• primp •
primp • Hear it!
Part of Speech: Verb
Meaning: Make minor grooming adjustments: hair, makeup, clothes, etc.; to spruce up, to preen.
Notes: This is an odd member of the English vocabulary that may be used as a verb or adjective. The adjective, however, has a discrete meaning: "prim, neat, especially affectedly so". We may use the present participle, primping, as an adjective (primping queen) or noun (a final primping). It is also odd in that it is pronounced exactly as it is spelled! Can you imagine that? In English.
In Play: Today's word usually appears in reference to a person: "Natalie Cladd spends more time primping and preening for a party than she does attending it." This word may also be used to refer to large bodies of people: "The whole city was in full primping mode for the Fourth of July festivities."
Word History: Primp is so close in sound and sense to prim that, even if we cannot explain the final P, we must conclude the two are related. Prim was once used as a noun referring to an attractive woman. It also performed the service of a verb in the sense of primp. We know that prim came from Old French prim "fine, delicate" inherited from Latin primus "first, finest". Latin inherited this word from PIE preis "before", which came from the ultimate root per "through, beyond". Preis, of course, went into the making of English first. English changed the unextended form, per, into for, forth, and fore, as in before, forefather, and foreground. (Faye Beard, my lovely wife, who primps only modestly, suggested today's pretty Good Word.)
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