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Oct 31, 2011
This week's theme
Fabric words used metaphorically

This week's words
chintzy
pinstriped
dirty linen
flannelmouth
crapehanger

A chintz print
A chintz print
Photo: Renee

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A.Word.A.Day
with Anu Garg

"Clothes make the man," wrote Mark Twain, but they make our language as well. Clothing is one of the three necessities in life and it's not surprising that words about cloth and fabrics are woven into our language.

There are numerous idioms: We advise children not to engage in woolgathering; even adults like to have their security blankets, though emperors often don't have clothes.

The word silken can be used to describe food and voice and touch; from woolly-headed to cottonpickin', the list of the idiomatic use of fabric words is a long one.

This week we'll look at five terms that make use of fabrics metaphorically.

chintzy

PRONUNCIATION:
(CHINT-see)

MEANING:
adjective:
1. Decorated with chintz.
2. Cheap; gaudy; inferior.
3. Stingy.

ETYMOLOGY:
From chintz, a printed cotton fabric imported from India, from Hindi chheent (spattering, stain). Earliest documented use: 1851.

USAGE:
"Mohammed Al Fayed may have turned the once chintzy department store into a successful luxury brand."
Jan Moir; Sphinxes. A Diana Shrine. Piles of Tat; Daily Mail (London, UK); May 15, 2010.

"I wasn't going to spend a nickel on anything else, so it treated me like any chintzy customer."
Frank Gray; For $14.95, Get a Knife, Hard Time; The Journal Gazette (Fort Wayne, Indiana); Aug 19, 2010.

See more usage examples of chintzy in Vocabulary.com's dictionary.

A THOUGHT FOR TODAY:
It was my shame, and now it is my boast, That I have loved you rather more than most. -Hilaire Belloc, writer and poet (1870-1953)

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