GIST

Popinjay

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The word popinjay is an old one and is considered old-fashioned, though it is still occasionally seen. We will examine the definition of the word popinjay, where it came from and some examples of its use in sentences.

A popinjay is someone who is conceited, someone who dresses in an extravagant manner and behaves outrageously. A popinjay is vain, talkative and draws attention to himself but has no substance. The word popinjay was first used in the late 1200s to mean a parrot, derived from the the Old French word papegai, which in turn was derived from the Spanish word papagayo, originally coined from the Arabic word babaghā. Interestingly, at first the word popinjay meant a rare and beautiful thing or person, but by the 1520s popinjay was used to indicate a vain, outrageous person.

Examples

The problem with this Gallic popinjay, who believes in a ‘United States of Europe’, is that he cannot conceal a visceral disdain for British values. ()

Her husband Zulfikar’s Twitter feed reveals him as a popinjay extraordinaire who leaves his wife trailing drably in his wake. (T)

On Twitter, conservative commentators denounced Comey, with one calling him “a preening popinjay utterly consumed with his own vainglorious pomposity.” ()

But Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson hit back, calling his successor at City Hall a “pompous popinjay” for putting one of the UK’s most important relationships at risk. ()

The groom was an egotistical popinjay, obsessed with architecture, decoration, antiques, and beautiful women; he was also a fortune hunter, and later described his new wife as “childish and a trifle malicious . . . but she possessed charm and—what is always delightful to a man—possibilities.” ()

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