Number one for English language teachers

Word of the week: Glitz

Type: Reference material

Have you ever dreamed of joining the Hollywood elite and walking down the red carpet at the Oscars? Well, you may just have been swept up in the glitz and glamour of the occasion. Let Tim Bowen dazzle you with his explanation as to why this word has not always been all-American.

Glitz is perhaps best defined by the associated adjective glitzy: ‘bright, exciting, and attractive but with no real value’ (The Macmillan English Dictionary for Advanced Learners). It conjures up images of both glamour and, as a result of its ending, The Ritz, i.e. the famous (and glamorous) Ritz Hotel. These are exclusive hotels in London, Paris and New York that are associated with the high life. This has led some people to suggest that the word might be a blend of glamour and Ritz.

A more likely explanation is that the word arrived in American English via Jewish immigrants from Europe who brought their version of the German verb glitzern, which, depending on the context, can mean ‘twinkle’, ‘sparkle’, ‘glitter’ or ‘glisten’. The similarity with the last two English verbs can clearly be seen.

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