One of my weekend pleasures is watching old movies . . . old like from the 40’s, 50’s and 60’s. I like to plop myself down on the couch with a ball of yarn and a crochet hook or knitting needles, watch the classics and just chill.
I don’t know if those movies depict how people really interacted or spoke but it’s good clean fun. Sometimes the dialogue includes a word that gets stuck in my head, a word that isn’t used in modern everyday conversation. It dig, dig, digs. Eventually, I make the effort to check it out.
One word that comes to mind is ‘picayune’. I heard it in the movie Mr. Skeffington from 1944 starring Bette Davis and Claude Rains. Bette was nominated for an Oscar for her performance. But that’s neither here nor there . . . the point is that that silly word is now stuck in my brain and I’m here to purge it.
This is what I found out about picayune . . .
Used up until the mid-1800’s, a picayune was a small Spanish coin, worth half a real . . . about six cents. Interestingly, the word is actually derived from a French word meaning ‘small coin’.
Eventually, a ‘picayune’ came to mean something that is piddling or worthless.
So there you have it.