Small Trinkets

If you mislay your bijou bijous you could say that have a bijou problemette.


The word bijou can mean small and elegant (of a residence – often ironic),
intricate or finely made, or a jewel, a piece of jewellry; a trinket or a small intricate piece of metalwork. In the above sentence bijou bijous means ‘finely made jewelery’, and a bijou problemette means ‘a little problem’, an example of British understatement.

Bijou, as jewellery, comes from the French bijou (a piece of jewellery), from the Breton bizoù (ring), from biz (finger), from the Proto-Celtic *bistis (finger) [source].

Bijou, as in small and elegant, etc, comes from the Mediterranean Lingua Franca (Sabir) bijou, from the Occitan pichon (small, little), from the Late Latin pitinnus, possibly from Proto-Celtic *kʷezdis (piece, portion) [source], which is also the root of peth (thing, object) in Welsh, cuid (part portion) in Irish, and related words in other Celtic languages.

3 thoughts on “Small Trinkets

  1. Could the Proto-Celtic “kwezdis” be the source of “quid” as used for pieces of money (dollars?), with the notion that the coins (or bills) Mare pieces of the money?

  2. Apparently quid (pound), comes from the Latin phrase quid pro quo (this for that). The Latin word quid (what, something), the neuter singular of quis (who), which comes from the Proto-Indo-European *kʷís (who, what, which), which is the root of word for who in Celtic languages, such as in Irish and pwy in Welsh.

  3. I’ve always wondered about quid (£) – and the supposed derivation from quid pro quo. There’s also quid meaning “a small lump of something”, usually for chewing – as in a quid of tobacco, and apparently also a rare dialect word for an owl’s pellet – related to the word cud (as in “chewing the cud”), and from a Germanic stem. The OED suggests there’s no provable link between the two.

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