Printable Version
Pronunciation: bæ-get Hear it!

Part of Speech: Noun

Meaning: 1. A long, thin loaf of bread. 2. A small, compact handbag designed by Fendi in 1997. 3. Anything long and slender in design, especially in architecture and gemology.

Notes: Baguette breadThe second sense of today's Good Word was based on a misperception of the bag in baguette. As the word history will show, it has nothing to do with bags. It was borrowed recently from French and French words ending on -ette typically produce no lexical offspring.

In Play: Baguette gemHere is what we might say should we want to use today's Good Word in two of its senses: "Hulda brought home the baguette she bought at the neighborhood bakery in the new baguette she bought the day before at the neighborhood boutique." The discovery of non-bagged breads by Americans fired up the baguette popularity in this country: "Baguettes became popular in the US only after World War II, when Americans began traveling to Europe big time."

Word History: Baguette bagToday's word was copied recently from French baguette, which originally meant "stick", but came to refer to elongated bread loaves. French apparently borrowed the word from Italian bacchetta, the diminutive of bacchio "stick". Italian inherited the word from Latin baculum "stick". Latin created its word out of PIE bak- "(walking) stick, rod", which also went into the making of bacteria, because the first ones discovered resembled rods. The diminutive of baculum was bacillus, which English helped itself to, as well. Imbecile came from Latin imbecillus "feeble", which just might have come from in-bacillus "no cane" in the sense of "without a cane". This is as far as I feel comfortable stretching the history of this word. (Many thanks to Rob Towart, the source of many Words as Good as today's.)

Dr. Goodword,

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