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December 01, 2013

Word of the Day

  • clochard
  • audio pronunciation
  • \kloh-SHAHR\
  • DEFINITION

noun

: vagrant, tramp
  • EXAMPLES

"Yesterday, the pope lunched at a soup kitchen … sitting down to table with 100 of the 2,000 clochards who regularly eat there." — From an article by Paddy Agnew in the Irish Times, December 28, 2009

"The character, played by Michel Simon, is an archetypal French clochard, a kind of Gallic version of Chaplin's Little Tramp, who, mourning his lost dog, tries to off himself by jumping in the Seine." — From an article by Stephen Heyman in The New York Times, September 15, 2013

  • DID YOU KNOW?

Why such a fancy French word for a bum? The truth of the matter is, nine times out of ten, you will find "clochard" used for not just any bum, but a French bum—even more specifically, a Parisian bum. And, sometimes, it's even a certain type of Parisian bum—a type that has been romanticized in literature and is part of the local color. Nevertheless, as français as this word (which comes from the French verb "clocher," meaning "to limp") may seem, its regular appearance in English sources since 1937 makes it an English word, too.

Test Your Memory: What is the meaning of the adjective "sere," our Word of the Day from October 30? The answer is …

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