Friday, March 24, 2006

Webster's Word of the Day : Macaroni

I was originally going to complain that I got "macaroni" as my word of the day, but I had no idea there was an alternate defintion.

macaroni \mak-uh-ROH-nee\ noun

1 : pasta made from semolina and shaped in the form of slender tubes
2 *a : a member of a class of traveled young Englishmen of the late 18th and early 19th centuries who affected foreign ways b : an affected young man : fop

As you may have suspected, the "macaroni" in the song "Yankee Doodle" is not the familiar food. The feather in Yankee Doodle's cap apparently makes him a macaroni in the now rare "fop" or "dandy" sense. The sense appears to have originated with a club established in London by a group of young, well-traveled Englishmen in the 1760s. The founders prided themselves on their appearance, sense of style, and manners, and they chose the name Macaroni Club to indicate their worldliness. Because macaroni was, at the time, a new and rather exotic food in England, the name was meant to demonstrate how stylish the club's members were. The members were themselves called "macaronis," and eventually "macaroni" became synonymous with "dandy" and "fop."
And, I did think that when Yankee Doodle stuck a feather in his cap and called it macaroni, it was of the pasta variety. Learn something new everyday.

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