Wordnik word of the day: cicisbeo

by Grant Barrett on September 1, 2009

Today’s word of the day is cicisbeo, used in Italy since the 1700s to mean a professed gallant and attendant of a married woman or “one who dangles about women.” Cicisbeism, then, is “the practice of acting as, or the custom of having, a cicisbeo; the practice of dangling about women.” J. Safford Fiske’s translation of Hippolyte Adolphe Tine’s A Tour through The Pyrenees describes such a fellow this way: “The cicisbeo is a bony cartilaginous gentleman, fixt perpendicularly on his saddle like a telegraph-pole.” The Century Dictionary posits that the word derives from the French chiche, meaning small or little (though perhaps “meager” or “paltry” would be more accurate), plus beau, meaning “beautiful.” In modern French, the word is sigisbĂ©e.

Comments on this entry are closed.

Previous post:

Next post: