• fritter •
Pronunciation: fri-dêr • Hear it!
Part of Speech: Verb, Noun
Meaning: 1. (Verb) Waste (time), piddle, loaf. 2. (Noun) A small piece, fragment, or shred. 3. (Noun) A lump of fried batter containing fruit, vegetables, or meat.
Notes: Today is another two-for-one day at alphaDictionary for fritter is actually two words that coincidentally resemble each other (see Word History). We may eat fritters or fritter away the day doing little or nothing. Someone who fritters is a fritterer. Fritter in the second sense above most often occurs in the plural: "Giselle's vase fell and broke into fritters."
In Play: Since these two words are not related but are only accidental doppelgangers, it is easy to use both in the same sentence: "Fred, don't fritter away the whole morning eating those corn fritters!" We can just as easily team it up with yesterday's Good Word: "Phil Anders frittered his life away with one floozy after another."
Word History: The Latin noun fractura "break, crack" came to be fraiture in Old French, then freture, at which point English borrowed the word and converted it to fritter. French then replaced its word with the Latin original, fracture, which means the same in French and English today. English, though, acquired two words from the deal: fritters "small fragments broken off or up" and fracture. This noun, fritters, was then verbalized in the sense of "to whittle", a process that creates wood fritters and was once a popular way of wasting time. The culinary noun fritter is a reduction of French friture "fried food", based on frit "fried", as in pommes frites "French fries". French inherited frit from frictus "fried", the past participle of Latin frigere "to fry". Apparently the suffix -ura was added to this root somewhere between Classical Latin and Old French without leaving written evidence.