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.

When Are the Dog Days of Summer?

Dorottya_Mathe/iStock via Getty Images
Dorottya_Mathe/iStock via Getty Images

The official “dog days” of summer begin on July 3 and end on August 11. So how did this time frame earn its canine nickname? It turns out the phrase has nothing to do with the poor pooches who are forever seeking shade in the July heat, and everything to do with the nighttime sky.

Sirius, the Dog Star, is the brightest star in the sky. The ancient Greeks noticed that in the summer months, Sirius rose and set with the Sun, and they theorized that it was the bright, glowing Dog Star that was adding extra heat to the Earth in July and August.

Have you got a Big Question you'd like us to answer? If so, let us know by emailing us at bigquestions@mentalfloss.com.

15 Pairs of Words That Surprisingly Come From the Same Source

Both flour and flower come from the same root word
Both flour and flower come from the same root word
Lena_Zajchikova/iStock via Getty Images

We take for granted that many English words have counterparts that sound related, but aren’t. Even though know and no sound the same, their meanings are so different we assume they have different etymological sources (which the spelling differences also suggest). However, sometimes words we might not expect to have anything in common historically do in fact go back to the same source. They’re called etymological doublets; here are 15 of them.

1. Flour/Flower

Flour, just like flower, came from French fleur. It was named that way because the part of the plant used to make it was considered the “flower of the grain,” the best part of it, taking away all the chaff and other impurities.

2. Lobster/Locust

Both go back to Latin locusta, for locust, which also turned into the French langouste and Old English lopustre. The lobster is the locust of the sea.

3. Inch/Ounce

Though one measures length and the other weight, they both go back to Latin uncia, meaning a twelfth part. The original ounce was 1/12th of a pound.

4. Of/Off

Of and off were once the exact same word but in a stressed vs. unstressed pronunciation. It wasn’t until the 17th century that they developed different uses to the point where they were considered different words.

5. Etiquette/Ticket

Etiquette was a French word for a note attached to something that listed its contents. It was borrowed into English as ticket and into Spanish as etiqueta, where it came to be associated with the listed rules of protocol for the Spanish royal court. It then came back into French and English with the social protocol meaning.

6. Costume/Custom

Both come from Latin consuetudinem, meaning "accustomed to," or "habituated." Both referred to the general habits of a group, including how they dress, among other things. Costume wasn’t explicitly connected to just the dress sense until the 1800s.

7. Species/Spices

Both come from Latin specie, for "appearance" or "form." Spice came into English first, from Old French espice. Species was later borrowed directly from Latin.

8. Reward/Regard

In Anglo-Norman, reward and regard were alternate pronunciations of the same thing. While the g version took on the senses of "to look at," "give attention to," and also "to merit, esteem, or respect," the w version settled into the current sense of giving something on merit.

9. Dainty/Dignity

The Latin word dignus meant "worthy." While dignity refers to a sense of "worthy" that includes serious notions of honor, respect, and rank, in dainty, dignus lives on in the sense of being worthy for being delightful, precious, and pleasing.

10. Naïve/Native

Both come from Latin nativus, meaning innate, natural. Naïve is "natural" in the sense of being unspoiled and native is an innate belonging to an origin.

11. Shirt/Skirt

The ancestor of the Old English scyrte developed into a word for the upper part of an undergarment in many Germanic languages, but it’s not entirely clear how it also developed into the skirt word for a lower garment in English.

12. Tradition/Treason

Tradition is from the Latin tradere, for the act of handing over or handing down. Treason also comes from tradere, with the sense of handing over or delivering. The tray in betray also goes back to this sense of tradere.

13. Tulip/Turban

Both are approximations of the Persian word for turban, dulband, which a tulip was said to resemble.

14. Maneuver/Manure

Maneuver comes from the Latin manu + operari, to work by hand. But so does manure, which was originally a verb meaning to "till the land."

15. Grammar/Glamour

Grammar goes all the way back to Latin and Greek, where it referred to all aspects of the study of literature. In the Middle Ages, it came to be associated with just the linguistic parts, and particularly with the study of Latin. The fancy, educated class studied Latin, and also things like magic and astrology, so the word grammar sometimes referred to that aspect too. A mispronounced version, glamour, went on to stand for the magical, enchanting quality we use it for today.

This list was first published in 2015 and republished in 2019.

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