When you sit down to breakfast, how often do you say to yourself, “How many verbs will I be eating this morning?” Never, right? Who would ever think that? In what alternate universe would that be an issue? Who even cares? Well, here’s how the bizarre idea of food verbs came into my consciousness. I subscribe to Merriam-Webster’s word of the day. In their daily newsletter are a number of interesting, unusual facts and concepts. One morning, M-W’s word of the day came in followed by the phrase, 13 breakfast foods that are verbs. My immediate response was, “Say what? Seriously?” Curiosity got the better of me so I read on.
Before I continue, I will apologize ahead of time for any use of these verbs that are real groaners. It is so tempting to milk some of the food items in the worst ways, but I will refrain from hamming things up too much. I did hash over the list to see how to incorporate all of it in this blog. Okay. Enough. I will no longer fritter away my time and yours.
The history of these foods both as nouns and subsequently verbs was quite fascinating to learn. While pancake as a noun came into being in the 13th century, it wasn’t until the 19th century that it started to be used as a verb. To pancake someone meant to knock them flat or flatten him. Next we have some obvious ones such as egg used to egg someone on to encourage him to do something foolish. Cream as in defeating decisively came from beating a substance into a creamy or frothy consistency.
Waffle as a verb came from the obsolete woff, which means yelp referring to a puppy that didn’t know what it wanted. From that came waffle meaning indecisive, flip flop, yoyo, waver, etc. The British meaning of waffle is to blather, talk on and on saying nothing.
Surprisingly, sugar as a verb first sweetens the language in the 15th century with the figurative meaning "to make palatable or attractive," as in "a story sugared with romance" or "the gentleman sugared his request with a smile. At one point sugar was used to sweeten a bitter pill, literally. Eventually, we began sugar coating difficult things to make them seem less difficult.
In the 18th century Buttering somebody up was used as flattery. Still is. Jam came from pressing, squeezing, crushing, blocking primarily fruits. Now we might hear how someone jammed everything into a small space, or jamming on the brakes, etc.
The full explanations of all the breakfast verbs was extremely interesting and quite juicy, but too lengthy to describe in a short blog. With that, I will tell you I am now toast. See you next week.
Comments are welcomed.