14 Delicious Words For Anyone Who Loves Their Food

iStock/Getty Images Plus/monkeybusinessimages
iStock/Getty Images Plus/monkeybusinessimages

It’s easy to think that when it comes to words related to food, English probably takes second place behind French, which has given us a whole glossary of culinary terms from ingredients and elements (béchamel, mirepoix, bouquet garni) to cooking methods and processes (fricassée, au gratin, chiffonade), to complete dishes and delicacies (cassoulet, apéritif, amuse-bouche, crudités). But what English lacks in words for dishes and delicacies, it more than makes up for in words to do with the end result—eating and enjoying food. Expand your vocabulary, as well as your Yule-hole, with these 14 words for food-lovers.

1. Junket

Nowadays, the word junket tends only to be used to refer to political or press junkets—trips for politicians or journalists, at another’s expense, for promotional purposes. At one time, however, a junket was a vast merrymaking feast or banquet, where food and drink were consumed in large amounts, which in turn derives from the earlier 16th-century use of junket to refer to a dainty sweet treat or delicacy.

2. Bouffage

Another word for a grand feast is bouffage, a term from the 17th century derived from an older French word for “any meat that (eaten greedily) fills the mouth and makes the cheeks to swell,” according to 17th century lexicographer Randle Cotgrave. Feel free also to call a large meal or fine food a spreadation (19th century), a waffle-frolic (18th century American English), and belly-cheer (16th century English).

3. Gut-Gullie

Gut has been used to mean the stomach (or, originally, the abdomen and its contents) since the Old English period, and is the root of a host of gluttonous words like gut-foundered, which means hungry to the point of near starvation; gut-head, a 17th century word for someone who appears dull and slow witted from overeating; and gut-gullie, an old Scots dialect verb meaning to overeat or eat greedily.

4. Smell-Feast

Noah Webster gave two definitions for a smell-feast. One was “a feast at which the guests are supposed to feed upon the odors only of the viands,” but the word’s original meaning, dating back to the early 16th century, is “one who is apt to find and frequent good tables”—in other words, a scrounger or moocher who steals your food or expects you to feed them. And if you know anyone like that, you’ll likely need to the know the word ...

5. Groak

… or growk, which means to stare at someone intently and expectantly, hoping that they give you some of their food.

6. Linnard

The linnard is the last member of a group to finish their meal. An 18th-century dialect word from the southwest of England, traditionally the linnard would have their tardiness punished by being made to clean up afterwards.

7. Tarnisher

Tarnisher is an old Scots and Irish dialect word for a huge meal.

8. Forenoons

The forenoon is the portion of the day between waking up in the morning and midday, which makes a forenoons a brunch or a light snack taken between breakfast and lunch. A small snack eaten immediately after a meal, meanwhile, is a postpast, the opposite of which is an antepast, eaten as an appetizer or starter.

9. Rassasy

Dating back to the 15th century (and derived from the same root as words like satiate and satisfy), to rassasy someone is to satisfy them with a great meal, or else to satiate someone’s hunger with food.

10. Speustic

The adjective speustic first appeared in a 17th century dictionary called Glossographia (1656) by the English lexicographer Thomas Blount. Sadly it doesn’t seem to have caught on—the Oxford English Dictionary has unearthed no other record of the word in print since, but that’s not to say that it isn’t worth remembering: It very usefully describes any meal or plate of food that’s cooked or thrown together in haste.

11. Swage

Derived from the verb assuage, meaning to ease or alleviate, swage is an old British dialect word that can be used to mean to take in food, to let your stomach settle, or, most importantly, "to relax after a good meal." A swager, incidentally, is a long, thirst-quenching drink.

12. Triclinium

Speaking of swaging, what better place to do it than a triclinium? A Latin word essentially meaning “three couches,” a triclinium was a Roman dining room or dining table at which guests would not sit on individual seats or benches, but rather long couches, or chaises longues.

13. Abbiocco

And so long as we’re including words from other languages, the Italian word abbiocco means “the feeling of drowsiness that follows a big meal.” To have a “German bleeding,” or une saignée d’Allemand, is an old French slang term meaning “to loosen tight clothes after a large meal” (and is probably based on the heartiness of German cuisine). And even further afield, the Inuktitut word ivik is used by some Canadian Inuit for the grease that’s left on your hands after eating with your fingers.

14. Yule-Hole

So-called because it’s an exceptionally useful word for Christmastime, the Yule-hole is the hole you have to move your belt buckle to after you’ve eaten an enormous meal. And if you don’t, you’re not doing Christmas right.

This list first ran in 2016 and was republished in 2019.

