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Permanent link for this word: bunbury


Oct 11, 2012
This week's theme
Miscellaneous words

This week's words
inveigh
apostle
mense
bunbury
feint

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A.Word.A.Day
with Anu Garg

bunbury

PRONUNCIATION:
(BUN-buh-ree)

MEANING:
noun: An imaginary person whose name is used as an excuse to some purpose, especially to visit a place.
verb intr.: To use the name of a fictitious person as an excuse.

ETYMOLOGY:
From Oscar Wilde's play The Importance of Being Earnest where the character Algernon invents an imaginary person named Bunbury as an alibi to escape from relatives. He explains to his friend, "I have invented an invaluable permanent invalid called Bunbury, in order that I may be able to go down into the country whenever I choose. Bunbury is perfectly invaluable. If it wasn't for Bunbury's extraordinary bad health, for instance, I wouldn't be able to dine with you at Willis's to-night." Earliest documented use: 1899.

USAGE:
"There are birds who bunbury. One of them is the blackbird."
Jesko Partecke; The Birds Who Bunbury; Deutsche Welle (Germany); May 22, 2007.

A THOUGHT FOR TODAY:
Few are the giants of the soul who actually feel that the human race is their family circle. -Freya Stark, explorer and writer (1893-1993)

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