Word of the Day

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

picayune

\pik-ee-YOON, pik-uh-\ , adjective;
1.
of little value or account; small; trifling: a picayune amount.
2.
petty, carping, or prejudiced: I didn't want to seem picayune by criticizing.
noun:
1.
(formerly, in Louisiana, Florida, etc.) a coin equal to half a Spanish real.
2.
any small coin, as a five-cent piece.
3.
Informal. an insignificant person or thing.
Quotes:
...William Arthur Deacon, the more influential critic of the Toronto Globe and Mail, was equally picayune.
-- Mavis Gallant, The Moslem Wife and Other Stories, 1994
So she had never abandoned the Eucharist; without it, she felt the Mass, and all of the Church, would be only ideas she could get at home from books; and because of it, she overlooked what was bureaucratic or picayune about the Church.
-- Andre Dubus, Dancing After Hours, 1996
Origin:
Picayune is rooted in the Provençal word picaioun which meant "small copper coin." It is likely derivative of an onomatopoetic base pikk- which sounds like the process of beating and coining copper.
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