Podcast trumpery

Printable Version
Pronunciation: trump-êr-ee Hear it!

Part of Speech: Noun

Meaning: 1. Flashy but trashy finery in the home or on the body. 2. Rubbish, junk. 3. Deception, fraud, or trickery.

Notes: Using the plural of today's word, trumperies, is a dubious move. Although some dictionaries list a plural for trumpery, the sense of the noun inclines it toward the status of mass noun. Merriam-Webster reported a spike in lookups of this rather rare word in 2016.

In Play: Since there is some confusion as to whether a private junk sale is a garage sale, a tag sale, or a yard sale, why not settle this issue with today's Good Word: "We have cleaned out the attic, basement, and garage, and this weekend we are holding a big trumpery sale." It will be the talk of the town. Do you know someone who overdresses in cheap clothing, gaudy jewelry and accessories? "Maud Lynn Dresser came to the party in such trumpery, we all had a good laugh." The third meaning of this word dominated its usage in 2016: "Izzy Badenov made all his money by sheer trumpery, leaving a wake of angry partners."

Word History: Middle English trumpery "deceit" was borrowed from Middle French tromperie, the noun from tromper "to deceive". If this word seems based on trumpet, you're right. It comes from the Old French phrase se tromper de (quelqu'un) "to deceive, mock (someone)", literally, "to play (someone) like a horn". The basic sense of tromper, is "to play a horn", from trompe "horn". English trumpet was borrowed from Old French trompette "small horn", the diminutive of trompe "horn", borrowed from Old High German trumba "horn". (Iain Smallwood recommended today's rather topical Good Word, thinking his American colleagues might find it useful.)

Dr. Goodword,

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