Arrow-right Camera
The Spokesman-Review Newspaper
Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

Community Comment

A Word A Day — tchotchke

Good evening, Netizens...

February 28, 2013

Words of the Day

  • tchotchke
  • audio pronunciation
  • \CHAHCH-kuh\


: knickknack, trinket

Upon returning home from his trip to Maine, Jerry ceremoniously placed his new ceramic lobster next to the other tchotchkes on his mantelpiece.

"Everywhere there is something to delight the eye—not tchotchkes, but art. Eccentric art, angular art, modern art, all a signifier of personal style." — From an article in Palm Beach Post, January 12, 2013


Just as trinkets can dress up your shelves or coffee table, many words for "miscellaneous objects" or "nondescript junk" decorate our language. "Knickknack," "doodad," "gewgaw," and "whatnot" are some of the more common ones. While many such words are of unknown origin, we know that "tchotchke" comes from the Yiddish "tshatshke" of the same meaning, and ultimately from a now-obsolete Polish word, "czaczko." "Tchotchke" is a pretty popular word these days, but it wasn't commonly used in English until the 1970s.

From Merriam-Webster Online at



Spokesman-Review readers blog about news and issues in Spokane written by Dave Laird.