Printable Version
Pronunciation: gahr-lik Hear it!

Part of Speech: Noun, mass

Meaning: An onion-like edible bulb of the species Allium sativum that separates into distinct sections, called 'cloves' (from cleave, i.e. cleft sections). It has a strong smell and taste and is used mostly for seasoning.

Notes: Get away werewolves!Although it refers to countable objects, today's Good Word is a mass noun, which means that it has no plural. It behaves like nouns referring to masses or substances with indeterminate boundaries, like water, air, and contemplation. We can say, "two onions" but never "two garlics"; instead, we must say "two heads of garlic" or "two cloves of garlic".

In Play: Garlic serves various purposes in Western and Eastern societies. It is a tasty spice added to many sauces and in the cooking of meats. It is healthful, thought to be responsible for lowering cholesterol levels in the blood 4-5%. And, of course, in sufficient quantity, it is very effective in preventing both people and vampires from bothering you. (Warning: it has no effect on werewolves; do not confuse them with vampires.)

Word History: Today's word descended from an Old English compound, garleac, comprising gare "spear" + leac "leek". In middle English the word had turned to garlec and on into garlic today. Gare (for the shape of a garlic clove) also appears in garfish, the fish with the spear-like nose. Goad and gore come from the same PIE word. Leek began its life as Old Germanic lauko-, visible in Icelandic hvítlaukur "garlic". It was borrowed from Old German by Finnish as laukka "onion", where it changed very little. It did change a bit in Slavic languages, as you can see in the Russian and Serbian word luk "onion". Cognates include Danish løg and Swedish lök "onion", Dutch look "leek, garlic", and German Lauch "leek".

Dr. Goodword,

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