This blog is for everyone who uses words.

The ordinary-sized words are for everyone, but the big ones are especially for children.

Friday, 26 June 2020

Word To Use Today: coquelicot.

As all right-minded people must be in thrall to the genius of Jane Austen, then as a service I here introduce the word coquelicot, which has been puzzling me for over forty years.

'Do you know, [says the fickle Isabella in Northanger Abbey to her best friend Catherine Morland] I saw the prettiest hat you can imagine, in a shop in Milsom Street just now - very like yours, only with coquelicot ribbons instead of green; I quite longed for it.'

But what's coquelicot? And how do you say it?

Well, it's COCKleeCOH in English, as in the original French, and it means corn poppy. 

Papaver rhoeas, if you're being particular:

File:Field poppy - Papaver rhoeas (12190335083).jpg
photo by Bjorn S

Oh, and what a relief it is to know that at last.

Coquelicots by Robert Vonnoh, 1890.

Word To Use Today: coquelicot. This word is French, and was first used in English in 1795. Northanger Abbey was probably finished in about 1798, so Isabella, as one would expect, was extremely up-to-date in her knowledge of fashion.

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