Printable Version
Pronunciation: drayn-chaild Hear it!

Part of Speech: Noun

Meaning: An innovative idea that would be a brainchild except that it drains funds or other resources from where they could otherwise be useful or, as one wag put it, "a tiresome nagging brainless idea that sucks money out of a corporation".

Notes: Since alphaDictionary has a special section for them, I don't usually suggest a "sniglet" for a Good Word. However, this word is good enough to break a rule or two for. But if you have more than one drainchild, do you have drainchilds or drainchildren? Since the reference here is not an actual child, some people prefer drainchilds and brainchilds to drainchildren and brainchildren. The same issue is raised with mouse when it refers to the computer peripheral. Mouses occurs 16,2000,000 times currently on the Web, indicating a significant portion of the population associates the irregular plural of that word strictly with actual mice. We will let time decide.

In Play: Today's word was created by analogy with brainchild to refer to a bright idea that backfires and costs more than it is worth: "The company was doing fine until we acted on the boss's drainchild to build a vacation villa for employees in Alabama." The facetious contrast between the meaning of this word and its analogy, brainchild, begs for verbal mischief: "Whose drainchild was it to put a heat activated self-flushing bidet in the staff bathroom?"

Word History: No one seems to know much about the origin of drain. It has been with us since Old English, but for about 500 years, from the 11th to the 16th century, it was not recorded. It must have been spoken, though, since it did reappear in print at the end of that span. Child is also an oddity. In other Germanic languages the middle consonant tends to be N, as in Dutch kind (plural kinderen), German Kind (plural Kinder), which English borrowed in Kindergarten. Originally the plural of child was just child, like the plurals of deer and fish. But by late Old English, an R had been added and the plural in Middle English was childer, a form still heard in Shropshire, Leicester, and Lincolnshire. However, by the end of the Middle English period, an -en had been added by analogy with brethren.

Dr. Goodword,

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