"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."

Friday, 18 May 2012


I love the word smithereens . Smithereens means small fragments or tiny bits, and is usually found in the phrases  the alliterative phrase "smashed to smithereens."   I thinbk it is so evocative of small pieces - a fine example of onomatopoeia.

A typical use of the word can be found in a Time magazine story about cosmology from 1976: "The result is another kind of supernova, a fantastic explosion that blows the star to smithereens, dispersing into space most of the remaining elements that it had manufactured during its lifetime." 

Smithereens first appeared in English in 1829 in the form "smiddereens," and most likely was borrowed from the Irish Gaelic smidirîn, a diminutive of smiodar, small fragment.


  1. It's a word I haven't seen or used in a very long while. When we were children we'd blow the enemy to smithereens. We were re-fighting WWII you see, and reducing your enemy to smithereens... well, the sound of the word was very satisfying.

    Well, carry on then. I'll be bringing up the rear, looking for remounts.

  2. It's still a word I use whenever I have the chance. It amuses some of my younger friends.