• show-off •
show-awf • Hear it!
Part of Speech: Noun
Meaning: 1. (Mass noun) Pretentious, ostentatious display, deliberate conspicuous display, as 'a show-off of knowledge of jazz'. 2. (Count noun) A person given to deliberate pretentious display of their possessions, talents, or knowledge.
Notes: Today's Good Word is the verb show off used as a noun. The noun usage still requires a hyphen, though a few dictionaries list it without the hyphen. Like most compound words, today's is a lexical orphan without derivational family.
In Play: Show-offs are usually highly insecure: "Gilda Lilly's problem goes beyond extroversion; she is an insecure little show-off." Some show-offs have real accomplishments that aren't readily visible: "Seamus Saul is such a show-off he signs his name 'Seamus Saul, AB, MA, PhD'."
Word History: Show-off is obviously a compound noun involving show + off. Show is the English rendition of Proto-Germanic skau- "to behold, look at", from PIE (s)kou- "to see" with a Fickle S. The Germanic languages preserved the Fickle S in such words as German schauen "to look", Dutch schouwen "to look, view, examine", and English show. Other Indo-European languages disengaged the initial S in such words as Latin cautio(n) "care, foresight" and cavere "beware", Greek kydos "glory, fame", Lithuanian kavoti "(at)tend, guard", Armenian cucanem "I show", and Serbian čuvati "watch over, care for, preserve".
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