• charcuterie •
shahr-ku-tê-ree • Hear it!
Part of Speech: Noun
Meaning: 1. Cold cooked meats and sausages. 2. A delicatessen specializing in such goods.
Notes: Today's word is spelled exactly the way it is spelled in French, but is not pronounced the same way. Remember the initial [sh] sound is spelled CH, but the accent doesn't fall on the final syllable, as it does in other French words, but where it would fall in a genuine English word. This word is a lexical orphan: no derivational relatives.
In Play: Some like this French expression better than its English correlate (cold cuts): "In Europe Herb Dressing likes to breakfast on charcuterie and cheese with a steaming cappuccino alongside." Remember that today's word can also refer to a shop offering this fare for sale: "Charlotte Russe's refrigerator was a veritable charcuterie with all its dressed hams, roast beef, fowls of various types, tongues, and sausages."
Word History: Today's word started out as a compound noun in Middle French, combining char "meat" (today chair) + cuit "cooked". Char comes directly from Latin caro, carnis "flesh", which Latin inherited from Proto-Indo-European (s)ker- "cut", the source of English shear and share (one's 'cut'). English short, shirt, and skirt came via various historical paths from the same PIE word. Once Latin changed the meaning to "meat" and dropped the initial Fickle S, Italian, Portuguese, Romanian and Spanish inherited this sense as carne "meat". Cuit is the past participle of cuire "to cook", that comes from the same source as English cook. We see the French root in English cuisine, borrowed from French where it means both "kitchen" and "cooking, cookery". (I wish we could send William Hupy his favorite charcuterie for suggesting today's Good Word; a simple 'thank you' will have to suffice.)
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