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10 January 2011

Weird Words: Tintamarre

I hope everyone who celebrates Christmas had a lovely one, and that you will all have a Happy, Healthy and productive if not necessarily prosperous 2011.

I've had a break from Monday's Word, with so much going on over the last few weeks, so thanks for your patience if you've been waitiing for its return!

We start the New Year with TINTAMARRE, which as Michael Quinion* says

"It is a pleasant word for an unlovely experience, unless you are a lover of loud noises, since a tintamarre is an uproar, hubbub or confused noise...

...While we're sure that it was borrowed from French in the sixteenth century, nobody has provided a good explanation of where the French got it from. It may remind us of "tintinnabulation" but the experts are sure that the two words aren't connected.

At one time, it was fairly common in English but it almost died out in the nineteenth century. J Redding Ware recorded in his Passing

English of the Victorian Era in 1909 that it was confined to Devon.

Since then it has become even rarer in English, though it has been resurrected, hopefully teasingly, for a music festival in Lincolnshire.

The French connection survives in the Acadian regions of eastern Canada. A tintamarre is a colourful parade in which participants see how much din they can create using any noisemaker to hand, such as pots, pans, whistles or drums. This event is only about 30 years old (one website calls it a modern tradition) but may reflect the old French custom of charivari."

So, another one to file away for when your Hero and Heroine are finding it difficult to get together because of the external 'tintamarre' LOL!

Reproduced with permission
*World Wide Words is copyright (c) Michael Quinion 2010. All rights reserved. The Words Web site is at http://www.worldwidewds./