• chocolate •Pronunciation: chah-kê-lit • Hear it!
Part of Speech: Noun, Adjective
Meaning: A drink, paste, or candy made from the fruit of the cacao plant, roasted and ground to a fine powder, with or without sugar.
Notes: The middle vowel of today's Good Word usually falls victim to the Loose Vowel Syndrome (LVS) and is omitted even in normal speech. Careful speakers include it, though. The noun is now used adjectivally as a color, a rich brown one, as a chocolate suit or chocolate soil. There is an adjective, chocolaty, which can mean rich in chocolate or resembling chocolate in color.
In Play: Use chocolate with caution (it can be addictive), but the word you may toss around with abandon, so long as you keep in mind that it always connotes the ultimate in edibility: "The chocolate make-up on her eyelids made it difficult for him to keep his lips to himself." Ladies, please use make-up of this color judiciously, lest you encounter a chocoholic (someone obsessed with chocolate).
Word History: English borrowed chocolate from Spanish, but it ultimately comes from the language of the Aztecs, Nahuatl: xocolatl. This word is built on xococ "bitter", a drink made by the sugar-free Aztecs from cacao, itself from Nahuatl cacauatl "cacao". The same language gave us coyote from coyotl and chili from chilli. It is also the source of ahuacamolli "avocado soup or sauce", from which Spanish guacamole derives. Ahuacomolli is based on ahuacatl "avocado", which Spanish also borrowed. Aztec ahuacatl sounded so much like the old Spanish word avocado "lawyer" (currently abogado), that the Spanish made that slight folk etymological adjustment before lending the word to English.