Odds and ends of curiosities. In French, a marchand de bric-à-brac is a seller of rubbish, as old nails, old screws, old hinges, and other odds and ends of small value; but we employ the phrase for odds and ends of vertu. (Bricoler in archaic French means Faire toute espèce de metier, to be Jack of all trades. Brac is the ricochet of bric, as fiddle-faddle and scores of other double words in English.)
“A man with a passion for bric-a-brac is always stumbling over antique bronzes, intaglios, mosaics, and daggers of the time of Benvenuto Cellini.” —Aldrich: Miss Mehetable's Son, chap. ii.
Source: Dictionary of Phrase and Fable, E. Cobham Brewer, 1894
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