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degustation

Printable Version Pronunciation: di-gê-stay-shên Hear it!

Part of Speech: Noun

Meaning: 1. To savor small portions of several items on a menu. 2. To savor in small bites.

Notes: Today's Good Word is seldom encountered in the US, though it is popular in several European languages: German Degustation, Italian degustazione, Portuguese degustação, Spanish degustación—even Russian degustaciya. It brings with it an adjective, degustatory, and a personal noun is degustator. We have our choice of two verbs, degust or degustate.

In Play: We usually find this word in the menus of restaurants that offer a degustation of dishes: "The degustation at the new restaurant convinced Hardy Belcher that the poor preparation ran the gamut of the menu and he needn't return." However, we can use it in any situation where the phrase "a taste of" applies: "The boss made his son do a degustation of all the jobs in the company before making him vice president."

Word History: Today's Good Word was traced from French dégustation. French (Italian, Portuguese, Spanish) inherited this word from Latin degustatio(n) "tasting", the noun from the verb degustare "to taste", comprising de- "down, reduce" + gustare "to taste". Gustare is based on the noun gustus "taste", which Italian turned into gusto "taste, relish", figuratively used to mean "enthusiasm". English borrowed the figurative sense of this word as its own gusto. Gustus comes from the same root that went into the making of Old English ceosan "choose" which is still available to English-speakers as choose. (Let's now thank a Good Word editor, Luciano Eduardo de Oliveira, whose name suggests he enjoys degustating olives, for suggesting today's tasty Good Word.)

Dr. Goodword, alphaDictionary.com

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