14 Delicious Words For Anyone Who Loves Their Food

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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.

What's the Difference Between Stuffing and Dressing?

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iStock

For carbohydrate lovers, nothing completes a Thanksgiving meal quite like stuffing—shovelfuls of bread, celery, mushrooms, and other ingredients that complement all of that turkey protein.

Some people don’t say stuffing, though. They say dressing. In these calamitous times, knowing how to properly refer to the giant glob of insulin-spiking bread seems necessary. So what's the difference?

Let’s dismiss one theory off the bat: Dressing and stuffing do not correlate with how the side dish is prepared. A turkey can be stuffed with dressing, and stuffing can be served in a casserole dish. Whether it’s ever seen the inside of a bird is irrelevant, and anyone who tells you otherwise is wrong and should be met with suspicion, if not outright derision.

The terms are actually separated due to regional dialects. Dressing seems to be the favored descriptor for southern states like Mississippi, Tennessee, South Carolina, and Georgia, while stuffing is preferred by Maine, New York, and other northern areas. (Some parts of Pennsylvania call it filling, which is a bit too on the nose, but to each their own.)

If stuffing stemmed from the common practice of filling a turkey with carbs, why the division? According to HuffPost, it may have been because Southerners considered the word stuffing impolite, and therefore never embraced it.

While you should experience no material difference in asking for stuffing or dressing, when visiting relatives it might be helpful to keep to their regionally-preferred word to avoid confusion. Enjoy stuffing yourselves.

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What’s the Difference Between Forests, Woods, and Jungles?

Jui-Chi Chan/iStock via Getty Images
Jui-Chi Chan/iStock via Getty Images

If you're an English speaker, there’s a good chance you often use the words woods, forest, and jungle correctly without even thinking about it. Even if a patch of trees takes up a significant portion of your backyard, you probably wouldn’t consider it a forest; and you wouldn’t talk about the beautiful fall foliage in New England’s jungles. Based on those examples, it seems like woods are smaller than forests, and jungles aren’t found in colder climates. This isn’t wrong—but there's more to it than that.

According to Merriam-Webster, a forest is “a dense growth of trees and underbrush covering a large tract,” while woods are “a dense growth of trees usually greater in extent than a grove and smaller than a forest.” The reason we consider forests to be larger than woods dates back to the Norman rule of Great Britain in 1066, when a forest was a plot of land owned by the Crown that was large enough to accommodate game for royal hunting parties. Whether that land contained trees or not was essentially irrelevant.

These days, scientists and land managers definitely consider the presence of trees necessary for land to be classified as a forest. To set it apart from woods, or woodland, it usually has to meet certain density qualifications, which are different depending on whom you ask.

According to the UN Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO), a forest must cover about 1.24 acres of land, and its canopy cover—the amount of land covered by the treetops—must exceed 10 percent of the acreage [PDF]. “Other wooded land” must also span about 1.24 acres, but its canopy cover is between 5 and 10 percent. In a nutshell, the FAO thinks forests and woods are the same size, but forests are more dense than woods. Australia, on the other hand, employs plant ecologist Raymond Specht’s classification system for its vegetation, in which any tree-populated land with less than 30 percent canopy cover is a woodland, and anything more dense than that is a forest.

Unlike forests, jungles don’t have specific scientific classifications, because the word jungle isn’t really used by scientists. According to Sciencing, it’s a colloquial term that usually denotes what scientists refer to as tropical forests.

Tropical forests are located around the Equator and have the highest species diversity per area in the world. Since they’re so densely populated with flora and fauna, it makes sense that both Merriam-Webster and the Encyclopedia Britannica describe jungles as “tangled” and “impenetrable.” They’re bursting with millions of plants and animals that are different from what we see in temperate and boreal forests to the north.

Because most of us aren’t in the habit of clarifying which type of forest we’re talking about in casual conversation, it’s no surprise that we often refer to the temperate forests we see in our own climate simply as forests, which we differentiate from those rich, overgrown tropical territories to the south by calling them jungles.

To summarize, forests are historically and colloquially considered to be larger than woods, and scientifically considered to be more dense. Jungles are technically forests, too, since jungle is a casual word for what scientists call a tropical forest.

And, all differences aside, it’s relaxing to spend time in any of them—here are 11 scientific reasons why that’s true.

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