The words 'Brummie' and 'Brummagem'
Posted by Masakim on December 05, 2002
In Reply to: The words 'Brummie' and 'Brummagem' posted by Word Camel on December 05, 2002
: : Has anyone ever come across the words 'Brummie' or 'Brummagem' used to describe anything of poor quality?
: I have only ever heard "brummie" used to describe a person from Birmingham or to describe the Birmingham accent. I am wondering if there is a connection though, since there seems to be a nationwide collective prejudice in the UK against
: poor old Brimingham. The accent is much maligned. It doesn't seem a huge leap to imagine it being used in the way you describe.
brummagem /BRUH-mih-juhm/ (adjective)
: spurious; also : cheaply showy : tawdry
Eager to experiment with flashy and outrageous styles, Patricia often passed over the subdued accessories of the local department store for the brummagem jewelry she found at the costume shop.
Did you know?
"Brummagem" first appeared in the 17th century as an alteration of "Birmingham," the name of a city in England. At that time Birmingham was notorious for the counterfeit coins made there, and the word "brummagem" quickly became associated with things forged or inauthentic. By the 19th century, Birmingham had become a chief manufacturer of cheap trinkets and gilt jewelry, and again the word "brummagem" followed suit--it came to describe that which is showy on the outside but essentially of low quality. Perhaps the term was something of an annoyance to the people of Birmingham way back when, but nowadays "brummagem" is usually used without any conscious reference to the British city.
[Merriam-Webster's Word of the Day Oct 5, 1999]@
brummy/brummie n. 1 [1920s+] a counterfeit coin. 2. [1940s+] a native of Birmingham.
brummy/brummie adj. [20C] second-rate, tawdry.
From Cassell's Dictionary of Slang by Jonathon Green