Larry's Pretty Good Word of the Day (prettygoodword) wrote in 1word1day,
Larry's Pretty Good Word of the Day

soubrette & grisette

A two-fer Thursday for you. Just because. Well, also, and that they're related:

soubrette (soo-BRET) - n., the part of a coquettish lady's maid in a comic play, opera, et cet.; an actress who plays such roles; any lively or pert young woman.

grisette (gri-ZET) - n., a young working-class woman, especially a flirtatious one.

There's also a minor meaning for grisette of a species of edible Amanita mushroom, but we'll ignore that for now. I use "working-class" above, but that really means actually working, usually in the textile industry, which gave her a bit of independence relative to her peers, but if I said "working woman" you'd get a different impression, especially given the shade of meaning. Both words are from French, borrowed into English in the mid-18th century. In French, soubrette originally meant just a lady's maid, taken from Provencal soubreto, feminine of soubret, coy, from soubra to surmount, exceed, from ultimately Latin superāre, to be above, while grisette is from a cheap undyed and so grey fabric worn by the working poor, from gris, grey.

In the second act, Antoine's plans fall awry when the soubrette Sophie and the grisette Marie each see him with the other and accuse him of intriguing with another woman.

Tags: french, g, noun, s

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