Printable Version
Pronunciation: nahsh Hear it!

Part of Speech: Verb, noun

Meaning: 1. (Verb, North America) To snack with enjoyment, nibble, eat quickly. 2. (UK) To eat. 3. (Noun, North America) A snack, a munchy, a nibble. 4. (UK) Food, a meal.

Notes: Today's word has a large and active family: Someone who noshes is a nosher, who noshes on noshables (from the passive adjective noshable "tasty, suitable for noshing"). Noshers may even frequent their favorite noshery "a snack bar, cafe".

In Play: I will give examples today only of the American usages. Just remember, Britishers today are using it in the broader senses mentioned above. In America we nosh on snacks that we enjoy eating: "I can't think of a better way to shuffle off this mortal coil than noshing on a box of chocolates." This word works just as well as a noun in expressions like this: "Henrietta loves the posh nosh at the noshery around the corner from her apartment."

Word History: Our Jewish subscribers probably have had more contact with today's Good Word, for it is another contribution from Yiddish. Yiddish nashn was borrowed from Middle High German naschen "to eat dainty food or delicacies", inherited from Old High German hnascon, source also of German naschen "to nibble delicacies" and English nesh "soft, tender". Since the proto-forms of these words began with an H, and we know PIE K became H in Germanic languages, our suspicions are directed toward an underlying PIE word knes-/knos-, but no other Indo-European language seems to have words derived therefrom.

Dr. Goodword,

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