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

pinchbeck (PINCH-bek) - n., an alloy of copper and zinc used as imitation gold; a cheap imitation. adj., made of pinchbeck; imitation, spurious.


The alloy is either 89% copper + 11% zinc or 93% copper + 7% zinc, which makes it a type of brass -- one that looks remarkably similar to gold. (Apparently ratios between those are less golden.) The name is from Christopher Pinchbeck (c.1670–1732), the London clock-maker who developed it and used it especially in watches. His surname come from a small village in Lincolnshire, which going back to Old English roots meant something like either “minnow stream” or “finch ridge” (which is a rather wide spread of meanings). Pinchbeck was used for a long time as for cheaper jewelry, and sometimes was passed off as the real gold, from whence the metaphoric extensions -- which didn't appear until 50 years after his death.

Where, in these pinchbeck days, can we hope to find the old agricultural virtue in all its purity?
—Anthony Trollope, Framley Parsonage

---L.
Tags: adjective, english, noun, p
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