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Dr. Goodword
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Postby Dr. Goodword » Fri Nov 30, 2012 12:03 am

• toast •

Pronunciation: tost • Hear it!

Part of Speech: Verb, Noun

Meaning: 1. (Verb) To warm, to heat bread until it browns. 2. (Noun) A piece of bread that has been heated until it becomes browned. 3. (Noun) The act of raising a glass and drinking in someone's honor, as a toast to my wife. 4. (Noun) Someone so honored, especially a famous person currently receiving acclaim, as she is the toast of Broadway. 5. (Slang, Noun) Something doomed, a complete failure or something soon to be a complete failure.

Notes: The sense of this word has bifurcated, and the two resulting senses have moved so far apart over time that many dictionaries now list them as two separate words: a piece of bread and a celebratory drink. However, we are treating the two senses as one today because, as the Word History will show, we can still trace them back to a single source.

In Play: Let's see if we can come up with a sentence featuring both senses: "Anita Job's career is (burnt) toast because she didn't toast the new president at his welcoming party." Apparently, Anita didn't think the president was the toast of the party. Which reminds me, let's all drink a toast to the end of the US election season.

Word History: The senses of today's Good Word are represented in chronological order in the Meaning above. The verb comes from Middle English tosten borrowed from Old French toster. French inherited its version from Vulgar (Street) Latin tostare, a variant of Latin torrere "to parch, burn", whose stem we see in another word borrowed from Latin, torrid. The semantic trail can easily be followed. It all began in Proto-Indo-European ters- "dry" (which also gave us English thirst). From "to dry" to "toast" is easy to see. But how did we get from bread to a celebratory drink? In years gone by, the "toast" of the table was a lady who was the cynosure of the party. It was the custom to raise a special glass with a piece of spiced toast in the wine to her. Thus a special drink became a "toast". (May we all drink a toast to Cathy Goralski for submitting a Good Word with such an interesting history.)
• The Good Dr. Goodword

Perry Lassiter
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Postby Perry Lassiter » Fri Nov 30, 2012 12:22 pm

Trivial, but it should be noted that we need a 3a for toast as a verb. Dr. G does, in fact, use the verb in his examples. I'm of course referring to the verb to toast as offering a toast by raising a glass,etc.

Reading the etymology somehow reminded me of Biblical Hebrew etymologies. There is frequent discussion of whether all or most words have a two or three consonant root. Ancient Hebrew was written without vowels until at some point during the CE (Common Era, now used by scholars rather than AD). They are pretty much agreed that the verbs came first, then all or most nouns evolved from those verbs.

I have noticed in English when you omit vowels, as in some forms of shorthand, you can still frequently make out words. So I wonde whether a similar phenomenon exists in English. Could the primitive PIE roots been consonantal? Mostly verbs? And how late did writing vowels come into usage? Thoughts from you professional linguists out there?

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Postby LukeJavan8 » Fri Nov 30, 2012 1:12 pm

I have a couple of what you look for: this is the first,
and even tho' it is using numbers instead of letters/vowels
it highlights some:

7H15 M3554G3
53RV35 7O PR0V3
D0 4M4Z1NG 7H1NG5!
1MPR3551V3 7H1NG5!
1N 7H3 B3G1NN1NG
17 WA5 H4RD BU7
N0W, 0N 7H15 LIN3
R34D1NG 17
W17H 0U7 3V3N
7H1NK1NG 4B0U7 17,
C3R741N P30PL3 C4N
R3AD 7H15.
-----please, draw me a sheep-----

Philip Hudson
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Postby Philip Hudson » Sun Dec 02, 2012 6:18 pm

My take on toast:
Definition 1 & 2: I like toast, especially French toast. I also think the word toasty is as nice and soothing as the word comfy.
Definition 3: A silly ritual we can well do without, both noun and verb.
Definition 4: Derived from definition 3, I find it overused and dated.
Definition 5: We have enough negative words. We can well do without this one. Agree with me, or you are toast.
It is dark at night, but the Sun will come up and then we can see.

Perry Lassiter
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Postby Perry Lassiter » Sun Dec 02, 2012 7:27 pm

Are you buttering us up?

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