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This blog is about the fascinating, fun, and challenging things about the English language. I hope to entertain you and to help you with problems or just questions you might have with spelling and usage. I go beyond just stating what is right and what is wrong, and provide some history or some tips to help you remember. Is something puzzling you? Feel free to email me at wordlady.barber@gmail.com.
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Friday, June 17, 2011

Word of the week: confetti

Wedding season is in full swing, so let us look at the word “confetti”, derived from the Latin confectus (prepared, pickled), which also gave us the old-fashioned English word “comfit” (a candy). In fact, in Italian, confetti means “candies”, specifically those sugar-coated almonds that are given away at christenings and weddings. Italians threw these – or plaster imitations of them – during carnival, at parades. The custom spread to southern France, where people started using paper as a cheaper (not to mention less painful) projectile. The English adopted the custom and the word, which became a singular noun for us only in the 20th century.

1 comment:

  1. Hello,

    As far as I know, (paper) confetti is popular at (big) soccer games in South America!



About Me

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Canada's Word Lady, Katherine Barber is an expert on the English language and a frequent guest on radio and television. She was Editor-in-Chief of the Canadian Oxford Dictionary. Her witty and informative talks on the stories behind our words are very popular. Contact her at wordlady.barber@gmail.com to book her for speaking engagements; she can tailor her talks to almost any subject. She is also available as an expert witness for lawsuits.