Those crazy Russians. On this day in history, Tzar Peter I, known for his efforts to drag Russia into the 18th century, imposed a tax on men’s beards. Every man except the clergy and peasants was required to pay a tax if his beard was too long. I should be appalled that a country’s ruler tried (and apparently succeeded) in dictating personal appearances, but I’m not. Everyone knows long beards are exceptionally gauche.
Adjective; from Dictionary.com:
1. Lacking social grace or sensitivity; awkward, tactless
2. Lacking ease of manner
Next to her elegance and Matthew’s perpetually unruffled self, I felt – and looked – like a gauche country mouse. (A Discovery of Witches, Deborah Harkness)
Not surprisingly, gauche is an English word that come from a French word. The original Old French root for gauche, gaucher, meant to trample or walk clumsily. The Old French word, in turn, came from a Frankish word (which, apparently, is a real language) and before that, an Old High German word meaning “to stagger.” From there, gauche has evolved past the literal definition of one’s gait to mean anyone who acts awkwardly and tactlessly as well.
Your turn, bookworms – have you ever met your favorite author and blurted out some incredibly gauche statement? Haven’t we all?
[Photo Credit: Google Images]