Definitions

from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 5th Edition.

  • adjective Cheap and showy; meretricious.

from The Century Dictionary.

  • Showy but worthless; fictitious; sham. [Slang or colloq.]
  • noun A piece of brummagem ware; hence, an imitation; sham.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English.

  • adjective Slang Counterfeit; gaudy but worthless; sham.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License.

  • adjective Cheap and showy; meretricious.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • adjective cheap and showy
  • noun a city in central England; 2nd largest English city and an important industrial and transportation center

Etymologies

from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

[Alteration of Birmingham, England (from the counterfeit coins made there in the 17th century).]

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

From Birmingham, England where cheap manufactured goods used to be produced.

Examples

  • These picturesque rooms often contained "good finds" of the old Spanish furniture, and brass; but as a rule the dealers had long since bought up all the old things, replacing them by "brummagem," -- modern articles shining with cheap varnish.

    Vanished towers and chimes of Flanders

  • In the laboratory there are no fustian ranks, no brummagem aristocracies, wrote Twain, putting it a bit more elegantly.

    How some politicians stumble on science

  • The brummagem politician ... oh, wait ... that would be redundant, wouldn't it?

    snow gophers, plus...

  • They name these brummagem cabarets after Pullman cars.

    The Beautiful and Damned

  • It was one of the type known as “tourist” cars, a sort of brummagem

    The Beautiful and Damned

  • Twenty-seventh Street toward the river, near which he could just see a single patch of vivid green trees that guaranteed the brummagem umbrageousness of Riverside Drive.

    The Beautiful and Damned

  • You find yourself scrutinizing famous romances for the sudden slip that bares the brummagem nature of it all.

    The Way They Are

  • All of our cities are full of brummagem aristocrats -- aristocrats, at all events, in the view of their neighbours -- whose grandfathers, or even fathers, were day labourers; and working for them, supported by them, heavily patronized by them, are clerks whose grandfathers were lords of the soil.

    The American Credo A Contribution Toward the Interpretation of the National Mind

  • To-day one must put him where he has begun to put himself - not among the literary artists of English, but among the brummagem prophets of England.

    Prejudices : first series,

  • The things of capital importance are habitually discussed, not by men soberly trying to get at the truth about them, but by brummagem Great Thinkers trying only to get kudos of them.

    Prejudices : first series,

Comments

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  • Classic H.L. Mencken vocab.

    December 30, 2006

  • Imitative of local dialect for Birmingham

    June 20, 2008

  • "It was way up in Brummagem, so I do hear say, that a boat by the name of the Rosemary lay..."

    Brilliant word.

    August 15, 2008

  • Brummagem and Brummagem ware are also terms for cheap and shoddy imitations, in particular when referring to mass-produced goods.

    June 14, 2009

  • Are Brummagem and Brummagem twins, like Thompson and Thompson?

    June 14, 2009

  • JM values all brummagems (someone has to!).

    January 9, 2010