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Adjective & noun. Mid-17th century.
[French from Italian bizzarro angry, of unknown origin. Compare Spanish and Portuguese bizarro handsome, brave.]
A1. adjective. Eccentric, fantastic, grotesque. M17
A2. Designating variegated forms of garden flowers, as carnations, tulips, etc. M18
B1 noun. A bizarre carnation, tulips, etc. L18
B2 absolute. The bizarre quality of things; bizarre things. M19
Also: bizarrely adverb L19. bizarreness noun E20. bizarrerie noun bizarre quality M18.
Bizarre is a fittingly curious word. There are only three other biz- words in the Shorter OED, being biz, bizarro (which hardly counts) and bizcacha; the zarr formation is similarly odd. As for its etymology, this too is steeped in mystery. For some time it was thought that it was a word of Basque origin meaning 'beard' (the idea being that some clean-shaven French folk found the look of bearded Basque soldiers odd). Most sources, however, are now settled on the idea that bizarre comes from French through the Italian word bizzarro, meaning 'angry', which is similarly appropriate as many people become inexplicably angry when they encounter the bizarre or unfamiliar. The ultimate origin of bizzarro, however, is a mystery.
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Is there anything out there that you find particularly bizarre? Do you get angry when you encounter it?
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