|Catherine Breshkovsky, Russian socialist, better known as Babushka of the Russian Revolution|
Noun. Mid-20th century.
[Russian = grandmother]
1 In Russia: a grandmother, an old woman. M20
2 A head-scarf folded diagonally and tied under the chin. M20
Babushka is a word that has carried itself all the way from Russia to reside as a beloved resident both in the English language and as a regular in lists of favourite words. Its sound encapsulates everything that a dear grandmother is: the soft, double-b of babu is filled with her warmth and hospitality, the softness of her gossamer cheeks as she pulls you close for a kiss, and the wry exasperation of recounting better, more honest times. Just as you have rounded the double-b, however, and are sounding the gentle sh of babush, you strike the hard ka, for the babushka is nobody's fool. With a mind as sharp as a razor and a tongue to match, she can smoke like a chimney and sting the ears off a sailor. She is the matriarch; she is the babushka.