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What does flibbertigibbet mean?

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asked Sep 9, 2015 in Writing and Speaking by AndreaM (20,510 points)
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A "flibbertigibbet" is someone who is very flighty and whimsical. It is often used to refer to a young woman, but can be applied to anyone. The word is an example of onomatopoeia and is supposed to sound like the sort of meaningless chatter that such a person would say all the time.

 

The first recorded use of the word was in 1450, where it was spelled "fleper-gebet."

 

The word has also been used as a name for a spirit or a devil. For example, in Shakespeare's play King Lear, one of the demons that Edgar says is possessing him is named "Flibbertigibbet." This is the first appearance of the modern spelling of the word.

 

This video teaches the proper pronunciation of the word:

 

 

Sources:

 

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Flibbertigibbet

http://www.worldwidewords.org/weirdwords/ww-fli1.htm

answered Sep 9, 2015 by Mark Wink (13,830 points)
selected Oct 4, 2015 by AndreaM
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The word flibbertigibbet is used to describe an excessively talkative person. It is a gender neutral word, but is mostly used to describe a woman. The origins of the word dates back to the 1450s.


References:

http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/flibbertigibbet

http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/flibbertigibbet


answered Sep 9, 2015 by nilupa1973 (35,290 points)
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The word "flibbertigibbet" was a word originally used to describe whimsical and flighty people, and it was mainly used to describe women at the time. In modern times, it is often used as a slang word to describe any person that gossips or talks too much. [1]

 

The word is supposedly of Middle English origin, and the pronunciation is most likely based off the sounds of meaningless chatter. [2] The word was originally spelled "flepergebet."

 

Its earliest use was also recorded sometime in the late 15th century. The word was most notably used in Shakespeare's "King Lear" in 1605 to describe an evil spirit or fiend. It is said that he was inspired by a character from "Declaration of Egregious Popish Impostures", which was written by Samuel Harsnett in 1603.

 

Some common synonyms for flibbertigibbet include ditz, cuckoo, scatterbrain, and nitwit. [3]

 

References:

 

[1] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Flibbertigibbet

 

[2] http://www.oxforddictionaries.com/us/definition/american_english/flibbertigibbet

 

[3] http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/flibbertigibbet

answered Sep 9, 2015 by deviousdesigner (36,530 points)

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