• gazette •
gê-zet • Hear it!
Part of Speech: Noun
Meaning: A newspaper or journal of an organization.
Notes: This word is used far more widely in the United Kingdom than in the US. A person working for a gazette is a gazetteer but, as I'm sure you've already noticed, this word is used more widely today referring to a list of geographical place names with relevant statistics. This came about from the publication of Laurence Eachard's place name handbook for journalists, The Gazetteer's, or Newsman's, Interpreter. Well and good, gazetteer is properly used here. However, in Part II, published in 1704, the author refers to the book simply as The Gazetteer, and this misuse of the word stuck as did the misinterpretation of gazette.
In Play: Today's word is widely used in the US as the name of newspapers: The Billings Gazette of Billings, Wyoming, and The Kalamazoo Gazette of Kalamazoo, Michigan, are examples. But this word also offers a nice way to brighten up a conversation pervaded by terms like newspaper or just paper: "I read in the local gazette today that gas prices are waxing higher despite the waning of crude oil prices." Now, isn't that lovelier than reporting that the newspaper says gas prices are rising despite crude oil prices falling?
Word History: Today's Good word comes from the Italian word gazzetta (plural gazzette) which has two possible origins. In Venice the word was spelled gazeta, the name of a small copper coin of the time which may have been the price of the original Italian gazette, a monthly newsletter published by the Venetian government in the mid-16th century. However, the spelling gazetta, used in Rome and elsewhere, suggests a diminutive of gazza "magpie", a bird notorious for its idle chatter. It would not be uncommon if both sources played a role in the rise of this Italian word. Today gazette is the standard word for "newspaper" in many languages such as Polish and Russian gazeta and Turkish gazete. (All those who read our little gazette should be grateful to Kathi Kitao for suggesting today's topic.)
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