This week’s Weird Word Wednesday is gauche. This word is somewhat common and not all that weird, but I find the etymology is interesting. While it’s a word I have used in French, I don’t remember ever using it in English. But maybe I have an idea for how I might use it…. Is there a weird word that you find… well, awkward? If you choose to take up the challenge, please add a pingback to this prompt.
According to Merriam-Webster dictionary, gauche means “lacking social experience or grace.” Other meanings are crude or awkward. Gauche, in French, means “left,” but it can also mean awkward or clumsy.
The etymology of gauche includes “ties to old suspicions and negative associations relating to the left side and use of the left hand” (Merriam-Webster.com). Back in the day, left-handed people had to be careful or they could be tried as witches. Then again, many activities could pinpoint one as a witch. But it’s funny that we built a right-handed world and then labeled the left-handers “awkward.” And it’s also funny how words come to have meaning, and the meaning sticks. Forever.
Studying the word gauche and learning its origins doesn’t make me more likely to use it. In fact, I am less likely to use it now. You know the way the kids these days will respond to a situation with one word, “Awk-ward!” drawn out in a way to make the situation even more awkward? Maybe “gauche” would be an equally effective response in such a situation.
But upon further thought, the word’s monosyllabic briefness makes it a gauche alternative.