Word of the Day Archive
Wednesday July 18, 2007
bibelot \BIB-loh; Fr. beebuh-LOH\
a small object of curiosity, beauty, or rarity.
And in the meanwhile she was tasting what, she begun to suspect, was the maximum of bliss to most of the women she knew: days packed with engagements, the exhilaration of fashionable crowds, the thrill of snapping up a jewel or a bibelot or a new "model" that one's best friend wanted, or of being invited to some private show, or some exclusive entertainment, that one's best friend couldn't get to.
-- Edith Wharton, The Glimpses of the Moon, 1922
Eugenio knew a number of old ladies whose circumstances reminded him of all he had lost, and in whose houses his cold sycophancy, his careful foreigner's diction, his elaborate courtliness screened the cupidity, the longing, with which he noted every teacup, every bibelot, every scrap of evidence of the blissful oblivion which money only can bring.
-- Paula Fox, The Widow's Children, 1976
Bibelot entered English in the late 1800s from the Old French beubelet meaning "trinket" or "jewel." This term originally came from the reduplication in Old French belbel, a word for a "plaything," the literal translation of which is "pretty pretty."