Wednesday, June 30, 2021

The expression "bran-new" in Dickens and Twain

It didn't take me long to read Charles Dickens's "A Christmas Carol", but then it's much shorter than his usual tomes. In it, I came across the expression "bran-new", which I also noticed in earlier Dickens novels. I began to wonder if this was the original form, with "brand-new" once having been a variation. But the original expression was "brand-new", which probably derives from a "firebrand" and hence refers to something newly forged, with "bran-new" a now archaic variation. It also appears in Mark Twain's "The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn" as part of Huck's inventory of what he and Jim own, "a bran-new Barlow knife worth two bits in any store." (Andrew Shields, #111words, 30 June 2021)

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