Flibbertigibbet

A mischievous character.

Kudos to P J O'Rourke. I can't recall the last time I had to look up a word I found in a newspaper because the word was new to me. I've looked up words from a newspaper because I wanted a better understanding of some aspect of usage or nuance of definition. More often I've headed to the dictionary because the journalist misused or misspelled a word.

But flibbertigibbet? A word so delightful-sounding and whimsical that I was skeptical that I'd find it in the dictionary. Yet there it is. I found it in P J O'Rourke's Wall Street Journal article In Vino Veritas from today's Life & Style section of the Journal, used to describe «those Kennedy boys.»

There's a great deal more to recommend the article, but I have to commend both Mr O'Rourke and the editors at the Journal for letting writing be writing and not restricting the paper's vocabulary to an eighth-grader's level as most dailies do (which begs for the question to be asked: can eighth graders even read these days?) Granted that Mr O'Rourke's name will attract readers who should expect a facundity chaser with their shot of glibness, it is nonetheless refreshing to find in a daily paper.

Comments

I was surprised to see that this was a real word. I always assumed it was something my mother made up. The way she used it was more in keeping with Encarta's definition (below) than mischievous, which, BTW, you misspelled.


flighty person: a silly, irresponsible, or scatterbrained person, especially one who chatters or gossips (dated)