn't usually pronounced [ee]. Kiosk is a lexical orphan, not even a kiosker "operator of a kiosk" may be found in any English dialect.
In Play: Kiosks were once simply newsstands. Today they have many functions: "Starbucks coffee kiosks now offer premium espresso with fresh dairy in airports and supermarkets." We see fewer of the cylindrical advertising kiosks these days, but they still exist: "Rhoda Book saw a poster advertising her latest novel pasted on a kiosk in Paris."
Word History: Today's Good Word is an international word: Danish, Dutch, German, Russian, Serbian, Swedish, and Polish all spell it kiosk. It originally came from Turkish köşk "pavilion, summer house", borrowed from Persian küšk "garden gazebo, open pavilion, portico". They were introduced in Western Europe in the 17th century as ornaments in gardens and parks, where the upper classes could sit and chat while viewing the gardens. Later they became street newsstands with some resemblance in form. Modern senses wandered from there to an upright cylindrical structure and, in Britain, to a telephone kiosk, and finally upright public computer stands. (Gratitude is due Rob Towart, who discovered today's odd little Good Word with the fascinating history and shared it with us.)
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