Gaudiness on Burns night

During the week I was fortunate enough to spot a Chambers Dictionary in a charity shop.  I seem to have forfeited every dictionary I owned with the collapse of significant relationships, so the opportunity to acquire one was welcome.  I prefer Chambers because I like to play Scrabble.  In a perfect world I guess I would have the Complete Oxford, but at £250 for the CD edition it is beyond my means.  One day perhaps their word of the day will coincide with the one I want, if it ever happens I'll feel just like I won the lottery!  Below I reproduce the definition from Chambers and after it the reason I featured it.

Gaudy - see under Gaud

Gaud - n. a.a large ornamental bead on a rosary (obs): a prank (obs); an ornament; a piece of finery; showy ceremony; festivity (obs), - vi (obs) to make merry, - vi to adorn with gauds (obs); to paint (eg the cheeks (obs; Shakespeare) -

gaudeamus L. (in Scotland let us be glad, opening word of a students' song) a joyful celebration among student. -

n gaudery finery -

adv. gaudily - n gaudiness - n gaudy an entertainment or feast, esp. in certain English colleges. - adj. showy; merry; gay; vulgarly bright. -

gaudy-day, gaudy-night [In part appar from OFr "gaudir", from L. "gaudere" to be glad , or "gaudium" joy; in part directly from L.]

I found it really interesting how this has been corrupted or adapted from the original Latin.  As a boy I remember the family had an urn on which was painted "Edamus, Bibame, Gaudeamusque!" which translates as "Eat, Drink, and make merry!".  If I remember rightly it may have had "Hic, Haec, Hoc!" on the other side, which was intended as a joke I guess.  Last weekend at meeting I saw the childrens' group had made an artwork about self-discovery which had the words "Open" and "Closed" as counterpoints and the same circle showed "Simple" and "Gaudy" also counterbalancing.  I am not sure the word "gaudy" was well chosen, it puzzled me at the time prompting my enquiry.  No doubt "Complicated" might work better, at least for me, because one of the Quaker values is indeed simplicity, but if this is to be in rejection of all that is "gaudy" it conjures up all sorts of visions of puritans rather than Quakers.

Tonight is also the 250th Burns Night and in honour of [[Robert Burns]] I reproduce a song he wrote as a young man which uses the word gaudy well enough.

Handsome Nell

Tune - "I am a Man Unmarried."

O', once I lov'd a bonie lass,
 Ay, and I love her still;
And whilst that virtue warms my breast,
 I'll love my handsome Nell.

As bonie lasses I hae seen,
 And monie full as braw;
But, for a modest gracefu' mein,
 The like I never saw.

A bonie lass, I will confess,
 Is pleasant to the e'e;
But, without some better qualities,
 She's no a lass for me.

But Nelly's looks are blythe and sweet,
 And what is best of a',
Her reputation is complete,
 And fair without a flaw.

She dresses aye sae clean and neat,
 Baith decent and genteel;
And then there's something in her gait
 Gars ony dress look weel.

A gaudy dress and gentle air
 May slightly touch the heart;
But it's innocence and modesty
 That polishes the dart.

'Tis this in Nelly pleases me,
 'Tis this enchants my soul!
For absolutely in my breast
 She reigns without control.


by Robert Burns

and on that note I shall close, but in parting let me mention that my plan is to stick with the Scots theme for the next post, which is intended to feature [[Hamish Henderson]], [[P.G. Woodhouse]], and [[Raymond Chandler]] with some kind of prize for anyone that can find the connection (they have one thing in common!).  Imay also add an audio clip from another Hamish, wait and see!

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