It’s not often that I come across a word on the front page of a major daily newspaper that I’ve never seen or heard — but it happened this morning when I read the first sentence in an article about an on-going battle that has raged this summer on the shores of Georgian Bay. Here’s the lead in a Toronto Star article by Murray Whyte:
“BALM BEACH, ONT. — Idyllic and twee, this little lakeside hamlet, complete with a shabby arcade featuring a menu of greasy summertime delights, would seem the unlikeliest place to be pondering its own version of martial law. But here in the Township of Tiny, on the shores of Georgian Bay, desperate times call for desperate measures.”
I know what you’re thinking — Township of Tiny? Well, it’s true — that’s the name of the township where Balm Beach, the beach the story’s about, is located. But that’s not what snagged me.
What tripped me up was “twee”. So naturally, I had to look it up. Here’s what it means, according to Merriam-webster.com: “chiefly British : affectedly or excessively dainty, delicate, cute, or quaint”.
I could have guessed it was “chiefly British” (could there have been any doubt?). But even so, I felt like a bit of an illiterate (it was, after all, a word on the front page of the paper) — until, that is, I read the etymology. According to Merriam-webster.com, it is a “baby-talk alteration of sweet“. Well, that makes me feel better — no reason any of us with non-British parents would have been subjected to such excessively dainty, delicate, cute, or quaint a word.