Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Fun with Words

I’ve always loved words. I love looking up their meanings and where they came from. I even find it amusing to ponder who thought of certain words. I wonder: who named all the flowers and trees? Who named all the animals and the street names and shapes?

And that brings me to this: who came up with the word vegetable? To me, it has lots of negative associations, and it even sounds weird! Many of us were forced to eat vegetables when we were kids, and so there might be a kind of rebellion (“I can eat whatever I want!”). I looked up its origin and I was delighted to find the following on

c.1400, "living and growing as a plant" 
from O.Fr. vegetable: living, fit to live
from M.L. vegetabilis: growing, flourishing
from L.L.vegetabilis: animating, enlivening 
from L. vegetare: to enliven
from vegetus: vigorous, active
from vegere: to be alive, active, to quicken
from PIE *weg-  be strong, lively, 
related to watch (v.), vigor, velocity

Have you ever held up a leafy green to the sunlight? You can see life! You can see veins! To me, vegetables (and fruits obviouslyJ) are filled with life, and overflowing with vibrant life-giving energy.

It would be fun to coin a new word for vegetable. I had fun with the word vivies, because the root “vivere” means to live—but I realized that vivie sounds like a nickname for Vivian, so I’ll think of a new one J

Check out this gorgeous, innovative cookbook from celebrated chef Yotam Ottolenghi

(Image from

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