Sunday, August 7, 2011

Flotsam and Jetsam

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.

Anyone else love Tim Gunn as much as I do? Make it work!

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