• avocado •
æ-vê-kah-do • Hear it!
Part of Speech: Noun
Meaning: A fruit with dark green, leathery skin, a large stony seed, and greenish-yellow edible pulp used in salads and in guacamole, or the tree it grows in.
Notes: The plural of today's Good Word is avocados—without an E. Otherwise, we have another lexical orphan today with no linguistically consanguineous adjectives or verbs. The noun itself may be used adjectivally to refer to its own color, as in that avocado green stain on my shirt.
In Play: The unusual color, creamy texture, and mild taste of this fruit opens many metaphorical doors for us: "The freshly spiked green hair, multicolored tattoos, and avocado lips of his roommate's sister steered Sal McGundy's mind more toward salad than romance." The strikingly different textures inside and outside the avocado only expand the possibilities: "The chocolate truffle had a rich coffee-like flavor and an avocado texture that melted on the tongue." Looking outwardly, we might think (never say): "After 25 years in the sun, her complexion approached that of an avocado with a color that was only a tad lighter."
Word History: So what do avocados have to do with Spanish lawyers, I know you've wondered. Originally, the Central American Nahuatl people called this fruit an ahucatl "testicle", believing it to be an aphrodisiac. (What has your experience been?) The Spaniards of years gone by thought that ahucatl sounded like Spanish avocado "advocate, lawyer" (spelled abogado today), so they changed it to avocado by the process known as folk etymology. The French equivalent, avocat, still means both "avocado" and "lawyer". Now, the Nahuatl word for "soup" or "sauce" is molli, so ahuacamolli is avocado soup or sauce. The Spaniards shortened this word to guacamole, the popular chip dip enjoyed throughout the Americas today. (Thanks to Rob Towart for steering us to today's rich, creamy, and laughably mysterious Good Word. Larry Brady suggested "Sal McGundy".)
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