"That's a great deal to make one word mean," Alice said in a thoughtful tone. "When I make a word do a lot of work like that," said Humpty Dumpty, "I always pay it extra."

Tuesday, 12 January 2010


This is a word that came up in one of our crosswords recently.

A gimcrack is something that is showy but of little use; a decorative object of little value; a trifle; an ornamental object of no great value.

In other words, a gimcrack is a gewgaw or folderol - two more lovely words with the same meaning!


  1. I thought my enghish vocabuary quite ok but well reading all this I realise I should watch less movies and read more books

  2. I wonder why the racehorse (painted by George Stubbs) was named Gimcrack then. I had assumed that it was a made up name. Doesn't really seem suitable for a horse.

    There's a pub in York called the gimcrack. Wishing I'd paid more attention to the sign - presumably it was named after the racehorse.

  3. Gewgaw is our old South choice (but loosing use) to describe a showy trinket, like a cheap souvenir found in a store at touristy destination.

    When I go to the coast along the Gulf, my nearest beach, I look for little gifts and postcards at a what I call a "gewgaw shop"; however, few younger folks would use the term.

  4. I always though 'gejaws' was how this word was spelled? Perhaps there are variations, depending on which part of the country you live?

  5. I thought it was spelled "geegaw" - until I checked my Webter's and found it to spelled "gewgaw", which does not phonetically agree with the pronounciation I use: long e first syllabe, aw (rhymes with saw) sound in second syllable.

    How do you pronoune the word? That's what we miss on just defining the word. The spoken sound of a work must also change through the years on different tongues.

    Here in Alabama we have many indian "place names" that are whites man's way of spelling and saying the word; and, even, French and German words are "Southernized", such as LaFayette (a city named for the famous revolutionary Fr. General) becomes here "la-fay'-it". See, what I mean?

  6. The pronounciation varies across the country so I suspect it may do in the US as well. I don't know what the 'official' Oxford English pronounciation is.