Etymology
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knick-knack (n.)
also knickknack, nicknack, "a pleasing trifle, toy," 1570s, a reduplication of knack (n.) "ingenious device, toy, trinket" (1530s), a specialized sense of knack (n.) "stratagem, trick."
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knack (n.)
mid-14c., "a deception, trick, device," a word of uncertain origin. Perhaps from or related to a Low German word meaning "a sharp sounding blow" (compare Middle English knak, late 14c.; German knacken "to crack;" also knap) and of imitative origin. Sense of "special skill" (in some specified activity) is first recorded 1580s, if this is in fact the same word. In old slang (mid-18c. to mid-19c.) nacky meant "full of knacks; ingenious, dexterous." For pronunciation, see kn-.
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jim-jam (n.)
"knick-knack," 1640s, a reduplication of unknown origin.
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bibelot (n.)
"small curio," 1873, from French bibelot "knick-knack," from Old French beubelet "trinket, jewel" (12c.), from belbel "plaything," a reduplication of bel "pretty" (see belle).
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bagatelle (n.)
1630s, "a trifle, thing of no importance," from French bagatelle "knick-knack, bauble, trinket" (16c.), from Italian bagatella "a trifle," which is perhaps a diminutive of Latin baca "berry," or from one of the continental words (such as Old French bague "bundle") from the same source as English bag (n.). As "a piece of light music," it is attested from 1827.
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gimcrack (n.)
also jimcrack, "trifle, knick-knack," by c. 1820, earlier "mechanical contrivance" (1630s), originally "showy person" (1610s), of uncertain origin. Perhaps an alteration of Middle English gibecrake, the name of some kind of ornament on wooden furniture (mid-14c.), which is perhaps from Old French giber "to rattle, shake" + some special sense of Middle English crak "sharp noise, crack." In 18c.-19c. gimcrack also could mean "person who has a turn for mechanical contrivances."
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etagere (n.)
ornamental piece of furniture consisting of ranks of open shelves to display knick-knacks, etc., 1858, from French étagère (15c.), from étage "shelf, story, abode, stage, floor" (11c., Old French estage), from Vulgar Latin *staticum, from Latin statio "station, post, residence" (see station (n.)).
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pernickety (adj.)

1808 (pernicktie, in Jamieson), of persons, "precise; fastidious; fussily particular, especially about trifles," an extended form of Scottish pernicky, which is of uncertain origin, perhaps somehow from particular. "Association with the knick group of words ... may have been vaguely present" [OED].

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hang (n.)

late 15c., "a sling," from hang (v.). Meaning "a curtain" is from c. 1500; that of "the way in which a thing (especially cloth) hangs" is from 1797. To get the hang of (something) "become capable" is from 1834, American English, perhaps originally in reference to a certain tool or feat, but, if so, its origin has been forgotten. It doesn't seem to have been originally associated with drapery or any other special use of hang; the connecting notion might be "general bent or tendency."

'To get the hang of a thing,' is to get the knack, or habitual facility of doing it well. A low expression frequently heard among us. In the Craven Dialect of England is the word hank, a habit; from which this word hang may perhaps be derived. [John Russell Bartlett, "Dictionary of Americanisms," New York, 1848]
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survivor (n.)

early 15c. in the legal sense of "one who outlives another," agent noun from survive. Meaning "one who has a knack for pulling through adversity" is attested from 1971. Survivor syndrome as a name for the feeling of guilt in some who have lived through a traumatic event in which others died is recorded by 1968.

[I]t may have been wrong to say that after Auschwitz you could no longer write poems. But it is not wrong to raise the less cultural question whether after Auschwitz you can go on living—especially whether one who escaped by accident, one who by rights should have been killed, may go on living. His mere survival calls for the coldness, the basic principle of bourgeois subjectivity, without which there could have been no Auschwitz; this is the drastic guilt of him who was spared. By way of atonement he will be plagued by dreams such as that he is no longer living at all. [Theodor Adorno, "Negative Dialectics," 1966]
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