bric-a-brac

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See also: bricabrac and bric-à-brac

English[edit]

Etymology[edit]

A bric-a-brac (sense 1) shop in Woorim, Queensland, Australia.
Bric-a-brac (sense 1) on sale in a flea market in Cambridge, Cambridgeshire, England, U.K.

Borrowed from French bric-à-brac (miscellaneous items of little value), apparently from à bricq et à bracq (at random; haphazardly); bricq and bracq are expressive onomatopoeias of obscure origin.[1]

Pronunciation[edit]

Noun[edit]

bric-a-brac (usually uncountable, plural bric-a-bracs) (also attributively)

  1. Small ornaments and other miscellaneous display items of little value.
    Synonyms: brickety-brack, knick-knacks; see also Thesaurus:trinket
    • 1840, M. A. Titmarsh [pseudonym; William Makepeace Thackeray], “Meditations at Versailles”, in The Paris Sketch Book, volume II, London: John Macrone, [], →OCLC, page 267:
      The palace of Versailles has been turned into a bricabrac shop, of late years; and its time-honoured walls have been covered with many thousand yards of the worst pictures that eye ever looked on.
    • 1861 January – 1862 August, W[illiam] M[akepeace] Thackeray, “In which Philip Shows His Mettle”, in The Adventures of Philip on His Way through the World; [], volume I, London: Smith, Elder and Co., [], published 1862, →OCLC, page 299:
      No doubt her pleasure would have been at that moment to give him not only that gold which she had been saving up against rent-day, but the spoons, the furniture, and all the valuables of the house, including, perhaps, J. J.'s bricabrac, cabinets, china, and so forth.
    • 1876, George Eliot [pseudonym; Mary Ann Evans], chapter LXVII, in Daniel Deronda, volume IV, Edinburgh, London: William Blackwood and Sons, →OCLC, book VIII (Fruit and Seed), page 314:
      Haven't an affair in the world, [] except a quarrel with a bric-à-brac man.
    • 1882–1883, Walt Whitman, “[Collect. Notes Left Over.] Emerson’s Books, (the Shadows of Them).”, in Specimen Days & Collect, Philadelphia, Pa.: Rees Welsh & Co., [], →OCLC, page 320:
      Indeed, who wants the real animal or hunter? What would that do amid astral and bric-a-brac and tapestry, and ladies and gentlemen talking in subdued tones of [Robert] Browning and [Henry Wadsworth] Longfellow and art?
  2. (by extension) Any collection containing a variety of miscellaneous items; a hodgepodge, an olio.
    Synonyms: mishmash, oddments; see also Thesaurus:hodgepodge

Alternative forms[edit]

Derived terms[edit]

Translations[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Compare “bric-a-brac, n. and adj.”, in OED Online Paid subscription required, Oxford, Oxfordshire: Oxford University Press, December 2021; “bric-a-brac, n.”, in Lexico, Dictionary.com; Oxford University Press, 2019–2022.

Further reading[edit]

Italian[edit]

Noun[edit]

bric-a-brac m (invariable)

  1. bric-a-brac
    Synonyms: cianfrusaglia, ciarpame, paccottaglia