bijou was our Word of the Day on 05/16/2014. Hear the podcast!
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Bijou (which can be pluralized as either bijoux or bijous) has adorned English since the late 17th century. We borrowed it from French, but the word ultimately traces to Breton, a Celtic language (one closely related to Cornish and Welsh) spoken by inhabitants of the Brittany region of northwest France. Our modern English word derives from Breton bizou, which means "ring." That history makes bijou a rare gem in English because, although the Breton people occupied part of England for many years before they were pushed into France by the Anglo-Saxons in the 5th and 6th centuries, very few Breton-derived words remain in our language. (Another Breton descendant is menhir, a term for a kind of monolith.)
Origin and Etymology of bijou
French, from Breton bizou ring, from biz finger
First Known Use: 1668See Words from the same year
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