Milk Sociable, Chestnutting, and Sours: Food Words Deleted From the Dictionary

Milk Sociable, Chestnutting, and Sours: Food Words Deleted From the Dictionary

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Stephanie Barlow
Nov 29, 2012
Usually, once a word makes it into the Oxford English Dictionary, it remains, even if it loses popularity. However, between 1972 and 1983, the then-editor of the OED deleted thousands of words, an unheard-of practice. Many of these were Americanisms, and there were a good number of food-related words that were almost lost forever. Linguist Sarah Ogilvie researched the so-called deleted words in her new book Words of the World, and found the following food words, among many others, were trimmed: • bake-kettle a heavy cast-iron cooking pot that hung over the fireplace and was used to bake bread, pies, etc. • calabazilla a wild squash of Mexico and California • chestnutting an Americanism for picking chestnuts • milk sociable a sociable at which milk is drunk • seed-cake a cake of compressed seeds used as cattle feed • sheller a shellfish, a crab • sours pickles Some of these words have since been re-introduced to the OED and can be found in current versions, but it's difficult to know exactly how many more were lost. So next time your grandmother starts talking about cooking up a sheller and some calabazilla, think twice before telling her the words aren't in the dictionary.
→ Read More: Consider the Ghetchoo at Bon Appetit
Related: Cringeworthy: Which Food Buzzwords Should Get Nixed? (Images: Melissa Finkelstein)
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