Flibbertigibbet is an Old English word referring to a flighty or whimsical person, usually a young female. In modern use, it is used as a slang term, especially in Yorkshire, for a gossipy or overly talkative person. Its origin is in a meaningless representation of chattering. [ [http://www.worldwidewords.org/weirdwords/ww-fli1.htm World Wide Words] ]

It may also refer to two separate cultural figures:

In Anglo-Saxon mythology, Flibbertigibbet is apprentice to Wayland Smith, [ [http://www.waylands.net/public/smithy/legends.htm Wayland the Smith] ] who becomes exasperated with his behaviour and throws him down a hill, where he transforms into a stone.

In Shakespeare's "King Lear" (IV, i (1605)), he is one of the five fiends Edgar (in the posture of a beggar, 'poor Tom') claimed was possessing him. Shakespeare got the name from Samuel Harsnett's "Declaration of Egregious Popish Impostures" (1603), where one reads of 40 fiends, which Jesuits cast out and among which was Fliberdigibbet, a name that had been previously used by Latimer and others for a mischievous gossip. Elsewhere the name is apparently a synonym for Puck.

Contemporary references and usage

In "The Sound of Music", in the song, "How Do You Solve a Problem Like Maria?", a nun named Catherine calls Maria a flibbertigibbet. [ [http://www.lyricsdownload.com/sound-of-music-maria-lyrics.html Lyrics Download] ]

Jim Copp and Ed Brown have an album of songs and stories for children titled "Flibbertigibbets On Parade."

In "Harry Potter and The Prisoner of Azkaban", author Rowling uses "Flibbertigibbet" as the password to Gryffindor tower. In the same chapter, she references Shakespeare by naming a character Montague.

When announcing her support for Hillary Clinton during the Democratic Party (United States) presidential primaries, 2008, the word was used by Elizabeth Taylor to describe what Hillary Clinton was "not". [ [http://politicalticker.blogs.cnn.com/category/presidential-candidates/hillary-clinton/Elizabeth-Taylor-urges-primary-voters-to-back-Clinton.htm CNN News] ] Meg Ryan's character, Angelica Graynamore said in "Joe vs. The Volcano" (1990)," I am completely untrustworthy... I'm a flibbertigibbet."

On the ABC television series Pushing Daisies the character Olive Snook is sent to a convent resembling the one in The Sound of Music. When describing her inability to fit in she says: "Nuns aren't my people, unless you're telling me flibbertigibbet is a title of respect."


External links

* [http://www.berkshirehistory.com/legends/smithy03.html Flibbertigibbet's heel mark]
* [http://www.worldwideschool.org/library/books/lit/romance/Kenilworth/chap26.html "Kenilworth" passage mentioning Flibbertigibbet]
* [http://dictionary.reference.com/wordoftheday/archive/2004/02/25.html Word of the day at dictionary.reference.com]

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Look at other dictionaries:

  • Flibbertigibbet — Flib ber*ti*gib bet, n. An imp. Shak. [1913 Webster] …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • Flibbertigibbet — (von Mittelenglisch flipergebet) bezieht sich auf: eine Figur der angelsächsischen Mythologie, auf die in der englischen Literatur verschiedentlich Bezug genommen wird (z. B. Kenilworth von Sir Walter Scott, King Lear von Shakespeare, auch… …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • flibbertigibbet — 1540s, chattering gossip, flighty woman, probably a nonsense word meant to sound like fast talking; as the name of a devil or fiend it dates from c.1600 …   Etymology dictionary

  • flibbertigibbet — ► NOUN ▪ a frivolous and restless person. ORIGIN probably imitative of idle chatter …   English terms dictionary

  • flibbertigibbet — [flib′ər tē jib΄it] n. [extended < ME flypergebet < ?] an irresponsible, flighty person …   English World dictionary

  • flibbertigibbet — noun Etymology: Middle English flepergebet Date: 15th century a silly flighty person • flibbertigibbety adjective …   New Collegiate Dictionary

  • flibbertigibbet — /flib euhr tee jib it/, n. 1. a chattering or flighty, light headed person. 2. Archaic. a gossip. [1425 75; late ME flepergebet, flipergebet; reduplicative compound of obscure orig.] * * * …   Universalium

  • flibbertigibbet — noun /ˌflɪbətiˈdʒɪbɪt,ˈflɪbɚtiˌdʒɪbɪt/ a) An offbeat, skittish person; especially said of a young woman. b) An imp, a fiend …   Wiktionary

  • flibbertigibbet — flib|ber|ti|gib|bet [ ,flıbərti dʒıbıt ] noun count OLD FASHIONED a silly person whose opinions are not considered seriously by other people …   Usage of the words and phrases in modern English

  • flibbertigibbet — flib·ber·ti·gib·bet || ‚flɪbÉ™(r)tɪ dʒɪbɪt n. talkative frivolous person …   English contemporary dictionary