Header image of books


Q From Peppel: In your answer to the question about goody two shoes on the web site, there is a word twee. I can’t find it, other than a noise made by a small bird, and I would like to know its meaning.

A Ah yes, another of my curious Briticisms. It means excessively or affectedly quaint, sentimental or mawkish, sometimes coupled with words like nauseatingly. It’s a strongly negative word, and a very useful one, that is in common British use. It appeared at the beginning of the twentieth century to mean something dainty or sweet, a girly and gushing word. It appears to have developed from tweet, not the noise a bird makes, but a childish attempt at saying sweet. It might have been helped along by a feeling that it could be a blend of tiny and wee (Scots for small), though it isn’t.

Search World Wide Words

Support this website!

Donate via PayPal. Select your currency from the list and click Donate.

Copyright © Michael Quinion, 1996–. All rights reserved.
Page created 6 Jan. 2001

Advice on copyright

The English language is forever changing. New words appear; old ones fall out of use or alter their meanings. World Wide Words tries to record at least a part of this shifting wordscape by featuring new words, word histories, words in the news, and the curiosities of native English speech.

World Wide Words is copyright © Michael Quinion, 1996–. All rights reserved.
This page URL: http://www.worldwidewords.org/qa/qa-twe1.htm
Last modified: 6 January 2001.