[GO TO THE LISTING OF ALL THE PARTS OF THIS CHAPTER]
bricolaje (1983) is a very recent and rather uncommon word that means primarily ‘non-professional, do-it-yourself handiwork for home decoration or repair’. The Academy’s single definition for this word is: ‘Manual activity in the areas of carpentry, plumbing, electricity, etc., carried out in one’s own home without going to professionals’. According to the Diccionario panhispánico de dudas (2005), outside Spain, in Spanish America, to the extent that the word is used at all, it is often used as a foreign word (extranjerismo), with the French spelling and pronunciation.[i] According to the Diccionario de dudas y dificultades de la lengua española (Seco and Hernández, 2006), the word is needed because its closest native synonym, chapuza, has negative connotations that the borrowed word does not have.
Sp. bricolage is a late 20th century loanword from French bricolage [bʀi.kɔ.ˈlɑʒ], which was also created in the 20th century (1927 according to Le Petit Robert) and which has several uses that partially match the meaning the word has in Spanish, namely ‘arts and crafts activities at school’, ‘makeshift repair, sloppy work’, ‘do-it-yourself work’, and the sense given to the word to the word by French anthropologist and ethnologist Claude Lévi-Strauss, ‘improvised work adapted to materials and circumstances’.
The French word was derived from the French verb bricoler ‘to putter, tinker, do odd jobs, do small chores’ (19th century) and later ‘to fix something ingeniously’ (i.e. with ingenuity) (20th century, OED). An earlier meaning of the verb, in late 15th century Middle French, was ‘to go to and fro, to ricochet, bounce’. By the mid-19th century this verb meant ‘to make a living by doing all kinds of little jobs, engage in manual work (adjustments, repairs, etc.)’, and in the early 20th century it came to mean ‘to install, set up something as a non-expert and with ingenuity’ (PR), i.e. ‘to tinker, etc.’.
The verb bricoler was derived in the 15th century from the earlier noun bricole [bʀi.ˈkɔl] (earlier spelled briccole) that means something like ‘trifle, worthless object’ in Modern colloquial French. This noun comes ultimately from Late Latin briccola that originally, in the 14th century, referred to ‘a type of military siege engine similar to a catapult (a mangano)’, and later come to name other contraptions. The word was adopted in other languages as well, cf. Provençal bricola, Italian briccola, Spanish brigola, and Eng. bricole, pronounced [ˈbɹɪk.əl] or [bɹɪ.ˈkoʊ̯l]. The word in these other languages has become obsolete, though, since it did not come to have new uses. But Fr. bricole adopted different senses over time, besides the modern ‘trifle’, such as ‘sling’ in medicine, or ‘munitions store’ in the military. It has been proposed that the final origin of Late Latin briccola is a Germanic word related to Middle High German brechen, meaning ‘to break’ and a cognate of Eng. break.
Sp. bricolaje is a cognate, and false friend, of Eng. bricolage [ˌbrɪ.kə.ˈlɑʒ], also borrowed from French in the 20th century. The English word, which is also rare, has come to be used exclusively with the sense put forth by C. Lévi-Straus in La pensée sauvage (1962), namely ‘something made or put together using whatever materials happen to be available’ (AHD). In the words of the OED, bricolage means ‘construction or (esp. literary or artistic) creation from a diverse range of materials or sources. Hence: an object or concept so created; a miscellaneous collection, often (in Art) of found objects’.
camuflaje (1970) [ka.mu.ˈfla.xe] ‘camouflage’, i.e. ‘the disguising of military personnel and equipment by painting or covering them to make them blend in with their surroundings’ and, derived from it, ‘the clothing or materials used for such a purpose’ (COED). This word is a 20th century loanword from French camouflage [ka.mu.ˈflaʒ] (same meaning), a late 19th century creation. It is a cognate of Eng. camouflage, pronounced [ˈkæ.mə.ˌflɑʒ] or [ˈkæ.mə.ˌflɑʤ], also borrowed from Modern French around 1917, in the context of the military and World War I. The French word camouflage (also spelled camoufflage at one point) originally meant ‘disguise’ when it was created around 1883. By 1917, however, during World War I, the word was being used in a military context with the meaning it has today.
Fr. camouflage is derived by means of the ‑age suffix from the verb camoufler, an early 19th century word that meant originally ‘to disguise’ and later on in the 19th century ‘to falsify, counterfeit’. This verb was borrowed and adapted from Italian camuffare ‘to disguise’, which is of uncertain origin. The form of the French word was presumably influenced by the unrelated French word camouflet, a literary word that means ‘snub, insult, affront’, and in military context, ‘camouflet, stifler’, that is, ‘an underground explosion of a bomb or mine that does not break the surface, but leaves an enclosed cavity of gas and smoke’ (RHWU). This word’s original meaning was ‘smoke blown in someone’s face as a practical joke’, since it is derived from chault moufflet lit. ‘hot puff, breath’ (RHWU).
Spanish has also borrowed the verb camuflar from French, whereas English chose to derive the verb to camouflage from the noun camouflage, by conversion, a verb that is attested as early as 1917 and whose primary meaning is ‘hide or disguise by means of camouflage’ (COED). Actually, Sp. camuflar appeared in the DRAE before the noun camuflaje does, in 1950. Originally, Sp. camuflar word was used exclusively in military contexts, but today it can also be used in a broader sense meaning ‘to conceal’, that is, ‘to hide something by means of a false appearances’, as in Se muestra así de amable para camuflar sus verdaderas intenciones ‘She acts all nice like that to conceal his true intentions’ (MM).
 The single definition in María Moliner’s dictionary is: ‘Actividad que consiste en la realización de trabajos manuales de decoración, reparación, etc., en la propia casa, por parte de personas no profesionales’.
 The Le Petit Robert dictionary gives these senses in French as: (1) Action, habitude de bricoler. — Travail de bricoleur. Le salon du bricolage; (2) Réparation ou travail manuel effectué approximativement. Un bricolage rapide. Fig. et péj. Travail d’amateur, peu soigné. C’est du bricolage!; Anthrop. Travail dont la technique est improvisée, adaptée aux matériaux, aux circonstances.
 These are translations of definitions in Le Petit Robert: Gagner sa vie en faisant toutes sortes de petites besognes. — Se livrer à des travaux manuels (aménagements, réparations, etc.)’, ‘Installer, aménager (qelque chose) en amateur et avec ingéniosité.
 The original says: ‘Disimular u ocultar una cosa con cierta apariencia falsa’ (María Moliner).