Tuesday, 28 August 2012
Posted by M.H. Forsyth
At first blush (or even second) brimborium sounds rather like a place name from The Lord of the Rings. But in the proper context, its OED meaning makes some sort of satisfactory sense. So, Fanny Burney in 1786 referred to:
...brimborions, baubles, knick-knacks, gewgaws.
So a brimborion is a shiny, worthless nothing. It comes from the French breborion, which was defined in a 1611 dictionary as:
Old dunsicall books; also the foolish charmes, or superstitious prayers, used by old, and simple women, against the tooth-ache etc; any such thredbare, and mustie rags of blind devotion.
Duncical books and threadbare rags would mean that I have several breborion cupboards in my bedroom alone.