smithereens was our Word of the Day on 08/07/2009. Hear the podcast!
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Despite its American sound and its common use by the fiery animated cartoon character Yosemite Sam, smithereens did not originate in American slang. Although no one is entirely positive about its precise origins, scholars think that smithereens likely developed from the Irish word smidiríní, which means "little bits." That Irish word is the diminutive of smiodar, meaning "fragment." Written record of the use of smithereen dates back to 1829.
Origin and Etymology of smithereens
First Known Use: 1829See Words from the same year
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