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higgledy-piggledy

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Merriam-Webster's Word of the Day

Automatic TRANSCRIPT

<font size="-1" face="arial, helvetica"> <p> <strong> <font color="#000066">Merriam-Webster's Word of the Day for June 29, 2019 is:</font> </strong> </p> <p> <strong>higgledy-piggledy</strong> &#149; \hig-ul-dee-PIG-ul-dee\&nbsp; &#149; <em>adverb</em><br /> <p><strong>:</strong> in a confused, disordered, or random manner</p> </p> <p> <strong>Examples:</strong><br /> <p>Maya took a deep breath and began the daunting task of sorting through the hundreds of photos scattered <em>higgledy-piggledy</em> across the floor.</p> <p>"Indeed, the hallways of Geokon's offices are lined with metal filing cabinets, and workshops have been added in <em>higgledy-piggledy</em> over the years, giving the premises a haphazard feel." — John Lippman, <em>The Valley News</em> (White River Junction, Vermont), 11 Nov. 2018</p> </p> <p> <strong>Did you know?</strong><br /> <p>We really have no idea where <em>higgledy-piggledy</em> came from, but we do know it's a perfect demonstration of English speakers' fondness for <a href="https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/reduplication">reduplication</a>—that is, for forming new words by repetition of a base word often with a slight change of sound. In this case, the base word might actually be the second term, which encompasses the word <em><a href="https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/pig">pig</a></em> and calls to mind the association of pigs with disorderliness. Although we don't know when exactly <em>higgledy-piggledy</em> first appeared in print, we do know that the word has been around since before 1600. John Florio's <em>A Worlde of Wordes</em>, an English-Italian dictionary first published in 1598, used <em>higgledy-piggley</em> as a defining term for the Italian word <em>alla rinfusa</em>, along with two other examples of reduplication, <em><a href="https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/pell-mell">pell-mell</a></em> and <em><a href="https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/helter-skelter">helter-skelter</a></em>.</p> <br /><br /> </p> </font>