I subscribe to one of those “A Word a Day” deals that show up in my inbox every day. I know this comes as a surprise to you, but try to contain yourselves (why I presume I have more than one reader, I don’t know).
Today’s word was “paraph.” (Incidentally, I just noticed that it’s a word which MSWord doesn’t recognize. Maybe the folks as MS ought to subscribe to the service as well.)
A paraph is the swirly flourish attached to a signature, intended to foil forgers.
The odd thing, though, is that this superficial flourish is the easiest bit of the signature to imitate. The way the name is shaped, the essence of the signature, however, is more difficult to get right. (I speak from the experience of copying my dad’s signature, which includes a paraph in the initial “G,” after seeing that Alain Delon Movie – the original, pre-Damon, Ripley – in which he uses a projector to magnify the signature in order to get the flow right.)
It’s weird how we think superficial flourishes delineate our inimitability.