Merriam-Webster’s Word of the Day for December 17, 2019 is:
flibbertigibbet • flib-er-tee-JIB-ut • noun
: a silly flighty person
She plays a flibbertigibbet in the movie—a character completely at odds with her real-life reputation as a prolific writer and masterful actor and director.
“As played by a breathless Vinny Chavez, the young prince is a petulant flibbertigibbet obsessed with visual glamor, which gets in the way of his search for a suitable princess to marry.” — Kerry Lengel, The (Phoenix) Arizona Republic, 10 Nov. 2014
Did you know?
Flibbertigibbet is one of many incarnations of the Middle English word flepergebet, meaning “gossip” or “chatterer” (others include flybbergybe, flibber de’ Jibb, and flipperty-gibbet). It is a word of onomatopoeic origin, created from sounds that were intended to represent meaningless chatter. William Shakespeare apparently saw a devilish aspect to a gossipy chatterer; he used flibbertigibbet in King Lear as the name of a devil. This use never caught on, but the devilish connotation of the word reappeared over 200 years later when Sir Walter Scott used Flibbertigibbet as the nickname of an impish urchin in the novel Kenilworth. The impish meaning derived from Scott’s character was short-lived and was laid to rest by the 19th-century’s end, leaving us with only the “silly flighty person” meaning.