• degust •
dee-gêst • Hear it!
Part of Speech: Verb
Meaning: 1. To savor, to taste something carefully, to enjoy tasting, taste with full appreciation. 2. To sample by tasting a range of menu items, sample, try, try out.
Notes: Today's Good Word is known mostly by its action noun, degustation, which appears on menus in restaurants that offer a taste of several dishes in one serving. Degustate is a rarely used synonym of degust back derived from the noun. However, the adjective from this renegade word is degustatory "tasty, delicious".
In Play: The first sense of this word is for connoisseurs: "Maude's café is a cozy corner to invite friends to degust wine and hold a conversation." The noun may be used by anyone who visits a restaurant that offers a degustation for the first time: "It was Ferdinand's first visit to the restaurant, so he ordered the degustation."
Word History: Today's word is composed of the roots of de- 'very (an intensifier here) + gustus "a taste". Latin inherited gustus from a suffixed form of PIE geus- "taste, choose", which showed up in ancient Greek as ageusia "taste" and in Old English as ceosan "to choose", which is today choose. Italian trimmed gustus down to gusto, which English borrowed but changed the meaning from "taste" to "vigorous enjoyment". Disgust, borrowed from Old French desgouter "to lose one's appetite" (Modern French dêgoûter "disgust") started out meaning "nauseate", but shifted to "offend the taste of someone". Ragout comes from Old French ragouster "awaken the appetite", originally composed of re- "back, again" + a- "to" + gost "taste, appetite". By Middle French it was simply ragoût, at which point English borrowed it.
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