Friday, July 16, 2010




1 : a usually cylindrical box of cardboard or thin wood for holding light articles of attire
2 : a structure (as a baseball park) having relatively small interior dimensions

The BANDBOX is one of those things with a practical beginning and a metaphorical future. It began as a container to hold ruffs—the excessively frilly, starchy, and grandiose collars snapped or tied around the necks of 16th and 17th century men and women. The BANDBOX was usually constructed out of flimsy plywood, and the word soon came to describe anything of flimsy construction. The term also went in another direction, to connote a place from which something fancy—like the ruff—emerged. Three hundred years later, the word is used mostly as an adjective to describe anything neat, tidy, or ordered.

I like the conflict among these definitions—specifically the flimsiness inherent in the construction of a place to house something of greater opulence. There's a certain humility about this, like a prince trapped inside a frog. I motion that the definition of BANDBOX move in this direction, emphasizing the irony of that juxtaposition.

Updated definition of BANDBOX : any receptacle or house far less extravagant than what it is intended to contain

Done and done. Rewriting the dictionary, one word at a time.

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