Random Word Post – sprig
February 2, 2016 11:28am CST
I find a random word by flipping through my 2003 The New Webster’s Concise Dictionary and write a quick – often silly – little post about it. # “sprig – 1 A shoot or sprout of a plant. 2 An ornament in this form. 3 An heir or offspring of a family, esp. a young man.” I knew the first two definitions of sprig, but I had never heard of the third. Calling someone an heir makes sense. Calling them a sprig, to my American ears it sounds like a British insult.
• Cambridge, England
2 Feb 16
There is also the meaning of a small brad without a head. They are often made as narrow triangles cut out of sheet metal and are used, especially, in picture framing to hold the sandwich of glass, mount, picture and backing firmly in the frame. They are then usually covered with gummed or adhesive tape for neatness and to stop them falling out. The Free Dictionary (online) says that the last usage you mention refers to a 'young immature person'. It can't be that archaic because I have heard lads referred to as 'young sprigs', especially if they tend to be cheeky and too big for their boots! A 'sprigun' is a malicious Cornish pixie. I don't know if the name has any connection with the word 'sprig' or whether it comes from the same root as - is a 'sprig of', so to speak - the word 'sprite'. I only know this because there was a folk rock band in Cambridge in the '70s called 'Spriguns of Tolgus' who made several records and achieved a small following.