Eighteenth century British dandies. Very stylish dressers. When Yankee Doodle was reported to have "stuck a feather in his cap and called it macaroni," it was in reference to members of this group.

The English spelling of what Italians call maccheroni. There's an interesting etymology here. A legend says that an early Italian sovereign was so impressed by the taste of this form of pasta he exclaimed "Ma caroni!", meaning "How dear!". In 18th century England, macaroni was synonymous with perfection. This explains that line from the song Yankee Doodle: "...stuck a feather in his cap and called it macaroni." There's also a small version of macaroni called ditalini.

Mac`a*ro"ni (?), n.; pl. Macaronis (#), or Macaronies. [Prov. It. macaroni, It. maccheroni, fr. Gr. &?; happiness, later, a funeral feast, fr. &?; blessed, happy. Prob. so called because eaten at such feasts in honor of the dead; cf. Gr. &?; blessed, i. e., dead. Cf. Macaroon.]

1.

Long slender tubes made of a paste chiefly of wheat flour, and used as an article of food; Italian or Genoese paste.

⇒ A paste similarly prepared is largely used as food in Persia, India, and China, but is not commonly made tubular like the Italian macaroni. Balfour (Cyc. of India).

2.

A medley; something droll or extravagant.

3.

A sort of droll or fool. [Obs.] Addison.

4.

A finical person; a fop; -- applied especially to English fops of about 1775. Goldsmith.

5. pl. (U. S. Hist.)

The designation of a body of Maryland soldiers in the Revolutionary War, distinguished by a rich uniform. W. Irving.

 

© Webster 1913

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