Printable Version
Pronunciation: kn-fek-shn Hear it!

Part of Speech: Noun

Meaning: 1. Any sweet food or sweetened medicinal preparation. 2. A piece of fine craftsmanship.

Notes: Yum! Yum! The verb confect still means "to prepare by mixing ingredients", so the noun may refer to anything concocted of several ingredients or the process of concocting itself. But confectionery shops now are establishments where only sweetmeats (where meat originally meant "food") are sold, though they more often referred to apothecary shops in the 17th century. A confectioner is now someone who prepares confectioneries or sweetmeats.

In Play: The references of this word are not restricted to sweets: "The main course was a Caucasian confection of goat meat struggling against vegetation that grows only on the crags of the stony mountains. Dessert was an odd sweet confection from the shop around the corner." Today's Good Word works metaphorically with both meanings, either a concoction or an appealing millinery sweet: "Her gown was a lavish confection of lace and taffeta, a pure confectionery for the eyes."

Word History: This is an excellent example of 'semantic narrowing', a reduction in the semantic scope of a word. Confection derives from the verb confect which means "to put together, prepare" from a participle of Latin con- "(together) with" + ficere "do, make", the combining form of facere "do, make". Confection originally meant "mixing, putting together, preparation" or anything so contrived. Later its meaning became restricted only to the preparation of sweet foods and the results of such preparation.

Dr. Goodword,

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