Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Learning | Epergne

My brother, Dale, likes to pretend he doesn't know any big words.  Whenever he hears a family member use an unfamiliar word, he asks for us to repeat it and tell him what it means. We usually end up looking up the word in the dictionary, and then he uses it in a sentence--usually a silly sentence.

There's a story he tells, about helping our father with the preparations for a backyard party. They were hosing off the lawn furniture.  My dad (an engineer) turned off the spigot at the wall of the house.  Dale was still holding the hose, but not spraying anything.  Dad called out,"Okay, Dale, depress the nozzle and release the residual!"

"I knew what he meant, but I just couldn't resist," Dale recalls. "I called out, 'but Dad! There's water in this hose!'"

Image from page 208 of "New Bedford, Massachusetts:
 its history, industries, institutions, and attractions" (1889)
From Internet Archives Book Images'
photostream on

No known copyright restrictions.

Yesterday, Dale sent an email to the family about his word of the day: epergne. 

According to the Merriam-Webster online dictionary (see citation below,) it's from the French word for saving: √©pargne. Epergne refers to "an often ornate tiered centerpiece consisting typically of a frame of wrought metal (as silver or gold) bearing dishes, vases, or candle holders or a combination of these." 

 "Epergne." Merriam-Webster, n.d. Web. 31 Dec. 2014. <>.

Image from page 37 of "Examples of household taste"
 (1875) From Internet Archives Book Images'
photostream on
No known copyright restrictions.

I don't know how Dale came across that word. Maybe I'll ask him, next time I see him.  In the meantime, I found some lovely images of epergnes on

Tea sandwiches on an Epergne, from Jan's photostream on
Some rights reserved.

The Silver Epergne on opening night,
from Leeds Museum and Galleries' photostream on
Some rights reserved.

Searching the keyword epergne in SSJCPL's Shiny New catalog yielded no results, but if you are interested in epergnes, I recommend taking a look at these books on tableware.

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