Merriam-Webster’s Word of the Day for July 1, 2021 is:
bijou BEE-zhoo noun
1 : a small dainty usually ornamental piece of delicate workmanship : jewel
2 : something delicate, elegant, or highly prized
“To celebrate her latest collection … jeweler Jesse Marlo Lazowski hosted an intimate dinner in New York City.… In a Putnam & Putnam–designed vitrine filled with layers of sand in desert-sunset hues, the bijoux were on full display and guests … took their turns trying on the fine jewelry baubles.” — Lilah Ramzi, Vogue, 2 Feb. 2018
“Reese Witherspoon fired up her scarlet and vermilion Christian Dior gown with Bulgari’s high jewelry. Her colorful bijoux included a Magnifica ring holding a 10-carat ruby and diamonds and a one-of-a-kind Barocko onyx, diamond and pearl bracelet.” — Alev Aktar, The New York Post, 6 May 2021
Did you know?
Bijou (which can be pluralized as either bijoux or bijous) has adorned English since the late 17th century. We borrowed it from French, but the word ultimately traces to Breton, a Celtic language closely related to Cornish and Welsh and spoken by inhabitants of the Brittany region of northwest France. Our modern English word derives from Breton bizou, which means “ring.” That history makes bijou a rare gem in English because, although the Breton people occupied part of England for many years before they were pushed into France by the Anglo-Saxons in the 5th and 6th centuries, very few Breton-derived words remain in our language. (Another Breton descendant is menhir, a term for a kind of monolith.)