Brooching the subject?

[This post-brunch report did not harm any pooches or poached eggs.]

Sad to report I failed my brooch certification test. I am old enough to wear big jewelry pins, but I cannot reliably pronounce the word. So let us broach this subject.

Why, over brioche, I asked, are broach and brooch pronounced the same way if poach and pooch are not? Brioche, that light slightly sweet bread made with a rich yeast dough, is sensibly said, "bree ausch".

A participant at the nature art workshop designed this elegant brooch:

Nature art brooch design

Just last week I wanted to wear my mother's acorn brooch. It must be here somewhere, but I didn't find it on a first pass through all the boxes and storage tubs in the apartment.

Fritzi's brooch missing in action.

Fritzi's brooch, of course, is a piece of jewelry held on a woman's clothing by a pin near her neck. As always when I go off course on these searches, I thank the Online Etymology Dictionary!

Broaching the subject of brooches led me off-track, as usual: 

brooch (pronunciation American English)

brooch (n.) Look up brooch at Dictionary.com

early 13c., from Old French broche "long needle" (see broach (n.)). Specialized meaning led 14c. to distinct spelling.

While broach can be a noun, the verb is on my mind:

broach (v.) Look up broach at Dictionary.com

"pierce," early 14c., from the same source as broach (n.). Meaning "begin to talk about" is 1570s, a figurative use with suggestions of "broaching" a cask or of spurring into action (compare Old French brochier, 12c., "to spur," also "to penetrate sexually"). Related: Broached broaching.

And as for the pronunciation, click here.

Who wears brooches? Madeleine Albright, Margaret Thatcher, Kate Middleton, Coco Chanel, and early childhood educators. Albright used her pins to communicate diplomatic statements. 

At the Montessori school we used pins and brooches to communicate study subjects--dragonflies, bees, flowers, fall leaves, spiders, ducks, mammals--even if we wore jeans. We did not make a big fashion statement, but children noticed and commented on our jewelry. 

© 2013-2015 Nancy L. Ruder


seana graham said...

Loved the Albright nonverbal language of brooches. As well as learning about their importance to little kids.

I do know the correct pronunciation, but when I'm reading silently, I think I pretty much rhyme it with pooch anyway. I am not entirely satisfied with the Online Etymology Dictionary's explanation of how it came to be spelled that way. I mean, I believe them, but English doesn't usually tend to take a practical approach to avoid confusion in this way. Surely the two kinds of broachs weren't that indistinguishable?

Collagemama said...

I really liked Albright's pin of the See No Evil monkeys!

seana graham said...

I was surprised she'd wear the clock eyes.