Anonymous asked: flibbertigibbet
Ooh. A lovely word. The first thing to figure out is that the g in flibbertigibbet sounds like j, so you pronounce it “flibberty-jibbet.” To me it sounds like the way a butterfly looks, flying in a jerky, fluttery way. Maybe a flibbertigibbet could be a magical flying creature you see only at dusk, and if you catch it it will give you one small wish.
But according to the dictionary, a flibbertigibbet is a chatty, gossipy, silly, flighty sort of person. Nobody is quite sure where the word came from, but in the 16th century it was sometimes used as the name of a demon. A demon! I guess being foolish and gossipy was a bigger deal in the 16th century than it is now.
I did look up a word that shows up inside flibbertigibbet to see if it would give any clues. The word is “gibbet,” and it turns out to be a nasty word. A gibbet was a kind of scaffolding like in the old word game hangman, with a horizontal pole sticking out from a vertical one. They used to hang executed criminals in chains from the gibbet until their bodies rotted, as a warning to others.
Well, in the New England colonies, gossips used to be dunked in the dunking chair, plunged into the cold water. That sounds unpleasant, but I’d still rather be dunked for being a flibbertigibbet than end up hanging from a gibbet.