Printable Version
Pronunciation: gæl-ê-maw-fri Hear it!

Part of Speech: Noun

Meaning: A hodgepodge, a salmagundi, a mishmash, a jumble, a collection of various odds and ends.

Notes: In 1836 a British magazine used the adjective gallimaufrical in a tongue-in-cheek expression, "a gallimaufrical [theatre] performance", but that hardly suffices to allow this adjective into the ranks of the English vocabulary. So gallimaufry remains an odd little word meaning "odds and ends" without a living relative.

In Play: Today's word is no longer used in its original sense, a mixed stew or ragout. Its reference is, however, always an odd mixture of some sort: "Melba Crisp decorated her home in a gallimaufry of styles: Victorian, French Provincial, and American Indian jumbled together with a bit of chinoiserie here and there." We occasionally run into the odd gentleman who is such a mixture: "Sir Cumfrence is a gallimaufry of a man, a complex of investor, businessman, sportsman, playboy, and bagpipe enthusiast."

Word History: Today's Good Word comes from Medieval French galimafrée "sauce, ragout", probably a compound of galer "to make merry" + mafrer "to gorge oneself". Galer is not only the origin of gala, but of gallant as well. And guess where galer came from? Galer seems to have been borrowed from some Germanic language, possibly English, from the root wel- that gave English well. Medieval French had no [w] sound, so it used the sound nearest to [w] that it had, [gw], written GU, later pronounced simply [g]. English ward was borrowed by French in the same way, as guard. English promptly borrowed back the French word, giving it a slightly different meaning.

Dr. Goodword,

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