Sally M (sallymn) wrote in 1word1day,
Sally M

Sunday Word: Bijou

bijou [bee-zhoo, bee-zhoo]
(British ) small and elegant (especially of a house or flat)
1a a jewel or trinket; a small dainty usually ornamental piece of delicate workmanship
1b something delicate, elegant, or highly prized


The venue's Grande Seine, a 6,000-seat performance hall, will bring in a bit of everything (concerts, musicals, ballets), while the bijou auditorium - in light oak, birch, and cedar - is home to the Insula Orchestra, led by Laurence Equilbey. (Mary Winston Nicklin, La Seine Musicale: A New “City of Music” on an Island in Paris, Conde Nast Traveler, 2017)

Located on the Jutland peninsula, this bijou-size city is an understated Dansk jewel that has a bounty of activities to sink your teeth into, as well as the credentials to compete with Europe’s elite - it was recently billed. (Josh Lee, 10 Under-the-Radar European City Escapes, Vogue, 2017)

It would be pleasing to the saints if one used so fine a rosary as this, instead of wearing it as a vain bijou." (Louisa May Alcott, Little Women, 2017)

It is a bijou villa, with a garden at the back, but built out in front right up to the road, two stories. (Arthur Conan Doyle, The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes)


'Small item of ornamental jewelry,' 1660s, from French bijou, which according to OED is probably from Breton bizou '(jeweled) ring,' from bez 'finger' (compare Cornish bisou 'finger-ring,' 13c.). (Online Etymological Dictionary)

Bijou (which can be pluralized as either bijoux or bijous) has adorned English since the late 17th century. We borrowed it from French, but the word ultimately traces to Breton, a Celtic language (one closely related to Cornish and Welsh) spoken by inhabitants of the Brittany region of northwest France. Our modern English word derives from Breton bizou, which means 'ring'. That history makes bijou a rare gem in English because, although the Breton people occupied part of England for many years before they were pushed into France by the Anglo-Saxons in the 5th and 6th centuries, very few Breton-derived words remain in our language. (Merriam-Webster)

Tags: adjective, b, french, noun, wordsmith: sallymn

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