3

I recently came across a word somewhere that literally meant:

a short article or essay

It was most likely a loanword, either from Spanish or French. It began with a "C" or a "P", and was more than six letters long.

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    related: english.stackexchange.com/questions/196526/… (I am teasing, but you should get the hint)
    – Mari-Lou A
    Nov 23 '14 at 9:32
  • Yeah, I got the message, that my writing is tedious. But that's beside the point. And the "senior moment" was a sarcastic/ironic usage...well, as i have said before, and reiterate, that the word starts with either a "c" or a "p", and moderately outlandish [foreign sounding], yet part of the English language.
    – Uni Guy
    Nov 23 '14 at 10:00
  • We need to start an EL&U Hall of Fame, and out this question in it.
    – Dan Bron
    Nov 23 '14 at 11:56
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    @UniGuy precis, coup d'essai, clausula, disquisition??? I give up! ¦)
    – Joe Dark
    Nov 23 '14 at 12:03
  • Nope. None of these. :-(
    – Uni Guy
    Nov 23 '14 at 12:10
4

As discovered in comments, the OP was looking for the word vignette, and misremembered the first letter.

Merriam-Webster gives as definition 3a "a short descriptive literary sketch".

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  • Yup, my bad! My memory's really clouded. Sheepish Thanks anyhow!
    – Uni Guy
    Nov 23 '14 at 23:11
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    In my search, I found it also but didn't mention because it is totally different than what he is asking. It is usually used as an ornamental design. It has one meaning closer to what he is asking but not that close. It is a theatrical term.: "A brief verbal description of a person, place, etc.; a short descriptive or evocative episode in a play, etc." [OED]. But, well done for finding :)
    – 0..
    Nov 23 '14 at 23:45
  • It's a short piece of writing or an article, though not an essay. I messed up on the essay bit, i concur.
    – Uni Guy
    Nov 23 '14 at 23:51
  • vignette noun [C] UK /vɪˈnjet/ US › a short piece of writing, music, acting, etc. which clearly expresses the typical characteristics of something or someone: "He wrote several vignettes of small- town life." Source: dictionary.cambridge.org/dictionary/british/vignette
    – Uni Guy
    Nov 23 '14 at 23:56
4

The word Cameo is not English sounding - it comes from the Old French and Italian.

enter image description here

a short descriptive literary sketch that neatly encapsulates someone or something.

Image and Definition -- Google Dictionary

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  • I'm gonna try skimming thru my dictionary. Let's hope for the best. Imma find that word if it's the last thing I do.
    – Uni Guy
    Nov 23 '14 at 12:48
  • @Mari Very funny
    – Uni Guy
    Nov 23 '14 at 13:40
  • @Mari, yeah, but now no one's going to get the jokes in the introduction to my answer.
    – Dan Bron
    Nov 23 '14 at 13:44
  • @Dan cuz they deleted the word "middling"...sucks to you :-P :-P
    – Uni Guy
    Nov 23 '14 at 13:52
  • And the word "Romance".
    – Uni Guy
    Nov 23 '14 at 13:53
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Let's try pandect; six letters (about middling), from a Romance language (Latin), and starts with a p (and bonus, contains a c):

A treatise or similar work that is comprehensive as to a particular topic.

In other words, just a more obscure way of spelling monograph.

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    The original pandect came from Roman Law. A compendium in fifty books of Roman civil law, made by order of the emperor Justinian in the 6th cent., systematizing opinions of eminent jurists and given statutory force (OED), so it doesn't really work for OP's "short article or essay". Although monographs are usually equally detailed, they're often quite short because the subject matter is so tightly delineated - so +1 for that, even if it's not your primary suggestion. Nov 23 '14 at 13:29
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    @FumbleFingers Monographs are not generally quite short—a monograph is simply a book that stands on its own, without being part of a journal or series. Many monographs are several hundreds or even thousands of pages long. Nov 23 '14 at 17:34
2

Could you be thinking of codicil? While that is primarily used in legal contexts and means an addendum, it did originally mean "small book". The following definition is from The American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition by way of wordnik:

codicil

n. Law A supplement or appendix to a will.

n. A supplement or appendix.

Etymonlne gives the origin of the word as

codicil (n.) early 15c., from Middle French codicille, from Latin codicillus "a short writing, a small writing tablet," diminutive of codex (genitive codicis), see code (n.).

I don't have access to an unabridged OED at the moment but I suspect that the word can/could also be used to mean short text in English at some point.

1
  • I'm afraid it's not codicil, man...thanks for trying though :-) I'm bound to hit upon it sooner or later.
    – Uni Guy
    Nov 23 '14 at 15:32
2

You can consider these terms:

  • Prolusion — A literary essay or article intended as a precursor to a fuller treatment of a subject. [OED] - From Latin

  • Precede — Brief editorial preface (usually to an article or essay) [Wiktionary] - From Old French and Latin

  • Conte — A short story as a form of literary composition. [OD] - From French and Latin

1
  • Some other distant candidates: epitome,compendium,conspectus,apercu,feuilleton,passage
    – 0..
    Nov 23 '14 at 17:53
1

Morceau could be the word? It doesn't sound english:

A short literary or musical composition.

-- Google Dictionary

0
1

Causerie

Noun. French origin.

An informal talk or chat.
A short informal essay or article.

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    I'd already specially written in my original post, before it was censored, that the word wasn't "causerie".
    – Uni Guy
    Nov 23 '14 at 13:28
  • @Uni Guy Bugger, I've just seen the comment where you say it isn't causerie. Oh well in that case I truly give up! A pox on your infernal question sir! ¦Þ
    – Joe Dark
    Nov 23 '14 at 13:28
  • Lol. It ain't infernal. I'll come by the answer one of these days, and then you'll know what you'd been missing. Nice try, though :-P
    – Uni Guy
    Nov 23 '14 at 13:33
0

He wrote a piece on tiny houses.

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