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.

13 Alternative Lyrics From “The Twelve Days of Christmas”

craftyjoe/iStock via Getty Images Plus (pear tree), snegok13/iStock via Getty Images Plus (peacock)
craftyjoe/iStock via Getty Images Plus (pear tree), snegok13/iStock via Getty Images Plus (peacock)

First published in English in 1780, "The Twelve Days of Christmas" (actually the 12 days after Christmas) is thought to have originated in France as a children’s forfeit game with ever more elaborate gifts added to the collection, verse by verse, as a test of memory. Whatever its origins may be, however, as the carol grew in popularity throughout the 19th century, numerous versions and variations of its lyrics began to emerge.

Some of these differences still survive in different versions sung today: The traditional “five gold rings” are sometimes described as “five golden rings,” and while some performances describe what “my true love gave to me,” others say the gifts were “sent to me.” But these kinds of subtle differences are nothing compared to some of the gifts in the song’s earlier incarnations.

1. "A Very Pretty Peacock"

One early version of "The Twelve Days of Christmas" was recorded by the Scottish poet and artist William Scott Bell in 1892. Although most of Bell’s lyrics are identical to what we sing today, in his version each verse concludes not with “a partridge in a pear tree,” but with a considerably more ostentatious “very pretty peacock upon a pear tree.”

2. "Four Canary Birds"

In the original 1780 version, the “four calling birds” are instead described as “four colly birds,” colly—literally “coaly”—being an old English dialect word meaning “soot-black.” By the mid-19th century, however, the word colly had largely fallen out of use, leaving several Victorian editions of "The Twelve Days of Christmas" to come up with their own replacements. “Colour’d birds” and even “curley birds” were used in some editions, while an exotic “four canary birds” were added to the lyrics of one version. The now standard “four calling birds” first appeared in the early 1900s.

3. And 4. "Eight Hares A-Running" and "Eleven Badgers Baiting"

In 1869, an article appeared in an English magazine called The Cliftonian that described a traditional Christmas in rural Gloucestershire, southwest England. The author of the piece wrote that he had heard some local carol singers singing a curious Christmas song, which he noted for the “peculiarity and the utter absurdity of the words.” After outlining the first two of "The Twelve Days of Christmas," he went on to explain that the carol “proceeds in this ascending manner until on the twelfth day of Christmas the young lady receives … [an] astounding tribute of true love”—among which are “eight hares a-running” and “eleven badgers baiting.”

5., 6., 7., And 8. "Seven Squabs A-Swimming," "Eight Hounds A-Running," "Nine Bears A-Beating," And "TEN Cocks A-Crowing"

One of the earliest American versions of "The Twelve Days of Christmas" was listed in The American Journal of Folklore in 1900. Credited to a contributor from Salem, Massachusetts, and dated to “about 1800,” there are no pipers, drummers, maids, or swans here (and lords and ladies had a number change). Instead, in their place are “ten cocks a-crowing,” “nine bears a-beating,” “eight hounds a-running,” and “seven squabs a-swimming.”

9. And 10. "Ten Asses Racing" and "Eleven Bulls A-Beating"

An edition of "The Twelve Days of Christmas" included in Folk Songs From Somerset published in 1911 discarded the “pipers piping” and “lords a-leaping” in favor of “eleven bulls a-beating” and “ten asses racing.” In fact, not even the partridge in the pear tree made the final cut here: In its place was a “part of a mistletoe bough.”

11. and 12. "Ten Ships A-Sailing" and "Eleven Ladies Spinning"

In an 1842 edition of Specimens of Lyric Poetry, out went the “ten drummers drumming” and the “eleven lords a-leaping” (downgraded to only nine lords, still a-leaping) and in came “ten ships a-sailing” and “eleven ladies spinning.” Not only that, but this edition also explained in a footnote how "The Twelve Days of Christmas" might once have been used: “Each child in succession repeats the gifts of the day, and forfeits for each mistake. The accumulative process is a favourite with children.”

13. "An Arabian Baboon"

An alternative Scots version of "The Twelve Day of Christmas" was reported in use in Scotland in the first half of the 19th century, before finding its way into a collection of Popular Rhymes of Scotland published in 1847. Although there are a handful of similarities between this version and the version we’d sing today (“ducks a-merry laying” and “swans a-merry swimming” both make an appearance), relatively little of what we’d recognize remains intact. “The king sent his lady on the first Yule day,” is the new opening line, and many of the gifts are given in sets of three rather than as part of a larger 12-part sequence—but it’s what the gifts themselves are that is the most striking. Alongside the swans and ducks, the king sends his lady “a bull that was brown,” “a goose that was gray,” “three plovers,” “a papingo-aye” (an old Scots dialect word for a parrot, although occasionally translated as peacock)—and, just when things can’t get any stranger, “an Arabian baboon.”

Merriam-Webster Declares They Its Word of the Year

artisteer/iStock via Getty Images
artisteer/iStock via Getty Images

Merriam-Webster’s 2019 Word of the Year is one that you probably use about a dozen times a day: they.

It’s been a big year for the gender-neutral pronoun, whose definition in Merriam-Webster’s online dictionary was expanded to include its use as a singular nonbinary pronoun in September.

CNN notes that searches for they on the Merriam-Webster site have increased 313 percent over last year’s data, but the Word of the Year isn’t determined by growth alone. As Merriam-Webster senior editor and lexicographer Emily Brewster explained on WRSI, a word also needs to have considerable search spikes throughout the year in order to qualify.

“That says to us that a word is significant for that particular year; that it has some kind of important association with the actual year,” she said.

And they definitely had several landmark search spikes in 2019. According to CNN, look-ups peaked when nonbinary model Oslo Grace walked in Paris Fashion Week in January, when U.S. Congresswoman Pramila Jayapal disclosed that her child was gender-nonconforming in April, and during Pride celebrations around the world in June (this year was also the 50th anniversary of the Stonewall Riots). Many major style guides, including the Associated Press, have recognized they as an accepted singular pronoun in the past few years.

In addition to the Word of the Year, Merriam-Webster also published their top 10 most-searched terms, which paint an intriguing portrait of 2019 in review. There were political terms like quid pro quo, impeach, and clemency, the word the—which spiked after The Ohio State University tried to trademark it in August—and the enigmatic word camp, which baffled many a fashion blogger as the theme of the Met Gala in May.

[h/t CNN]

SECTIONS

arrow
LIVE SMARTER