Word of the Day – Flimsy

FLIMSY

 /ˈflɪmzi/  Adjective.  Comparative and superlative:  flimsier, flimsiest

You may not recognise it, but you will probably have heard it. Whether it’s flimsy evidence (evidências frágeis) or flimsy material, the meaning is generally derrogatory. It means ‘thin’ or ‘insubstantial’, or ‘weak’ when applied to an abstract noun (like ‘evidence’, or ‘excuse’ for example.

The website The Word Detective puts the (English) origin in the nineteenth century, as a bastardisation (metathesis) of the word ‘film’, which most Portuguese and Spanish speakers will be familiar with, plus the addition of ‘-sy’ at the end.

Usage: ´He had a very flimsy excuse for avoid work’. ‘The dress was too flimsy for the winter weather.’ ‘The man was convicted on the flimsiest of evidence.’ ‘I don’t think much of the quality of this (material): it’s far too flimsy.’ Have a look at this article as an example of the recent use of the word flimsy.

If you’ve enjoyed this quick look at English vocabulary, check back regularly to see more!

We always encourage our students to make a habit of researching the etymology of new words they encounter. Ten minutes researching the origins of a word can have a dramatic impact on your English vocabulary, and will usually also give information of usage, which many younger learners forget is as important – arguably more important – than simply knowing a dictionary definition. Go ahead – buy a good etymological dictionary, or visit a site like etymonline – see how quickly you can build your vocabulary and have a bit of fun at the same time!

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