Thursday, June 18, 2020

A word from Charlotte Brontë

It’s Barmecide, from Jane Eyre (1847):

That night, on going to bed, I forgot to prepare in imagination the Barmecide supper of hot roast potatoes, or white bread and new milk, with which I was wont to amuse my inward cravings.
It’s a noun. The Oxford English Dictionary gives this defintion: “One who offers imaginary food or illusory benefits. Often attributive.” The etymology is the good part:
the patronymic of a family of princes ruling at Bagdad just before Haroun-al-Raschid, concerning one of whom the story is told in the Arabian Nights, that he put a succession of empty dishes before a beggar, pretending that they contained a sumptuous repast — a fiction which the beggar humorously accepted.
Pass the potatoes.

A related post
Three words from Charlotte Brontë: ing, holm, beck

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