Sunday, 28 February 2010

Picayune


A chap in the pub today told me that something was "picayune", and I had no idea what he meant. It panicked me. It embarrassed me. I felt like a picolexical dolt. Just so this never happens to you: if something is picayune it means that it's so small that it's not worth considering. The name derives from an old Spanish coin that was worth half a real. So it's the equivalent of the English phrase tupenny-hapenny.

As Spanish money used to be legal tender in the USA, I can tell you that a picayune was equivalent to six and a quarter cents. Apparently the word picayune used to be quite common in England; but then again, so did smallpox.

Not much of an income

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