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Monday, December 2, 2013

Word of the Day clochard

Word of the Day

  • clochard
  • audio pronunciation
  • \kloh-SHAHR\
: vagrant, tramp
"Yesterday, the pope lunched at a soup kitchen … sitting down to table with 100 of the 2,000 clochards who regularly eat there." — From an article by Paddy Agnew in the Irish Times, December 28, 2009

"The character, played by Michel Simon, is an archetypal Frenchclochard, a kind of Gallic version of Chaplin's Little Tramp, who, mourning his lost dog, tries to off himself by jumping in the Seine." — From an article by Stephen Heyman in The New York Times, September 15, 2013
Why such a fancy French word for a bum? The truth of the matter is, nine times out of ten, you will find "clochard" used for not just any bum, but a French bum—even more specifically, a Parisian bum. And, sometimes, it's even a certain type of Parisian bum—a type that has been romanticized in literature and is part of the local color. Nevertheless, as fran├žais as this word (which comes from the French verb "clocher," meaning "to limp") may seem, its regular appearance in English sources since 1937 makes it an English word, too.


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