Flotsam and Jetsam \FLOT-suhm\ and \JET-suhm\ , noun;
1. Useless or unimportant items; odds and ends
2. A vagrant, penniless population
Flotsam dates to the 1600's from Anglo-French floteson, which derives from Old French flotaison ("a floating"). It is a combination of floter (a Germanic word meaning "to float") + -aison (from Latin -ation(em)). It was spelled flotsen until the mid-19th century, when it was probably changed due to the influence of many English words that end in -some.
Jetsam made its entry into the language in the 1560's as an alteration of Middle English jetteson ("act of throwing goods overboard to lighten a ship"). Jetteson comes from Anglo-French getteson, but its current spelling is mostly likely influenced by flotsam, as the pair have combined to mean "odds and ends" since around 1861.
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