A couple days ago, I saw an old Gary Cooper movie, Mr. Deeds Goes to Town. I had never seen it before, and quite thoroughly enjoyed it. Gary Cooper, in the title role, plays the part of a somewhat eccentric young man, who comes unexpectedly into money, and whose native decency and straightforward simplicity are frequently mistaken for dim-wittedness by the more cynical and sophisticated men who try to ingratiate themselves with the newly-minted millionaire. The storytelling is solid, the protagonists sympathetic, and like many films from this period, there is a moral to the story, but one which is charmingly told, and therefore satisfying. I am ashamed to say, however, what sticks with me the most is a scene near the end, in which two little old ladies from Mr. Deeds' home town are called in to vouch for his character, and their solemn verdict is that he is "pixelated". I thought I had mis-heard at first, but the words is said several times, and there is no mistaking it, Mr. Deeds is "pixelated". A short time later, the word is explained to be an early American word meaning that the pixies have gotten him; that he is, in fact, "barmy".
Well now, this was very interesting indeed. Up until that moment, pixelated had existed in my vocabulary merely as a word describing what happens to a small digital picture when you try to print it out far bigger than it wants to be. It turns in to a lot of little squares. It is pixelated. And yet, here is a movie, seventy years old or better, and there is the word with an entirely different meaning. I was intrigued. and I looked it up. It took a few tries to find a source that dug any deeper than the film for the origin of the word, but I came across a very fine site called The Word Detective, which features an interesting little article about the word's origin and history. It is a quick read, and well worth the time. I must say I am quite taken with the word, and am much inclined to re-instate the use of the word pixelated in its original and rather poetic meaning.
And here, for a chuckle, is the scene in question, which some joker has cleverly doctored: