• chartreuse •Pronunciation: shahr-truz, shahr-trus • Hear it!
Part of Speech: Noun, mass
Meaning: 1. An pale apple-green liqueur. 2. A pale apple-green color. 3. A dish composed of various fruits, vegetables, or meat enclosed in gelatin. 4. A bluish-gray domestic cat.
Notes: The liqueur recipe dates from early 17th century, originally marketed as Les Pères Chartreux "the Fathers Chartreuse". The color is so called from resemblance to the pale apple-green hue of the liqueur. How the other two meanings emerged in anyone's guess, but they are probably related to the mountains near Grenoble (see Word History).
In Play: The two most popular senses of today's Good Word are the first two, the liqueur and the color: "Do you feel alright? I think you're drinking too much chartreuse; you're beginning to take on its color." We must not forget the third meaning, still used in some cookbooks: "The main course was a chartreuse of vegetables and game, which set everyone's eyes aglaze and raised their stomachs in a borborygmic choir."
Word History: Today's word is an eponym of the Grande-Chartreuse, chief monastery of the Chartreuse (= English Carthusian) order, which was founded in the 11th century. It was named Chartreuse for the mountain group in the French Alps near Grenoble, where its first monastery was built. This word was adopted and adapted as English chartrous in the 17th century. It then underwent folk etymology and came out charterhouse, the English word for a Carthusian monastery in London at the time. This word carried over to the Charterhouse hospital, built upon the site of the Charterhouse monastery. That hospital is now one of the great English schools, the Charterhouse School. (Let's all now toast Monika Freund with a glass of chartreuse for suggesting today's very Good Word that comes with such an intricate history.)