Sunday, August 17, 2008

Word Tidbits: Macaroni

In reading The Picture of Dorian Gray, I came across this phrase: "He had been a macaroni of the eighteenth century". Having not seen that use before, I immediately thought to share it with you. Naturally, I hastened to find a definition outside of the more familiar noodle associations. I could only guess that Oscar Wilde did not mean that Mr. Gray's ancestor was, indeed, a piece of pasta.

Labeling the man a macaroni, in this case, meant that he had been well-traveled and affected foreign habits and mannerisms. In essence, the man was a poser and a fop, a well-dressed trend follower.

Finally, I understand the meaning of the words to Yankee Doodle. Calling the feather "macaroni" was not some sort of pasta hallucination. Nay, young Mr. Doodle meant his hat to be Continental and suave. My sympathy for him has evaporated, as I used to think he suffered from some sort of mental illness and now know that he was, quite simply, an imitator.