Printable Version
Pronunciation: beeb-ê-lo, beeb-lo Hear it!

Part of Speech: Noun

Meaning: 1. A trinket or curio, a small ornament or decoration. 2. A small, decorative book, especially if finely handcrafted.

Notes: Today's is another word borrowed from French so recently that the French pronunciation [bib-lo] is still possible. Notice that in either pronunciation the final T is silent, again, as it is in French.

In Play: Bibelots are often little gifts we pick up for people we are supposed to love: "Randy Gauntlet thought the little bibelot he picked up in the Paris airport would meet his wife's expectations." Over a lifetime they can mount up: "The home of Lacey Curtains was so filled with bibelots she collected all over the world, Sid Downe was afraid to move for fear of breaking something."

Word History: French bibelot "knickknack" came from Old French beubelet "trinket, jewel". In the 12th century it was belbel, a reduplication of bel "pretty, beautiful". Bel is a historical reduction of Latin bellus "handsome, beautiful". It has been joined by two variants, beau and belle in Modern French. Both of these new forms have been imported unadulterated into English, the masculine beau meaning "boyfriend" and the feminine belle meaning "beautiful woman". We find the roots of all three forms in many words borrowed from French, including beauty and beatify, as well as embellish. (We wish we could send Luke Javan a bibelot of our appreciation for suggesting today's Good Word, but a simple "Thank you" will have to suffice.)

Dr. Goodword,

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