Sunday, March 15, 2009


gallimaufry [gal-uh-MAW-free]
n. hodgepodge

[From French galimafrée, combining galer ("to rejoice") + mafrer ("to eat much")]

In his review of A. James Gregor's book, The Two Faces of Janus: Marxism and Facism in the Twentieth Century, for the Hoover Institution, Arnold Beichman introduced me to gallimaufry, a synonym for hodgepodge I had never known before:
Because Marxism provides a self-styled scientific socio-political analysis as well as a gallimaufry of beliefs and insights, it appealed to intellectuals and, alas, still does.

I found a few other good gallimaufry quotes floating around, and all of them seem to use this word in place of hodgepodge. Colman McCarthy, for example, in the Washington Post:
Maran reports the daily jostlings and thrivings in a public school with 3,200 students, 185 teachers, 45 languages, a principal and five vice principals, five safety monitors, 62 sports teams and a gallimaufry of alternative programs, clubs and cliques.

Ezra Bowen in Time:
Today bilingual programs are conducted in a gallimaufry of around 80 tongues, ranging from Spanish to Lithuanian to Micronesian Yapese.

We have a long list of synonyms and near synonyms in English for gallimaufry, hodgepodge, assortment, mixture, jumble, combination, blend, etc. They include: agglomeration ("a jumbled cluster"); aggregation ("collection into an unorganized whole"); amalgamation ("the mixing or blending of different elements"); cluster ("a number of things of the same kind, growing or held together"); conglomeration ("a mixed coherent mass"); farrago ("a confused mixture"); hash ("a mess, jumble, or muddle"); medley ("a mixture of heterogeneous elements"); melange ("a mixture; medley"); mess ("a dirty or untidy mass, litter, or jumble"); mingle-mangle ("a jumbled or confused mixture"); miscellany ("a collection of various or unrelated items"); mishmash ("a confused mess"); muddle ("a confused, disordered condition"); olio ("a mixture of heterogeneous elements"); potpourri ("any mixture, esp. of unrelated objects, subjects"); and salmagundi ("any mixture or miscellany").

Like gallimaufry, hodgepodge has its etymological origins in cooking. Hodgepodge is alternatively spelled hotchpot. In French it was hochepot, which came from hocher ("to shake") + pot ("pot"). The French components have Dutch roots, but mean the same thing. In Law, a hotchpotch is "a mixing together, or throwing into a common mass or stock, of the estate left by a person deceased and the amounts advanced to any particular child or children, for the purpose of a more equal division, or of equalizing the shares of all the children."

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