Welcome to Withenay’s Wednesday Word: a wandering, wondering dip into the dictionary. The topics are always varied and rarely predictable!
a flighty, gossipy or mischievous person
unknown origin, possibly an imitation of meaningless chatter
It is definitely my mother’s voice that I hear when the word flibbertigibbet is used. I can picture her dismissing me with it, her description of me as a flighty person, vacuous and full of nonsense.
Hard to believe, Catharine, hard to believe – I hear you all cry!
It has a lovely onomatopoeic tone, and I was reminded of it this week as I finished reading A Lady Cyclist’s Guide to Kashgar by Suzanne Joinson. Towards the end a character describes ‘the flibbertigibbet of London’, which I thought a wonderful description of the business and yet triviality of life in a city, particularly a capital city.
As an aside, I should recommend the book. It was a lovely read: gentle, yet intense. My only real criticism is that I did guess much of the storyline before it happened and I would have liked the bike to have had more of a starring role. But I thought her characterisation was great and I got a real feel for life in the desert around Kashgar on the one hand and the problems for illegal immigrants in the UK on the other.
I cannot say flibbertigibbet is a word that I use often, but I’m now thinking about my beautiful daughter and those daft moments when she’s not quite on the same wavelength as me – just passing through life with a big smile on her face – and I’m thinking maybe I should use the word a little more often…and maybe she’ll be thinking of me, like I think of my mother, when she hears it in years to come.
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