10 Old English Words You Need to Be Using

The Anglo-Saxon poem 'Beowulf' written in Old English
The Anglo-Saxon poem 'Beowulf' written in Old English
The 'Southwick Codex' (including Old English adaptations of Augustine of Hippo, Soliloquia, the Gospel of Nicodemus, the Prose Dialogues of Saturn and Solomon, homily on St Quintin); 'the Nowell Codex' (including a homily on St Christopher, Marvels of the East; Beowulf and Judith), British Library // Public Domain

If you learn just 10 Old English words today, let them be these from Mark Forsyth's The Horologicon: A Day’s Jaunt Through the Lost Words of the English Language.

1. Uhtceare

“There is a single Old English word meaning ‘lying awake before dawn and worrying.’ Uhtceare is not a well-known word even by Old English standards, which were pretty damn low. In fact, there is only one recorded instance of it actually being used."

2. Expergefactor

"An expergefactor is anything that wakes you up. This may simply be your alarm clock, in which case it is time to hit the snooze button. But it may be a dustman or a milkman or a delivery van, in which case it is time to lean out of your window and shriek: 'Damn you all, you expergefactors!' This ought to keep them quiet until one of them has at least found a good dictionary."

3. and 4. Pantofle and Staddle

“Once your toes are snugly pantofled, you can stagger off to the bathroom, pausing only to look at the little depression that you have left in your bed, the dip where you have been lying all night. This is known as a staddle.”

5. Grubbling

"It’s time to check whether you’ve got your keys and your phone and your purse or wallet. This is done by grubbling in your pockets. Grubbling is like groping, except less organized. It is a verb that usually refers to pockets, but can also be used for feeling around in desk drawers that are filled with knick-knacks and whatnot."

6. Mugwump

Mugwump is a derogatory word for somebody in charge who affects to be above petty squabbles and factions. So when your boss tries to make peace at the meeting table like an impartial angel, he is being a mugwump.” (The Mugwumps were also a group of rebellious Republicans who broke with their party to support the Democratic candidate in the 1884 U.S. presidential election. —Ed.)

7. Rawgabbit

"A rawgabbit, just in case you were wondering, is somebody who speaks in strictest confidence about a subject of which they know nothing. A rawgabbit is the person who pulls you aside and reveals in a careful whisper that the head of compliance is having an affair with the new recruit in IT, which you know to be utterly untrue because the head of compliance is having an affair with you, and the new recruit in IT hasn’t started yet."

8. Vinomadefied

“Once you are properly vinomadefied, all sorts of intriguing things start to happen. Vinomadefied, by the way, does not mean ‘made mad by wine,’ but merely ‘dampened by it.’”

9. Lanspresado

"A lanspresado is (according to a 1736 dictionary of thieves’ slang) 'He that comes into company with but two-pence in his pocket.' Lanspresados are everywhere. They have usually forgotten their wallets or can’t find [an ATM] or some intensely complicated thing has happened with their rent, which means that they’re skint until Thursday."

10. Vomitorium

“A vomitorium is not a room in which ancient Romans would throw up halfway through a banquet in order to make room for the next course. That’s a myth. A vomitorium is simply a passage by which you can exit a building, usually a theater.”

A version of this story originally appeared in Mental Floss magazine.

Pandemic vs. Epidemic: What’s the Difference?

If scientists can't develop a vaccine for a new virus quickly enough, an epidemic can turn into a pandemic.
If scientists can't develop a vaccine for a new virus quickly enough, an epidemic can turn into a pandemic.
doble-d/iStock via Getty Images

As the new coronavirus continues to spread around the world, the words epidemic and pandemic are showing up in news reports more often than they usually do. While the terms are closely related, they don’t refer to the same thing.

As the Association for Professionals in Infection Control and Epidemiology (APIC) explains on its website, “an epidemic occurs when an infectious disease spreads rapidly to many people.” Usually, what precedes an epidemic is an outbreak, or “a sudden rise in the number of cases of a disease.” An outbreak can affect a single community or several countries, but it’s on a much smaller scale than an epidemic.

If an epidemic can’t be contained and keeps expanding its reach, public health officials might start calling it a pandemic, which means it’s affected enough people in different areas of the world to be considered a global outbreak. In short, a pandemic is a worldwide epidemic. It infects more people, causes more deaths, and can also have widespread social and economic repercussions. The spread of the Spanish influenza from 1918 to 1919, which killed between 20 and 40 million people around the world, was a pandemic; more recently, the H1N1 influenza created a pandemic in 2009.

Here’s where it gets a little tricky: There’s no cut-and-dried classification system for outbreaks, epidemics, and pandemics. Based on the definitions above, it might seem like the current coronavirus disease, now called COVID-19, falls into the pandemic category already—according to a map from the World Health Organization (WHO), there are more than 80,000 confirmed cases in 34 countries, and nearly 2700 people have died from the disease. It’s also beginning to impact travel, stock markets, and the global economy as a whole. But WHO maintains that although the situation has the potential to become a pandemic, it’s still an epidemic for now.

“It really is borderline semantics, to be honest with you,” Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, told CNN earlier this month. “I think you could have people arguing each end of it. Pandemics mean different things to different people.”

[h/t APIC.org]

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