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Proper nouns are not playable in Scrabble, but I know (from studying words) that "bernie" and "bernies" is playable in Scrabble. But I cannot find a definition for the lowercase version anywhere online.

Help?

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2 Answers 2

up vote 6 down vote accepted

Apparently, in 1999, someone named Bernie Ecclestone tried to donate one million British pounds to the Labour Party, and since then, a "bernie" is a million pounds.

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He's the owner of Formula 1. He donated 1M quid to the UK labour party who in a totally unrelated move then agreed to exclude F1 from the ban on cigarette advertising. –  mgb May 8 '11 at 5:33
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"An honest politician is one who, when he is bought, will stay bought." -- Simon Cameron –  Malvolio May 8 '11 at 18:05
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even better in this case. The government had to return the money, but because there was no connection between the donation and the exemption, F1 kept it's cigarette advertising. –  mgb May 8 '11 at 19:50
    
@MartinBeckett -- even better. I feel like sending Bernie roses. Or a check. –  Malvolio May 8 '11 at 19:54

Bernie is the corrected (or corrupted, depending on your outlook) spelling of the Old English word byrnie, which is a type of armor used by knights for the purpose of protecting the body when engaged in fighting with swords, lances, dirks, maces, pikes and/or other type of sharp, metal objects used to kill others.

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Actually, it was not “Old English”. The OED says of byrnie the following: “Sc. variant of ME. brynie, brinie, with metathesis of r. The word was thus brought nearer to OE. byrne, from which however it could not directly come, as this gave only the monosyllabic *byrn, burne, bryn.” –  tchrist Jun 26 '13 at 14:53

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