Word of the Day


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1. a shiny coloured ball used as a decoration on a Christmas tree

2. a decoration or piece of jewellery that is not expensive

Origin and usage

Bauble came into English from Old French, in this case the word ‘baubel’ which means a child’s toy. It was first used in the early 14th century to refer to any showy trinket or ornament of the kind which would please a child.


Like so many things that have become Christmas traditions, glass baubles to decorate Christmas trees were invented in Germany. A glassmaker living in the town of Lauscha in Thuringia in the second half of the 16th century started making glass ornaments to decorate Christmas trees and they soon caught on, first among his colleagues in Lauscha, then further afield. They became popular in the United States after the entrepreneur F W Woolworth began importing them following a visit to Germany in the 1880s. Glass baubles began to be mass produced in the 19th century and dominated until the arrival of plastic.


“We are a dreadful species indeed, and deserve whatever it is our techno-baubles do to us.”
(Douglas Coupland)

Related words

cracker, fairy lights, tinsel

View the full definition in the Macmillan Dictionary.

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Macmillan Dictionary

Macmillan Dictionary

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