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Apr 7, 2022
This week’s theme
Words from chemistry

This week’s words
litmus test
flashpoint
chain reaction
borax
boiling point

borax
A chest of drawers with printed designs
Image: Furniture of the Depression Era by Harriett & Robert Swedberg

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A.Word.A.Day
with Anu Garg

borax

PRONUNCIATION:
(BOR/BOHR-aks/uhks)

MEANING:
adjective: Cheap and showy.
noun: A white crystalline compound, also known as sodium borate, used in manufacturing, cleaning, etc.

ETYMOLOGY:
From Old French boras, from Latin borax, from Arabic buraq, from Persian burah (borax). Earliest documented use: 1920s.

NOTES:
A century ago, cheap furniture was given as a premium for buying a box of borax soap. That, or borax soap was given away for buying cheap furniture. Either way, the word borax became slang for something cheap and poorly made.

USAGE:
“You’ve got to know your stuff before you go into a relatively cheap place and start buying, or you’ll run into trouble ... You know about borax, don’t you?”
Emily Hahn; Francie Comes Home; Franklin Watts; 1956.

“Al the furniture maven knew it was cheap stuff, borax.”
Laurence Shames; Welcome to Paradise; Villard; 1999.

See more usage examples of borax in Vocabulary.com’s dictionary.

A THOUGHT FOR TODAY:
The best portion of a good man's life is his little, nameless, unremembered acts of kindness and of love. -William Wordsworth, poet (7 Apr 1770-1850)

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