The word “picayune”, according to the

Phrase of the week: Choosy? Petty? Or simply picayune? – extra way of life

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picayune (noun), one thing of little worth, paltry, trivial, trifling

Whereas we had been engaged in discussing problems with grand technique, this irritating fellow stored citing picayune issues and derailing our deliberations.

Picayune is a comparatively current addition to the English language, going again to the beginning of the 19th century in the US. The phrase “picayune”, in response to the Oxford English Dictionary, is an Anglicized model of picaillon, a southern French regional time period for a small copper coin that was minted within the Savoy and Piedmont areas of France. It was utilized in Louisiana within the early 1800s to consult with a Spanish medio actual, or half actual, a coin value a bit of greater than six cents, and later to a US nickel, in response to the OED. (A small rationalization is due right here: the Louisiana Territory was dominated for many years by France and Spain earlier than turning into an American territory in 1803. When the US purchased the Louisiana Territory from France, the realm contained many French topics and French customs. Spanish cash had been authorized tender within the US proper as much as 1857.)

“Picayune” quickly got here for use to consult with any small coin of the least worth. Consequently it acquired the figurative sense of “paltry” or “imply” and by extension was utilized to behavior that was niggling, petty, or choosy.

On condition that something picayune is of small worth, petty or nugatory, it’s shocking that the phrase will be discovered on the mastheads of some American newspapers, together with the distinguished New Orleans Instances-Picayune, which gained nationwide kudos and awards throughout Hurricane Katrina when it stored publishing amid the flooding and the resultant chaos, initially solely on-line, however inside a couple of days of the storm in printed kind as properly. This flagship newspaper of probably the most well-known Louisiana metropolis started life in 1837 because the New Orleans Picayune. If it appears odd to us {that a} critical newspaper named itself with a phrase which means “trivial,” “petty” or “inconsequential,” we’re pondering extra figuratively than the house owners did. The proprietors of the brand new newspaper had a sensible cause: they gave it that title as a result of that’s what a duplicate value – six US cents, actually a picayune.

That’s not the one “picayune” of be aware within the US. The Beeville Bee-Picayune in Texas then took its title from the New Orleans newspaper as a tribute. There’s even a city known as Picayune, Mississippi, whose title was given to it by Eliza Jane Poitevent Nicholson, the proprietor and writer of the New Orleans Day by day Picayune, in homage to the illustrious newspaper she revealed.

Although the Spanish actual as a financial unit fell out of use, and the half-real with it, picayune turned established as a synonym for a small amount of cash (relatively like the opposite American slang, “two bits”, which implies the identical factor and comes from comparable out-of-date cash). “Picayune” was adopted throughout the U.S. within the 19th century as slang for the U.S. nickel, or five-cent coin. By the late 19th century, “not value a picayune” had grow to be a typical technique to say “of little worth,” and shortly sufficient, “picayune” acquired its which means of “insignificant.” In a couple of many years, the OED says, “picayune” was getting used as an adjective which means of “of little worth; paltry, petty, trifling; unimportant, trivial; imply; contemptible.” The phrase choosy may additionally have been derived from picayune, within the sense of being picky, fastidious, or fussy about small or trivial issues and probably the most trifling particulars – “don’t be choosy!” is a typical response to a pettifogging objection. It additionally was used within the stronger sense of “contemptible,” as within the Boston Journal’s 1892 remark in regards to the American nationwide legislature: “Would you like one other picayune Congress with all its stupidity and folly?”

So “picayune” has loads of makes use of, from the literal – “Sorry, I’ve not a picayune to offer you” if you happen to can’t, or gained’t, pay somebody who’s asking you for cash – to the contemptuous: “That is such a picayune request that I’m ashamed of you for making it!” An early instance of its utilization will be present in an 1837 congressional debate: “The hon. Senator from Kentucky … by means of ridicule, calls this a ‘picayune invoice.’ ” By the early 20th century, “picayune” took on the extra sense of a “nugatory or contemptible individual.” The primary OED quotation is from a 1903 journal talking of “A pack of jealous picayunes, who bickered whereas the military starved.”

Up to date Indian public life presents loads of makes use of for this little-used phrase. Political get together manifestoes, for example, are filled with picayune guarantees that the get together hopes voters gained’t keep in mind if they really win. Paperwork saddles our governance with a number of picayune laws that cumulatively place an enormous burden on trade. The manager and the legislature are likely to object when the judiciary appears to become involved in picayune administrative issues that aren’t, strictly talking, judicial points. Demonetisation traded India’s future financial development for a picayune current acquire. Criticising the Prime Minister’s theatrical gestures of taalis and diyas in the course of the coronavirus pandemic is taken into account too picayune to be acceptable right now. Objecting to the creation of his PM-CARES fund when the PMNRF is already in existence could appear a picayune matter, however in actuality masks a much more critical set of points. Am I occurring too lengthy with my examples? Don’t be picayune!!

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