emperifollado [adjective] – fancy/dolled up

My 7-year-old son got stuck on a word doing his homework tonight, because he couldn’t read the fancy font it was written in. My husband helped him out, pointing to the z: “esto es simplemente una zeta emperifollada” [this is just a fancy z].

So, emperifollado. It’s a word I’ve heard before, mostly used by my other half to describe people coming out of church, all dolled up in their Sunday best, or Spanish toddler-pijos, kitted out in the latest 1950s style knitted woollen outfits, in the Salamanca district of Madrid (or in pretty much any Spanish town centre for that matter).

I’ve often wondered about the origins of the word. And its seeming containing of a swear word (the last two syllables) appeals somehow to my potty-mouth brain. (Childish I know). It turns out, in fact, that emperifollado has nothing whatsoever to do with the rude word it happens to contain. It comes from  perifollo, a parsley-like herb known as ‘chervil’ in English, apparently. And my trusty Oxford Spanish Dictionary informs me that, used in the plural, perifollos are frills or trimmings.

The Word Reference online dictionary offers us some helpful synonyms for emperifollado: adornado, acicalado, engalanado, peripuesto, emperejilado (again the parsley connection), and endomingado, to name but a few. I suppose it’s no great surprise that the Spanish have a lot of words to describe this concept. But if you’re still unsure just head to the Calle Serrano on a Sunday. 😉


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