Mirliton

Mirliton

[mir-li-ton; Fr. meer-lee-tawn]
Mirliton can mean:

  • A vegetable or its vine, also known as the chayote
  • A class of musical instruments with a membrane that vibrates in the manner of that of a kazoo or the eunuch flute. Can also refer to the membrane itself (see List of musical instruments by Hornbostel-Sachs number). Can refer to other crude musical instruments such as a penny trumpet. It can refer to other toy pipes and noisemakers which produce harsh musical sounds. The French term "mirliton", which appeared in 1745 (possibly originating in a popular song refrain), was a kind of simple children's flute adorned with a spiral of paper.
  • An 18th century hussar hat similar to a tall peak-less shako or tall fez and with a long cloth trail or streamer used until in the middle part of Napoleonic Wars. The term was based on the analogy between the spiral of cloth on the hat and the spiral of paper in the children's flute. See Totenkopf.
  • An company that makes metal miniature figures near Florence, Italy, or the miniatures themselves.
  • A small town in central Haiti (Trou Mirliton)
  • The title of a movement in The Nutcracker Ballet, referring either (in a pun?) to the flute duet in the music or to the reed-pipes (or perhaps eunuch flute?) that the depicted shepherdesses might have played to their flocks. The term is often used to refer to the role of the shepherdess dancer. A further pun might refer to the marzipan that the dance represents and the almonds used in Mirliton pastries.
  • A tube-shaped pastry imitative of the shape of a short toy flute (This shape is now more closely associated with a toy siren whistle).
  • A tartlet or biscuit garnished with almond, first produced in Rouen around 1800.
  • A cabaret opened in 1885 by Aristide Bruant in Paris. The intended pun is that mirliton literally means reed-pipe but is German slang for doggerel.
  • The French expression "Vers de mirliton" referring to any bad poetry where its artistic merit has been sacrificed for the sake of getting the verse to rhyme.
  • A cat comic book character created by the French cartoonists Raymond Macherot and Raoul Cauvin. A character in older French literature named Mirliton would be a clownish charlatan, much as a mirliton might be dismissed as a pseudomusical instrument.
  • The common name for a version of the gold "Louis d’or" coin made during Louis XV's reign. Why mirliton? Perhaps: on the back of coin are two letter "L"'s facing and overlapping with each other; the stylized L's are cursive and their line tapers, as if made of ribbon.)
  • A railroad sign used on the french SNCF network

Notes

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