ersatz_read (ersatz_read) wrote in 1word1day,


charivari (shv-r), noun. 
1.  a noisy, discordant mock serenade to newlyweds, often made by banging pans and kettles.
2.  a medley of discordant sounds; rough music.

I knew this word as 'shivaree' (same pronunciation, different spelling), the most common American spelling.  Other regional variants include 'chivaree', 'belling', 'homing', and 'callathump'.

The British magazine Punch (also titled The London Charivari, after a French publication), contained lists of 'charivaria'.

The first English use of 'charivari' is about 1735, and originates from Old French chalivali (discordant noise made by pots and pans), which came from Late Latin caribaria (a severe headache) and Greek karebaria (headache, literally "heavy head").
The fist English use of 'shivaree' is dated 1843.

While the first definition sounds celebratory, the second definition is tied to a form of social coercion.  "Rough music" refers to loud music made in protest or to express indignation (for example, to publicly punish someone who had been unfaithful to their spouse).  This opens up a whole new set of regional terms (more British than American, I think), including ran-tan, skimmington ride, riding the stang, and lowbelling.

Which of these terms (or others) are common in your neck of the woods?
Tags: c, noun, old french, wordsmith: ersatz_read

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