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bijou

Department of Words I Did Not Know

bijou \BEE-zhoo\, adjective:

1. Something small, delicate, and exquisitely wrought.

noun:
1. A jewel.

Adding to its appeal is the fact that the Streak is a compact and bijou five inches, compared to the iPad's relatively chunky 9.7-inches.
-- Jonathan Leggett, "Dell Streak Free on Mobile Broadband Deals", Top 10 Broadband, June 2010

This was followed by bijou slices of grilled swordfish belly swathed in a homemade sesame sauce ($5).
-- Annette Tan, "Small bites to a big meal", Singapore Today, June 2010

Bijou comes from the French Breton bizou, "ring."

--

I had known this word only as a common name for a theater or cinema. There must have been thousands of Bijou movie palaces in the US in the 1920s through the 1940s. But I didn't know the word's origins, or that it had an independent existence, aside from being a proper name. I had also wrongly assumed that it was non-European in origin. Breton? Really?

Oh, and there's Bijou from Anaïs Nin's Delta of Venus. But Nin slathers foreign exoticism over her stories like surgical lubricant, and I think I assumed 'Bijou' was non-French as well.
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