brummagem was our Word of the Day on 02/15/2011. Hear the podcast!
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Did You Know?
Brummagem first appeared in the 17th century as an alteration of "Birmingham," the name of a city in England. At that time Birmingham was notorious for the counterfeit coins made there, and the word brummagem quickly became associated with things forged or inauthentic. By the 19th century, Birmingham had become a chief manufacturer of cheap trinkets and gilt jewelry, and again the word brummagem followed suit - it came to describe that which is showy on the outside but essentially of low quality. Perhaps the term was something of an annoyance to the people of Birmingham way back when, but nowadays "brummagem" is usually used without any conscious reference to the British city.
Seen and Heard
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