picayune (pik-uh-YOON) adjective
1. Of little value or significance.
2. Petty, small-minded.
1. A Spanish-American coin equal to half the value of a real (a silver
2. A small coin, especially a five-cent piece.
3. Something or someone of little value.
[From French picaillon, from Provençal picaioun, a small coin.]
"One could criticize the book as having a progovernment bias, but such
criticism would be picayune and, I believe, wrong."
Hawley, F. Frederick, Terrorism in America: Pipe Bombs and Pipe Dreams.
(book reviews), Social Forces, Mar 1, 1995.
"Well, it is not supposed to be good form these days to dwell on the
picayune personal problems, especially of Republicans, but, you know,
I've never been much for form. So, of the speaker, Gingrich's three
recent personal problems - his mother, his historian and his book -
the book is potentially, I think, the most serious."
Schorr - Reality Sets in for New Congress, Weekend Edition - Saturday
NPR, Jan 14, 1995.
While Times, Journal, Post, Reporter, News, Voice, etc., are common as the
names of newspapers, there are many papers with rather offbeat words in their
titles, such as Crier, Bee, Pennysaver, and Reflector. The mergers and
acquisitions yield some remarkable names too. Q: What happens when the
Daily Reflector and the Sun News decide to merge? A: You get the Daily News,
and a sun reflector. The fact is stranger than fiction and there have been,
in fact, more peculiar fusions. In 1939, when two newspapers in Chattanooga,
Tennessee, combined, the result was perhaps a case of truth-in-advertising:
the News and the Free Press merged to become the News-Free Press. Well, maybe
it was a case of too-much-advertising.
In this week's AWAD, we have selected words from the names of newspapers.
Two examples of the newspapers with today's word in their names are the
Times-Picayune and the Picayune-Item. While the critics of some of these
newspapers may believe that they are so named because they deal in trifles,
we have different news. They are so named because they could then be bought
for a few cents, or because they originated from the town of the same name.
The former publication raises its flag in New Orleans, Louisiana, while the
latter calls Picayune, Mississippi its home. Incidentally, did you notice
the two newspaper names are near-anagrams?
While on this topic, let's clear a folk etymology along the way. No, the word
`news' didn't form from the initials of the four directions of the compass
(North, East, West, South). It came from the word `new' as in "What's new?"
Don't discuss yourself, for you are bound to lose; if you belittle
yourself, you are believed; if you praise yourself, you are disbelieved.
-Michel de Montaigne, essayist (1533-1592)