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A.Word.A.Day--pinchbeck

Pronunciation Sound Clip RealAudio

Eponyms -- AWAD's perennial favorites -- make their appearance once again. If we featured nothing but eponyms every day it would be several years before we'd run out. There's a reason for their popularity: where else can you a find a whole story in just one word? And there's a reason for their abundance: it's often easiest to name something after its inventor.

This week's selection features words named after people -- famous and infamous, real and fictional, well-known and obscure.

pinchbeck (PINCH-bek) noun

An alloy of zinc and copper, used as imitation gold in jewelry.

adjective

Counterfeit or spurious.

[After watchmaker Christopher Pinchbeck (1670-1732), who invented it. It's ironic that today his name is a synonym for something counterfeit but in his time his fame was worldwide, not only as the inventor of this curious alloy but also as a maker of musical clocks and orreries. The composition of this gold-like alloy was a closely-guarded secret but it didn't prevent others from passing off articles as if made from this alloy... faking fake gold!]

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

-Anu Garg (words at wordsmith.org)

"Blackpool is more than a tower of lights and a rhinestone mile of slots and seasonal variety acts. It is Lancashire's pinchbeck LA."
Adam Edwards; Keeping Up And Away From the Neighbours; Daily Telegraph (London, UK); Jul 24, 2004.

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