Thursday, 28 June 2012

Entry: baroque (adj.)

In context: "The slow silent stick with the hook he held was what kept them all kneeling below the baroque little circumferences of its movement overheard."

Definition:   Irregularly shaped; whimsical, grotesque, odd. (‘Originally a jeweller's term, soon much extended in sense.’ Brachet.) Applied spec. to a florid style of architectural decoration which arose in Italy in the late Renaissance and became prevalent in Europe during the 18th century. Also absol. as n. and transf. in reference to other arts.

Other: I'm really, really surprised I haven't previously added this entry.  It shows up in Infinite Jest regularly.  

Etymology:  < French baroque adj., < Portuguese barroco, Spanish barrueco, rough or imperfect pearl; of uncertain origin.

In earlier Spanish, Minsheu 1623 has ‘berruca, berruga a wart’ (evidently Latin verruca), also ‘berrueco a hillocke, a wart,’ ‘berrocál a place full of hillocks’; modern Portuguese has besides barroco ‘rough or Scotch pearl,’ barroca ‘a gutter made by a water-flood’ Vieyra, ‘uneven stony ground’ (Diez), which some etymologists refer to Arabic burāq, plural of burqah ‘hard earth mixed with stones, pebbly place’ (Freytag). Diez has also suggested confusion of the ending with roca, rocca rock: the forms in o, ue, cannot come directly < Latin verrūca. Littré's suggestion that the word is identical with the logical term baroko seems to rest on no historical evidence; yet form-association with that may have influenced the later English and French use.

SNOOT score: 3
Page: 359

Source: Oxford English Dictionary   

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