• fricassee •
fri-kê-see • Hear it!
Part of Speech: Noun
Meaning: A dish made of poultry or meat, fresh or leftover, cut into small pieces, sautéed, then stewed in a gravy.
Notes: Remember that today's word is a rare one that contains two contiguous double letters, SS + EE. It is also commonly used as a verb, as Elmer Fudd's perennial attempts to fricassee the ever elusive Bugs Bunny.
In Play: Today's word is used almost exclusively to refer to a cooking style: "Molly had to rename the 'Roadkill Fricassee' on her menu because her patrons were never quite sure that it was a joke." Of course, that never stops us from finding metaphorical applications, "Sullivan's proposal contains nothing new; it is just a fricassee of leftover ideas from the proposal he made last year."
Word History: Today's word is the untarnished French past participle, fricassée, from fricasser "to fricassee". The French verb probably comes from a compound of frire "to fry" + casser "to break up, break apart". French frire descended from Latin frigere "to roast, fry", and is the source of English fry. This word shares a root with its near antonym fridigus "frigid" in the same way that cold and scald share the same original root. French cassare comes from Latin quassare "to shake, shatter". It would seem to be unrelated to quake despite the similarity in sound and meaning. (His family fricassees are such fond memories for Pierre M. Laberge of Sudbury, Ontario, that he thought we might find something appetizing in the word itself. I think we did.)
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