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Grandma likes to place a miniature angel on top of the PlayStation, a gossamer of crochet lying between the sacred and the hi-tech.

Question is, how do you call it? In Brazil we call it "bibelot", but I don't think the Gallicism is common for English speakers. Knickknack might sound offensive? Like, implying the cheapness? How not to be rude both to the angel and grandma? Thanks.

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    'Ornament' would be OK Jan 5, 2023 at 9:55
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    @MichaelHarvey That looks like an appropriate answer to me (is that simply less of a rule here on ELU, to refrain from answering in the comments?).
    – Joachim
    Jan 5, 2023 at 11:43
  • @Joachim - it is, perhaps, a bad habit of mine to supply a very simple answer as a comment. I do seem to get away with it, as do certain others. Jan 5, 2023 at 11:46
  • Personally, I would not use 'bibelot' in that way, as that is where (in French, and in English too) the word has a certain 'trivial' or 'worldly' nuance, e.g. Larousse: Petit objet décoratif rare ou curieux. Maybe that sense has been lost in its adoption in Brazilian Portuguese- I presume your grandmother attaches some religious significance to the object? Jan 5, 2023 at 12:10
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    knickknack is not offensive. What an idea. Anyway: bauble, collectible, tchotchke. And there are others. All in any list of synonyms. And even bibelot, by the way.
    – Lambie
    Jan 5, 2023 at 14:48

2 Answers 2

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A standing decorative item is usually called an 'ornament'. You're right that 'knick knack' is a term that somewhat diminishes its value.

You mentioned though that you didn't want to be rude about the fact it is an angel. Is that because your grandma sees the item as having a religious significance? Religious ornaments sometimes have other specific names. Some might call them an icon, a figure, or a figurine. Terms like 'trinkets' could be similarly insulting to religious items.

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    "My grandmother places a figurine of an angel on the top of the playstation," would be respectful and idiomatically correct in my estimation.
    – msouth
    Jan 5, 2023 at 21:38
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Some might call them an icon, a figure, or a figurine.

Thank you! That sure is the answer I was looking for. Just checked "ornament" and it seems quite neutral, slightly appreciative maybe. First thought it meant something "gaudy, superfluous". I used the angel as an example, but the real issue would be staying abroad and saying the replica of a patron saint is a gorgeous trinket. Knickknack and the like would do for the mass-produced toads and owls, I guess lol

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    Please do not post thank you as an answer.
    – Chenmunka
    Jan 6, 2023 at 16:34

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